Liberia: The Cultural Gap

first_imgMonrovia – Growing up in Liberia, whenever I call my name, I garner the stares and expressions of a name that sounds too strong or otherwise traditional. In fact, I get the feeling from facial expressions that the name belongs to another world, especially in my case, as both names are purely Liberian indigenous names. While in secondary school, it was worse. The calling of my name was greeted with instant laughter, jeers and intentional mispronunciations, intended to instill humiliation and fear. I remember many colleagues couldn’t bear the emotional bullying associated with bearing traditional African names and opted to have their names changed. This is typical of the average Liberian classroom where western names are pronounced with distinction and claimed with pride but traditional Liberian names are wrongly pronounced and treated with disdain. The name carrier bore the burnt of the struggle and left to face the accompanying degradations.The name scenario is a tip of the iceberg of the extent to how wide Liberians have negated their culture with western cultures, and in some cases other African cultures over their own cultures. A Liberian would prefer to be proudly called by another West African name and claim lineage to that country or ancestral history, but would refuse to proudly bear his name given under sacred conditions by his or her grandparents. Treasured and rich names with deep history are relegated to borrowed names. There are varying examples to the nature and breadth of how Liberians have abandoned their cultures over the years to diffusing and assimilating completely into others. This trend has affected generations to such a dangerous extent that there remains a major gap in the culture. Major tribes have histories of their founding fathers and how they came to being but have chosen to ignore those stories, completely forgotten to speak native dialects, hence a whole generation of young children grow up unable to speak their dialects. Ironically, the inability to speak one’s language comes with a false sense of sophistication. The ignorance of one’s history and cultural practices meant a man was too ‘civilized’ to conform. The reality is sad. A society without a clear definition of its history and culture has no foundation to build upon, and no purpose. We have a completely shattered appreciation of our culture from clothing, cuisine, language, history, etc. Every society has a signature delicacy that is known by foreigners upon entering that country. We have several dishes, from hot cooked palm butter and bitter roots to potato greens with red palm oil, bitter balls mixed with okra and fresh water palm oil to torborgee and rice, palava sauce and rice, domboy and pepper soup and GB with wollor soup. These are delicious delicacies that can be marketed and possibly exported to showcase the kinds of food we eat as Liberians. Culture is the melting pot of a group of people and the lining that binds us together. How many average Liberian kids understand the relevance and role of traditional chiefs, traditional dance ceremonies for birth, funerals, and other occasions?There is a surge in learning how to speak like other West Africans, copying their accents, but afraid to identify with our own accents. We have to develop ourselves and develop a spirit of cultural identity.Cultural identity is often defined as the identity of a group, culture or an individual, influenced by one’s belonging to a group or culture.A developmental psychologist, Jean S. Phinney, formulated a three stage model describing how this identity is acquired.The first stage, unexamined cultural identity, is characterized by a lack of exploration of culture and cultural differences – they are rather taken for granted without much critical thinking. This is usually the stage reserved for childhood when cultural ideas provided by parents, the community or the media are easily accepted. Children at this stage tend not to be interested in ethnicity and are generally ready to take on the opinions of others.The second stage of the model is referred to as the cultural identity search and is characterized by the exploration and questioning of your culture in order to learn more about it and to understand the implications of belonging to it. During this stage you begin to question where your beliefs come from and why you hold them. You are now ready to compare and analyze them across cultures. For some, this stage may arise from a turning point in their lives or from a growing awareness of other cultures, and it can also be a very emotional time. This is often the time when high school students decide to go on an intercultural exchange program.Finally, the third stage of the model is cultural identity achievement. Ideally, people at this stage have a clear sense of their cultural identity and are able to successfully navigate it in the contemporary world, which is undoubtedly very interconnected and intercultural. The acceptance of yourself and your cultural identity may play a significant role in your other important life decisions and choices, influencing your attitudes and behavior. This usually leads to an increase in self-confidence and positive psychological development.It seems we’re walloping in the first stage of cultural identity and are mimicking other cultures and taking the opinions of others about ourselves. Until we realize who we are, where we come from and what we want, the road to the future would be blurred, and we risk becoming cultural chameleons.Lekpele Nyamalon is a Liberian writer and poet, an OSIWA Poetry fellow and can be reached at: Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Leonora Cottage Hospital facing drug shortage

