Not the mind or the souls

06 July 2011 by Bram Posthumus

Liberia’s reconstruction is going full steam ahead – but the people appear to be left behind. 

Anyone who has been to the Liberian capital Monrovia in the past decade immediately notices the huge changes that have taken place. Instead of pot-holed and dirty, the streets have a new smooth asphalt surface and are clean. The main road east, known as Tubman Boulevard, is changing faster than the rest: from a grim and disorganised drag to a showcase street with shiny new office buildings. The people who used to live here have moved to faraway suburbs.

To lawyer and human rights activist Jerome Verdier, the former chairman of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), what is happening to Tubman Boulevard may well be symbolic for a lot that is going on in post-war Liberia. ‘We are focussing on material and physical reconstruction, not the minds and the souls,’ he says on the line from Monrovia. Nevertheless, he does not regret having served as the TRC chairman. ‘It was a wonderful and revealing experience. I have no regrets.’

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