I had gone to work at the Circuit Court in Mandingo Quarter in Kakata on the morning of Friday, May 25, 1990 and worked the entire day. But in the afternoon I knocked off from work and went home to my fiancée Ms. Rita Brown, whom I had come to spend with in Kpelleh Quarter, near Mandingo Quarter.
I actually resided in Logan Town, near Monrovia. I decided to see Rita before leaving for home, but barely did I reach Rita’s yard, when rumors about the presence of ‘rebels’ or ‘freedom fighters,’ as they described themselves in Yarwelie, a market town about six miles away from Kakata, greeted me!
The unpleasant news about ‘rebels’ entering the market ground, and a Toyota Hilux Pickup transporting a group of marketers ambushed by the rebels and leaving some of them injured and on critical list at the C.H. Rennie Hospital began to spread like wild fire!
Fear gripped the entire inhabitants of kakata and its environs that fateful Friday.
I did not have the chance to return to Logan Town that night but rather I resolved to spend the night as always, with my fiancée. The rumor was gaining momentum as everyone was now more than worried for the ‘rebels’ were reported to be cruel and tyrannical to civilians.
Hopefully as God would have it, I got the most useful information that I would use to help secure my life before sundown that fateful day.
I had been serving as youth co-chairman for the Youth Organization Promoting Doe Administration (YOPDA), writing for most of the local dailies, particularly the Daily Observer. I most recently served as clerk of the Kakata Magisterial Court and was then serving the Circuit Court as Probate Clerk and Acting Assistant Clerk, respectively when the rumor came. How would I survive in the face of these harsh realities?
Soon, I would disguise myself as an ordinary man; a typical civilian struggling to make ends meet supporting a young baby and her mother. For, my first son who departed this life during the heat of the civil crisis was just born by then and was barely three months old.
He too, probably saw horror and had a taste of it; for, we travelled from place to place along with him during our struggle for survival until he finally died in June 1992 whilst I was away in Yekepa, Nimba County. Because of my job at the clerk, I was seen as part of the government and therefore the ‘rebels’ sought to kill me. I was forced by circumstances to take my family and flee from Kakata.
Shortly before I departed, one of my friends, Ambulai came rushing to me.
“E.B,”( Edward Boakai ), he said, “I suggest that you, your wife and the young baby spend this night with me.”
“Why?” I asked him.
“Your life is on the line,” he told me and I was now confused. “Are you not working for the administration?” he sounded sarcastic.
“I am only a mere civil servant. What’s the big deal about it?” I told him.
“There is more about it. They are after those that are connected with this administration, either directly or indirectly,” he said. “And they are also after members of the Mandingo and Krahn tribes, including security officers, particularly Armed Forces of Liberia soldiers.”
I discerned meaning in his advice and fear rushed through me. How could I, my fiancée and young baby survive this mess? Suddenly, tears ran down my cheeks!
I then took my fiancée and my baby with me to Ambulai’s place to spend the night. The night was restless, as the entire community was as quiet as a ghost town.
We waited with quite anticipation for the inevitable. No one, not even I, my host and baby mother slept that night.
Early the next morning we were heard from a distance the sound of heavy artillery, grenade launchers and the clattering of automatic rifles.
Just within jiffy, we heard a violent knock at the front door. Before long, we were in the midst of five men, very youthful, well armed. They proclaimed themselves as freedom fighters.
At first, we probably thought that they would soon go away and leave us alone; but this was not the case.
They wore dirty jeans, t-shirts and head-scarf and emitted offensive odor.
“Your morning,” one of them, probably their leader, greeted us that cold morning.
“Yes, good morning guys,” I managed to say.
“Your what tribe?” he asked in a typical Liberian way.
“We are members of the Kpelleh ethnic group from Bong County.”
“Yes,” I told him.
Another rebel soldier said, “Speak Kpelleh.”
And I did.
“Okay you are free,” he said
“We are out for AFL soldiers, Mandingo and Krahn people,” he told me. “We are also looking for those greedy politicians, government officials and employees.”
Meanwhile, there was a certain young man who lived in the same community. He probably came out to attend to nature’s call. He was a Vai from Grand Cape Mount County he had spent most of his youthful years in Guinea. Besides, he was a Muslim by religion and hardly spoke English or the Vai dialect. He was however proficient in French and Mandingo. We did not know much about him till later.
The rebel soldiers interrogated him.
“Hey!” one soldier shouted at him. “Come here. What is your name and tribe?”
Before the young man uttered a word, they knew he was one of the enemies they were seeking and sadly he was eventually beheaded.
Afterwards we managed to flee Kakata and sought tentative refuge in Division 25, Firestone, about an hour thirty minutes walk away from Kakata. On our way I got to know that the vast majority of residents of Kakata had already fled, leaving behind a ghost town. We met a lot of people, old and young on our way, with loads on their heads moving to unknown destinations unknown.