March 31, 2006

Bye Bye Liberia!

Defense Ministry

I left Monrovia 2 days ago on the wings of SLOK air.

2 hours of waiting in the stifling heat (there is NO a/c in the airport) and an other stampede later, I was sitting on a plane to Accra.

Next Destination: BENIN! (Or so I thought....)

March 27, 2006


Once again, I am ready to embark on a new journey.

In fact, a conversation with SFTC has made realize how hectic the weeks to come are going to be. Tonight, I am packing because tomorrow morning I am flying out.

I will be flying on SLOK AIR.

My colleague says it sounds like something nasty in a bucket, which it does.

My cousin, who has been in the flying business says it might stand for Sometimes Lands OK.

Me? I don't care, man. It's getting me where I need to go.

It'll be my 3rd flight with them so I know what to expect: an overbooked flight, a stampede at boarding, bad food and lousy service. What ever. The flight is only one hour anyway.

First, I'm flying to Accra in Ghana. I'll spend tomorrow's night there and then take a flight to Abidjan in Cote-d'Ivoire where I will sit and rot for 10 hours until my flight on Air Ivoire, SLOK's distant cousin,
, also referred to by the locals are : Air Peut-Etre (Air Maybe) to Cotonou, in Benin.

I'll work 11 days in Cotonou and then fly to Paris in France (duh) where I'll be meeting up at last with my only love.

10 days and 2 buckets of tears later, I'll fly out again to Miami where I'll spend an overnight before my flight to Port-au-Prince, in Haiti, where i'll be working 6 weeks before I go home to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for 2 weeks of rest (and then it's back out again - but let's not go there yet).

I calculate that I will pack and unpack another
6 times before I get home 2 months from now. That means I go through this about every 2 weeks.

And even after I get home, I'll have to pack again 2 weeks later.

(Maybe I just just start living in my suitcase.)

Oh boy. I need to get real. I'm way too big.

I'm getting pretty good at this though.
  1. For example, I know to always have a spare change in my hand luggage in case my main stuff gets lots by the morons at the airport company.
  2. I have those cool anti-air bags to make sure I don't lose any space in my luggage.
  3. I know not to unpack too much.
  4. I know exactly what goes where in my suitcase.
Nevertheless, whenever I pack up, I always have the same comment:

"! Good grief, I carry way too much crap ! "

The Beaver

Thanks, Chris in Puebla and Ryan in Madison for posting on my guestmap!

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 26, 2006


Sunday night and nothing to do. A normal situation for me, really, but tonight I feel unable to pretend it's all right, unable to keep looking like everything is handy-dandy.

Tonight would have been a good night to go out and grab some beers and hang out with friends, discover some weird new food, or just walk randomly in the streets of Montreal.

But the truth is, I'm in Monrovia, and I'm past my curfew. The truth is, my only source of entertainment and social interaction is my coworker, with whom I have now been 24/7 for the last 3 weeks. I need a breather. I need to see new people.

I've checked, read, and commented on all my favorite blogs. I've answered all my emails. I watched 2 movies on my computer. Now, I'm blogging about my boredom.

I need to see my friends. I need to hang loose. I need to have fun.

I haven't laughed full-heartedly for a week. This isn't me. I guess I must be depressed.

Oh well. I guess tonight, my life sucks !

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 25, 2006

After the War...

Ministry of health

This is apparently the former Ministry of health (?) and has since been recuperated by the locals.

This building which once was the haven of bureaucrats paid by Charles Taylor is now an appartment building for displaced Liberians.

I can’t help but be all excited that the population has retaken ownership of this building. It’s chaotic, arnarchist, but is also serves as a warning to the new administration:


Room with a view

Room with a view, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Says it all, doesn't it?

I've uploaded more pictures, y'all know what to do !

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 23, 2006

About Liberia and Sierra Leone

I'd been meaning to do this in a while. A little bit more about the Country I am currently visiting. Thanks to WIKIPEDIA for a very exhaustive article.

The Republic of Liberia is a country on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire. It has recently been afflicted by two civil wars, the Liberian Civil War (19891996), and the Second Liberian Civil War (19992003), that have displaced hundreds of thousands of its citizens and destroyed the Liberian economy.

