FrontpageAfrica Podcast

Liberia Land Wahala

Deep dive into the land issues causing wahala — or trouble — in Liberia. We travel to communities across this country and bring back their stories. FPA’s Mae Azango and Anthony Stephens of Power FM/TV host this exploration of land, environment, climate concerns, and conflicts. And they interview experts and authorities for answers. This podcast is supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and American Jewish World Service. The funders had no say in its content.

EPISODE 3: Farmers Battle Climate Change

Nearly 8 in every 10 Liberians survive solely on the food they grow. In the last three seasons, unpredictable rain and higher temperatures have wrought havoc on their crops. In this episode farmers in Bong County tell our reporter Evelyn Kpadeh Seagbeh that they can no longer grow enough food to survive. Meanwhile, Liberia’s agriculture industry, which brings in 90% of the country’s export earnings, is also facing a crisis. Climate change means rubber, palm oil, and cocoa are more difficult for Liberian farmers to grow. What can farmers do to adapt? And what are the government and the international community doing to help? 

EPISODE 2: Plastic Pollution Crisis

On the coast of West Africa, the country of Liberia is known for its fishing and strong surf — and now, for what locals call its “dirt.” We unlock the plastic pollution crisis that is drowning the land and sea and creating worrisome “wahala” for citizens. Those in the slums are in dire straits, especially during rainy season. Other African countries like Kenya and Rwanda have banned single-use plastic, but Liberians can find themselves adrift in a cesspool of it. A big part of the plastic problem is the water people drink. If nothing is done to solve this environmental crisis soon, recycling enterprise founder Abraham Freeman tells us, Liberia is on track to become one of the biggest ocean polluters of the Sub-Saharan region. Can entrepreneurs or government turn the tide?

EPISODE 1: Land Rights Confusion

In Liberia, the land is life. But this land is whose land? In this episode, we explore Liberia’s legacy of land ownership. Modern laws are supposed to give rights to customary land back to indigenous tribes and local communities. Instead, widespread confusion and conflicts are erupting all over the country. We document disputes and land grabs — even while encountering threats — and seek answers from authorities. Have laws for land rights gone wrong, or can they work? 

Hosts

Mae Azango

Mae Azango is one of the best-known reporters in Liberia. Her dedication to telling the stories of ordinary Liberians in FrontPage Africa newspaper has won her acclaim in Liberia and around the world. Since joining New Narratives as one of the first “fellows” in 2010, Mae has broken many stories and taboos. In 2012, Mae was forced to go into hiding after her report on the practice of female genital cutting by Liberia’s traditional societies brought death threats. Eventually, government ministers and traditional leaders came forward for the first time to denounce threats against journalists and female genital cutting. The practice was finally banned by President Sirleaf in 2018. Mae’s courageous reporting was rewarded with the 2012 International Press Freedom awards, from the Committee to Protect Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Mae is currently NN’s Africa director. She is committed to being a voice for the voiceless.

Anthony Stephens

Anthony Stephens is an award-winning television and radio journalist and talk show host with Power FM/TV, where he serves as News Editor. Anthony led New Narratives’ coverage of the trial of Alieu Kosiah, convicted of war crimes in Switzerland in the first trial of a Liberian anywhere for war crimes in Liberia’s civil wars. Anthony’s work has garnered several prestigious Press Union of Liberia awards, including multiple Report of the Year awards plus awards for reporting on sports, the environment, mining, and health issues. Anthony was a 2018 finalist (the only Liberian Journalist) of the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards, WAMECA, annually organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa. With a professional career spanning 15 years, Anthony has worked for some of his country’s powerful and acclaimed media outlets, including Star Radio and Radio Veritas.