In His Own Defense

first_imgHe sat there waiting for the final judgment. Yes, he had long known that it would come to this and he would be doomed. Ghankay lowered his eyes below his chest, with apparently unconcerned as he heard the judge shuffled papers on the bench to read the verdict that he knew would deny him the freedom.The roomful of spectators waited with impatience, some in particular who had pointed fingers during the trial that Ghankay Taylor, a leader of Liberia, was responsible for their suffering. Several of the men and women had lost their limbs and had testified that it was the work of people sponsored by Ghankay Taylor. Ghankay’s protests had meant nothing and from all indications he would be done when he was thrown in jail and the keys thrown away.He came from his reverie when he heard the mournful voice of the judge, say:“The court finds you, Ghankay Taylor, guilty of aiding and abetting the tragedy in Sierra Leone.” That was the conclusion, and he felt insulted about it, despite the enormity of the judge’s words.The judge went on: “In a few days’ time from today, you’ll be sentenced to serve your time, and may God’s kindness descend on your soul and give you the means to examine your actions and support that have led to the deaths of thousands and the suffering of many thousands more.”Looking suddenly aged, Ghankay Taylor could not hide his emotions, though he was a man who would not break down so easily. But he checked himself and took a defiant composure that shrugged of what had happened to him.Breaking down, he knew would give his enemies the chance needed to deride him, and to taunt him to say, “I told you so,” for Ghankay had always convinced himself since the year of December 24, 1989, that the war he waged against Samuel Doe was a just war, despite its resultant suffering and devastation.So the final judgment came after six years of back and forth trial, and now he knew that his misfortunes as a former president of Liberia had ended on a sad note.Ghankay bowed his head and what appeared like a painful smile came across his face. Was he surprised at what had happened to him? Did he not inform the court, when the trial was in the second year, that he would not have justice? Now that his guilt had been pronounced, what was the difference he had expected?None!Now they would throw him into the slammer, and maybe forget about him, leaving him to rot and die like the others.Ghankay’s heartbeat increased as his mind centered on two unfortunate leaders in recent memory who had gone before him in shame. The first was Saddam Hussein of Iraq; he read the report, was hunted down and hanged like a dog in his own country.Muamar Gaddafi was next and what was sad about his story was that he had then transformed himself and was cooperating with the rest of the world to fight against violent groups, when circumstances led to his downfall and his body violated in Libya. Sadly both Hussein and Gaddafi’s children became victims in the course of their tragedies.Then tears filled his eyes, for he was aware of the tragic end of his son, Chucky, who was also hunted down and now residing in a prison somewhere in the United States for 99 years.Then the time came for the final judgment and he heard that he would be concealed from the world for 50 years. The news came when he thought there could be some people still living that would have understood the revolution he led and its consequences. He once told a friend, “They call their own a revolution and call us terrorists.” Despite the challenges, Ghankay was like that in his final days, a man who saw the world better than his peers.Though his chances of ever regaining the freedom he had known was long gone, he could not fail to laugh when he heard that his guilty verdict and sentencing to half a century in jail would serve as a strong message against such behavior in the future. To Ghankay the world had not learned enough to understand things that were responsible for the suffering of those doomed to perish.“What behavior?” he had asked at the judge when he was allowed to respond in his own defense, “Can any of the witnesses who testified say that he/she saw me do those falsehoods they claimed I was responsible for?” Like a defense counsel, Ghankay had moved back and forth, his eyes directed at the judge.The roomful of spectators remained silent, with a small section in the room filled with his sympathizers.His defense team, seated at the far corner in the room, decided to let Ghankay conduct his own defense, in an attempt to put some sense in his accusers. And in a solemn voice Ghankay narrated to the large gathering in the courtroom in The Hague the tragedy of his life, his country and the reasons he took up the challenge.“We declared independence when much of Africa was still under the yoke of colonialism,” he said, “and we spearheaded the formation of the Organization of African Unity that has helped to unite Africa, despite the persistent actions of wicked men to divide and rule Africans.”The courtroom remained silent; the drop of a pin could have been heard. The judge, glasses on his nose, had his arms folded across his chest, looking at a man that many claimed and testified was a monster personified in human form. The evolving drama was full of excitement but it was clear that a probe behind it would expose the agony, fear, anger, hopelessness and frustration.“After more than one hundred years,” he said, walking back and forth, “our country is,” his voice broke, choked with emotion, “not developed, lacking the most basic necessity for life; and after poor and dangerous leadership, my people were torn asunder by a despot,” that part was drowned by the judge’s banging gavel, as spectators responded as many objected in boos while minority of the voices expressed appreciation with cheers, and both groups were warned of the consequences.“This court,” the judge said, “cannot allow anyone to bring its reputation into disrepute and therefore be warned and the case will continue without any interruption from any of you.”That settled the matter, and with a sweep of his head, Ghankay shrugged his shoulders and directing attention to the judge, he said, “My downfall is the end of the right for African leaders to choose what is right for their people.” Lifting his right hand, he mopped his face with a white handkerchief, and resumed his summation of what he described as a plot by evil men to destroy him.“Today,” he said in sadness, “I’m a doomed man of no consequence, and like the Christ I am being sacrificed for my people, but at the plot instigated by my enemies.” Ghankay’s eyes were red, but he was determined not to give the impression that the tragic consequence of his struggle to reclaim Liberia from the throes of what he said was despotism was over; and therefore, he turned around swiftly, and pointing at the judge, said, “This is the end.”Seeking an apparent dramatic effect on the judge, Ghankay folded his hands behind his back, marched across to the defense table and with remarkable dexterity, brought his hands in front of him to grab a bunch of papers and shuffled them on the defense table before seating himself.Across from him, directly to the right of the prosecution’s table, sat relatives and friends who had traveled from Liberia and the United States to give him moral support.He wanted to look them in the face and encourage them, but the time was different, as he was being prepared for his doom.Ghankay remembered back in Africa, particularly in Liberia, when it became necessary that he resigned his post as the legitimate President of Liberia and went to a false exile in Nigeria; and before he left, he told his countrymen:“I’m not leaving because I’m afraid to fight; I’m leaving so that the killings will end, so that you will live.” Those words presently came to his assistance, and began to haunt him.“I’m being sacrificed,” Ghankay said, “I’m like a lamb for the slaughter.”That day, more than six years ago, he had watched as many Liberians wept for him; and it was then that he realized how his people loved him. Though he had indicated at the time, “God willing,” amid thunderous cheers, “I’ll be back” – that prophecy would not see fulfillment. In the end, Ghankay admitted grudgingly that the world was overshadowed by evil men, who had no interest in the suffering of others, and whatever that existed was meant to give the impression that someone cared.Presently, as the bailiff told him to go and not look back, he could feel perspiration forming on his forehead. There was so much a man could take. All he had done was lead a revolution to remove a despot, but now he was being sent to his doom for another’s crime.“Where is justice,” he said, eyes lowered below his chest.He did not deny his relations with Foday Sankoh and his marauding soldiers of the Revolutionary United Front, but that he aided and abetted their actions, was far from the truth.As Ghankay walked to his doom, he could not imagine a world where individuals had no choices for their nations’ and peoples’ sake. He had fought a good fight, and whether his fight caused thousands to die, the world had indicated they did not care. He could be satisfied if he were being judged for his actions in his native Liberia, but now he knew the world did not care about those whose lives wasted on the Liberian theater.Remembering his parting words to the Americans the day he set out for his Nigerian asylum, Ghankay repeated it to himself: “They should call off their dogs,” now that he was being thrown in the slammer.He knew he would soon be forgotten, and lost to oblivion. And that was the part, like a cancerous tumor, that defeated his resolve to remain optimistic.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Barber charged for ganja possession

