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Notebook of a Warrior - A Brief Review


By Omari Jackson

I was excited when I saw the title of the book. And I replayed the many scenarios in my mind’s eye when I read it. The authors, described as twin-authors, are truly a pair of brothers who shared their war-experiences, and drawing attention to the many deliberate decisions and missteps that characterized the Liberian war. But, the soldier, the main character in the novel? It was evident that like many of the warriors in the Liberian war, he was forced to live and accept conditions that dared him to change. And in the end of the war that swept through his village and the Kwaata Empire, his end found him remorseful. His changed circumstances did not excuse him from the horror that he helped create, and in the end he was wasting away with a sense of foreboding and disappointment. And sadly in the end, those he had fought for, and as a result killing his own people, did not have the guts to recognize his “excellent” performance on the gory theater.

How many of us cannot remember the sordid events of the Liberian war in the self-confession of the events in The Notebook of A Warrior? Please buy a copy and read it, and see how events played out for the warrior.

But unlike a number of the leading characters in the Liberian war who have been rewarded with leadership, this particular warrior’s end had come and right from the beginning of the book, he was dying…and every minute counted for him.

It was a difficult situation but still he wanted his message to leave for prosperity. And until he delivered his message, he would continue to hold on. But whether he had the authority to hold on or not, he felt there was a part of him that continued to urge him on to live. It was clear that few of those who had the chance to meet him on his dying bed, might have concluded that the man was long gone and only his body was just waiting to be placed in an unmarked grave.

Like thousands of the rebel soldiers in the Liberian theater.

But the warrior held on, proving his own resistance, and providing him with a measure of hope that at least, all was not lost.

He had to deliver the message.

After an hour, it was time for visitors to see their relatives and friends at the hospital. The narrator, mere by chance or a coincidence followed the crowd and though he was on his way to a French-language class, he felt excited to follow his earlier inquiry from a young woman and decided to investigate further. It may seem as a bad omen or an intriguing development for someone from your village or town to insist that he had an emergency message to leave behind before leaving to the great beyond.

The narrator entered the room where the warrior held on his fort; and there he was, a man who by all appearances did not have enough strength to even drink a cup of water. And it was true, the young woman he had encountered, and had received the message about the dying man was right, for the lady appeared disorganized and though the warrior was still holding on, she had long concluded that he had no chance of pulling through.

Like many of our women, the young woman had already begun mourning for the warrior; a man she did not know or had ever made his acquaintance. The sympathy in her heart burst forth in torrents, and as the narrator tells us in his description; her swollen eyes indicated the extent of her pain.

The young woman also proved true, after the narrator inquired about the cause of her tears, she mustered some courage and said something like, “the man is dying, and he is your countryman, from the village of Salata . Though it looks like he will not make it, for it is evidently clear that he is in severe pain and in agony.”

Yes, the warrior was wearing away. But again he had a burden which was heavy on his heart. It was a burden that he had to be helped to lift from his shoulders.

And when the narrator eventually entered the room, where the warrior held on, “an acrid stench of human excrement mingled with the smell of drugs hung in the air, producing nauseous effects.”

There was no argument that it was the place of the dead.

And yet, the warrior’s limbs began to regain some strength, and after some difficulties, began to speak.

He started the story from the place of his birth and went into nostalgia, pointing on events that shaped his life as he grew up. And in all of his travails, he was warned against “those” things that could make his life difficult, meaningless and in jeopardy. He believed in his father who had shown him the empire of Kwaata and what it stood for. The glorious Don’ts were akin to the 10 Commandments in the Bible, which were meant to direct his course in life.

Then when he was in the 7th Grade, surprising events took place that changed his life forever and those of his friends and country men.

In the end he became a soldier, like one of those who were known as “rebels” and took events to the extent that he realized finally he had done horrible deeds to his people.

The intriguing events he narrated, some I personally had shared when I was a kid, sent some nostalgic feelings through my heart.

And I can say that any reader will find in THE NOTEBOOK OF A WARRIOR, some elements of his or her own past. Perhaps we have come so far to understand our own feelings and hate for those who decided a dangerous method to change the difficult road that Liberia had traveled till 1989, and we can all be provoked to remember, not the difficult past, but the intriguing future.

That’s if there is any strength left in us to work together to build it, so that those who are crawling and still those who are not yet born, may have a nation that they can be proud of.

Please check here or contact Dennis and Dave Jah (http://www.allafricawrite.com) for your copies, and after reading the book, let’s discuss the issues as we struggle to rebuild Liberia .

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