Settlers from America

The history of Liberia as a political entity begins with the arrival of the black American settlers — the Americo-Liberians, as they came to be known — who established a colony of “free men of color” on its shore in 1822 under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. The historical roots from which a majority of present-day Liberians derive their identity, however, are found in the varied traditions of the several ethnicities of indigenous Africans whom the settlers confronted in their struggle to gain a foothold in Africa and, later, extend their control into the interior.

On July 26, 1847, the American settlers declared the independence of the Republic of Liberia. The settlers regarded the continent from which their forefathers had been taken as slaves as a "Promised Land", but they did not become reintegrated into an African society. Once in Africa, they referred to themselves as "Americans" and were recognized as such by local Africans and by British colonial authorities in neighboring Sierra Leone. The symbols of their state — its flag, motto, and seal — and the form of government that they chose reflected their American background and diaspora experience.

President Edwin Barclay of Liberia (right), 1943
President Edwin Barclay of Liberia (right), 1943

The religious practices, social customs and cultural standards of the Americo-Liberians had their roots in the antebellum American South. These ideals strongly coloured the attitudes of the settlers toward the indigenous African people. The new nation, as they perceived it, was coextensive with the settler community and with those Africans who were assimilated into it. Because of mutual mistrust and hostility between the "Americans" along the coast and the "Natives" of the interior, a recurrent theme in the country's subsequent history, therefore, was the usually successful attempt of the Americo-Liberian minority to dominate people whom they considered uncivilized and inferior. They named the land "Liberia," which in European languages, and in Latin in particular, means "Land of the Free".

Stephen Allen Benson, President of Liberia 1856-1864
Stephen Allen Benson, President of Liberia 1856-1864

The founding of Liberia was privately sponsored by American religious and philanthropic groups, but the colony enjoyed the support and unofficial cooperation of the United States government. Liberia’s government, modeled after that of the United States, was democratic in structure, if not always in substance. After 1877 the True Whig Party monopolized political power in the country, and competition for office was usually contained within the party, whose nomination virtually ensured election. Two problems confronting successive administrations were pressure from neighboring colonial powers, Britain and France, and the threat of financial insolvency, both of which challenged the country’s sovereignty. Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, but lost its claim to extensive territories that were annexed by Britain and France. Economic development was retarded by the decline of markets for Liberian goods in the late nineteenth century and by indebtedness on a series of loans, payments on which drained the economy.

William R. Tolbert, Jr.. (left), President of Liberia, 1973
William R. Tolbert, Jr.. (left), President of Liberia, 1973

Significant mid-20th-century events

Two events were of particular importance in releasing Liberia from its self-imposed isolation. The first was the grant in 1926 of a large concession to the American-owned Firestone Plantation Company; that move became a first step in the modernization of the Liberian economy. The second occurred during World War II, when the United States began providing technical and economic assistance that enabled Liberia to make economic progress and introduce social change.

1980 coup under Doe

On 12 April 1980, a successful military coup was staged by a group of noncommissioned officers of tribal origins led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, and they executed the President of nine years William R. Tolbert, Jr. in his mansion. Constituting themselves the People’s Redemption Council, Doe and his associates seized control of the government and brought an end to Liberia’s "first republic".

President Tolbert with American president Carter in Monrovia, 1978
President Tolbert with American president Carter in Monrovia, 1978

Doe made strong ties with the United States in the early 1980s, receiving more than $500 million for pushing out the Soviet Union from the country, and allowing exclusive rights for the US to use Liberia's ports and land (including allowing the CIA to use Liberian territory to spy on Libya).

Doe continued his authoritarian policies, banning newspapers, outlawing opposition parties and holding staged elections.

1989 and 1999 civil wars

In late 1989, a civil war began, and in September 1990 Doe was ousted and killed by the forces of faction leader Yormie Johnson and members of the Gio tribe. As a condition for the end of the conflict, interim president Amos Sawyer resigned in 1994, handing power to the Council of State. Prominent warlord Charles Taylor was elected as President in 1997. Taylor's brutal regime targeted several leading opposition and political activists. In 1998, the government sought to assassinate child rights activist Kimmie Weeks for a report he had published on its involvement in the training of child soldiers, which forced him into exile. Taylor's autocratic and dysfunctional government led to a new rebellion in 1999. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the civil wars. The conflict intensified in mid-2003, when the fighting moved closer to Monrovia. As the power of the government shrank and with increasing international and American pressure for him to resign, President Charles Taylor accepted an asylum offer by Nigeria, but vowed: "God willing, I will be back."

