Liberian journalist hopes to hit the visa lottery with his new bride

By Jerry Davich

Anthony Kokoi and his new wife, Abersau G. Baker Kokoi who were married on November 12, 2022

Jerry’s career began in 1995 as a political cartoonist/columnist with The Times of NWI, writing thousands of columns and stories through narrative storytelling, or shining a light on society’s darkest corners, or provoking unpopular conversations.

The email initially looked like just another online scam.

“Good day! Sir, I’m Anthony Kokoi, a young Liberian…” it stated.

My instinct was to click delete. And then I noticed its next line.

“I am a volunteer reporter at the Daily Observer newspaper here in Liberia,” the email continued. “My hopes are to become a professional journalist and writer. I wish you could be one of my mentors in my journalism career.”

I replied, “I’d be happy to help you anytime.”

This exchange took place in 2016. I honestly didn’t think I’d hear again from Kokoi. I was wrong. We became Facebook friends that year.

“Here in my country, we have many young people who are passionate about becoming professional journalists and writers, but only few are afforded the opportunity, with political stories being the order of the day,” Kokoi told me. “I really appreciate you taking up your time to talk to me Mr. Davich. From a far distance. I will always remember this.”

We developed a pen pal-type digital conversation from half a world away. To be exact, from Valparaiso, Indiana, to Paynesville, Liberia. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of the digital age.

Liberian journalist hopes to hit the visa lottery with his new bride

I asked him questions. He asked me questions.

“What comes to your mind when you hear about Africans?” Kokoi asked me.

“What kind of reaction is President Trump’s victory getting there?” I asked him.

Through the years, Kokoi asked me to review his writing as he worked to become a journalist. He sent me his stories. I offered him editing suggestions.

“The article I asked you to help me review in December won me the Press Union of Liberia’s Best Sports Reporter award last night,” Kokoi wrote to me in May of this year.

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