Being advertised: Billboard of Liberia’s oldest, and historical, beverage: Club Beer. This Billboard was situated along Tubman Boulevard—Liberia’s major road connecting Center of the Capital, Monrovia—when it was snapped on February 25, 2020 Another proof: liquor varieties & prices price list of another “drinking spot”
By Samuel G. Dweh
Freelance Development Journalist Contacts —+231 (0)email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org
This article is build on the following “pillars”ends with recommendations—ways out of the “boozing culture”
NOTE: The Author’s placement of the two “liquor- promotion photos” over the (prototype) Flag of Liberia is a symbolism of Liberians boozers’ prioritization of liquor over Liberia—I mean putting the Country’s development UNDER drunkenness (intoxication)
Disclaimer: This article isn’t intended to “demonize” (blackmail) any of the “business institutions” featured through photo or written information. I strongly believe that (all) commercial ventures are contributing to the “development” of my Country, Liberia, in one way or another.
Is Liberia competing with South Africa in record alcohol consumption? The alcoholic addiction of (majority) of South Africans entered global news few months.
NUMBER OF LIQUOR HOUSES RIVALING WITH NUMBER OF RESIDENTIAL STRUCTURES
Your answer for this question—“Why Liberia, Africa’s oldest Republic, politically born on the 26th day of July, AD 1847, is the most under-developed Country in the Continent?”—can be answered by the information on the first or second building in the line of houses along every major road in the Nation’s Capital (under a County—Montserrado) and about 95% of other Counties. (The 5% exception is of Counties with Muslims unwaveringly adhering to the rigid Sharia Law against alcoholic addiction)
In post-war time: A price publicity cloth banner on the wall of another Drinking Bar.
BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR (1990-2003)……
One alcohol-addiction-related comment that is common with many present-time Liberians who had often thronged to Beer-sale points in pre-war year Liberia is this: “We bathed in beer at the party” or “I washed my car with Beer.”
During this time, Club Beer (being promoted in the photo above), a private beverage company, was the “king of liquors” in Liberia. The Company started operations in the Country in 1961.
A young man during those days, I saw, at different Drinking Bars, a “happy” person, holding a bottle of Club Beer with its head pointing downward and its yellowish content pouring down on the body of a car and the “boozer” (drunkard) hilariously screaming about his action, while fellow “intoxicated” colleagues “hailing” the action. The babbling—intoxication-induced talking—was too much here.
Many were alternating the liquor with “Bone” (stick-size wrapped grass) or “Pipe” (hallowed wood with tray for tobacco and smoking-sucking point)—stuck between their lips when the Beer was being wasted over the car (symbolizing “washing”) The whirling smoke around the celebrants’ heads sparked ‘extra feeling’ Most of these people had been alcoholics from the 1950s down to the advent of the Country’s civil war. Many held the ‘monetary power’ rein created by lucrative Government’s jobs or from ownership of houses (Real Estate)
Unemployed ladies—or professional prostitutes—often thronged to here to quench the liquor-sparked libido of the male boozers. This ‘quenching’ was one of the major causes of hike in Liberia’s population to which the Samuel Kanyon Doe’s Government indirectly alluded to through the Administration’s Family Planning awareness in between 1997 and 1999. Two of the awareness jingle’s stanzas said, “Population grow is everybody’s problems” and “we must take time how we born our children”
Some were ‘indoctrinating’ young ‘praise-singers’ (at the Beer Club), who would continue their ‘legacy’ of alcoholism.
DURING THE CIVIL WAR……….
While grenades were landing everywhere and stray bullets flying inches over persons’ heads, addicted alcoholics were laughing—hysterically—around tables full with Beer and other kinds of liquors.