March 22, 2006

Naissance - Birth

Today, I moved one year closer to the big 30. I often feels like I was just 15, 17, 18, 20, and 25 last week. It's horrible how time passes fast. Thanks to all who thought of wishing me a happy birthday. Here are some cool birthday wishes I got. (Sorry 007, that was just a too cool post last year - I have to redo it.)


The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 20, 2006

Lettre a un jeune soldat / Letter to a young soldier

Child soldier, Liberia (1997) -
WCC (Francais)
WCC (English)
«Les enfants sont notre avenir. Accepter que des enfants soldats participent à des conflits armés, c’est accepter la destruction de notre avenir, un enfant après l’autre.»

Kofi Annan, Session extraordinaire de l’ONU consacrée aux enfants, mai 2002

Ton corps est un temple, garde le. Ne laisse pas l'ombre du mal t'approcher.
Un fusil est une arme. C'est un objet mature pour une main mature. Si ton index ne trouve pas la gachette, laisse le.

Your body is a temple, keep it. Do not let the shadow of evil near you.
A gun is a weapon. It is a mature object meant for a mature hand. If you index cannot find the trigger, leave it.

Pense a ta mere si tu vois une femme.
Pense a ton pere si tu vois un homme.
Si tu vois des enfants, pense a tes freres et soeurs.

If you see a woman, think of your mother.
If you see a man, think of your father.
Think of your brothers and sisters when you see children.

Ton ame est un tresor. Toi seul en est le gardien. Toi seul peut la garder.
Ton esprit est un lieu de songes et de beaute. Interdit-toi la violence.

You soul is a treasure. You only are its warden. Only you can keep it.
Your spirit is a place of dreams and beauty. Forbid yourself from violence.

Tes yeux sont des mysteres insondables. Ils portent en eux tout ce que tu es. Ils sont tout ce que tu as de beau et d'unique.

Your eyes are neverending mysteries. They carry all that you are. They are all that you have that is unique and beautiful.y

Ta vie est un chemin ouvert. Prend la a bras le corps, ne la laisse pas s'echapper.

Your life is an open road. Take it by both hands, do not let it slip away.

Ton sourire est ton innocence. Partage le.

Your smile is your innocence. Share it.

Tout ce que tu apprends, garde le en memoire. Un jour, tu le transmettras.

Remember all that you learn. One day, you will share it too.

The Beaver

March 18, 2006

More pics !!!

Mamba Point, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

I've uploaded more pictures of Liberia:

- beaches
- rural areas
- historical monuments
- and a special something for conspiracy buffs or Dan Brown fans!!!

Click on the pic!

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Happy Birthday Salt Water!!!

Today is the Birth day of my Friend Salt Water!!!

He is a great man with a huge heart, a fan of Mother Nature, and a
hard-working family man.

May the gods of the Road smile on you in your long drives, may you find
your way home, and may the ocean greet you once again!

Much love,

Happy Birthday!

The Beaver

March 17, 2006


I've posted pictures of Liberia... Follow the link !

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 16, 2006

Jest fur laffs

My apologies to all rednecks everywhere... I just couldn't resist !!!

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 14, 2006

Séjour en Transylvanie / Journey in Transilvania

I feel that I may have a hit a low. I am sincerely wondering whether I should continue or not, though I wonder deep down in my heart if I may be feeling this way because I am (once again) in a restricted environment. While Sierra Leone felt like there was a certain amount of freedom, Liberia is the most restricted country I have ever been to.

Je suis dans un creux de vague. Je me demande si je dois rester dans ce travail, mais je me demande aussi si mon manque d’enthousiasme n’est pas lie au fait que je suis (encore une fois) en poste dans un pays difficile. Alors qu’au Sierra Leone j’avais un peu de liberté, je dirai que le Liberia est le pays le plus restrictif que j’ai jamais visite.

