Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Not convinced that they had customs agents at all four postings, I asked the names of the other three, which he promptly rattled off. The fourth name on the list, though made me blink. In the middle of the bush, working on the edge of the river, in the far reaches of northern Liberia, stands one John the Baptist. I look around at the wilderness, and cant think of a more appropriate place. I didn't ask Josiah if he eats locusts, but we laugh together at the shared thoughts. Josiah tells me he isnt sure how John got that name, but that is the only name he is known by. I ask if it is his legal name, and Josiah shrugs. Disappointed by the lateness of the hour, I tell Josiah of my resolution to return soon, and to meet John the Baptist.
When were done getting the information that we wanted, I finish with a little pep talk. Informing everyone of the importance of the border, them this is how the weapons and fighters first flowed into the country seventeen years ago, I remind them that they stand on the frontlines of peace in their country. As I give this little speech, I see Josiah stand taller and swell with pride. He stands a little taller and gets that shine in his eye. One man, with no defenses, insufficient salary, food and shelter may not be the best way to safeguard the region, but it sure helps. These small, independent officials have only returned to work out here in the past month or two, and their presence is a sign of progress, however meager.