Begging on Liberia’s Streets by Day, Heating Up Its Clubs by Night

By CLAIR MacDOUGALL

Emmanuel Dongo, a Liberian rapper known as Lyrical D, performing last month at the Code 146 nightclub in Monrovia. Credit Jim Tuttle for The New York Times
Emmanuel Dongo, a Liberian rapper known as Lyrical D, performing last month at the Code 146 nightclub in Monrovia. Credit Jim Tuttle for The New York Times

Emmanuel Dongo, who spends his days begging on Monrovia’s streets, plunged with his crutches onto the concrete stage and into the glare of neon. He thrust his muscular shoulders forward, limp legs hanging behind him, and transformed himself into Lyrical D, rising rap artist.

“Handicap man trying to survive, then you sitting there just to criticize, when that you, what thing you will really do?” he asked, snapping out the lyrics to a rapt crowd at Code 146, where Liberia’s aspiring rap stars come to make their names. “Will you close your mouth and turn your back on you? I feel too bad when I sitting in this wheelchair, just want to be walking like you, man. See me passing and you mocking at me telling me I not even look like human being.”

Putting down his crutches, Mr. Dongo leaned back into his wheelchair and propelled himself across the stage, dancing frenetically and spitting out angry rhymes about his experiences of discrimination in a society that largely views disability through the lens of superstition. Even though disabled victims of war are a common sight on Liberia’s city streets, handicapped people are often seen as cursed, their amputations or paralyzed limbs viewed as the result of witchcraft by the cruel and envious, or else as punishment for some wrongdoing.

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SOURCE: The New York Times

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About Cholo Brooks 13149 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.