The advent of the war “promoted” excessive drinking, in the heat of the conflict, especially among armed persons—including many of the foreign “Peacekeepers” on mandate from the Headquarters of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) The “boozing” went along with “grassing” (smoking of marijuana) During this time, the peacekeepers served as the major common source of the liquor, now foreign brands, being hauled into Liberia through Ships brining in “supplies” for members of ECOMOG (ECOWAS Monitoring Group) This supply of liquor sparked a proliferation of smaller “Drinking Bars”, being operated by Liberian girlfriends of the foreign soldiers or by fiancés of local armed men working “collaboratively” with ECOMOG on alcohol.
There was loquaciously chaotic scenes at each of the drinking spots.
AFTER THE WAR………..
The first post-war national governmental campaign was characterized by excessive drinking by most of the campaigners—on the field and in Bars serving as the sole “mental relaxation point for campaigners”
The popular post-war alcohol addiction catch comment is: “I’m charged” (Most of the drunkards wrongly pronounce the ‘charged’—enunciating the word as if it were spelled “char”)
In post-war Liberia, one out of every five buildings along every major road is a Drinking Bar.
Unlike during pre-war time, teenagers are in the leadership role of excessive drinking, often bragging about being ‘sober’ after consuming fifteen or more bottles of Club Beer with liquid content 68% and alcohol content 16%. Many of these “young professional drinkers” are students in grade schools (Elementary-12th grades)
The major alcohol-induced feeling is sexual, said a a young man in a friendship discussion on alcohol consumption.. “When you, a man, are drunk, the main feeling you experience is sexual desire—to be on top of a woman. This is the same with an intoxicated woman, according to most of my female colleagues I go out with to the Beer Bars regularly,” the alcoholic confessed.
SOURCE OF THE “LIQUOR MONEY”
There are two major sources for “plenty liquor-drinking money” in Liberia.
Another proof: This notice was seen in front of a Bar near the Headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Monrovia
The first channel is government officials—from their salaries or from “free money” through bribes. Sometimes the money is their “share” of “National Development Fund” sent by one of “Liberia’s Development Partners”—America, China, European Union, etc.
The second source is “praise-singing” (sycophancy) or “verbal attack” in favor of wealthy people, especially the Nation’s President or and members of the Legislature.
Jobless young men (and sometime women) lead in either of the two categories. Their main channel is “political program” on Radio. They call to any “political program” to shower praises on their political benefactor being hosted on the program, or to defend the person being criticized on the program. Some also do same to a popular political figure (in Studio) the “praise-singer” or “defender” plan to meet later for financial help.
Another defense point is the “Intellectual Center”—a public “talking point”, where attendants deify or demonize popular public figures. This concept was created in post-war Liberia and has spread to all regions of the Country. Majority of working-age men in each community around the Country sit here—throughout day-light time (working period) “arguing” mostly on local politicians and European football matches or Leagues, or performances of players in European football Leagues.
This concept started in campuses of the University of Liberia—where post-civil war time students prioritize non-academic arguments (especially over politics or foreign football) at the University’s Park over academically/intellectually rewarding brainstorms. This gives you a clue to why thuggery by students—hiding under students’ advocacy groups—is common on each Campus of the University of Liberia—and gradually moving towards students of other universities (private)
DRINKING PLACES AS “DAILY BREAD SOURCES” OF JOBLESS LADIES & YOUNG MEN
As Liberia’s population is becoming “bigger”, the Country’s employment community is becoming “smaller” by shutting down of many private business entities, mostly on owners’ mismanagement or corruption by government officials.
Majority of the unemployed working-age young people swarm at each of these Drinking Bars to beg for money from the “money wasters”. Many of the young female “hustlers” here go beyond mere asking to being sexual thirst quenchers to some of the intoxicated rich male drinkers. The man’s car, parked near the liquor sale point, sometime serves as the “motel” or “quick service center” when he doesn’t want to spend extra money on a Hotel. Some of these cars are for the Government, brought here by persons they were assigned to. There has been public outcry on Government’s officials “misuse of Government’s vehicles” by taking them to “non-Government events” (drinking spots) and during “non-working hour”. During the Presidency of Madam Ellen Johns Sirleaf, the Director-General of the General Services Agency (GSA), Mary T. Broh, arrested Government’s vehicles at Beer Bars. But her mission was short-lived on politics heated by top government officials who were addicted to taking Government’s vehicles to private “Night time merrymaking” event.