When I arrived in Liberia, the security officer was waiting for us. He gave us a cell phone each, and we hopped in the pick up truck for the drive to Monrovia. During the 45-minute drive, I read the security handbook and observed the biblical landscape that was flowing around me. Liberia is so green, so lush, that it strikes the imagination. The Garden of Eden comes to mind.

A mon arrivée au Liberia, l’officier de sécurité nous attendait à l’aéroport. Il nous a donne un cellulaire chacune, et on est monte dans le camion. Pendant le trajet de 45 minutes, j’ai lu le carnet de sécurité et regarde le paysage biblique alentour. Le Liberia est tellement verdoyant, la végétation est si luxuriante, que ça en frappe l’imagination. Ca me fait penser au jardin d’Eden.

I was very tired, and passed out on my bed at 4PM, only to wake up at 1AM, starving and very awake. My room is does not have a balcony, my hotel does not have a bar or a terrace. It is forbidden to smoke everywhere. So I stepped out into the hotel yard, and had the claustrophobic impression of being in a box: there was a tarp roof over my head, and the gate was closed, bolted, and a security guard was sleeping against it. At that particular moment, it dawned on me that I was in the most restrictive country I had ever visited.

J’étais très fatiguée, et je me suis couchée à 4h de l’après-midi, pour me réveiller à 1h du matin, affamée et les yeux grands ouverts. Ma chambre n’a pas de balcon. Mes fenêtres donnent sur un mur. Mon hôtel n’a ni bar, ni terrasse. Il est interdit de fumer partout. Alors je suis allée dans la cour de l’hôtel et j’y ai eu la sensation claustrophobe d’être dans une boite : le toit de la cour au-dessus de ma tête, les murs alentour, même le portail ferme, barricade, et le gardien couche devant…. A ce moment en particulier, j’ai réalise que j’étais probablement dans l’environnement le plus restrictif que j’avais jamais visite.

These last days have been difficult. I gave up meat, and there nothing to eat here. I feel no desire to watch TV or to read, no energy to write. There is nothing to do, no one to befriend, no trust to have. Taking a walk after dark is prohibited by the agency’s policy.

Les derniers jours ont été difficiles. J’étais devenue une vraie végétarienne au SL. Ici, les choix culinaires sont très limites. Je n’ai aucune envie de regarder la TV, de lire, ou d’écrire. Il n’y a rien a faire, personne a rencontrer, personne a faire confiance. Il nous est même interdit de marcher dehors après le coucher du soleil.

I feel like I’m in a bad movie. I can’t wait to relax.

J’ai l’impression d’être dans un mauvais film. J’ai hâte de relaxer.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 12, 2006


I write little these days. Sure, I'm busy. Sure, I'm tired. But I'm also lazy.

I seem to have a hard time writing these days. It seems more difficult to word my experiences, less appealing to write. I am getting blasée.

I guess that despite my frequent change of scenery, my daily life is getting boring. Whatever the place, I wake up, go to work, eat, sleep. I finally gave up meat for good (I've been off the stuff for 2 weeks now), and try to keep doing my daily yoga practice. It's a great exercise. It also helps me relax and sleep better.

I miss a bit Pakistan. There, I had a sort of youth, a return to teenage-hood, a sort of dream. We worked hard and played hard. It worked out well. My experience in Sierra Leone has been very different.

In Sierra Leone, I was in an enchanting scenery, in a very poor developing country, and I was almost alone. It's actually ok for a while to be quiet, to learn to be more contemplative, more reflective. Freetown is a fascinating city. Downtown reminds me of Dakar, more precisely Sandaga, the crowded market.

The city is surrounded by the ocean, and is composed of several mountainous peninsulas. To go from one point to the other, impossible to straight, you have to take a series of detours by a bridge between 2 hills, by a hillside road, or along a beach.

I do not feel empty. Rather, I feel full of wonder at the world and at its beauty. I feel privileged to travel so much, to see so many places and faces. But sometimes, I feel nostalgic of my home, though I know many of the things I dream of are idealized and that my life in Montreal would be the one I had before I left, and I would feel empty again. I lack balance in my life. I wish I could be home more between travels, and more often. Maybe eventually, I’ll be able to pull something like that off.

