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Conversation with Shem D. Logan

Logan, Shem D
Bailey, Kim
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Cultural Identification; Tolerance and Respect; Then and Now; Overcoming Obstacles
Shem Logan talks about his life in Liberia, Liberian history and the recent civil war, and Liberian organizations in the US.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kim Bailey interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
KB (Kim Bailey): Testing, testing, testing. OK. I think the levels are OK. I'm here with Shem Logan. He's from Liberia. Shem, what part of Liberia are you from?
SL (Shem Logan): I'm from Lower Buchanan, Liberia.
KB: And where is that, um, in the country of Liberia?
SL: Lower Buchanan, Liberia is a city southeast of, uh, Monrovia, the capital in Liberia.
KB: OK. So tell me about your childhood.
SL: Well, what do you want to know of my childhood? Uh, that's a vast question to-.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: I was born in Liberia and nobody want to, uh, I can't tell, uh, what you want to know. I was born in Liberia, Lower Buchanan, Liberia, to be specific. Uh, I was born of Reverend and Mrs. John B. Logan. They were Methodist, uh, people in Liberia where I do my youthful time. What? You want me to explain everything now? [Laughs]
KB: Yeah.
SL: I did my youthful time, uh, I really did not live at home all of my time. I live on campus mission schools, uh, the Methodist's mission school. The very first one was, uh, Ganta Methodist Mission and that was for elementary and high school peop-, uh, children. So at age of six, I went to stay on the mission. So I was not really acquainted with my people. I lived there most of the time. Uh, I came home like, uh, November the 30th. That was the time school would close. And I come home, stay until January when school opens, and go back to campus. So definitely I was never at home with my parents. But nonetheless, uh, I still speak the tribal dialects because through my youthful time like, uh, from birth to six years of age, that's what I spoke at home. Well it's a long story. To make it short, from, uh, Ganta Methodist Mission, I went to the Bassa Lands Mission, got a high school education at CWA, that's the College of West Africa. But it's a high school by the United Methodist Church. Uh, at that time I think I was around 17 or 18 years of age. When I graduate from high school, I work at, ah, Chase Manhattan Bank for two years and then my father wanted me to come over to the United States because my brother was at New York State University and, uh, he was influencing me to come to the United States. He said, "It's nice. They have a lot of schools and they have a lot of universities and you can learn a lot." Well, we have only two universities in Liberia, Cuttington College University and University of Liberia. Well, we're limited to those two universities, so he said I should come to the United States. And, with the help of my parents, I came to the United States.
KB: Very good. How many, um, brothers and sisters do you have?
SL: I have three brothers and two sisters.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: I have a sister in England, uh, she's doing her Masters, and I have all my other brothers back home.
KB: [Laugh] Are they younger?
SL: They are older. They are all married.
KB: Oh, OK. OK. Um, during your childhood, you said you didn't see your parents a lot. But did you hear stories? Did anybody tell you stories? And if so, who was it that told you stories as a child?
SL: Yeah, that's an interesting one. That is, that is the most interesting part I can say because, uh, it's a lot of stories I heard especially about America, the United States of America. And, especially at school, I learn that there was a, there was a North America and South America. But North America there is a country there named United States of America.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And then much upper was Canada. But the United States of America had a lot more influence on my mind because people said it was a beautiful place and people are very nice and this, this, this, that. It was just too, uh, good to believe!
KB: [Laugh]
SL: So that alone fascinated me and I came when my brother gave me that invitation to come to the United States to further my education.
KB: Now when you came, was it hard for you to get here?
SL: Well, all told, coming to the United States, when I came was not that hard because I came on a student visa.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: When you come on a student visa you have to be accepted by a school. I originally was accepted by the University of, of Nashville, I mean, Nashville State University. That's in Tennessee.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: So, I came and went to Tennessee. Why? Because there was a friend there who said I should go there. You see I go over to my brother in New York. He said, "Well, I, I sent for you and you went to Tennessee and so you need to come over here." Well, it was just a tug-of-war. I went on to New York. I didn't like it too much.
KB: What did you not like about New York?
SL: What I didn't like about New York? It was a big city and it was full of people who were not concerned about each other. And most people were confused and, uh, it was too much, um, running around. I mean it was a big place. I think I was not too used to people who were not too friendly. A lot of people were friendly, a lot of people not friendly. And there was a lot of robbery, killing, so I mean, that scares me a lot.
KB: Yeah.
SL: I wanted to settle down to a place where there was plenty more, you know, more safer for me.
KB: Right, OK. How about the weather?
SL: The weather-wise was bad.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: I think you have come to the nucleus of the whole thing. That's why I'm in North Carolina.
KB: [Laughs]
SL: North Carolina, uh, this friend I got in Nashville had come over to UNCC to get his Master's. And, uh, then he said, "Well since you are in New York, it's much like home over here." I said, "Why is this?" "Sunny, it rains sometimes, and most of all it is warm, hot, warm and hot. So you would like it up here." It happened to be during the wintertime in New York.
KB: [Laughs] Uh-huh.
SL: So I paid a visit-. [Laughter]
SL: To, [laugh] I paid a visit to North Carolina, and I love it very much.
KB: I bet!
SL: And when I came down here, I made an application to Central Piedmont Community College.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: I was accepted, I passed through the tests, and I gradu- and I decide to stay down here.
KB: OK. Well very good. Um, so you said you came to the United States on an invitation from your brother. Now, why did he come to the United States?
SL: Well, why did he come? He was older, he knew better, and, uh, he heard the same stories I heard about the United States, that it was a very beautiful place.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: People had a lot of money. [Laughter] That people had made a lot of money. [Laughter] There are pretty women, [laugh] and everything was just nice! It was a beautiful place.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And it's a place of opportunity.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And so, that's why probably he came here.
KB: Um, OK.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: Now you told us about, um, the weather here in North Carolina and how it's similar to that in Liberia. What else is similar or very different over here from what it is in Liberia?
SL: Well, uh, they have the snow here and we don't have snow in Liberia, unless you go to South Africa, they have the mountains where the snow fall.
KB: Um.
SL: But, uh, South Africa is kind of cold in the wintertime.
KB: Really?
SL: Yeah. They are not far, they are far away from the equator. We are ver-, we are very near the equator and so the equator when you are near it, it's kind of hot.
KB: Very hot.
SL: Yeah.
KB: How hot?
SL: And the tourism-.
KB: How hot does it get?
SL: Gets 102 degrees. But in Liberia, where I come from, we are on the seacoast.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So definitely we are very lucky. We have the, uh, we have the sea blowing away the heat from the mainland.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And so, I mean, it's not as hot as it should be. But when you visit a place like Ghana, Nigeria-.
KB: I've been to Ghana!
SL: I know you have seen, if you have seen a lot of Ghanaians-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: They are colored dark because it's very hot out there.
KB: Very!
SL: 110 degrees!
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: 112 degrees, it's very hot.
KB: I went there, um, mm, about five years ago and we went during our summertime. So, you know, it was pretty hot for us over there. But I remember we stayed with a family, and the mother, she was freezing one night because she had the fan going and all the windows were open and we were still really, really hot and she was just really bundled up and cold.
SL: \\Yeah.\\
KB: \\She \\ had a sweater and a blanket on! It was really funny.
SL: Was that in, uh, Ghana?
KB: That was in Ghana, uh-huh.
SL: I have been to Accra.
KB: Accra, yes.
SL: How do you like it?
KB: I liked it.
SL: I haven't been. I flew over it.
KB: You haven't?
SL: I haven't been yet, but I flew over the city.
