And So They Came

first_img(Cont’d from a few weeks earlier.)The next day, the NPFL resorted to the odd but not infrequent military tactics of using human-waves. This time it hoped to overpower its enemies not with the arms and ammunition it could bring to bear but with the number of men whose bodies, probably defenseless, could take as many bullets as possible until the Freeport was captured. Because the NPFL seldom had paramedics on the front and neither was it equipped with ambulance nor stretcher-bearers, and the fact that NPFL troops knew little or nothing about first-aid treatment, this tactics soon proved a massacre. One after another NPFL fighters, many of them poorly armed, barefoot, clad in no more than the shirt on their backs, soaked to the skin and shivering in the rain on that crucial day of August 1990, were mowed down by ECOMOG and INPFL fire. When a couple of ECOMOG fighter aircrafts, dispatched from Sierra Leone, appeared over the battlefield, it was clear they would all be slaughtered. But as though driven by an irresistible urge, drugged, unafraid, the NPFL fought on.By the afternoon more than a hundred NPFL fighters, among them a number of little boys had entered the Freeport of Monrovia. There they would remain for perhaps an hour or so, until they were captured, forced to retreat, or killed. But while they stayed alive, their courage was unbelievable. When their ammunition ran out, something which the NPFL had already encountered from the outset of the fighting, a few fighters, wielding machetes, confronted the INPFL and ECOMOG troops and was able to inflict losses before they were killed. The Freeport of Monrovia, Charles Taylor had reminded them over and over again, was the lifeblood by which his rivals — the INPFL and now ECOMOG force — were able to sustain the conflict against him. But once the port was captured, this war the NPFL had fought from the jungles of northern Liberia to the capital city, Monrovia, would immediately come to an end, resulting in a triumph for the NPFL and ultimately in the turnover of private properties to its fighters. Hence the courage of these young men and child soldiers; many of them poorly trained, uneducated, and all too ready and willing to be used like a huge but depleted ammunition dump thrown into the war in order to ensure victory. And what could have been straight out of a storybook but was as real as the war itself, was the story told of an NPFL fighter, no more than a young man of eighteen years of age, who, impervious to bullets, had killed five ECOMOG troops with a machete and was captured only after a rocket propelled grenade had exploded a few yards in front of him. But although the concussion had knocked him senseless, the young man had sustained only minor injuries. By the following day the peacekeeping soldiers and INPFL troops had formed a coalition. INPFL units, which had been poorly equipped, were now heavily armed with more machine guns and mortars supplied by the ECOMOG force. Hundreds of INPFL fighters were seen dressed in bullet-proof vests, combat helmets, and brand new military boots and army uniforms. In some cases it was hard to even tell them apart from the peacekeeping troops. ECOMOG had, in fact, relegated its duty to a paramilitary force which, like many of Liberia’s warring faction during the course of the war, had its hands as yet stained with the blood of the Liberian people. A huge number of NPFL rebels, many of them only child soldiers, were slaughtered. By the time the INPFL were joined by more ECOMOG troops with their war tanks and heavy guns, the NPFL was in full retreat while the pair of military aircrafts hovered overhead and the bombs fell one after another.The day following the NPFL retreat, which came at about six on a Friday evening, hundreds of their wounded, covered with blood and parts of their bodies smashed to pieces, were brought into the Freeport and put into an annex of the ECOMOG clinics. Emeka had, along with a few army doctors, already done a number of serious cases, many of them having to do with wounded ECOMOG soldiers. Now he was working on that side of the clinic in which the rebels had been brought. There were almost a hundred or so, some no more than ten and twelve years of age. Their arms and legs had been blown off, their faces disfigured by splinters, their mouths showing only the teeth while others suffered from shell shock. Some of the wounded were already dead before they were attended by the doctors. Their eyes, which were sometimes left wide open when they died, could barely expressed the profound depth of pain and suffering which only they could have known and felt. Emeka stood bent over a rebel boy, probing with a scalpel into a wound on the boy’s left arm. The boy was breathing faintly and lay unconscious on the table. Emeka removed from the wound a piece of shrapnel, which was about seven inches long, and put it into a disposable metal container set on the floor next to the table. Then he began to rub ointment on the wound, from which blood flowed freely, until the blood stopped coming altogether. The wound he covered with an adhesive plaster. And then he took some bandages and began to wrap them round the boy’s arm. As he did so, Emeka looked attentively at the boy’s face. He was dark-complexioned, thin and small, with kinky hair and bushy eyebrows, and looked not more than thirteen or fourteen years of age. His lips and fingers were stained black. On his breath Emeka could smell a faint trace of marijuana. Looking down at the boy, Emeka felt himself struck with sadness, for at such a tender age he would have been at school in Nigeria or possibly playing football in the field near his father’s house. Perhaps also he would have just frolicked around until it was time for his bath, after which he could have either gone to bed or sit with a group of neighbors’ children, listening to an old woman, who lived near his father’s house, tell spider’s and turtle’s stories. But here was this Liberian boy — so young and already a hardened killer. Where are his people, his father and his mother or maybe one of his