Liberia today: The complex picture of a country in transition

Placeholder while article actions load

Lydia Sackie still remembers the day she saw her parents being dragged away by Samuel Doe’s soldiers during Liberia’s first civil war, in the 1990s. It was the last time she saw them.

Winner Williams saw her parents die in the Ebola epidemic that killed nearly 5,000 people between 2014 and 2015. She was 10 then.

Today, Sackie, 26, and Williams, 14, live at an orphanage in Chicken Soup Factory, a small town outside of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Both are survivors of the trauma that has wounded this small West African country in recent decades.

Founded in 1822 by freed American slaves, Liberia has strong Baptist roots and city and county names that might seem incongruous to Africa: Marshall, Buchanan, Maryland, Dirt Hole. The American rubber company Firestone dominated the country’s economic and political landscape for years, until the country became mired in civil war. Now, Liberia is among the world’s poorest countries, according to the World Bank. George Weah, the soccer superstar-turned-president who campaigned as an anti-corruption populist, has drawn scrutiny for expanding presidential powers. And last October, inflation hit 26.6 percent, diminishing hope of an economic resurgence.

Yet, Liberians hope that the flights from European capitals, many of which were suspended after the Ebola epidemic, will resume and ferry Euro-carrying tourists to the white-sand beaches and lush national parks. They hope foreign investors won’t have to worry about being fleeced and be able to help build the country’s infrastructure.

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

More on In Sight:

The traditionally horsemen culture of Maremma, Italy, yields to ‘horsewomen’ as a result of new training course

Under the sea: Ralph Pace combines a love of science and photography

What life’s like in the world’s northernmost naturally inhabited town