KB: Oh, OK. Yeah, we went to Accra and Kumasi.
SL: Yeah, Kumasi.
KB: On the coast we went to the, the slave castles-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: On the coast and that was interesting.
SL: Yeah.
KB: That was for summer school, so I stayed for six weeks.
SL: Oh, OK. So you traveled to Africa?
KB: Yeah. [Laugh]
SL: That's nice. Well, uh, like I said before, we are very near the, uh, equator and it should be very hot over there.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Now when you go farther up north Africa-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Like Egypt, Algeria, it's dry.
KB: Ooh!
SL: That's where the Sahara Desert is.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And it's, it becomes hot but then it's very dry.
KB: But it's not humid like it's over here. [Laughs]
SL: No it's not. It's not as humid as it is here.
KB: That's a good thing! [Laugh]
SL: Yeah, it sure is.
KB: Man.
SL: So, that's part of the weather now, uh, one of the other things is that it rains here and rains back home too.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: I mean, it's, it's very, very parallel.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Um, another one is the, the weather here, I can say, is very much like Liberian weather.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Where it rains and its sunshine and-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Have very little snow during the winter.
KB: Oh yeah! [Laugh] //Very, very little! //
SL: //That's, that's what// yeah, that's what fascinated me to, to stay here. And I feel more comfortable here-.
KB: That's good!
SL: Than up the North.
KB: It's really cold up there! It gets cold down here but its //really cold up there. //
SL: //Sub-zero degrees. // Yeah, that's true.
KB: Now, let me ask you this, what do you call yourself? What ethnic background do you call yourself? Do you say you're just Liberian or do you say that you're black or do you call yourself African or do you call yourself African American? What do you call yourself?
SL: Well, I call myself a Liberian. Actually, uh, when you look at the history of Liberia-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Where you had, uh, the influx of the, the free slaves from-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: America going to Liberia, going to Ghana-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Going to Nigeria, going to Sierra Leone. Those are the west coast countries.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Especially Liberia, where a lot of the, the American slaves went back, those free American slaves, as you call it, the free American blacks went back there.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And the American Colonization Society, this is history now-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Formed that, that place, that parcel of land-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: With the natives that were living there.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Uh, for the native to receive these free American blacks-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So that they would come together and form this country. And that's what it did and they named it Liberia.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Means liberty-.
KB: Yes.
SL: Freedom. So Liberia was formed. It's 43,000 square miles.
KB: 43,000 square miles.
SL: Yes.
KB: Wow!
SL: And, uh, it, at the time when I was in high school, it was two and a half million \\ people\\ living there.
KB: \\ People? \\ Wow.
SL: But now they say its 20,000,000 people.
KB: Wow!
SL: From Two and a half to 20,000,000 people. So how come you have a lot of immigration? People came to Liberia because it was associated with the United States-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And the US education.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: We have their type of food. Things were kind of free. Education and, um, it was just nice-.
KB: Um.
SL: Transportation-wise.
KB: Where did they come from? //Other African countries? //
SL: //Well, they came from, // yeah, other African countries.
SL: Well, like the, uh, like history goes, Nigerians were patterned after, uh, Great Britain.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And the British way of life is a hard way of life.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And the people very next to us are the Guineans.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And they are from, they, they are patterned after France-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Because the French, French people rule Guinea and Gambia also.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So definitely those people under harsh rule when they were not liberated, when they were not, they had not got their independence. They came to Liberia-.
KB: Yeah.
SL: To enjoy freedom.
KB: So Liberia's been a pretty peaceful-.
SL: Oh yeah. It had been peaceful between that time until lately, in 1992 when a civil war broke out in our country.
KB: What happened?
SL: I was in, I was in this country when it happened.
KB: You were here? Oh!
SL: Yeah. \\What\\ happened is the, the, the, the leader the, the, the leader in power then-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Was Tolbert, William Tolbert. He was overthrown in 1979.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: OK. He led a democratic form of government.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So, 1979 they kill him in a coup.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And this man who rose up as the leader was Samuel Kanyon Doe. D-O-E, Doe.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And, uh, he led the country for 10 years. And they said he was embezzling taxpayers' money.
KB: Oh!
SL: He fell right in the footsteps of Tolbert.
KB: Ooh!
SL: [Laugh] He killed Tolbert because he said Talbot was, uh, corrupted.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And he bribed up corruption, was not doing well, not doing this and that, but when he got into the, the uh, uh, power into the position-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: He did the same old thing.
KB: Huh.
SL: And he wound up with a lot of problems.
KB: \\Enemies.\\
SL: \\And they,\\ they wound up killing him too. So in 1992 this civil war broke out between the tribes.
KB: Oh.
SL: His tribe was the, uh, Kru, I mean the, the, uh, the uh, no, for some reason don't know his tribe but it was the Krahn tribe.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Yeah, I to remember. It's not, it's not that known, that tribe-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: It's the smallest tribe in Liberia.
KB: How many tribes are there in Liberia?
SL: We have about 26 tribes.
KB: Twenty-six? OK, that's a lot.
SL: But my tribe is the second largest tribe, the Bassa tribe.
KB: The Bassa?
SL: Bassa and they are more educated than people-.
KB: Oh, OK. [Laugh]
SL: Bassa tribe is the most educated.
SL: And people often say, so if you were talking to a Bassa man-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: You'll know that he loves education.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: A Kru man, next to the Bassa man, loves education too.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Those are the most civilized people, if you go to Liberia, those are the people in power.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: Most, mostly in power.
KB: Oh.
SL: So the, the Krahn tribe was the least and this man was from the Krahn tribe.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And so they, they I mean was a lot of problem.
KB: How did he get so much power if he was from the \\ smallest-? \\
SL: \\ I don't know.\\ He was in military, he was a type of military-type person.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: And, uh, he had, I don't know. From a, it's the Master, he was a Master Sergeant.
KB: Oh.
SL: And then he, he managed to have some influence and that's how he killed this man Tolbert, who was the president.
KB: Oh.
SL: So when he got there he became very corrupted.
SL: And so there is so many fascists, uh, rebels that fought against him and then they have that misunderstanding.
KB: Hmm.
SL: And this tribal was has been on ever since.
KB: It's still going on?
SL: Well, it has stopped.
KB: I was about to say-.
SL: In 1996 it stopped and then '97 it had a little confusion again.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And they elected a president in 1997 who is more corrupted, [laughs] more backward, and I'm so-.
KB: Oh no!
SL: Uh, disheartened to say that he is the worst leader that Liberia ever had.
KB: Oh goodness.
SL: Because he is practicing bigamy and he has many wives and he is not doing anything for the country. So-.
KB: Now, let me ask you this then, since you brought that up about the many wives, um, and you were talking about tribes, um, and you said your parents, your father is a Methodist minister, how does Christianity mix with your traditional tribal beliefs?
SL: Well, in Liberia we have the many Christian religions like Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So on, so forth, Apostolic. If you are a Christian definitely-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: You, you would have one wife.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: To say if you are not a Christian, you usually have more than one wife.
SL: So I mean that is the con-, general belief that they had in America here when I came.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: A lot questions, "How many wives-
KB: [Laugh]
SL: Your father have?" Well definitely that embarrassed me a little bit because-.
KB: I bet.
SL: I was not used to [laugh] it.
KB: Yeah, yeah.
SL: See, my, my parents were more than this or that. My father had one wife, that is my mother.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And so that is the main thing in Liberia. If you are a Christian, if you are a true Christian, you have one wife.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: If you are not, you have more than one. And if you are a rich man, you have more than one wife because you can \\ support so many, see? \\ You can support all of them. And they don't all live in the same household they live-.