relations?Probably they had all been made homeless and, like many others, would be hunted and killed for no other reason than because they were innocent. Now this child, robbed of his childhood, would doubtless remain dispossessed forever, thought Emeka. Shaking his head, Emeka finished bandaging the boy’s arm then moved on to a table opposite, on which another NPFL fighter, one side of his buttocks sliced off by shrapnel, had lost consciousness and was being attended by a Ghanaian and another Nigerian army doctor.For days following the NPFL’s failed attempt to capture the Freeport of Monrovia, a wave of anger swept through the ECOMOG force. The Ghanaians blamed the killing of some of their troops by the rebels on the Nigerians, who in turn blamed the killing of their men on the Ghanaians. The Nigerians made scathing allusions to how EMOMOG force commander Lieutenant-General Quainoo days before the NPFL attack, had been seen in covert conversations with INPFL commander Prince Johnson, whom the Nigerians claimed couldn’t be trusted. The Guineans, the Sierra Leoneans and the Gambians, seen as the lesser of the two peacekeeping forces, pointed accusing fingers at both and said that the Nigerians and Ghanaians had colluded with the INPFL and NPFL and given them arms and ammunition. There was talk of relieving of his post General Arnold Quainoo and that all important positions in the peacekeeping force were henceforward not to be held by Ghanaians and Nigerians. A few blows were exchanged, shots were fired into the air, and more than once there was talk of abandoning the peacekeeping operation altogether. All the ECOMOG contingents kept to their own headquarters. A few guard posts were abandoned. Even when they went to stand sentry at the main gates to the Freeport, men who once had been comrades would not exchange so much as a word among themselves and had taken to regarding each other with suspicion. The Guineans, the Sierra Leoneans and the Gambians, however, were drawn much closer together, feeling that they had been marginalized and used as scapegoats. Such was the complaints, anger and frustration among the troops that soon their chagrin was heard at ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja. A hasty meeting was called and a resolution to improve all aspect of communication and logistic among the troops was drafted. At the end, it was concluded that the peacekeeping operation to Liberia, though dogged by a number of obstacles and a recent insurgency attack, was worth the salt and could therefore not be abandoned. During this time Prince Johnson would pay frequent visits to the ECOMOG headquarters at the Freeport of Monrovia. Often he came five or six times a day. Pointing out to the peacekeeping troops their weaknesses and lack of restraint, Prince Yormie Johnson — musician, maverick rebel leader who foundGod in Nigeria and subsequently became a pastor, kingmaker of Liberia’s 2011 presidential and legislative elections, an alleged war criminal now Nimba County Senator — would warn that if they were not careful they would all be slaughtered. Nearly routed by the NPFL, as it were, and knowing quite honestly that they would have fared worse had they not formed a quick pact with the INPFL, the ECOMOG peacekeeping troops couldn’t but regard Johnson with a breath of gratitude. It was such that the man became in their eyes something of a demigod. Whenever he visited they would open the gates wide. Johnson would march in with his boys and their weapons loaded and the rebels would have their cars crammed full of looted items.The peacekeeping troops were, of course, doing the looting as well. Indeed there no longer seemed any pride among them.One night, having stood sentry at one of the main entrances to the Freeport, Emeka was returning to his quarters. Suddenly he heard the angry voices of men in the darkness. One of the voices was that of a Nigerian soldier, the other, a Gambian, the third, a Sierra Leonean, and the fourth and fifth, a Ghanaian and a Guinean soldier. Just behind a shipping container, they could be heard violently arguing over something or other, the Guinean soldier in French and the others in Pidgin. The voices grew louder and louder. It seemed almost as though the ECOMOG soldiers, alone with themselves in the darkness, would fall to blows.Inching his way towards the voices and as quietly as possible, Emeka rounded the container then put on his torchlight. There, a few yards in front of him, stood the peacekeeping troops, holding between them a large and brand new refrigerator atop which were four or five cardboard boxes containing television sets and cooking utensils. When the beam of light shone in their faces, they froze. For a moment, nobody spoke; Emeka said nothing. Then the ECOMOG soldiers dropped the refrigerator and the boxes and took to their boots, with the helmets of two soldiers falling from their heads, and disappeared into the darkness. For a long time afterwards Emeka would remember how astonished they had been, like Mary and Magdalene on finding Christ’s tomb empty. The incident would become a famous joke told at ECOMOG headquarters.To be cont’d.Copyright © Saah Millimono 2016About the author: Saah Millimono is the author of Broken Dreams, which was awarded the Short Fiction Prize of the Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings. His first novel Boy Interrupted was awarded 2nd Place for the Kwani Manuscript Project, a one-off writing prize for African writers across the continent and in the Diaspora. He is currently at work on his second novel, which explores the root causes, some of which were not only the direct result of misrule but also the social disparities and perhaps even prejudices that existed both between the indigenous and Americo-Liberians, which triggered the Liberian Civil War. It is also the overlapping stories of three very different characters caught in the conflict and forced into situations that are as sweeping and heartrending as the war itself. He has written for the Daily Observer and the Guardian (UK).Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

