Because I left Africa at such a young age, the memories of Liberia I still have, I hold on to like they are rare treasures. Even if some of them are tinted with war trauma.
As a little girl, the Fairgrounds in my town was where all the fun things happened. Sporting events, concerts, homecoming parades, etc...
During the war, the Fairgrounds became the rebels killing ground. The word was, “if they take you to the Fairgrounds, that’s it, you’re not coming back.”
I remember the day they took my father to the Fairgrounds.
Whenever war memories would pop up, it’s never random. The first PTSD was triggered when I experienced my first 4th of July in this country. The unexpected firework sounds had me under the bed shaking. The time after that was when I found myself on a plane during the 911 attacks in America.
When I’m triggered, sometimes I cry, sometimes I’m angry, other times I’m confused. So much so, that I would call one of my siblings to confirm that what I remembered actually did happen.
A week ago, before my sister won her senatorial race in Liberia, they held a massive camping rally, bringing out crowds in historical numbers! Thanks to Facebook I was able to experience some parts of that. In one of the videos I watched while scrolling down my feed, I heard someone in the video say, “we’re at the Fairground in Bassa”.
The day they took my father to the Fairgrounds, is the day I understood the worth in a person‘s work. the Bassa people made it clear that the name “Karnga” carried weight. They defied the rebels orders and gathered at the Fairgrounds in numbers. The word was “if you kill Abba Karnga today, you have to kill all of us”. They didn’t kill Abba Karnga that day, there where too many bassa people to kill.
At 90 years old, my father is still alive to see the children and grandchildren of those same Bassa people who walked with him, are gathered at the Fairgrounds today in celebration of his daughter, as their next leader from the Karnga tribe.
It’s the redemption for me.