KB: \\ You can afford it! \\ [Laugh] Oh really?
SL: In different, different places.
KB: Do they live in the same, um, \\ compound?\\
SL: The same \\vicinity.\\ Yeah, the same vicinity.
SL: It's like, you know, in Charlotte.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Different, different locations.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: But they have all their wives.
KB: Oh! So like different parts?
SL: Different parts.
KB: Oh.
SL: Then, then the government-.
KB: Hmm.
SL: The government does not frown on it at all. And I'm-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Surprised the Liberian government has never frowned on more than one wives.
KB: Do you think that's because of traditional-.
SL: Yeah it's because of tradition.
KB: Yeah.
SL: The culture.
KB: Yeah.
SL: The idea, the, the rulers, the rulers in the interior are called Clan Chiefs, Parliament Chiefs.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Those people usually have more than one wife.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: Because they have, they are the people with money.
KB: And power. [Laugh]
SL: And the prestige, power.
KB: [Laugh] And they didn't care! Nobody could tell them what to do!
SL: Yeah, no-, nobody could tell them. So definitely they were in power the government.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So they called the government and said do not fight against itself.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: You see, so in that way, uh, it's legal-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: That you have more than one wife.
KB: Hmm.
SL: But it's, it's, I mean it depends on your religious convictions.
KB: Yeah, yeah.
SL: If you want to have more than one, you can have more than one. If you don't want to, you are a religious man, fine. But me, I will have only one wife.
KB: It seems like-.
SL: I'll have the one. [Laughter]
KB: It seems like a rich man wouldn't be rich for very long-.
SL: Yeah.
KB: With a whole lot of wives.
SL: Well, actually, Liberia, we have the iron ore, we have the diamond, we have the rubber, gold-.
KB: Oh.
SL: It's a rich country.
KB: Yeah.
SL: It's just that we have crisis now, but it was a very rich country.
KB: Diamonds!
SL: You see? [Laugh] Most of the diamonds you see in Belk, Sears, and all places.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: They came from Liberia.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And Ghana.
KB: Yeah, I-.
SL: You see?
KB: I saw.
SL: And you see, I was visiting Philadelphia and New York area last week.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: I saw all these bridges even though I've been there many times. Well, all these bridges with steel and everything. Those came from Liberia.
KB: Huh.
SL: Iron.
KB: Huh.
SL: America does not mine much iron.
KB: No.
SL: And steel. Those came from Liberia.
KB: Wow!
SL: Because today have we had two American companies in Liberia.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Sending steel, iron and steel, to the United States.
KB: Hmm.
SL: So I look at the bridges I say, "All those irons came from Liberia!" And I was very proud of myself then.
KB: Yeah.
SL: We could send, you know, a lot of iron to the United States.
KB: Yeah, that's good.
SL: You see that's, that's why it is in Liberia.
KB: I have-.
SL: So up to now, the Liberians feel very proud of themselves because-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: We have always assisted the United States-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: And they have always assisted us, too.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: We so we are like, uh, a sister countries.
KB: Yeah that's-.
SL: Sister countries.
KB: That's why I asked how you classify yourself, um, as far as racial background-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: You know.
SL: Well uh, I, I'm actually I'm both from the native-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And from the, uh, from the American Liberians.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: We call it, them American Liberians //because they were from America. //
KB: //Oh, // OK.
SL: So they are called American Liberians.
KB: See I've always wondered //about that. //
SL: //So, on, on// my mother's side is American Liberian. On my father's side is native.
KB: OK. Humph.
SL: And why is what we did, uh, in the Tolbert's time-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Was the natives, people of the native side-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Married to get more educated to equalized \\ with the American Liberians.\\
KB: \\ I see. \\ OK.
SL: 'Cause the American Liberian were already educated people.
KB: Somewhat. [Laugh]
SL: So definitely, definitely it was a kind of competition.
KB: I see.
SL: So most of, of the, uh, Liberians here in Charlotte are from the native side.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: They want to be more educated.
KB: But like your parents, I see that the intermarrying you know, has helped too \\ all Liberians. \\
SL: \\Yeah, yeah sure it did, intermarrying, yeah.\\
KB: That's good.
SL: And we live comparative life-.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: In Liberia and I love very much.
KB: Have you ever traced your family back here?
SL: Yes, I sure did.
KB: What, uh-?
SL: My mother's, uh, father came from Orangeburg, South Carolina.
KB: Oh, really?
SL: I went to Orangeburg, South Carolina many, many times and I've traced my, my, my, my grandfather-.
KB: Oh, wow!
SL: On my mother's side.
KB: Oh, that's neat!
SL: It's a cousin.
KB: I, I just met some people from Orangeburg, South Carolina.
SL: That's a nice little town.
KB: You might be related to them.
SL: So, if I had known, I would have come over here to attend Claflin College.
KB: Oh yeah!
SL: Yeah, Claflin College is there. I said, "That's where my grandfather came from!"
KB: Oh, neat!
SL: And so, I have a lot of relatives over there. I go there every time. They call, "When are you going to come and see us?" "OK." [Laugh]
KB: What is what's they're last name?
SL: They are Logan.
KB: Oh! They are Logans, too?
SL: They have a lot of Logan there and then Gussin. On, on my mother's side is Gussin.
KB: Cousins.
SL: Tolbert, who he got killed, he's from Orangeburg, South Carolina also.
KB: Who?
SL: Tolbert, the president.
KB: Tolbert.
SL: Um-hmm.
KB: Oh OK. [ ]
SL: Oh, Tolbert, he's from Orangeburg also.
KB: Oh, OK. Humph.
SL: Yeah.
KB: Humph, that's really neat.
SL: And there's a lot of Logan there, there is a lot of Loganin Orangeburg.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: But they are not the Logan that-.
KB: Not your father's Logans.
SL: Yeah, yeah Logan.
KB: Yeah.
SL: But my, my, but the maiden name of my, my, my mother's is Sarah Gussin. So they are Gussins. G-U-S-S-I-N.
KB: G- U-S-S-I-N?
SL: Yeah. That's it, that's it. And my fath-, grandfather, my grandfather is from there.
KB: Oh, //that's neat.//
SL: //So that,// that is the relationship I have with them.
KB: See you have that advantage, Americans, Black Americans going to Africa. It's a lot harder to trace your roots, even here in America it's a lot harder.
SL: Yeah.
KB: To trace your roots than it would be for you.
SL: Well, yes. I, uh, have you seen Roots?
KB: Um-hmm. Many times.
SL: I think everybody down here saw that down here. Many times? You like it?
KB: [Laugh] I did!
SL: That's a very long story, right?
KB: Very long! [Laughs]
SL: How long did it take to see it? In five or six days? Why did they make it so long? I don't know. That's not supposed to be that long.
KB: I think originally when it came on it was a mini-series.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: //So it lasted a couple days. //
SL: //It's not supposed to be that long. // Because they can make it short, [laugh] you know.
KB: Then it wouldn't be as good! [Laughter] He couldn't tell the whole story.
SL: Yeah. That, uh, this man who wrote Roots.
KB: Alex Haley?
SL: Yeah. Uh, well, I don't know, but he uh, uh, he touched a lot of things there that might not have been true but I don't believe them.
KB: Really? What do you not believe about what he said?
SL: Why? Because, well he, he laid too much emphasis on East Africa. Most of those names he called, they are East African names.
KB: East African? Really?
SL: East Africa. Kenya is East Africa.
KB: Oh.
SL: Most of those people, most of those uh, uh, uh that culture-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: They are East African cultures.
KB: Humph.
SL: The Kunta Kinte-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: That's East African name right there.
