The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper

The House at Sugar Beach book next to plant

a nutshell: this memoir covers some distance – from a wealthy childhood among Liberia’s ‘Congo’ class to a (post-coup) adolescence in the US, it’s an unflinching reflection on destructive divisions within societies and families

a line: “‘What makes us not refugees?’ ‘Because we paid for our own plane tickets.”

an image: Cooper recalls her classmates trying to make sense of soldiers’ extreme violence against their families during the coup d’état, with the kids themselves having been beaten and violated

a thought: ahead of describing the mass executions, persecutions & humiliations that came with Doe’s military coup in 1980, Cooper makes many observations on the inequality & injustice of society before the coup as well – she doesn’t mask the fact that her elite class ignores the immense poverty of the ‘native Liberians’ who were colonised when American black freemen (one of who was her direct ancestor) founded Liberia

a fact: Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence (in 1847, from the US) and is Africa’s first & oldest modern republic


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