Details of President Tolbert’s assassination are sketchy to this day, but through Ken’s association with his Americo friends from the past, the CIA agents he meets, and the Liberian military he is forced to deal with, a believable scenario emerges.While describing the once beautiful country and a kind and generous people, Meier intertwines terrifying tales of the atrocities committed that account for the future pain of an entire nation.
Ken witnesses and unwittingly participates in a period of Liberia’s tumultuous yet poorly documented history—the overthrow of the Tolbert presidency and ultimately the end of the Americo-Liberian one hundred thirty-three years of political and social dominance.
Ken Verrier and his wife, Sam, return to Liberia to buy diamonds. They did not return to get caught up in a rice riot and a coup d’état.
But that’s what happens.
(Photo credit: Larry C. Price).
"A soldier with a megaphone shouted, “Now we weel ha’ justice!”
There was a brief moment of heavy silence; then the order was given to fire. This was followed by a fusillade of deafening gun shots. The impact of the bullets on the bodies was strangely inconsequential. Most of the condemned men were merely wounded in their extremities, if hit at all. The drunken squad started shooting randomly at all of the ministers. As bullets popped and sprayed around them, the random prisoner fell forward, slumping against his restraints.
All, that is, except for Honorable Cecil Dennis. Honorable Dennis stood erect with his head held back against the pole. He looked forward, alert. When the firing started, bullets hit the ground all around him— but rather than fall, he locked his knees so that he did not slump. Many of the other ministers looked down in fear or to the heavens in prayer, but Dennis did not. He stared directly at his executioners, and it seemed that this one act unnerved the soldiers to the point that they continually missed him.
More shots were fired. This time most of them hit, but still Dennis didn’t fall. Many of the soldiers focused their rifles and pistols on him. Bullets tore into him. They hit the ground around his feet, sending up small geysers of sand, but still he didn’t slump or fall. Finally, one of the soldiers walked up to him and shot Honorable Dennis in the head, which knocked him to one side. But still he didn’t fall. There was a general mumbling among Dennis’s executioners as they backed away from the semi-erect body. This was bad juju, so it seemed very important to the soldiers that he fall.
When he finally did, the remaining prisoners were led from the bus where they had been watching the carnage. The inebriated executioners grabbed the four men and made quick work of their death sentence."
(Photo credit: Larry C. Price).
Sgt Doe, a few days after the assasination.
“I am Master Sergeant Doe and I am in charge here. I have eliminated the bad juju.” The words spoken, almost as an outburst, seemed to give Sergeant Doe added strength. Quiwonkpa backed away and the other men were silent. All knew the power of juju over a man, and all believed that mortal men were powerless against it.
Sergeant Doe looked at the men now grouped around him. He seemed transfigured. He held his arms out as in a kind of benediction.
“Men,” he said, “this is a new day for Liberia. All Liberia will now be free an’ equal.”