KB: Really?
SL: Yeah.
KB: I didn't know that.
SL: Kunta Kinte.
KB: But what about this, what about the Kente cloth? Is that a different Kente?
SL: Yeah that's that, that's almost the same thing.
KB: But that's in West Africa?
SL: Oh well, he tried to, you know, link everything together so that-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Americans would know that these are people from different, different places.
KB: Yeah.
SL: But he, but definitely a true African will tell you.
KB: That it's not-.
SL: Yeah, it's not really.
KB: Well, you know, a little Hollywood had to be in the movie, [laugh] too.
SL: You see? So [laugh] most of the things were, were East African.
KB: Oh, really?
SL: Of East African origin.
KB: I didn't think about that.
SL: Kenya especially. It leans on Kenya a lot.
KB: Hmm.
SL: Where Jomo Kenyattawas the President.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: Have you heard of Jomo Kenyatta?
KB: No. Huh-uh.
SL: Well, let me ask, let me ask you a question.
KB: Ask me a question!
SL: Why Americans are, why Americans continue to, most black Americans-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Continue to call Africa or recognize Africa as a country? Don't you people have that much education, that Africa is a continent?
KB: Continent.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: Yeah.
SL: But every time they say uh when they uh, uh interview me or ask me questions say-
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: "Back in Africa, back in Africa, what do you do back in Africa?" Tell my why, why they always generalize it in Africa?
KB: As the one, one place, I don't know. I guess it's just like-.
SL: They don't ever say Liberia, Nigeria.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Kenya, Tanganyika, Egypt, Algeria.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Country is a whole lot.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Over 102 in that, in that continent. But people-.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Here on campus, everywhere, even Central Piedmont where I attended they say, "Back in Africa do you do this?" "Back in Africa do you do this?"
KB: But I don't think it's just, I don't think it's \\an African American thing.\\
SL: \\ That is a problem.\\ Many Africans become very concerned.
KB: Because of this?
SL: Yeah, they say, yeah, they say, "Why don't they specify where I come from," because-.
KB: I think what it is, is Americans are so ethnocentric that you don't think of other countries as being, a country. You think of just the continent as a whole, like Australia.
SL: Yeah.
KB: I don't know what's in Australia [laugh].
SL: Yeah, so //you just say, "Africa."//
KB: //I don't know [laugh] // but see, because I've you know been there, I know there are different places-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: In Africa or Europe. I mean-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: When people say Europe-.
SL: Yeah.
KB: They mostly think of England.
SL: Yeah. Look that's what it is.
KB: Or, yeah, or Asia you think of China or it's just, we're ignorant-. [Laugh]
SL: Our teach-.
KB: In a nutshell.
SL: I don't want to say it's so but I think, uh, when, when the kids are young, like in elementary school-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: They don't actually teach them about countries or other places.
KB: We, they don't.
SL: Not too much, they don't place too much emphasis on history or geography-.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Of other, other countries.
KB: They don't.
SL: If they do, it's limited \\ just to the United States. \\
KB: \\Well let me ask you this-. \\
SL: Uh, uh.
KB: Did you learn, did you learn about the different states in the United States?
SL: I sure did, before I came to the United States.
KB: //In school?//
SL: //I knew-.//Yeah.
SL: I knew all the states in the United States. I knew the capitals.
KB: Oh, wow!
SL: I knew the countries in Europe. I knew their capitals.
KB: Now see, that's embarrassing.
SL: It sure-.
KB: I never learned that! [Laugh]
SL: You see I knew exactly I even knew about the Taj Mahal. I knew who build the Taj Mahal.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So, I mean we, we are exposed to geography, extensive geography of the world.
KB: Uh-huh, and we're not.
SL: You see?
KB: See, the emphasis-.
SL: Now when, yeah.
KB: The emphasis here is more on math and science.
SL: [Laugh] That's why it is the way I see it.
KB: So-.
SL: Math and science, that's what it is.
KB: Yeah.
SL: So, I try to live with it.
KB: Yeah.
SL: You see, I try to live with it because every time up until now, people are still asking me, "Back in Africa, [laugh] do you do this, back in Africa?"
KB: [Laugh]
SL: And then, then they have very remote idea, "Do people live in trees? Do people-?" [Laugh]
KB: Yeah I, I, I've heard that too. When I came back from Ghana, "Oh gosh, did you, did you see-."
SL: [Laugh] Yeah. [Laughter]
KB: "Any elephants and zebras [laugh] and tigers?" //I was like-. //
SL: //"Is that joke?"// I say.
KB: // I'm like, "No."// [Laugh]
SL: I say, "Is that joke or are asking me the true question? \\ Do you really want to know?" \\
KB: \\ Some are, \\ some are telling the truth. They don't know any better.
SL: [Laugh]
KB: They don't know any better. [Laugh] You're right.
SL: See, that's what I go through every time as a foreigner, you know.
KB: Yeah, yeah.
SL: You see, it's so your interview comes right on the line, "How do you feel-?"
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: "About America or how do Americans feel about you?" \\I mean, that \\ comes very on the line.
KB: \\ Yeah.\\ But you know I got the same thing when I went to Ghana. Um, the people that we stayed with-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: Pretty much the one's who had never been to America all they got about America were from movies, like, um, gangster-type movies like Boys in the Hood or, um-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: Just violent movies with African Americans in there.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: And they were like, "Ooh! Do you live near a drug dealer?" [Laugh] And all this and I'm like, "Everybody in America is not like the people [laugh] you see on TV!"
SL: Yeah. That is just-.
KB: //So, I got the same thing. //
SL: //That's how, yeah, that's how it is. // Yes, but in Liberia on the contrary you see, Ghana, like I said, is part in Nigeria.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Yeah, on the English side.
KB: Um.
SL: They were ruled by England. So definitely they will see movies. They will see, uh, things.
KB: Yeah.
SL: You know from, I mean, that are happy, true movies.
KB: Yeah.
SL: But we will see naturally because we have missionaries that come in-.
KB: Yeah.
SL: From America directly.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: You see, and people, uh, in large amount travel to the United States-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And come back and tell us this.
KB: The real deal. [Laugh]
SL: Yeah, but what I really notice again is Americans go out there and they tell us-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Bad and good things about America.
KB: You're right.
SL: And then when they come back here they tell, [laugh] they tell something else.
KB: Bad and good things about Africa.
SL: I don't know why they do that. I really, I really frown at that a lot, you know.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Uh, uh when I hear people say, "Oh, in Africa you people eat snakes, you people eat this, you people eat that, you people eat that." And then when they go over to us, they say all the people up there live in slum.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Oh God! They steal, they kill.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: You've got to be careful.
KB: Yeah.
SL: You don't, after six o'clock, you got to go home-.
KB: \\They always see\\ the worst in things.
SL: \\Or else.\\ So things like that.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Is just fuss, fuss. I don't know why people do that.
KB: I don't know, either. They like to keep drama going, I think. [Laugh]
SL: Yeah, but I wanted, I wanted to go in the middle school, high school especially tell them.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: That if they are, talk to Africans-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: They should first ask them where are you from in Africa. That's the question they need to ask.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Because it's that, a lot of cultures-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Differences-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: In all of Africa.
KB: I believe that!
SL: I'm from Liberia, I have different way of life.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: I eat different food from people who live in Ghana.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: People who live in Ghana eat different food from people who live in Nigeria.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And the street scenes are different.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Our street scene are much like any one in Charlotte.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: But when you go in Accra, it's much different. I know you've been there.