I am, however, not unhappy. I have been, for the purpose of these 3 little audits, paired with a teammate whom I will refer to as J. J is a devoted christian who enjoys life very much and has a great sense of humor. Together, we laugh a lot. She is also very open-minded, and we have had interesting conversations about religion. I also have been to church in Sierra Leone, an interesting cultural experience, which I did not repeat for fear of the stifling heat.

I have now arrived in Liberia, where I hope to find the heart to write for real.


The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Small Miracles

I just arrived in Monrovia, Liberia. It appears Internet is not only existant, but easily available.

I guess perceptions are deeply tied to the past.

Will shortly update y'all. Cheers !

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 10, 2006


Guys, I'm flying to Monrovia (Liberia) where Internet communications are deemed inexistant, limited, or inexistant.

I probably will not update until March 29th, unless I miraculously gain access to Internet.

Cheers! Expect plenty of stories and pictures in April !

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 09, 2006

Tribute to Shakespeare

Sometimes, it's nice to reminisce on those works we had to study in school. Indulge!!!

Sonnets CXXX
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go:
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

-- William Shakespeare

Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

-- William Shakespeare

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

March 08, 2006

Sierra Leone Insecurity

Just in case other readers are in the area.....

Sierra Leone Police report that three serious attacks took place on Lumley Beach on Sunday evening between 9 and 10 pm possibly carried out by the same gang of 4-6 men / youths armed with knives.

Near Silver Wings a Ghanaian national (male) was robbed at knifepoint of cash and mobile phone.

Near Chez Nous restaurant a Lebanese national (male) was attacked and stabbed ,cash and a mobile phone were taken. The man was badly injured.

Near the Golf Club a SL national (female) was dragged from her stationery car ,while she was making a mobile telephone call. The thieves smashed the window of her Pathfinder jeep as they carried out the attack and removed her from the vehicle.They stole cash,jewelry and other articles from the car before running off.

International Woman's day - tribute


La percée des femmes entrepreneurs
The opening of the women contractors

(Syfia Bénin) Depuis l'avènement des processus démocratiques en Afrique, les femmes chefs d'entreprise ont le vent en poupe. Mieux formées qu'autrefois, elles forcent le respect et désamorcent les préjugés les plus tenaces.

(Syfia Benin) Since the advent of the democratic processes in Africa, the women heads of undertaking have the wind in poop. Formed better than formerly, they force the respect and defuse the toughest prejudices.

Drapée dans un grand boubou rose, la Nigérienne Amina Hassane Wangari en impose par son allure altière. Cette femme se bat depuis une dizaine d'années pour développer Ciminti Import-Export BTP et C.E.T Wangari, son complexe d'entreprises, spécialisé dans l'import-export, la construction, l'enseignement général et technique. "Quand j'ai commencé en 1997, je n'avais que 40 millions de Fcfa (environ 83 000 dollars canadiens). Aujourd'hui mon chiffre d'affaires dépasse les 785 millions (plus de 1 300 000 dollars)", confie-t-elle en marge d'un séminaire sur les Petites et moyennes entreprises (PME) agroalimentaires, organisé fin février à Cotonou, la métropole du Bénin, par le Centre technique de coopération agricole et rurale (CTA). La Sénégalaise Bineta Coulibaly, une autre participante, a connu un parcours identique : de 35 000 Fcfa (72 dollars) en 1992 elle a su porter à 30 millions (62 000 dollars), quatorze ans après, le capital de La Vivrière, sa société de production et de vente de denrées alimentaires à base de céréales.

Draped in large a boubou pink, the Native of Niger Amina Hassane Wangari imposes some by her proud pace. This woman fights since ten years to develop Ciminti Import-Export BTP and C.E.T Wangari, her complex of companies, specialized in import-export, the construction industry, the general education and technical. "When I started in 1997, I had only 40 million Fcfa (approximately 83 000 Canadian dollars). Today my sales turnover exceeds the 785 million (more than 1 300 000 dollars)", entrusts it in margin of a seminar on Small and medium-sized undertakings (SME) agroalimentary, organized at the end of February in Cotonou, the metropolis of Benign, by the technical Center of agricultural and rural co-operation (CTA). Sénégalaise Bineta Coulibaly, another participating, knew an identical course: from 35 000 Fcfa (72 dollars) in 1992 it knew to carry to 30 million (62 000 dollars), fourteen years after, the capital of Food, its company of production and sale of foodstuffs containing cereals.