THE ONLY ECONOMIC VENTURE LIBERIANS LEAD IN
On the Liberian business field (private sector), Liberians are in the leadership role of only one economic venture: Liquor sale. Foreigners lead in the other business ventures—including the “hot water business” (Tea) The Guineans and Malians are the “commanders-in-chief” in this other business. The “tea” has three kinds—Lipton (clear water), “milky” (mixture of Ovaltine and milk), and “hatai” (herbal tea)
But majority of customers to the Tea Business are Liberians—wasting “working time” here on plenty talking (argument) on “politics” (local) and “sports” (European games) Such loquacity has boosted the Tea Business, especially the Hatai: The foreigners sell between 100 and 150 glasses per day. Each glass is sold at twenty Liberian dollars (LD$20), and each business person was recording at least 120 “buyers” With knowledge about this number, you now imagine the US Dollar equivalent each foreign tea seller (is) raking.
Most of these Tea Shops are “Forex Bureau”—no operation license from the Government of Liberia—for their customers who have only US Dollar at the time they need the tea. And much of the US Dollars, as well as other International Currencies, got here is sent to the foreigner’s Home (Country) While these foreigners are working, the Land owners (Liberians) buying tea and bread, are only sitting and complaining: “Foreigners are controlling our economy and our Government is doing nothing to stop this!”
INCREASED DRUNKENNESS DURING CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC
Like it did to other Countries, COVID-19 has slowed Liberia’s national economic wheel and glued most Liberians (including business people) to their homes. This economic inactivity engendered “frustration”, especially for those who are accustomed to leaving home for economic activities.
Many believed “Beer” will calm the mental tension. Such feeling caused an economic birth drinking spots—added to existing ones. The assembly of drinkers violated the Government’s “Social Distancing” law, under the State of Emergency to prevent further spread of COVID-19, but the George Manneh’s Administration was less rigid on enforcement of this other ‘order’.
During Liberia’s Independence Day’s celebration (July 26), during the activeness of the President-declared State of Emergency for COVID-19, all Beer Bars were buzzing with drinkers. Rampant sexual acts were part of the celebration. Imagine sperms entering most of the women involved in the sexual encounters, to take the form of ‘human beings’ months later—to blow up Liberia’s population.
Some pro-boozers say the national alcoholic addiction isn’t much of a hindrance to the development of the Country. Other argued that it is a kind of therapy, to relieve stress, and
AND THE NATION’S DEVELOPMENTAL MARCH IS SNAIL-PACE
Liberia is chronically under-developed in all sectors. Most of the roads are deplorable. There’s no electricity in most part of the Country—including the capital City. There’s no pipe-borne water in over 80% of the Country, forcing residents of these deprived places to drink from Wells contaminated with fungus, airborne dust, or animal feces. The education system is battered, with grade-school students buying grades or promotion, and university students buying degrees. These are happening in spite of tons of millions International Trade currencies pumped into the Country’s post-war recovery projects by the Country’s historical partner (America) and other developed Nations—China, Britain, France, Sweden, etc.
Alcoholic addiction, by majority of Liberia’s citizens in leadership position, is a major contribution of this under-development. Intoxicated, these leaders lost the needed mental power wanes and can’t produce. In their temporary mental inactivity, their sexual libido is prematurely directed and produces offspring (children) who the national economy won’t adequately cater to and whose presence and actions (example, armed robbery) will put the entire economy under press.
A government official or private-sector employee caught drunk should be pulled out of the workforce, with no severance benefit. The same should be done to any operator of a Government’s vehicle parked at an alcohol sale spot after “official working hours” The law against sale of liquor to juveniles, under-18 people, should be reinforced and violators punished with imprisonment. Fine should be with imprisonment for the person who sold the liquor.
Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article does not reflect the view of this paper. All images produced herein were submitted along with the article by the author. This paper has no copyright claims on them.