KB: Potholes everywhere! [Laugh]
SL: Yeah. You see? So most of the houses are flat, flat most houses.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: And that, that it is so when they say, "Africa, Africa."
KB: Yeah.
SL: And they put everybody together.
KB: In one lump sum.
SL: Yeah and so that confuses me.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And it embarrasses a lot of people.
KB: I understand that.
SL: And also I have with me a list of other, uh, Liberians.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Just for interest if you would need them to talk.
KB: Oh, OK!
SL: Talk to them. Some of them will have more interesting things to say.
KB: I'm sure.
SL: Some who are just come here because-
KB: Oh OK, so it's \\fresh.\\
SL: \\ Fresh, \\ fresh from home.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: While they were in military is the war that just happened.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Our people kill people.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Which is very usual in war.
SL: I have a list of, we have an organization in Charlotte.
KB: Oh really? Tell me about that.
SL: Uh, and I'm the president.
KB: Oh, very good! Congratulations.
SL: [Laugh] Thank you. I'm the president. The organization is the Uniting All Liberians Together.
SL: As they come to the United States we help them, you know, get located.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: And, uh, find a school to go to-.
KB: \\That's very good.\\
SL: \\Find a job\\ and solve their immigration problem, everything.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So that's what it's, is all about.
KB: And do you have different chapters?
SL: Yeah, we have different chapters. We have the head of this is in Washington, which I had a \\convention\\ I want to show this to you.
KB: \\Oh wow! \\
SL: And I happen to be re-elected as the national vice-president.
KB: Ooh! Congratulations.
SL: Thank you.
KB: National vice-president! That's a big honor!
SL: Uh, I will leave this with you and you can look through it.
KB: Thank you.
SL: Uh, this is me over here, I'm the national vice-president.
KB: That's not you!
SL: That's me! Shem Logan! Isn't that the name?
KB: That doesn't look like you! [Laughter]
SL: But it's me.
KB: \\Yeah that's your name. That's not you. \\
SL: \\ In the book it say, "Shem Logan." \\
KB: That's not you. That's not really you is it?
SL: Oh, really? Well, the name says me, right? [Laugh]
KB: The picture doesn't look like you! [Laugh] That's not you!
SL: That's me. So anyway, I'm on a national level now because of the knowledge and personality.
KB: Yeah, \\you do have personality! \\
SL: \\Helpfulness-.\\ Thank you. The helpfulness and everything that goes with it, that is sought in me!
KB: Yeah.
SL: And then elected me to be national vice-president.
KB: That's really wonderful.
SL: But in Charlotte we have the local chapter here. We have the chapter in Atlanta.
KB: Um.
SL: We have chapters in almost every cities.
KB: How many people are in the chapter here?
SL: Uh, here we have about 162.
KB: Wow.
SL: 162, but they are not all active.
KB: Yeah. Oh really?
SL: Very few are active. [Laugh]
KB: Oh.
SL: But if, but like we're going to have a convention.
KB: Oh.
SL: And it's going to be hosted by Charlotte's chapter.
KB: Oh, neat.
SL: Next year. That's where you can to see everybody.
KB: I'd like to go.
SL: Oh, yeah. You will be invited, you want to go?
KB: Yes.
SL: I sure will have you on the list.
KB: Well, thank you. [Laugh]
SL: And I might give you a chance to speak because I'm the national vice president.
KB: OK. I would like that!
SL: That will be an interesting thing for you.
KB: Very much so.
SL: And also we have the, uh, social evening. I videotaped it but I haven't gotten yet uh, uh made copies of the videotape. Uh, the social evening is very interesting.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Its' not in this book but you will love this social evening, too.
KB: Humph.
SL: Yeah, uh, on the video tape you see people dancing-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Eating their country food. Oh, it is, you need to see that. It's a must! It's beautiful.
KB: I bet.
SL: And that was in Newark, New Jersey.
KB: Oh.
SL: Last week. Excuse me.
KB: Last week? Humph.
SL: We had our convention there.
KB: Oh, OK. That's where-.
SL: And then we have another one. We called it CWA Alumni Association.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: And that uh, uh convene in Waynesboro week before last.
KB: Waynesboro.
SL: So definitely I was pinned up enough week before last and last week.
KB: Wow.
SL: I had to go to the CWA convention. That's the high school I graduated from.
KB: Oh, yeah. That's right.
SL: Yeah, uh, we are trying to make a, form a chapter and, uh, the Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina-.
KB: Oh, yeah. That would be a good region.
SL: People and this was the invitation here.
KB: Um.
SL: I will let you read it, too. It's the invitation we sent to Georgia, uh, North Carolina, South Carolina chapter.
SL: So that we will come together this weekend in Atlanta.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: We're trying to form that chapter.
KB: This weekend?
SL: Uh-huh, in Atlanta. Now that is different from this one here.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: That is a just a school alumni association.
KB: You were foxes?
SL: Yeah.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: That's our, that's our team.
KB: Your mascot. [Laughs]
SL: Yeah. This is very interesting.
KB: Neat!
SL: You will love it a lot.
KB: I bet.
SL: I'm telling you, I can get you involved so much that you will say, "Oh! This is a wild world of [laugh] friends."
KB: And I might meet some cousins in the process! [Laugh]
SL: Sure you will. Sure do you will. You sure do, sure do.
KB: Very nice!
SL: So this is, is called the National Bassa Association. This one is the National Bassa Association.
SL: It's one it's one of the largest, largest, you know, uh, associations in the-.
KB: \\That's the city\\ that you're from, Bassa.
SL: This is the project that we did.
KB: Oh! You did a renovation?
SL: Yeah in, in, in Liberia. That's the high school in Lower Buchanan, Liberia. I didn't go there though.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: That's not the high school I went to. That's a high school in lower Buchanan, Liberia.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: In my hometown that they are trying to re, uh, re I mean renovate.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: See they have brought up the front here, they have brought this to this.
KB: Wow.
SL: That's it.
KB: That's really neat.
SL: Yeah. It's a kind of campus, the type that we have a lot to do yet.
KB: Now I see it's says Grand Bassa County. //You all have counties- //
SL: //Yes! Grand Bassa County // County.
KB: In Liberia?
SL: Yes. We have nine counties.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: Yes.
KB: Just like Mecklenburg.
SL: Yeah, Mecklenburg.
KB: We have a hundred.
SL: Well, its part, I think that is government.
KB: Oh, OK. [Laugh]
SL: We are democratic.
KB: Very good!
SL: And we have, we have the same form of government that you have.
KB: Yeah. OK.
SL: We just don't have, we have, we have one party.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: That's a True Whig originally. Now they have so many parties.
KB: Yeah. Just like we do. [Laughs]
SL: Originally we have only one party that's a True Whig Party.
KB: OK. True Whig Party?
SL: Yeah, to be, to become a president-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: You have to become a member of the True Whig Party.
KB: Why?
SL: You can't be neutral.
KB: Yeah.
SL: The True Whig Party will vote for you.
KB: Oh, OK. I got you, I got you.
SL: [Laugh] That's how it is. It's interesting. Well, I'll tell you one thing, I will invite you to our convention.
SL: And, uh, do you have meeting times? If you have the time, just sit and listen.
KB: Uh-huh. I will try to.
SL: I was the president here now. I just resigned.
KB: Oh.
SL: Last week.
KB: \\ Because\\ of school.
SL: \\Because \\ not because of school.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: But because I have this position with the National-.
KB: Oh, yeah.
SL: And the National keep you busy. You have to travel.
KB: Yeah, you can't have too many hands in too many cookie jars.
SL: Drive from place to place, yeah. And, uh, also I have some family problem. I've had death in the family.
