A book, entitled “Liberia: When Darkness Falls,” authored by a Liberian veteran Photojournalist, Gregory Himie Stemn, is now on the Liberian market. The book, which was published in the United States of America (USA), looks at the country’s 14-year civil conflict through images that depict several horrendous scenes of the carnage of the Liberian civil war.
It is dedicated to Liberian journalists as well as their four Nigerian counterparts and all those who lost their lives during the war years.
The journalists were kidnapped from the Nigerian Embassy in Monrovia and murdered by Charles Ghankay Taylor-led National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).
Most of the crimes reportedly committed as documented in the book were committed either by the NPFL or the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) led by Prince Y. Johnson, now Senator for Nimba County. The two forces bore the greatest responsibility as they are documented. Other crimes were assigned to the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and United Liberation Movement (ULIMO) that broke into factions of Roosevelt Johnson or ULIMO -J and the Alhaji Kromah faction dubbed, ULIMO ‘K’, which functioned entirely from Lofa County through Western Liberia and entered Monrovia. Other factions were the Lofa Defense Force (LDF) of Francois Massaquoi and Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
When Darkness Falls sets to achieve three objectives: the documentation of the conflict in silent images in a way that the readers will hope to speak loudly and clearly to the vanity of war.
In that way, succeeding generations will be able to undertake sober personal and national reflections to avoid the recurrence of war in the country.
Secondly, the book serves as a tribute to the thousands, especially the innocent, who lost their lives, the tens of thousands who squatted in refugee camps strewn across the West African region, and those who worked tirelessly for peace.
Lastly, it is hoped that “When Darkness Falls” will help bolster international efforts to engage robustly in conflict situations around the world, including the horrid events occurring in the heart of Africa known as Darfur, and to remind all irrespective of their position that war is indeed an expensive proposition.
We can rejoice that Liberia is now enjoying happier times, even though life for most people remains very hard.
Stemn, who got his training as a photographer from the Daily Observer, now seized the opportunity to publish a collection of his photos, which provide remarkable insight into Liberia’s history over the past 35 or more years. He witnessed key events and took portraits of the main players in Liberia’s recent history. He succeeded in photographing Samuel K. Doe and Charles Taylor as well as ordinary people whom he captured as they went about their normal activities.
All too often, during the war, photographers concentrated on people as they ran from the fighting with bundles on their heads and their children in their arms.
About the Author of Liberia: When Darkness Falls
Gregory Stemn is a renowned Liberian photojournalist who has extensively covered conflicts in several countries in West Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and La Cote d’Ivoire. In 1992, Greg hosted a photo exhibition during the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) now Africa Union (AU) Summit held in Dakar, Senegal on the Liberian crisis and in 1993 in South Africa.