Nombre d'entrepreneuses d'Afrique peuvent se prévaloir d'une telle réussite. Dans la plupart des pays francophones d'Afrique de l'Ouest, l'émergence de cette classe d'entrepreneurs féminins date d'un peu plus d'une quinzaine d'années. "Elle est en grande partie le résultat des changements provoqués par l'avènement des régimes démocratiques autour des années 1990", analyse Moubarakatou Akinotcho, de la Chambre de commerce et d'industrie du Bénin. Assortis d'une libéralisation de l'économie, ces processus de démocratisation ont libéré les énergies et incité les femmes, 51 % de la population en moyenne dans ces pays, à s'impliquer davantage dans les activités économiques. Par ailleurs, au Bénin par exemple, la crise de l'emploi, accentuée vers la fin des années 1980 par la faillite des entreprises publiques et la mise au chômage de bon nombre de pères de famille, a rendu impérieux cet engagement des femmes.
Numbers the entrepreneuses ones of Africa can prevail itself of such a success. In the majority of the French-speaking countries of West Africa, the emergence of this class of female contractors goes back to a little more than one about fifteen years. "It is mainly the result of the changes caused by the advent of the democratic modes around the years 1990", analyzes Moubarakatou Akinotcho, of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Benign one. Together with a liberalization of the economy, these processes of democratization released energies and encouraged the women, 51 % of the population on average in these countries, to imply itself more in the economic activities. In addition, with Benign for example, the employment crisis, accentuated towards the end of 1980 by the bankruptcy of the public companies and the setting with the unemployment of considerable fathers of family, made pressing this engagement of the women.

Se former pour s'affirmer
To be formed to affirm oneself
Ces dernières étaient d'autant plus motivées que plusieurs institutions internationales (Unesco, Bureau international du travail, CTA…) et locales, de plus en plus sensibles aux questions de genre, les ont encouragées par divers moyens : formations à l'entrepreneuriat, conseils et appuis, facilités de crédit, etc. Les femmes elles-mêmes se sont organisées en réseaux : Association des femmes d'affaires et chefs d'entreprises du Bénin (Afaceb), Réseau des femmes chefs d'entreprises du Niger (Refcen), Réseau de l'entrepreneuriat féminin en Afrique de l'Ouest (Refao), etc. Pour elles, la formation est cruciale : "J'ai eu accès aux technologies de l'information et de la communication grâce aux séminaires fréquents qu'organise l'Afaceb pour nous aider à gérer nos affaires, précise Ginette Koukoui Honvo, importatrice de produits de beauté. Je me rends souvent au cyber pour chercher des opportunités d'affaires."
These last were all the more justified that several international institutions (UNESCO, International Labour Office, CTA...) and local, increasingly sensitive to the questions of kind, encouraged them by various means: formations with the entrepreneuriat, councils and supports, credit facilities, etc. The women themselves organized themselves in networks: Association of the businesswomen and heads of undertakings of Benign (Afaceb), Network of the women heads of undertakings of Niger (Refcen), Network of the female entrepreneuriat in West Africa (Refao), etc. For them, the formation is crucial: "I had access to technologies information and of the communication thanks to the frequent seminars that Afaceb organizes to help us to manage our business, specifies Ginette Koukoui Honvo, importer of beauty products. I often go to the cyber to seek business opportunities."

Ces formations leur permettent d'être présentes dans divers secteurs (hôtellerie, restauration, agroalimentaire, services…) et de s'affirmer dans un environnement souvent hostile, dominé par les préjugés sexistes. "Au début, j'ai eu des problèmes dans la gestion des ressources humaines, car certains de mes employés n'acceptaient pas d'être dirigés par leurs collègues femmes que j'avais nommées à des postes de responsabilité, témoigne Bineta Coulibaly. Mais j'ai été ferme et tout est rentré dans l'ordre." Pour elle, il est préférable d'avoir un mari et des enfants compréhensifs, car "on n'a plus de vie de famille, on rentre quelquefois à la maison à deux heures du matin".
These formations enable them to be present in various sectors (hotel trade, restoration, agroalimentary, services...) and to continue in an often hostile environment, dominated by the prejudices sexists. "At the beginning, I had problems in the human stock management, because some of my employees did not agree to be directed by their colleagues women whom I had named at stations of responsibility, Bineta Coulibaly testifies. But I was firm and all returned in the order." For it, it is preferable to have an understanding husband and children, because "there is not any more life of family, one returns sometimes to the house at two hours of the morning".

