Dimeh, a town twenty minutes away from Duala, is not that big. Anyone can tour the entire town in about fifteen minutes. But it is a haven of amazing secrets that have lasted for more than a century – secrets whose veracity is left with hearers to determine. Some may not believe; yet Dimeh’s citizens claim these secrets have worked for them very well, and for generations.
Located on the outskirts of Bomi County highway, the town is built on both sides of the road is the perfect weekend destination to hear fascinating cultural stories. But remember – there is no supermarket or hotel.
Nonetheless, there are certain amazing aspects of the town that render it enchanted. It has an amazing history, and its people hold on to its cultural values and age-old traditions that are still being practiced.
1.) A Creek that Gives Life: The creek and its secret date as far back as 1898 when the town was founded. The area possesses a natural, aesthetic serenity; but the most enchanted part is that the creek is said to possess a supernatural power, which answers prayers for people who want children, as well as many other heart-strung desires, without any ritual sacrifice. For this reason, although it is shallow and clear, its water is not used for drinking or any other domestic purposes.
During a visit to the town, Ma Jenneh Rogers, who is the women’s chairlady, once told us that: “Women from this town and other people from different areas visit the creek when they cannot give birth. It is our tradition and has been working for us from the days of our ancestors. You do not need to make any ritual sacrifice, but just offer a prayer.”
2.) A Tree in Dimeh ‘Heals Broken Love’: Another strange secret that many will find difficult to believe, but which town dwellers say has worked for them. The tree offers a sweet story, but also sober reflection from the sagely pages of Liberia’s cultural heritage – and a place to heal broken romances.
The tree is not pretty and flowery, flaunting its branches like a peacock. In fact the Love Tree stands tall but unassuming among a number of imposing reed bushes in a very quiet corner of the town. It begets its name from stories told of many couples whose relationships had gone through severe tests and trials and, through the prayers of at least one person in each relationship, found healing.
In an interview a few months ago, the Town Chief of Dimeh, Ansumana Varney, told the LIB Life crew on a travel tour that the Love Tree “does not work for simple boyfriend and girlfriend disputes”. It only works for couples who have made a tangible commitment to each other; “either engaged or married,” he said.
The protocol would be to go to the Love Tree accompanied by a citizen of Dimeh, and say a prayer for the rekindling of the strained or broken relationship. In due time, the prayer would be answered.
Ma Jenneh Rogers, niece of the late Bai T. Moore, recounted her firsthand experience. “I can remember at one point when my husband left me for years. Even though he had gone to another woman, I still loved him and wanted him to come home. So my parents took me to the Love Tree and I offered a prayer. That same year my husband returned.
“We have now spent forty seven years together and our love has grown stronger since that prayer was offered. You don’t have to necessarily come with your partner if you people are in dispute.”
Offering the second lesson from the Love Tree, Ma Jenneh says, “Just come with a clear heart and good intentions, and your problem will be solved.”
3.) Culture values, history and home to two Liberian cultural icons: Dimeh is not only the haven of amazing secrets, but it is an area where the women preserve and uphold their cultural practices in a modern and fast changing Liberia. Women in that area believe that it is their responsibility to make sure their ancestors’ cultural practices are not forgotten.
Culture, the life of the people, is expressed through dancing and the passing down of the ways of life and cultural values to their children before they reach adulthood.
In the center of the town lies one of the cannons used by Matilda Newport during the war between indigenous and the settlers.
Atop the hill on the left coming from Monrovia, is the grave of Bai T. Moore himself, Liberia’s late-great literary icon, who wrote many novels, the most famous of them being “Murder in the Cassava Patch”.
And then one might hear the name, Peter Ballah, another great practitioner of Liberian culture – an actor, comedian and a protégé of the late Moore. Both are buried side by side, in majestically designed tombs.