Thursday, June 11, 2009


Since Elie and I are not actively spoken for by any large and influential international organizations, we are managing our paperwork with our own resources. Since we are also not totally without financial resources, we have retained a well-connected Liberian operator to put up with all of the bureaucrats, delays and tedium of processing our documents. Of course it takes longer and costs more than first estimates would suggest and of course it is a much griped about nuisance. But, having the assistance that we do takes, at least for me, all of the stress and impatience from the process.

I've even been given reason to look forward to certain processes. Since Elie and I will have to register an NGO (unless it seems more prudent to open a Liberian chapter of Surfrider--opinions anyone?), we will apparently have the opportunity to see what happens when paper-pushers within the Ministry of (I think) Commerce, exercise their linguistic skills and abilities while venting their opinions about the supplicant nature of foreigners.

We had a chance to look over the paperwork of an unusual and recently formed NGO. The original introductory clause of this organization, as drafted by its European architect, included standard legalese and some charitable sentiments. This paragraph was replaced with a paragraph that includes what is now one of my favorite phrases in the English language:

"Wheras, I the founder of the above named Organization having experienced several and sudden helpless instances of financial needs and assistance of the Liberian people and in regard to our responsibilities as partners to our respective countries, do hereby organized ourselves under this organization for the purpose of solving such problems and providing other incentives to the Liberian people hereby I, the founder by these presents do hereby agreed to organize the said Organization." (All spelling and grammar errors have been left uncorrected.)

"Several and sudden helpless instances" would make a phenomenal title of a novel's tragic section, a great album name or a good epigram. By way of context, the founder of this document asseverates that he has not, in fact, suffered several and sudden helpless instances; but has instead been bled of small sums of money at numerous points by people who he has begun to regard with prejudice and distaste.

So, what I anticipate with some glee, is the bowdlerization of whatever organizational preamble is intended to define the intentions of our Robertsport Community Organization. Perhaps it will say "whereas we, the founders of the above named organization having been discovered stranded at sea in a sinking rubber dinghy by the valiant fishermen of Cape Mount County and in regard to our responsibilities do hereby intend to solve the financial problems of anyone nearby." I'll keep you posted.

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