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The woodcarver of Tappita

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Plaiting hair

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Checkers in High Speed


TAPPITA  ...........  Depending on the roads, and you never knew what to expect, I sometimes had to spend the night in Tappita after leaving Saclepea.  Of course, there were volunteers there.  On my first night in Tappita, someone guided me to a volunteer's home, and I met someone who lived ten miles from where I did in America.  Small world.

One of my favorite things about Tappita was the woodcarver there.  I liked to watch him at work.  He had several things to choose from and also made things to order.  Unfortunately for me, he was slow.   I placed an order for a few things before I left Liberia -- and he never finished them.

Women throughout Liberia spent a lot of time plaiting each other's hair.  Once I showed the picture of these two women to a friend.  Albert looked at the picture closely and said they were not from Zwedru.   The town had a population of at least ten thousand people, and he knew everyone.   He was right.  They were from Tappita.

While Liberian women plaited hair, the Liberian men liked to play checkers.  And, they were so good.  Americans ponder each move.   It wasn't played that way in Liberia.  They played rapidly and knew exactly what they were doing.  In the two years there, I never won a single game.  Once, I thought I was close to a victory, but the opponent was just being polite.  When he decided it was time to end the game, he quickly moved in and massacred me. 


Copyright 1999 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.