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War in Jarkaken, Liberia

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:12 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61.1 
  • Words: 4724
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When the war intensified in 1990, I was a ninth grader at Robert Baker Richardson Baptist High School in the provincial town of Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Liberia. In June of that year, my guardians decided that safety outweighed the pursuit of education. So, we packed up for lower Grand Gedeh (now River Gee), where we assumed safety awaited us. In less than five hours of riding rough, we arrived in the fundamentally Grebo region of this Krahn county. My guardians dutifully dropped me off at my parents’ house in Jarkaken and went on to theirs, Killepo Towloken, a stone throw away.  

Relocation didn’t provide the kind of safety I believed my guardians had in mind. Barely eight months after entering the country through Nimba County, Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), with no one standing in their way, reached the little known town of Jarkaken, Grand Gedeh County on August 24, 1990. They entered the town from all directions because Jarkaken, like the rest of the country, lay vulnerable. In just hours, the NPFL firmly had the town of about five thousand people on complete lockdown, but some of the targeted people like Krahns, Mandingoes, government officials and other people of interest had managed somehow to escape before the lockdown was completed.

A family of Krahns who rented Mr. David K. Swen’s tiny shop was among the lucky rebel targets to get out of harm’s way. While they were heading out, they met my family on the outskirt of Jarkaken. We were en route to town after several hours of work along the path that led to our farmland. Even though there was no resistance to the rebels’ entry, the runaway family told us that the rebels had just “captured” the town. We stood for several minutes, pondering whether to enter the town or turn around and go back to the village. We agreed to enter the town.

Upon entry, the town had dispatched announcers, without loudspeakers, to inform all residents in...


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