KB: I'm sorry.
SL: Sickness death in the family.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And so I have to limit my, my, you know.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And running up //and down. //
KB: //Activities. //
SL: Activities, yeah, as you can see.
KB: Now one more question, Shem.
SL: [Laugh]
KB: You talked about food and I love food! What foods do you have in common? You said there are a lot of foods that are similar-.
SL: Yeah.
KB: Here and uh-.
SL: And, uh, we have many type of food in Liberia. We have the rice.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Which you have rice here.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: But then we have the, uh, cassava leaves, you have the palm butter-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And potato greens-.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: And, uh, you will taste those foods as time goes on.
KB: Um.
SL: Very, very tasty.
KB: Humph.
SL: Now I see in Food Lion, Bi-Lo, they are selling these foods now.
KB: Oh, really?
SL: Because people have imported them.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Because of the large number of, you know, foreigners now living in America their foods that are coming up here.
KB: Humph.
SL: So in most of the, uh, not most of, almost all these food, I mean, sorry grocery stores here-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: They carry our food.
KB: Hmm. OK.
SL: Like, uh, Park-N-Shop carry a lot of our food.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: And it's filled with our food. Have you gone to the grocery? I don't go to grocery store every time, right? \\ There's a lot of food! \\
KB: \\ I go to the grocery store.\\ [Laugh]
SL: You see [clears throat] the place where they have these fruit? Where all these fruits items are.
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: OK. You have seen some foreign fruit. Have you seen some things that you have that you don't know?
KB: Uh-hmm.
SL: Just imagine!
KB: I've never tasted-.
SL: I wish I could visit, you and I could visit a grocery store.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: I will tell you exactly, "This is from overseas." [Laugh]
KB: Yeah. Oh, I, I can look at it and tell. [Laugh]
SL: Have you seen, have you seen cassava there in Food Lion?
KB: Cassava? What does it look like?
SL: It's a root.
KB: A root?
SL: It's gray.
KB: A gray root. I probably have-.
SL: You have seen-.
KB: And didn't know what it was.
SL: It would be interesting for us to visit a grocery store and let me point out, "This is cassava, this is potato greens-."
KB: I, I think I-.
SL: "This is eddoes. This is yam-."
KB: Oh, you know that I know what a yam is!
SL: Yeah, OK. Yam this is purple [laugh].
KB: I'm from North Carolina! [Laughter]
SL: Oh? You have yam here?
KB: Yeah.
SL: Oh, good! Yam is a popular food.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Lots of food you have from the islands.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: So that's how it is.
KB: Do you have, um, what meats do you eat?
SL: What type of meat we have? Uh, beef.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: We have goat meat. Now goat meat is the best meat in Africa. I would say Africa because-
KB: Yeah.
SL: The whole of Africa-.
KB: Eats goat meat, I know. [Laughs]
SL: Now, see? I forgot. If you go to East Africa, everybody likes goat meat. West Africa, everybody likes goat meat. North Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, everybody likes goat.
KB: \\ I might have eaten some goat.\\
SL: \\ I don't why, South Africa\\ you were have supposed to have eaten [laugh]-.
KB: I think I did.
SL: If you went to, if you went to Ghana definitely, you have eaten goat.
KB: They were surely running around everywhere! [Laughter]
SL: \\You saw it? You saw a lot of them?\\
KB: \\Chasing me one time! \\
SL: Oh, yes?
KB: Yeah.
SL: That is the best meat in Africa, in general.
KB: Well, does it look like? Chicken?
SL: Goat?
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Goat is animal.
KB: What does it look like?
SL: Goat is animal.
KB: I mean when it's cooked, what does it look like?
SL: Oh, when it's cooked? Oh, it's like, it's like beef.
KB: Oh, OK. Maybe //I haven't had any.//
SL: //But it tastes// rich. It tastes nice.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Oh, it is very nice. It tastes like you should be able to eat a whole lot of it.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: You see it gives you \\ that appetite.\\
KB: \\ But you know, I couldn't.\\
SL: \\You couldn't but if you taste it-.\\
KB: \\ I couldn't eat a lot it.\\
SL: Even though you haven't tasted it before, \\ but if you taste it,\\ it gives you a lot of appetite.
KB: \\ But no\\ I couldn't eat a lot of it because, you know, Americans going, just like when you came over here.
SL: Yeah.
KB: There's a lot of things that you couldn't eat at first.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: And so \\ because it's rich I probably couldn't eat a lot of it. \\
SL: \\I'll tell you one thing, \\ uh, if you are greedy you will eat anything.
KB: I'm not that greedy! [Laugh]
SL: When I, when I came here, I loved to eat a lot of American food especially when I'm hungry.
KB: What's your favorite American food?
SL: Um, Bojangles chicken-.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: Is the best, even though we have chicken back home.
KB: Yeah. [Laugh]
SL: We have fried chicken.
KB: \\ But it's not Bojangles.\\
SL: \\ But the way how Bojangles \\ prepares that food, that chicken.
KB: The spices. [Laugh]
SL: I think it's nice. [Laugh] I love it over Kentucky Fried.
KB: Yeah I do, too.
SL: You see?
KB: It's crispier.
SL: Yeah. I love Bojangles chicken. That is the best food I like.
KB: You know I have a-.
SL: That's the best American food.
KB: I have a friend from Pakistan. She's actually, she's from Denver.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: And she went to school with me, to college with me, and she loves Bojangles. They don't have Bojangles in Colorado.
SL: Yeah. But she loves it.
KB: But she, every time she comes here she gets Bojangles chicken.
SL: Yeah, that's what it is. And we have other, we have the fou-fou. It, it's thick.
KB: I was afraid to taste that.
SL: Fou-fou?
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: You could have swallowed it, though.
KB: \\It's a dough? \\
SL: Yeah, it's like a dough. It's, I mean like, high in the, uh, it's hard to explain unless you see it.
KB: I, I have \\seen it, the-. \\
SL: \\It's, its \\ maize.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Tapioca.
KB: Yeah. And you dip it the-
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: In the sauce.
SL: Yeah \\ in the soup and you swallow it.\\
KB: \\ The lady that we stayed with-, \\ whole!
SL: Oh, yeah!
KB: Without chewing it! I don't. \\ I couldn't do that! \\
SL: \\Oh you don't chew it. \\ That's the difference, Americans chew their food.
KB: Yeah. I guess that's why-.
SL: All the food is to be chewed.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: I have not seen any American food that you've got to swallow it.
KB: [Laugh]
SL: They don't swallow, just chew everything! [Laughter]
KB: \\That's probably why we're so fat too! \\ [Laugh]
SL: \\ I know I have a friend, \\ I had a friend one time that, uh, wanted to taste the fou-fou and I prepare it.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: And she chew it. I say, "Why you chew it? It's not to be chewed! And if you chew it-."
KB: You can't help it.
SL: Why would you do a soup? [Laugh]
KB: But it's so big, you know, when you get a lump and you dip it in the soup. \\ It's so large that it's just natural to chew it. \\
SL: \\Yeah, yeah ,so large, yeah that's true. \\ But you can take the, the, the little lump \\that you can afford to swallow. \\
KB: \\But then it would be like you're not even eating anything. \\ [Laugh]
SL: Yeah, OK. We have a tribe in Liberia called the G-R-O, Gro Tribe.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: The Gro got this, they prepare their food in a different way.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Their fou-fou is kind of hard.
KB: Oh!
SL: Very hard.
KB: And they swallow that whole?
SL: And they have to slam, that soup is slimy-.
KB: Oh.
SL: So that hard fou-fou can pass through their throat.
