Yesterday my husband, my sons, and my new daughter-in-law gathered at my parent's house for a traditional Thanksgiving. We had a 20 pound turkey and all the trimmings. We also had some guests. Allison, my daughter-in-law babysits two children for a lady from Africa who is getting her GED. Her story is something else. Something a lot of us hear about but few really understand. If you've seen the movie Blood Diamond (which I highly recommend), then you might have an idea of what this lady has endured.
She was living in Liberia with her husband and son and had just given birth to a baby girl when the rebels came to her village. Her and her husband were separated in the chaos as they fled the rebel soldiers. Eventually the UN brought her and her two children to the United States and to Cincinnati to begin a new life. She named her baby girl Courage and started all over again in an unfamiliar country all alone. I can't imagine.
She has a friend who is also from Liberia and the four of them joined us for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. It was a joy to share a meal with them and to listen to their stories.
Of course, Brian had to ask, "how do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Africa"? We all laughed because we knew the answer would be "we do not - the pilgrims didn't land in Africa", but we were wrong! They do celebrate Thanksgiving in Liberia. Liberia is a country in Africa with roots in America. When the slaves were freed in our country many of them were returned to Africa. They sailed to Sierra Leon but the weather there was too harsh so they migrgrated down coast to what is now Liberia and settled making Monrovia their capital. Monrovia is named after President Monroe. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who was born and raised in America, was Liberia's first President. The style of government and constitution was fashioned on that of the United States.
Robert's party dominated all sectors of Liberia from independence in 1847 until April 12, 1980, when indigenous Liberian Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe (from the Krahn ethnic group) seized power in a coup d'etat. Doe's forces executed President William R. Tolbert and several officials of his government, mostly of Americo-Liberian descent.
On December 24, 1989, a small band of rebels led by Doe's former procurement chief, Charles Taylor, invaded Liberia from the Ivory Coast. Taylor and his National Patriotic Front rebels rapidly gained the support of many Liberians and reached the outskirts of Monrovia within six months.
From 1989 to 1996 one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars ensued, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and displacing a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries.
That is how Diana came to the United States with her children. She has been here for 4 years and still does not know what happened to her husband or whether he lived for died.