I was thinking of my old friend Anthony today when I passed the US embassy. The embassy is increasingly taking over the hill of Mamba Point, the highpoint of downtown Monrovia. I have no idea where Anthony is today, but here I narrate a dream he once had. Entering an imagined Western space would to Anthony [anno 1998], and many other young Liberians, put an end to social suffering, a gaining of personal freedom and indisputable status of next to divine character. Remember that this is a year after the end of the first war and in a city very much in fear of renewed war with the warlord democrat Charles Taylor ruling the country.
When Anthony looks at the moon he can suddenly see a man sitting next to a house. The man appears to be Jesus. He leaves the moon to descend to earth joined by soldiers dressed in white. As it happens he has chosen Monrovia as his destination. The entire Waterside Market is there to welcome him. Jesus walks from Waterside via UN-drive, past Happy Homes, climbing the hill up to the US Embassy on Mamba Point. He enters the embassy compound and sits down with the Ambassador. The crowd is watching as the Ambassador all of a sudden stands up and calls Anthony to come and join them. Jesus, the American Ambassador and my friend Anthony sit down and Jesus tells them in heart-to-heart talk that when time comes he himself will come and rescue everyone. The dream is organized spatially. First Jesus enters the main market area and is greeted by the people. But Jesus does not stop to talk to them. Instead he moves to a space with higher dignity and status, the US Embassy (he passes the EU-compound without a reaction). Now he enters a piece of territory that is not part of Africa but leased by a Western State with a higher order of rank in the mind of Anthony and many others. Here, behind the fence and in rigid security, in place to keep Liberians out, Jesus sits down and talks on equal terms with the US ambassador.
In Anthony’s dream he puts the American on an equal level with Jesus and Liberians much further down. Anthony is chosen as a messenger, a go-between, and included in the important conversation: a role that he was cultivating in his real life as well. I believe that it is not the go-between status that is most important for him, but rather the focus is on the border transgression. (Indeed this transgression is only possible because of his go-between status.) As such he becomes included in the important matters that Liberians in general are only observers of, in the same way as Liberian immigrants are imagined to be included as they enter Europe or North America. Not even a chat with Jesus is impossible. But he concludes with a Christian message from Jesus that even if you are not successful in reaching the confines of the West on judgement day we will all be saved.
Leave a Reply