KB: Ugh. [Laugh]
SL: And worse about that hard fou-fou, they make it so big.
KB: Well, that fills up faster.
SL: And then they swallow it. Their fou-fou is different.
KB: But do you taste anything? Or you're just swallowing it?
SL: Oh, you don't taste anything. The only thing you taste is the soup and the meat.
KB: Oh.
SL: But I'm telling you if you are used to eating fou-fou is one of the best to eat.
KB: Yeah, yeah.
SL: It's for people who want to lose weight.
KB: Oh! Hmm.
SL: As a matter of fact-. [Laugh]
KB: Maybe I want to try it! [Laugh]
SL: Do you want to lose weight? Eat a lot of fou-fou and you can lose weight.
KB: Yeah?
SL: It will not make you lose weight but at least keep your weight in its shape. Keep you in shape, yeah.
KB: You know when we chew all that food the juices-.
SL: Yeah.
KB: It helps digest the food-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: Easier-.
SL: Yeah.
KB: And faster-.
SL: Yeah.
KB: So you get hungry faster.
SL: But when the fou-fou is hard to digest. And \\most\\ of the fou-fou is not ever digested. [Laugh]
KB: \\Ooh.\\
SL: [Laugh] When you swallow a ball of fou-fou-.
KB: I don't know if I want that! [Laugh].
SL: If I take a swallow a ball of fou-fou-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Twelve o'clock I will not have any urge to \\have supper.\\
KB: \\ Indeed. \\ Well, that's good though. That's good but \\ your stomach?\\
SL: \\Because that fou-fou \\ compensates in,- [Laughter] yeah it compensates for supper. [Laugh] And it's still not digested yet.
KB: Ooo! I don't' know if I can do that. [Laugh] I mean \\it's good in a way and it's bad in a way.\\
SL: \\It has to be so, it has to be so.\\ You got to make it so.
KB: Yeah.
SL: If you make it real soft, it digests. But if you don't want to make it soft then you don't put a lot of water in it, it gets hard.
KB: Eww.
SL: Yeah. I fixed that every time in my apartment. \\ I had \\ fou-fou yesterday.
KB: \\ I have pictures-. \\ Did you?
SL: Ooh, I love it.
KB: So you're not hungry hadn't eaten since yesterday! [Laughter]
SL: I will prepare the, the get me some fou-fou tomorrow, too. I love it! All depends what type of soup are you fixing.
KB: With it.
SL: I'm a very good cook.
KB: Now, what kinds of food, I mean what kinds of-.
SL: Soup.
KB: Soup do you-?
SL: OK, I fixed meat, like good meat.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: I cooked good meat.
KB: So like a stewed beef?
SL: Yeah stewed, stewed, like a stewed beef, yeah it is and, uh, I have okra sauce.
KB: Ooh.
SL: And then some kind of, I have some lime.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: And then I have some hot pepper.
KB: Ooh.
SL: And then I put some crab meat.
KB: Um.
SL: Some crawfish, all those things.
KB: You put all of that in it?
SL: Oh, and that soup tastes very sweet.
KB: I bet.
SL: It tastes good!
KB: I bet.
SL: Rich! So when you get the fou fou all made up-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Take it, make it real soft-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: And dip in that soup. Or put the soup over the fou fou-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Like how I do. That's how we eat it.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: Put the whole soup over the fou fou.
KB: So you don't dip your fou-fou?
SL: But the Gro people dip it in there in their, uh, soup.
KB: \\I have-. \\
SL: \\So that's how it is \\ beautiful to eat.
KB: Is it?
SL: Yeah.
KB: I have a picture, um, at home-.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: That I had gotten from Ghana from the W.E.B. DuBois Center.
SL: Uh-huh. Yeah.
KB: It's a picture of women pounding fou-fou.
SL: Oh, yeah OK. That is, that type is dumboy.
KB: Dumboy?
SL: D-U-M-B-O-Y. That is why the, the one of the, one of the [ ] in the [ ].
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: It's called dumboy.
KB: Humph, is that the hard stuff?
SL: It's the same, it's the same [laugh] that can be real hard if you don't beat it \\ until it gets soft.\\
KB: \\ It looks like it would be! \\ [Laugh]
SL: I don't, I don't usually, it's hard to, it's hard to fix.
KB: Now fou fou is made out of-?
SL: Fou fou is made out of tapioca, corn, and cornstarch.
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: Tapioca.
SL: And cornstarch.
KB: And corn starch, tapioca is-?
SL: But now they have plenty fou fou that is made, uh-.
KB: Plantains?
SL: Plantain fou fou. Have you heard of the Caribbean Store? It's on Eastway Drive at Shamrock.
KB: Ooh! Don't tell me that! [Laughter]
KB: I love Caribbean food!
SL: [Laugh] Oh, really?
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Well I tell you one thing, visit the Caribbean Store. It's at Shamrock and Eastway Drive.
KB: I know where that is.
SL: You know where that is? You've been there before?
KB: Huh-uh.
SL: Oh, you need to go there. You see all this food. And if you have camera and want to go there I take you there and you'll take some good pictures.
KB: Ooh.
SL: You will always go there.
KB: I bet.
SL: They have all kinds of overseas food.
KB: Yeah.
SL: That's where we I buy our food from.
SL: It's one of the places. The other place is on South Boulevard.
KB: South Boulevard. OK.
SL: Yeah next to the Auto Bell.
KB: Oh, OK. I know where that is.
SL: It's another place on the left side. Left side going towards Auto Bell.
KB: Humph.
SL: That's another place and, uh, another one is right on, uh, North Tryon Street.
KB: Uh-huh. They have a lot then.
SL: Yeah. They have a lot [ ] people eating and then if you don't get it, go to them. You go to the, the, the-.
KB: The restaurants?
SL: No, no. The grocery stores.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: And there's a restaurant here, an African restaurant, called The Rooster.
KB: The Rooster? Where is that?
SL: The Rooster is on Statesville Ave.! [Laughter] Yeah, that's the name of it. The Rooster and its run by a Liberian guy named Phyllis Ketter, Phillip Ketter.
KB: Phyllis, Phillip, OK.
SL: Phillip Ketter. And you go there, Americans go there and order any food.
KB: Humph.
SL: Have the menu. \\ Any African food\\.
KB: \\ Do they have fou-fou there? \\ [Laugh]
SL: Fou fou is there.
KB: Is it good?
SL: Oh, it's very good.
KB: Not as good as yours though, right? [Laugh]
SL: It's as good as mine gets.
KB: Oh, really?
SL: They all are made of the same recipe.
SL: It's just like how you do hamburger-.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: Or hot dog, it's the same old thing.
KB: Oh, OK.
SL: With the chili sauce and everything all over it, it's the same old thing.
SL: So definitely if you know the, the, the, the, the recipe you can do the same old thing.
KB: You're right.
SL: So-.
KB: You're right.
SL: Phillip Ketter place, can you go there to eat one day? Can I take you there to eat one day?
KB: I probably will go one day.
SL: Just for the experience of it? I want you to have the experience, the taste of Africa.
KB: Yeah.
SL: Since you've been to Ghana you have a taste of their food there. \\ But Liberian food-\\
KB: \\ But see-.\\
SL: You need to have taste of Liberian food. Blend that with American.
KB: Yeah.
SL: You will love it.
KB: \\I didn't really, \\ I didn't really eat the Ghanaian food.
SL: You'll like it.
KB: Um, chicken, pretty much all I ate was chicken, peas and carrots-.
SL: Oh, but that's American.
KB: For six weeks. [Laugh]
SL: Of course English people have all those carrots and peas.