first_img− regional authorities failed to notify MoHThe Leonora Cottage Hospital, on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) is battling a drug shortage, however;The Leonora Cottage Hospitalregional officials have failed to notify the Public Health Ministry of the issue.The health institution has been without much needed medication for several months, sources at the facility told Guyana Times.This publication was told that doctors have to issue prescriptions to patients so that they can purchase medication which would normally be issued by the hospital’s pharmacy. It was indicated that the hospital is out of basic medications, such as Panadol and antibiotics.Earlier this year, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) Chairman Julius Faerber voiced concerns over the drug shortage in the region. He related that similar issues are plaguing the West Demerara Regional Hospital and health centres across the region. However, when questioned about the issue as it relates to the Leonora Cottage Hospital, Regional Executive Officer (REO) Dennis Jaikarran denied having any knowledge of the issue.Meanwhile, Dr George Norton on Wednesday alleged that regional officials failed to notify him of the shortage that is plaguing the Hospital.“I just had a meeting with my Permanent Secretary with the regional authorities; that is the Chairman, the REO and the Regional Health Officer (RHO) of Region Three, and in that meeting I made it known in no uncertain terms that I am not impressed with what is taking place on the regional level. While they have been saying to me that there is no shortage… on the ground, that might not be the case,” he related.The Minister said he was not prepared to deny the claims that there was a drug shortage at the medical facility at Leonora, since similar situations exist across the country.“I might not have had reason to doubt the regional authorities or my officers, but I am beginning to do so because of the frequency which this is being said. There must be some truth in what they are saying in terms of the shortage of drugs because it seems not to be isolated cases,” Dr Norton related.Earlier this week, Norton indicated that the change in the procurement system is probably the likely cause for the drug shortages being experienced at certain public health facilities across Guyana.Meanwhile, addressing the issue of patients having to purchase medication, Dr Norton explained that it is not the duty of the patient to procure the necessary medication, but rather, the responsibility of the Hospital administrator.“What would be interesting, and this has been happening in some hospitals… rather than giving the patients the prescription, if the doctor should speak to whoever is in charge of that institution, then that institution should be responsible for getting that medication rather than the patient. There should be no reason why a patient should have a prescription. If you take that prescription, and take it to the Hospital Administrator, then the Hospital Administrator would have to get it. They would be forced to go and get it for the patient,” the Minister stated.He vowed that he would be investigating the matter and putting measures in place to combat the issue.last_img read more

Promises made, and promises kept

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card It’s pretty incredible to think that women had just gotten the right to vote and Prohibition had turned the country dry in 1920, when Claire made her deal with the Lord. “As long as you give me breath, I’ll serve you,” the young Sunday school teacher promised. Obviously, the Lord took the deal. “My mother grew up in a house without electricity and indoor plumbing, and a world without airplanes and everything else we take for granted today,” said her son, Ron. She was the daughter of a circuit preacher who visited his churches on the South Side of Chicago every Sunday in the early 1900s on horseback. Odds and ends from around the Valley: If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you probably remember Claire Klint. When we first met her in 2003, she was 105 – and still teaching Sunday school at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. Every Sunday morning, Claire would walk up a flight of 20 stairs to teach the Scriptures to 40 children. Next week Claire turns 108. And while she’s no longer able to teach Sunday school because she lost her eyesight, she’s still active and an inspiration to everyone she meets. Claire would wrap her arms around her father’s waist and ride behind him in the saddle to those churches – listening to him preach and learning from him until she was old enough to make her own deal with the Lord for a long, fruitful life. Happy 108th, Claire – from your fans. While we’re talking about long, fruitful lives, no one had a better one than Connie Haas, who died last week at 84. In 48 years, Connie and her late husband, Frank, took in more than 700 foster-care children – many of them special-needs kids. “There’s nobody like her, nobody who’s basically dedicated her whole life to helping so many kids who needed a lot of help,” said Judge Michael Nash, presiding judge of Juvenile Court in Los Angeles County. “I don’t know any other way to say it. She’s just one of the greatest people I have ever met coming through my courtroom.” Last year, I wrote about how Connie was worrying about the end of her life approaching – not for her, but for the three special-needs boys she had guardianship of since they were babies. There was Josh, a Caucasian born to a mother strung out on drugs 17 years ago, and Joe, also 17, a Latino born with severe heart problems. And finally Benny, 15, an African-American boy who weighed 2 pounds at birth and suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. Their parents didn’t want them anymore – but Connie and Frank Haas did. “We always had guardianship, but never really thought of adopting them because we thought their mothers might come back for them some day,” Connie told me at the time. “But they never did.” She was worried because the boys were still minors and would most likely be separated and placed in other homes after she died. “I couldn’t let that happen,” Connie said, standing in the hallway outside the courtroom of Judge Nash after formally adopting her boys last year to make sure they would always remain brothers. “This is the only home they’ve ever had,” Connie said. “They’re not going anywhere. They’re my boys now.” RIP, Connie. You were such an inspiration to so many of us who knew you. And finally, in a touch of class, the Museum of the San Fernando Valley, located in the historic James Dodson Bungalow at Los Angeles Valley College, named its new library this week after Austin Conover, its former curator who died last November at 92. After a colorful career as a newspaper reporter covering World War II and interviewing world leaders such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Conover came to work at Valley College and was named the museum’s curator in the mid-1980s. The museum – named after one of the college’s original teachers – is in the first bungalow built on the campus for returning servicemen who wanted to take advantage of the GI bill. “It’s a historic building filled with San Fernando Valley history, and Austin was the caretaker and prime mover in making so much of our local history come alive,” said Gerald Fecht, president of the museum. For more information on the museum, call (818) 947-2373. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more