To return, after a long
time of absence, to a place one has liked or even been quite happy to
work and live in can be a venture. The risk is that the place has changed
– or oneself has done so.
”The beautiful city of
progress”, as the reporter at the local radio use to call Monrovia
during the 1960s, was neither beautiful nor progressive, quite the contrary
very sadly. It was rather frightning to go by car from Monrovia to Yekepa,
being stoped at checkpoints manned by young fighters at almost every
To get in and out of Liberia can be rather tricky, everybody looking for “Cold water”. Once entering Liberia after crossing Cavalla river on a handoperated ferry from Prollo in Ivorycoast I was interrogated by a fairly young officer asking me if I had been to Liberia before. My answer was: yes indeed, I think I came here about ten years before you did. Finish palaver!
The same duties have taken
me to Rome three times a year to attend
Emergency Aid Group meetings at Caritas Internationalis, to circulate
Liberia Report and on behalf of the catholic church in Liberia appeal
for funds for various humanitarian projects from the Caritas network.
It is indeed very sad to see a small country like Liberia, rich in human
and natural resources slowly commiting suicid, because of ignorance,
greed or plain stupidity.
While in Rome I have had
many opportunities to visit many churches, and ancient monuments, but
my spiritual “waterhole” has been and remains “Comunita
di Sant Egidio” in Trastevere, because
of it´s commitment to peacebuilding, and it´s concern for marginalized
people such as the poor, the homeless, asylumseekers, gypsies and others
next door in Rome.
The very fertile province of Casamance and it´s Diola people is very special to me, in particular Cabrousse and the Centre Sainte Marie, with the Senegales sisters of “La Congregation de Saint Coeur du Marie ”whom the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, the readers of Katolsk Kyrkotidning and funds from the Swedish Mission Council (SMR) have helped to build a very badly needed maternityclinic and staffhouse/convent in the village, only a short distance from the boarder to Guinea-Bissau.
The dungeons where slaves were kept before the horrific transport to the Americas and other distinations, at Isle de Goree, outside Dakar are one of the most dreadful and depressing sights one can experience, at the same time a necessary place to visit for us all, Africans and Westerns alike to make us remember past and present evils man is able to comit to fellow human beings.
During a visit to the two
Congos we crossed the Congoriver by speedboat
between Kinshasa and Brazaville.
It was an exciting experience to cross this mighty river, I will not
During my service as recruiting
officer, 1971-1989, at Gränges Int.Mining (GIM) I had many opportunities
to travel. I made regular visits to Liberia and went out on recruiting
trips to a number of countries in Europe and Canada. In connection with
GIM´s involvment in an iron ore project I went together with two collegues
on a factfinding mission to Iran, a year
before the fall of the shah. This journey was one of the most memorable
journeys I have ever made, because of the beauty of the country and
it´s historical ruins of Persepolis, cities,
buildings in particular the islamic architecture and ornamentation of
the mosques. Worth mentioning are the mosques in Mahan
and Shiraz. The most impressive city we
visited is Isfahan with it´s Maidan Shah,
now called Great Maidan, with the Shaykh Lutfallah and the Shah mosques.
During the mainpart of 1978
and the early months of 1979 I worked as campsupervisor in the Northeastern
desert of Saudi Arabia, The camp was located
350 km.from the nearest town of Tabuk,
250 km.on paved road and 100 km.on very rough desert tracks, in addition
to radio our only means of communication. My lasting memories are the
beauty, grandeur and serenity of the Saudi Arabian desert.
During vacationtimes my friends and their families in Tunisia have made my stays at their homes in Tunis and Sfax very pleasant. We have together gone by car and visited many of the places I wanted to see. One tour took us to Tabarka, and the ruins of Bulla Regia and Dougga. On another occasion we went to the oasis of Touzeur and further in the desert to the oasis of Nefta. Another time we went by ferry to the island of Kerkena and spent a couple of days there.
In 1980 I wanted to make a second pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I went via Damascus, where I spent some days visiting the Omayad Mosque, the most important churches and the National Museum. From Damascus I went by the regular taxiservice to Amman, and checked in at Al Manar Hotel, where I use to stay during local leaves from Saudi Arabia. After receiving the necessary permission, I hired a taxi to take me to Jerusalem, where I checked in at the Holy Land Hotel, to start my pilgrimage to the most holy places of Christianity and visits to the holy places of Islam, the mosques of Al Aqsa and the Rock on Haram esh –Sharif.
During my almost ten years
of work with LAMCO J.V.Op.Co. from 1961- 1970 I had regular home-and
local leaves. When taking homeleave I often boarded a French passengerboat
in Monrovia taking me on a ten day tour to Marseille or Bordeaux,with
stops for a day in each city of Conacry
and Alger or Vigo
depending on the final destination. On other occasions I went by the
orecarrier Svealand from Bremerhafen, and
Alida Gorthon from Newcastle to Buchanan
in Liberia. For local leaves I use to board Elder Dempster Line passengerboat
in Monrovia leave the ship in Las Palmas,
and board on it´s way back from Liverpool
In 1959 I applied and was accepted to join the Swedish Battalion ,G06 of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) ,Gaza, Egypt. I served as staffsergeant at the medical clinic at the battalions headquarter, close to the beach in Gaza city. Besides my daily duties, I had to make regular visits to the Norwegian UN hospital and Canadian UN maintenance center in Rafah, for renew medical supplies and drugs. In addition to the treatment of sick members of the Swedish battalion, we had a number of locals who needed our services.
The UN battalions of various
nationalities had a leavecenter in Beiruth,
Libanon,and a UN clinic at Garden Hotel
in Broumana, to take care of soldiers on
leave with medical problems.
The Hungarian peoples revolt
against the oppresive communist system in the autum of 1956, followed
by a very brutal and violent Sovjet invasion
of Hungary. The crushing of the revolt
caused a human catastrophe,and a flood of Hungarian refugees to Austria.
The League of Red Cross Societies needed German speaking staff to assist
in the reliefwork in Vienna. The Swedish
Red Cross asked if the regiment T4, where I was stationed, had a suitable
and willing person to spare. I happily accepted to join a team of three
Swedish Red Cross warrant officers, ready to fly to Austria and start
During a couple of summers in the early years of the 1950s a friend of mine and I made journeys by car and visited many places in Germany, where we could observe ruins and other traces of WW II in Hamburg, Bremen, Cologne and other cities. We paid an unforgettable visit to the site of the Nazi extermination camp in Bergen-Belsen with it´s many graves of murdered Jews. We spent few days at Laacher Seehotel ,at the Benedictine Monastery of Maria Laach, were I became a friend of Rev. Pater Ignatius Kornfelt, OSB, who invited me to stay as guest of the monastery during few days the following summer, which I did.
During the most recent years
I have spent some weeks visiting Istanbul.
It´s indeed a very fascinating city with a lot of ancient buildings
to be seen. My favorite hotel is Best Western Hotel Spectra,
located at the Hipodrome (www.hotelspectra.com).
The owner and staff are extremly friendly and helpfull. The prices are
very reasonable ,and best of all the most interesting places to see
like Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque Topkapi palace, Archeological Museum and
Grand Bazar are within walking distance also for elderly people.
Having retired I like whenever
possible to revisit places that once were and still are important to
me. As a child I use to visit my maternal grandparents farm, Ljungsberg,
Ödestugu, south of Jönköping. I will never
forget the nice smell and taste of my grandmother´s newly baked bread,
homemade butter and cheese. Later on when my uncle had taken over the
farm I used to spend my holidays from school at the farm, milking four
cows each day, raking hay and spreading dung when raining.