Liberia: Low Turnout at Cemeteries for This Year’s Decoration Day


MONROVIA – Turnout of grave sites this year’s Decoration Day was unusually poor, FrontPageAfrica observed.

Over the years, family members and loved ones rush to cemeteries early morning hours on the second Wednesday of every March to clean, decorate and pay homage to fallen relatives and compatriots.

The Center Street gravesite in central Monrovia is one of the major gravesites that attracts hundreds of people on Decoration Day.

But this year’s Decoration Day story is different as contractors who usually visit the site to clean graves for money  couldn’t see their way out due to the low turnout at the gravesite.

George Morris, a regular graveyard contractor at Center Street gravesite who reportedly made 5,000LD or above in the past could not generate a 1000LD which he described as frustrating.

“Can you imagine I bought paints, white wash, and other materials to be hired by those who will come here to clean their people graves but do not have these materials, I can use my materials to their work and then I charge them,” he explained.

George explained that in the past years he earned a little over 800LD per grave and at  the end of the day he sometimes take home with him 5,000LD.

FrontPageAfrica’s visitation on Wednesday at the Center Street Cemetery discovered that many people didn’t turnout which is unusual of Decoration Day.

The age-old problem of locating specific graves was still the order of the day. This has often resulted to fights among different families claiming ownership of a grave. This is due to the desecration of the cemetery by drug addicts and criminals who often use cemeteries as hideouts.

James Lavala could not holdback his anger after he realized that his late mother’s grave was burst into with everything stolen including the coffin in which she was buried.

“This is absolute nonsense; are you telling us it’s because of hardship or difficult living conditions that led to the stealing of items from my mother’s grave? What’s pissing me off is the missing coffin,” he vented out.

What was believed to the skeleton of his mother was the only thing seen in the tomb.

James expressed disappointment in those of the habit of stealing from the dead, saying, “Even the dead don’t have security in our country, it sounds so disgraceful to hear that people are stealing from the dead.”

FrontPageAfrica observed that bursting of graves is a team work and an organized crime among zogos.

If a tomb is burst into at night, everyone who is part of that operation share the items in the tomb, some people take the shoes to sell it, some people will take the clothes from the body, amongst others.

Many people bury their dead with valuables including gold chains, expensive watches, shoes, expensive coffin, among others.

The Orange Grove Cemetery – the biggest in the country did not get its regular facelift this year due to the low turnout.