Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Full Stop

One of the more enjoyable challenges of blogging is to develop a narrative arc, expressing themes that transcend through the site over time. Instead of a bunch of random observations and "musings," I think its a larger achievement, and a more enjoyable reader experience, to have some continuity, some symmetry of content, a recurring of topics, veins of interests running through the blog, to give it a relevance, make it compelling and enjoyable.

I've tried to do this, while at the same time covering a wide range of issues related not only to Liberia, and the greater West African region, and which reflect not only my personal interests in architecture, art, history and culture, but also the more complex professional issues of trade, investment, development, and socially-responsible business.

This is a constant challenge, sometimes enjoyable and other times daunting and confusing. Its made more difficult in the wider context of the blogosphere. While I do not think of other blogs as competition, there is also no point in repeating what others have said, or replicating what can be found elsewhere.

In the hyperspeed of contemporary media, its also a challenge to say something original about a contemporary topic or news item before the rest of the world does. But even with all the other blogs and media writing, responding, observing, and analyzing, I take a stab at a fresh perspective anyway, and I hope those posts are both worthy of readers' time and compatible with the rest of this blog's content.

Unfortuantely, at the moment, I feel completely overwhelmed by depth and breadth of current events, and feel basically inadequate to contribute any worthwhile comment on them. The momentum of this blog has completely flagged. This has been building up over the last couple of months, with the following underlying contributors:

(1) The Jasmine Revolution uprisings, which have influenced popular protests south of the Sahara. This historic chain of events might at first seem like a great source of inspiration and impetus to write. Frankly, I lack the expertise to contribute anything original or worthwhile here to the mountains of words that have piled up since January on this topic.

If I had anything fresh to say, I'd try to join the other outlet's efforts to point out that it is not just Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria that have experienced uprisings, but also Mauritania, Djibouti, Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe and elsewhere, quite apart from the incredible events in the past month in Burkina Faso and Uganda. But I haven't the academic or journalistic expertise to spread this blog into such areas.

(2) The fighting in Cote D'Ivoire. As I tried to articulate in a previous post, the fall of Gbagbo might not have been the worst possible outcome, but it is hugely dispiriting to see egotistcal, big-man autocracy cannibalize a society. The intense fighting, killing, and looting in Abidjan and the genocidal atrocities in the Western frontier make a mockery of a decade of bromides proclaiming that governance is improving everywhere on the African continent and that progress is occurring everywhere. I've been stuck between trying to blog about these events, and feeling completely incapable, while it also seemed inappropriate to write about more mundane topics.

Both are an on-going humanitarian crisis, which continues to inundate at least four Liberian counties; and are an unspeakable tragedy which is no less egregious than the worst atrocities of the Liberian Civil War nearly a decade ago. Also, this conflict has not ended, even though it only held the headlines for about a week.

(3) The death of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington. As I said to a friend the other day, I can't remember the last time I was so affected by the death of someone that I hardly knew. One of the main things that bothers me is that I have all of these questions about Tim's work, his time in Liberia, where he lived, what he saw, what he did. All I would have had to do was keep emailing him. But was starstruck, or intimidated-- I didn't want to bother him, pestering him with questions. Now I'll never know the answers to those questions about his years living in Monrovia, during the war and thereafter. That's also probably the most selfish way to view the loss of such an incredible person, and one that leaves me out of sorts.

There are bad things happening in the world. Maybe even more so than at other times. A lot of it affects Liberia directly and indirectly. This makes a lot of what I'd like to say, about traveling to, living in, and falling for an exotic, esoteric country seem uninteresting.

Yet I sputter along.

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