MONTREALS QUEEN OF TAP SAYS GOODBYE TO DANCE SCHOOL IN DORVAL

first_imgAdvertisement Ethel Bruneau’s tap school is something of an institution, not just in Dorval, but in the wider Montreal dance community.Bruneau, who is now 82, casts a long shadow and has had a hand in teaching hundreds, if not thousands, of young people and adults during her career.This month she’s closing another chapter, as she bids farewell to the dance school she’s run in Dorval for the last 14 years. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Bruneau says the rent on her studio is just too high, and student enrollment in dance classes isn’t what it used to be.“I don’t have the students that I had. Kids aren’t dancing like they used to. There used to be 200, 300 kids in here. Now I’m down to about five,” she said. Advertisementcenter_img Advertisement Login/Register With: Ethel Bruneau opened her first dance school in 1959 in Dorion, Que. Now she’s being forced to close her school in Dorval because she can no longer afford the rent. (CBC) Twitterlast_img read more

Chaos ends Missing Womens Inquiry

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe Missing Women’s Inquiry ended as it began. In chaos.Protesters barged into the proceedings to voice their displeasure with the commission.Commissioner Wally Oppal asked for patience, saying the report isn’t even written yet.The day ended, however, with a possible show of reconciliation.APTN National News reporter Rob Smith has this story.last_img

At least 42 dead in floods in Indonesias Papua

first_imgA small plane on an airstrip surrounded by floodwaters in Sentani, near the provincial capital of Jayapura, triggered by torrential rain on 17 March. Photo: AFPAt least 42 people have been killed by flash floods in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province, an official said Sunday.The floods in Sentani, near the provincial capital of Jayapura, were triggered by torrential rain on Saturday, and also left 21 people injured.Dozens of homes were damaged by floodwaters, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.”The number of casualties and impact of the disaster will likely increase as search and rescue teams are still trying to reach other affected areas,” he added.The floods have receded, but officials are still trying to evacuate people.Flooding is not uncommon in Indonesia, especially during the rainy season which runs from October to April.In January, floods and landslides killed at least 70 people on Sulawesi island, while earlier this month hundreds in West Java province were forced to evacuate when torrential rains triggered severe flooding.last_img read more

Joy yours and mine

first_imgKhushii (Kinship for Humanitarian, Social and Holistic Intervention in India) a non-governmental organization working to empower the poor and destitute communities in both rural and urban areas. Led by a team of committed philanthropists, and headed by legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, Khushii is presenting an  upcoming art raffle called Art Loot .The event is being hosted by Vivek Khushlani – the President of Khushii on 24 November, at the Clarion Collection Hotel in the Capital. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Art Loot, is a fun and lucrative opportunity to win in a lucky draw, pieces of art all at one fixed price. The works are creations of well known Indian artists, whose art value is significantly more than what the buyer is paying. This is what makes the Art Raffle even more exciting.   ‘12 years back when we started Khushii, it was with the single minded purpose of bringing ‘happiness’ to the life underprivileged children. We are indeed fortunate that so many likeminded people have come forward and supported us in our ongoing endeavours towards the same cause. The Art Loot is our next effort in that direction,’ says Kapil Dev. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe response has been overwhelming and leading artists like Ram Kumar, S.H. Raza, Paresh Maity, Rekha Rodwittya, K.G. Subramanyam, Jaysri Burman, Rini Dhumal, Seema Kohli,  Satish Gupta, Pratul Dash, George Martin, Binoy Varghese,  Sanjay Bhattacharya,  G R Iranna, Nayana Kanodia, Kamar Alam, Hemi Bawa, Satish Gujral, Anupam Sud, Manu Parekh, Gogi Saroj Pal, Sunil Gawde and many more have contributed artworks towards this collection.‘I am pleased to be associated with Khushii’s Art loot in support of its remedial education programme for less privileged children across the country.  The art raffle features works by the country’s renowned artists and we are looking for large hearted support from generous patrons to take home these wonderful creations at an unbelievable price and brighten a lesser fortunate child’s future,’ says Vivek Khushlani.All art works are available to the buyer at a fixed rate of Rs. 3 lakhs. The market value of these art works exceeds 3 lakhs, thus, the Loot.Khushii Art loot presents an unique and fun opportunity of taking home a work of art and contributing to a good cause. The process itself is quite enjoyable and the attendees to the event end up having a very good time.When: 24 November Where: Clarion Collection Hotellast_img read more