Thursday, May 10, 2012

Willie Power Town Is Calling

Author with horn from Willie Power Town, Grand Bassa County, Liberia

During rice harvest (or rice bird) season many of the able bodied are in the rice fields either bringing in rice or keeping rice birds off the rice.  What happens if the village gets in trouble when so many are away?  How will the village be protected and helped?  Enter the horn.  As you can hear from this video these horns can be heard a long way off.  If you were working out in the fields and heard this sound you would immediately rush to the aide of your village.  So it was with great significance our family was gifted one of the horns of Willie Power town in 1985.

Road through Willie Power Town
photo by Ken Vogel
Willie Power town is more than likely named after someone named “Willie Power” as are so many villages in Liberia so named after their founders or chiefs.  It is located in the Moweh region of Grand Bassa County and like so many of the villages we have visited I can’t find it on Google maps.  This sort of reminds me of the old and sometime irreverent Graham Greene travel book on Liberia "Journey Without Maps (Penguin Classics)" to which this blog title pays homage.  (Note:  He's is not coming to Liberia with a worldview I would personally endorse.)  Much of Liberia still remains unmapped, undiscovered and beautiful beyond description. I actually hope certain people never discover this beauty as I'm sure they would try to take advantage of these generous people.  As of now I’m not sure how much, if any, of this village exists after the horrors of the Liberian Civil War, or if it can still be found even by word of mouth, but I want to share with you what they shared with us nonetheless.

Willie Power Town is surrounded by tropical forest.  Mom stands by a tree for reference
photo by Ken Vogel
Pekin in Willie Power Town
photo by Ken Vogel

Why was this horn given to us?  Here is the significance:  We were told that their village needed help and they were in great need.  Like so many places in Liberia they needed schools, clinic, clean drinking water, opportunities for commerce and enterprise.  And so we were charged with taking this horn from Willie Power Town and blowing it so others might hear of their need and come and help.  It is a call to come in from your harvesting and protect the people.  In this powerful and poignant Liberian symbolism they are crying for help.  Who will come back from the fields and answer the call?

Willie Power Town.  Notice 'Bush Girl" painted white on the left.
photo by Ken Vogel

A church building in Willie Power Town
photo by Ken Vogel
Small Pekin in Willie Power Town
photo by Ken Vogel
One of my Loma brothers has told me, “You are not even from this country and you come here to help.  Your actions should convict the Liberians in the States to come to us.”  I am not here to create feelings of guilt or manipulate anyone.  As best I can tell my actions are based on my love for the Liberians with whom I have shared life since a small child.  I consider Liberians my people and call them Old Ma, Old Pa, brother, sister, daughter, son and pekin and they in turn call me brother and son.  They gave us this horn so I have to remember my people.  If the horn of Willie Power Town calls you who might today be harvesting away from the village, perhaps in the Liberian Diaspora, that is between you and your people.  I will continue to do what I do whether anyone else might come to help and let the horn call whomever it may call.  As Jesus often said, “He who has ears, let him hear.”  Willie Power Town is calling.  Liberia is calling.

Children in a kitchen in Willie Power Town
photo by Ken Vogel

Woman 'Running Water"
Willie Power Town
photo by Ken Vogel
The Horn of Willie Power Town

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