Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Pehn-Pehn Ride Around Monrovia

Back in September, CNN's weekly Inside Africa program put together a show from Monrovia. While the journalism tends to be as unimpressive as the rest of CNN International's line-up, this segment where the show's host takes a ride around Monrovia on the back of a motorbike is nice, particularly because it shows some nice shots of the streets of Monrovia, and especially because the pehn-pehn driver, who is called "Harris Cully" by the CNN team but who I would assume has the last name "Kollie" is a typically polite and agreeable Liberian guy. 

Between Harris's delightful, animated narration and trying to figure out which streets the dynamic footage was shot on, it's enough to make a viewer homesick for Liberia, or at least proud to see the city looking so respectable. 

Emphasis on the downside is mixed with the positive, though. The EJ Roye Building makes a momentary cameo, in a mention that doesn't really go anywhere, and I wasn't sure what the host meant when he asserted that many businesses that had left Liberia during the war have yet to return, especially when there is unprecedented concession activity from one end of the country to the other in a bonanza of investment unlike Liberia has ever seen.

Vaguely, the segment tries to emphasize how many pehn-pehn drivers are ex-combatants and how Liberia is suffering from the lingering impacts of the civil conflict; the host begins the show by saying that, "to truly understand this country, you have to look at everything through the context of its brutal civil war," which is of course true, but also perennially unfortunate that everything is always cast in the shadows of the conflict, even when trying to be a bit positive, which on balance is this case with this segment. 

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