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Growing Up in Jarkaken, Libya

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 04:01 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.8 
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Jarkaken is a small town in River Gee County, Liberia.   This settlement is built on a series of foothills. When I was growing up here in the 1980’s, a regional census group wrote a number on my father’s door. It was #334. I did not understand what that meant. I was too young at the time to care or investigate. As I grew older, however, I learned that our house was the 334th building in the town. A lot has happened since the census. There are more new housing units in the town, and Jarkaken is a bigger town now. Its residents proudly proclaimed it a city.

I was born in 1972 in Pueken, an agricultural settlement just a few miles outside the “city” of Jarkaken, Liberia. It is approximately 10 miles outside Jarkaken.   In 1975, my dad decided to relocate to his newfound land just minutes from Pueken, another farming settlement. But he didn’t relocate until he discussed his intent with Oldman Welley Chea, the man who founded Pueken. When he told him the news, the Oldman did not stop him. My dad built a single-hut settlement about a 15-minute walk away, and he named it Wodayken, which translated into, “a peaceful relocation.” It took a while to get used to Wodayken or simply Woday. It was here where I had spent much of my early life. The relatively young settlement did not have its own fruit trees. It did not have the oranges, pears, bananas, coconut, and pineapples among others that we were used to in Pueken. So we had to go back to Pueken with baskets every time we wanted fruits.

We did not visit Jarkaken frequently. Our trips to Jarkaken were often situation driven. We came to town in the case of a death within our family. We celebrated some national holidays in town. We came to town whenever the township commissioner called folks to clean around their homes and the entire community. We came to town to observe other traditional or cultural events, too. But of all the special situations that lured us to town, Kla-nynomo-saju, a bizarrely...


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