Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?
Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
Please to tell a little Pilgrim
Where the place called “Morning” lies!
V. S. Naipaul
The scars of civil war and chaos, a view in the shattered remains of the old Intercontinental Hotel, Monrovia, Liberia. To access the ruins of the old hotel one walks up a narrow path past the empty swimming pool where a collection of children play and enter a short entertaining process of heckling the Nigerian peacekeepers who protect the building. They lounge around in the rotting old lobby their equipment spread about them as though they themselves are newly arrived guests. After the usual talk and introductions they wave us through the protective cordon and we are free to wander about the vast crumbling emptiness. The war has left its mark. Before, in the flourishing period of the mid 1960’s the wealthy and the famous came here, from the Onasis’ to the Queen of England, all had visited and had at one time or another taken in the view from the top floor restaurant and dance floor. No one ever comes here anymore. The restaurant is smashed and broken, there are still a few shining tiles not removed from the concrete flooring, which preserves the original place where dancers once swayed in front of the band stand. Everything is gutted, pulled from its sockets, broken and smashed in a turmoil of anarchy hard to comprehend now as one gazes across the city, watching the hawks and eagles lazily drift amid the thermals thrown up by the Atlantic.