Créer des emplois Creating jobs
La Kenyane Jemima Munene, gérante de la laiterie Palm House Dairies, se réjouit aussi du recul des préjugés dans son pays grâce au courage des femmes. "Mon entreprise contribue à la réduction de la pauvreté car elle a créé 35 emplois dans les zones rurales et fait vivre 350 producteurs de lait de vache et leur famille", se félicite-t-elle par ailleurs. La Vivrière, au Sénégal, emploie une quarantaine de personnes tandis que Ciminti Import-Export BTP a créé plus d'une centaine d'emplois au Niger.
Creating jobs
The Kenyan Jemima Munene, managing dairy Palm Dairies House, is also delighted by the retreat of the prejudices in its country thanks to the courage of the women. "My company contributes to the reduction of poverty because it created 35 jobs in the rural zones and made live 350 cow's milk producers and their family", it is pleased in addition. The Food one, in Senegal, employs forty people while Ciminti Import-Export BTP created more than one hundred of employment in Niger.

"En 1992, la contribution des femmes béninoises au PIB, toutes activités confondues, était de 34 %. Cette part devrait connaître une certaine croissance avec l'évolution de leur taux d'activité en hausse d'environ 5 % entre 1992 et 2002", indique Ismaël Taddé, dans une étude sur l'entrepreneuriat féminin réalisée en 2005. L'objectif de ces femmes leaders est de continuer à mener des actions de sensibilisation, de formation et d'appui afin que leurs sœurs des zones rurales puissent à leur tour sortir de l'analphabétisme et du secteur informel, freins principaux selon Moubarakatou Akinotcho, à l'émergence d'un entrepreneuriat féminin fort et durable.
"In 1992, the contribution of the Beninese women to the GDP, all confused activities, was 34 %. This share should know a certain growth with the evolution of their activity ratio in rise of approximately 5 % between 1992 and 2002", indicates Ismaël Taddé, in a study on the female entrepreneuriat carried out in 2005. The objective of these women leaders is to continue to carry out formation, publicity campaigns and of support so that their s?urs of the rural zones can in their turn leave illiteracy and abstract sector, principal brakes according to Moubarakatou Akinotcho, with the emergence of a female entrepreneuriat extremely and durable.

Par (By) Abraham Brahima & Fernand Nouwligbèto

March 06, 2006


Early morning walk, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.
To go to work in the morning, we have to drive 45 minutes. This is one of the views on Freetown, from Aberdeen, where I am staying for now. The sky is green here... maybe it's the mist?
Pour aller travailler le matin, nous devons rouler 45 minutes. C'est un des vues sur Freetown, d'Aberdeen, où j'habite pour l'instant. Le ciel est vert ici... peut-être il est la brume?

This is the sun-set from my window! Youpi is still with me, and has returned as ever to witness my crazy habits :)

C'est le coucher du soleil, vu de ma fenêtre! Youpi est toujours avec moi, et est revenu pour être témoin de mes habitudes folles:)


Another view on the way to work. This road is a little bit bumpy, but I really enjoy seeing the Baobab and the sea everymorning.

Une autre prise de vue sur le chemin du travail. Cette route est un peu inégale, mais j'ai vraiment plaisir à voir le baobab et la mer tous les matins.


Freetown homes, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

I took this picture while hanging out in downtown Freetown on Saturday. The Krio (sounds like Creole, doesn't it?) are the descendants of the freed slaves who returned from the Americas to Africa and estabished themselves in Freetown.

J'ai pris cette photo tout en accrochant dehors à Freetown du centre samedi. Le Krio (ca ressemble a Créole, n'est-ce-pas ?) sont les descendants des esclaves libres qui est revenu d'Amériques en Afrique et qui ont construit Freetown.