KB: Yeah.
SL: They still do.
KB: Yeah, because we ate at restaurants and everything.
SL: Oh, yeah.
KB: But I'll tell you a funny story. We went out one night and we found a Chinese restaurant and in the middle of Ghana, in the middle of Accra and that was the best Chinese food I've ever had my life.
SL: Oh, gosh.
KB: [Laugh] It was really good.
SL: Yeah. Chinese foods are fun, too.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: But one thing I don't like, they are too spicy.
KB: This wasn't spicy, this was just perfect.
SL: Oh really.
KB: The best.
SL: But most of the ones they have in Charlotte are spicy.
KB: Yeah, I haven't tasted anything in Charlotte that was a good as this.
SL: Oh, that is nice.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: We have a lot of Chinese restaurants at home, too.
KB: Really?
SL: Uh-huh.
KB: I thought that was just the weirdest thing, to see a Chinese restaurant.
SL: But if you have so much good food, I don't know why most of the Vietnamese are so small.
KB: Yeah.
KB: Uh-huh.
SL: You got to eat almost the same type of food.
KB: But it and it seems like their food digests faster.
SL: Really?
KB: [Laugh] At least for me it does. \\ I just get hungry. [Laugh] \\
SL: \\ Because \\ I just don't know. I have asked people, "Why are they so small?"
KB: I don't know.
SL: They're so short and small. Some are looking just like a little [laugh] baby! But that's a grown man or a grown lady-.
KB: You're right.
SL: Forty, 50 years old and they, they are \\ almost three feet.\\
KB: \\Short and small.\\
SL: Yeah, three feet.
KB: You said three feet! [Laugh]
SL: Yeah, it's true, [laugh] like a midget.
KB: They are not that small.
SL: If they have so good a food honestly. But then if you go to China.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: I have not been to China but I know a whole lot about China.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: You see, like I said before, I have studied-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: A lot about other countries.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Japan, all these other countries. What they eat and this and this and that.
KB: Humph.
SL: You see? So definitely I know how the people look in China.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: They are their people, people are much, look fatter.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: But compared to the Vietnamese-.
KB: Yeah.
SL: That come to, to your place here. You see? And the Japanese, too. But, uh, that's why, that's the most important thing about Africa, Liberia in specific.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: To be specific. So I will introduce you, if you have time, I'll introduce you to all this.
SL: Food and people.
SL: Conferences. I'll let you, I'll let you speak.
KB: Well, thank you.
SL: Tell them that you are an interviewer, you are this and that, and most people will be very interested in talking with you.
KB: I hope so.
SL: But like I said, I have this, uh, I have this, this list of people.
SL: I just pulled out one minute ago. I'd like you take a copy and, uh-.
SL: If you can call up some of them.
KB: Yeah. That will be good.
SL: Just say I'm the one who gave the number to you.
SL: That you just want to interview them, you want to know something about their country.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: And you are at UNCC where I go and oh, they'll be very happy to talk to you.
SL: Or if I could pull out several people who are very friendly. You know, because there are a lot of people [laugh] who are not too friendly.
KB: You're right.
SL: They are people who will be able to talk to you in a friendly, in a friendly manner.
SL: And if you can take a copy I will, you know-.
SL: Pinpoint those who you can talk to-.
SL: Who will tell you everything that they know-.
SL: And see especially, fou fou, uh, the rice and cassava leaves and other things and how they live at home. Why they came here and-.
SL: You know, see?
KB: Well, thank you Shem for talking with me and doing this interview. I appreciate that a lot.
SL: Uh-huh. Thank you so much and most of all I'm here in school-
KB: Yes.
SL: Hoping that I graduate in December.
KB: You will.
SL: It's not easy!
KB: It's not.
SL: I'm going to have to, [laugh] I'm going through hell, I'm telling you! [Laugh]
KB: I believe that! I believe it. [Laugh] I really do. [Laugh]
SL: Uh, it's not easy with me because I have a lot of family problems that-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Make me not, uh, concentrate very well.
KB: Yeah, yeah.
SL: And, uh-.
KB: I understand that.
SL: I have but one course.
KB: To go?
SL: To go.
KB: Very good.
SL: And, uh, I have made up my GPA too and have to do a lot of things, you know, to graduate.
KB: Yeah.
SL: So hopefully I'll be out of here December.
KB: You will.
SL: But I love UNCC a lot and like I say, I want to come back to do secondary education.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Which will be very few, you know, semester hours.
KB: Well, that's good.
SL: I just love to teach.
KB: Well, you will be a great teacher, I do believe.
SL: Oh! Thank you so much.
KB: I do believe.
SL: Thank you very much. And so that's what I could take on. I never prepare it.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Uh, just to your questions and I'm just telling you what if it had been a formal one, I would have-.
KB: Oh, yeah.
SL: Prepared something much more elaborate.
KB: No, I like random speaking.
SL: Oh, thank you so much.
KB: You know we've almost speak-, we've almost spoken for an hour. [Laugh]
SL: But it's a lot to say about-.
KB: It is.
SL: It's a lot to say about Africa, Liberia, it takes hours after hours as if you were visiting the, the Smith- the, the Smithsonian Institution they say it takes almost two, three weeks-.
KB: Yeah.
SL: To go everything. It's just like the same thing.
KB: You're just like a walking museum.
SL: Well, I want to be!
KB: [Laugh]
SL: Because it's a lot of experiences I have had.
KB: Yeah.
SL: I have gone to some places in Europe and I've compared Europe with my home.
KB: Yeah.
SL: And in America.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: And if you have time just say, uh-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: American education is very easy.
KB: You think so?
SL: \\ I love American education.\\
KB: \\ I believe that.\\ I believe it.
SL: Because the tests, objective questions.
KB: Yeah, they are.
SL: Back home they ask you, "What you know about this?"
KB: And see that's //how it's supposed to be. //
SL: //You have to explain // in detail. So, if you are not well versed in that subject, you are not going to make that examination.
KB: Right.
SL: But here its objective question: A, B, C, D.
KB: Multiple choice.
SL: Every day, it is the same.
KB: True/ False. [Laugh]
SL: If you don't even study you can have an "A." [Laugh]
KB: You're right, you're right.
SL: That's why I told my professor, I say, "Listen, I'm not used to this type of testing."
KB: Yeah, it's too easy.
SL: But if I didn't really study, I can have an "A".
KB: Yep, yep.
SL: That is not, that is not a fair way.
KB: That's not a measurement of your intelligence.
SL: Yeah, that's true.
KB: You're right.
SL: But, you go to England-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: Go to Africa-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: It is specific you, you have to face these types of questions that are complete.
KB: Yeah.
SL: You have to explain in detail.
KB: That's why I don't understand why we're in so much power, if we're so easy over here.
SL: //I don't know. Things are very easy here, very easy. That's why I say about education here on campus.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: So I, I love it! It's nice!
KB: Um-hmm. OK.
SL: And the, the computer the, uh, the other courses-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: That we take are very, very, very helpful towards my education and I appreciate every, everything.
KB: That's good.
SL: You see?
KB: Now I'm going to shut this off right now, but I still want to talk. [Laugh] Um, but again, thank you for the interview.
SL: Well, thank you Kimberly. And if there's anything I can do, don't hesitate.
KB: I will surely ask again. [Laugh]
SL: I am listed I am listed fully, my home address-.
KB: Um-hmm.
SL: My home phone and everything, e-mail address, they're all listed in the student directory.
SL: So in case you want to get hold of me anytime, you can do that-.
KB: I sure will.
SL: With no hesitation.
KB: You have opened the door.
SL: Thank you so much.