Thursday, 23 June 2011

Oye, did you poison my drink?

All guests who come to my office are offered tea, coffee or soft drinks. I noticed that if a soft drink was ever brought to a Liberian guest, Mr. Joseph Dennis would bring the soft drink bottle, open it with a bottle opener and then pour the drink. It started irritating me and I told him to just bring the drink already poured and let me get on with my meetings. He explained that Liberians like to have their drink poured right in front of them lest you have poisoned it secretly. When I heard that I lost it, and decreed all drinks would be poured before they were brought before a guest whether they liked it or not. My office and apartment would be modern and free of backward mentality. 

This evening I asked an elderly Liberian lady whom we had taken out for dinner at the Sushi Bar at the Royal Hotel about this and she said sure, this is pretty much the norm in Liberia. They don't trust what you put in their drink. They even prefer you bring hot water, tea bags, milk and sugar separately so that you make it in front of them. Not even cold water is served like that. That's just the way it is in Liberia. 

Our English friend who was with us who has spent quite a bit of time in West Africa said she has seen this countless times, too. In fact, her driver wouldn't eat in the bush because he wouldn't trust the villagers.  

All I will say is that it is a tiresome way of thinking and I shall take my chances where ever I go.  

My office and home will be superstition free, dammit!

This sheds an interesting light on my dissertation. I'm going to be exploring the different transitional justice routes that Liberia and Sierra Leone have taken and whether it has produced different results on consolidation of peace and prospects for development. Well clearly there are not any prospects for peace if you think your neighbour keeps trying to poison your coke. 

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