On Saturday, we went to visit Desmond, a friend of my colleague's who runs a children's home. I took this picture on the way there. This is what Freetown looks like from the hill top.

Samedi, nous sont allés visiter Desmond, un ami de ma collègue qui gere une maison de jeunes. J'ai pris cette photo en route. Voici a quoi ressemble Freetown vu de la colline.


You all know who this made me think of ! This is a tribute to all the Davids out there ;)

Vous que tout sait à qui ceci m'a incité à penser! C'est un hommage à tout les Davids !


We refer to them as the kids, but in fact, they are young adults or teenagers. They were abandonned, before or after the war, and were taken in by a Swedish NGO. Desmond, a local reverend, had been managing the project and fathering them. Left to right, we have, Mary, Beaver, Hawa, Johnny, Daniel, Assantu and Moses. Squatting at the front is Desmond Jr.
They are wonderful and full of life. You will see more of them later ;)
On les appelle "les enfants", mais en fait, ce sont de jeunes adultes ou des adolescents. Ils étaient abandonnes, avant ou après la guerre, et ont été pris en charge par une ONG Suedoise. Desmond , un pretre local, gere le projet et leur sert de pere. De gauche a droite, nous avons, Mary, Le castor, Hawa, Johnny, Daniel, Assantu et Moses. Accroupis à l'avant est Desmond Jr. Ils sont merveilleusement pleins de vie. Je vous reparle d'eux plus tard...


Lumley Beach, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

There are lots of beaches in Freetown... On Lumley, it's Easy to get a drink or a lunch by the water. We had lunch here after visiting Desmond.Freetown is the first place where I go where the beauty of mountains complement that of the sea. (Ok, not true, Mamelles in Senegal is pretty nifty too !)

Il y a beaucoup de plages à Freetown.. A Lumley, il est facile d'obtenir une boisson ou un déjeuner au bord de l'eau. Nous avons pris le déjeuner ici après avoir visite Desmond. Freetown est le premier endroit où je vais où la beauté des montagnes complète celle de la mer. (Non, c'est pas vrai, la plage des Mamelles au Sénégal etait aussi tres belle!)


Stitched_001, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.
On Sunday, for once in a long while, I went to church. For those who don't know me too well, I need to specify that it was, for me, a cultural experience more then a religious one. (For a more detailed explanation of my opinion on religion, CLICK HERE.)
What I found truely interesting in this experience was the fact that:
1) there were people. Lots of them. And of all ages.
2) they were happy to be there, concentrated, and full of energy.
3) the preacher was a woman.
4) people participated in singing and dancing.
Le dimanche, pour une fois dans un long moment, j'est allé à l'église. Pour ceux qui ne me connaissent pas trop bien, je dois indiquer que c'était, pour moi, une expérience culturelle plus que religieuse. (pour une explication plus détaillée de mon avis sur la religion, CLICK HERE
1) il y avait les gens. Un bon nombre d'eux. Et de tous ages.
2) ils étaient heureux d'être là, concentré, et plein d'energie.
3) le prédicateur était une femme.
4) les gens participaient en chantant et en dansant.


Children dancing, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

The other thing that was amazing was that it was Children's day, so kids were really given ownership of the whole ceremony. There was a party going on in there, I tell you!

L'autre chose qui était étonnante était que c'était le jour des enfants, et donc les enfants ont été vraiment associes a la cérémonie. C'etait toute une fete!


Sunday Beauties, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.
After the service, we hung out at Desmond's with the Girls and Boys, who were all partied up for Sunday.
Après le service, nous avons bavardé chez Desmond avec les filles et les garçons, qui étaient tous sur leur 31 pour dimanche.


Space Cowboy, originally uploaded by The Travelling Beaver.

Daniel even gave us a pretty good lip sync show of some bluegrass folk. The joy I found with these people was simple and sincere. I was looking forward to sharing it with you, dear readers :)

Daniel nous a même donné un spectacle de lipsync sur fond de folk bluegrass. La joie que j'ai trouvée avec ces personnes était simple et sincère. J'avais hate de la partager avec vous, chers lecteurs:)

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !