Back to Roots : Center Street Graveyard Turns Safe Haven For Zogos
Monrovia – Davies and many other zogos (street hooligans), including women have increased the numbers of zogos living in the Center Street Graveyard, also known as the Palm Grooves Cemetery in Monrovia.
“We are in the Center Street Graveyard, living among the dead, because we are to make ends meet. My mother and father are in Ghana, and I cannot see my way clear, and the people tell us we are not important to society,” Junior Boy Davies.
The influx of zogos into the cemetery began when the Police started raiding them from the various streets in Monrovia, while many found their way into communities.
“We are forced to find shelter in the graveyard, because we do not have anywhere to go. When it rains, it can be raining on us, while we stand by people’s houses to wait for the rain [to stop],” says Gladys Wilson.
Living as a drug addict in Blahgbar in Monrovia, Gladys who is now 38, looked like a 68-year-old woman, with her skinny body structure showcasing her every rib line.
“I do not have help and support, I have six living children, some are living with people, but I want someone to help me,” Gladys said.
According to the Police, in their raid, zogos found with drugs are processed for court, while those are only caught loitering the streets are sent back their various communities.
For those who, perhaps, have no homes, the Center Street Grave Cemetery has become a home.
Not only has the home of the dead become a criminal haven, it has also become a market ground for items stolen by these street hooligans.
Zogos are commonly known for snatching phones, purses, and other values that fall in their reach.
Taking a walk in the graveyard nearly covered by weeds on a sunny afternoon, some youth were seen selling items like cane juice, gin and cigarettes in front of grave tombs. The tombs become beds at night.
Catching FrontPageAfrica’s attention was that some young women living in the cemetery had cook shop, while their male counterparts barbed hair as alternative means of earning money.
“We are many, this place is not for the living but an idle mind is the devil’s workshop; so many of us are here because we do not have anything to do or anywhere to go.
We are idle and find ourselves less busy, and since the idle mind is the devil’s workshop, we find ourselves in the habit of taking drugs, not because we find pleasure in getting high. We do it for the pleasure to get rid of the bad feelings,” David Wilson said.
Blaming the government for not providing jobs for the youth, Wilson, a college dropout, said they were more than 150 drug addicts going to the cemetery to take in drugs. Wilson expressed t willingness to change but lamented that there is nowhere to have them rehabilitated.
It can be recalled that nearly five years ago, The Center Street Cemetery was fenced in and locked with iron gates to keep criminals who snatch people phones and belongings away, and sdrug users like Gladys, out.
However, to the astonishment of citizens in Monrovia, less than two weeks after the closure of the graveyard, the iron gates were broken into by criminals, who in no time flooded the cemetery and started doing business as usual.
“I have been here since 2004, I used to live up Ducor, but we were evicted. I found myself doing drugs, because nobody can trouble us. When it rains, we go under the tombs for shelter. I feel bad every day about my life, but what can I do?
I was a part of the revolution and some of us were not opportune to get jobs because the disarmament [program] during which I was learning auto mechanic was a failure. Now, I am a permanent car washer,” says former Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) officer Andrew Johnson.