Thursday, May 17, 2012

Expat Living in Liberia

Coming to Liberia gives me my first taste of expat living in development communities that you inevitably get sucked into; till you start believing the expat world and forget the real. In Monrovia, there are several such spots i.e. Mamba Point Hotel on the beachfront, the hotel ‘to be seen in’, where senior UNMIL, USAID program managers have working lunch meetings and interns from all over the world camp for the whole day to get access to the relatively faster Internet. (Carli and I were no exception….we spent whole of Saturday and Sunday last week in one of the corner couches drinking endless refilled cups of coffee and working).  Then there is Kendeja and Robertsport (where we plan to go this weekend), beachfront villas you can escape to from the old decrepit government buildings where we spend our whole day. There, you can go fishing during the season, relax on the beach during the summer months, go to Jamal’s café for their reggae and hipco DJs and build up a life around yourself.

Which brings me to hipco:

Hipco is hip hop sung in colloquial English, i.e. the form of English you hear on the streets of Liberia. Although colloquial English retains a lot of English syntax, it can be a bit daunting at first because it is spoken very fast, many consonants are not pronounced, and a lot of words are borrowed from other local languages. But it has become the language of choice for young rappers. And much like hip hop, hipco has grown into its own culture, with its own lifestyle, dance moves and music. Today hipco often refers to more than just a type of rap, it’s a way of life in Monrovia. Carli and I saw this in action in a local Liberia party we attended on Myrtle Beach over the weekend. The men were in singlets with ear studs and a lot of the younger women in tiny shorts and tubes, the scene resembling the making of a hip hop video without the smooth editing and super skinny models. This got me thinking on the influence of the US in Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves and where every other resident either has family in Minnesota or Maryland. Pictures to follow soon.  

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the pics as well as further writings giving an insight into the way of life in Monrovia.