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In this Internet era when most of us are constantly scanning news off of our smart devices it is quite refreshing to know that there are some people that still take the time to read a penned version - Yes that's right not printed, but one that has been neatly written with chalk on a blackboard!
Welcome to Monrovia's 'The Daily Talk' - Founded in 2000 at the peak of Liberia's 14-year civil war, it was local journalist Alfred Sirleaf's way of bringing current events to the city's rural population that did not have access or the resources to buy even a printed newspaper, leave alone a smart device. Twelve years later, though the civil war has long ended, the newspaper continues to survive and is today believed to be the most widely read paper in Monrovia.
In order to create a well-rounded news report Alfred includes both international and local news events. His international report is compiled from sites like BBC, while the local news is brought to him by a team of volunteer reporters. For those that cannot read, he has devised a unique combination of pictures and objects to convey the news. For example, the UN and its peace keeping force are represented by a blue helmet while US President Obama is symbolized by a white handkerchief and gasoline is simply, colored water.
And just like any good newspaper and honest journalist, life at Daily Talk has had its challenges. A few months after he started the newspaper, it was burnt down because the government did not like the criticism that Alfred had chalked about Charles Taylor, the 22nd President of Liberia. In fact things got so bad, that Sirleaf was even put in jail for a short time and then exiled for a few years. However, the determined man returned in 2005 and re-established his popular newspaper.
While the government of Liberia is today a lot more liberal, there is always one thing that is still an issue for this grassroots newspaper - Funding. Though his cost of publishing is negligible, Mr. Sirleaf still needs sufficient funds to pay himself, for which he depends on small sporadic donations and by selling pre-paid cell phone cards. Despite the fact that it is a constant struggle, the reporter has never once wavered in his passion to keep the people of Monrovia informed! We hope that he will never give up his noble quest for many years to come!
Resources: odditycentral.com, Al-Jazeera.com