first_imgA 28-year-old barber who was reportedly found with 28 grams of cannabis was on Wednesday hauled before the courts.Curt Holder appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.The South Ruimveldt man was reportedly apprehended on June 24, 2018 at East Ruimveldt, Georgetown with the drug.Holder, however, denied the allegation when he appeared in court on Wednesday. He was released on $50,000 bail after Police Prosecutor Simone Payne had no objections. The case will continue on July 25, 2018.last_img

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Blind will be a success at Man United, believes Dutch expert

first_imgDaley Blind has all the talents to be a huge success at Manchester United, Dutch football expert Marcel van der Kraan has told talkSPORT.The Ajax man looks set to join the Red Devils within the next 48 hours, after the club confirmed that they have had a bid – thought to be in the region of £14m – accepted by the Eredivisie champions.However, despite enjoying a hugely impressive World Cup with the Netherlands, there remain questions over whether Blind will adapt to the Premier League, but Van der Kraan has dismissed such suggestions, telling the Weekend Sports Breakfast that the 24-year-old will prove the doubters wrong.“He comes in with league titles and trophies under his arm and has been crowned footballer of the year in the Netherlands,” he said. “If he follows in the footsteps of his dad [former Ajax defender] Danny, then he will be a success at United.“He’s an absolute first class player. He played every single position apart from goalkeeper for Ajax and the good thing about young players coming from there is that they have a good education, are very skilful and I think this is why Louis van Gaal has gone for this particular player.”last_img read more

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Man United 4-2 Man City: Red Devils end derby drought with barnstorming win

first_imgManchester City were denied a record fifth consecutive derby victory over rivals Manchester United, as the Red Devils romped to a 4-2 win which leaves the Blues’ title defence in tatters.At a wet and windy Old Trafford, a sensational start from City saw the visitors take an early lead through an unmarked Sergio Aguero, but United came back in ruthless style.Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini were central to everything Louis van Gaal’s side mustered, and the midfield duo netted a goal apiece to hand the hosts a 2-1 half-time lead.City were perhaps fortunate to go into the break with all 11 men on the field after Vincent Kompany was showed only a yellow for a high challenge on Daley Blind, with the captain’s sluggish showing seeing him replaced by Eliaquim Mangala.But the change made little difference to City’s tentative back-four as Juan Mata nutmegged Joe Hart from close-range to increase the deficit on 67 minutes, while Mangala was at fault for the hosts’ fourth as Chris Smalling escaped his marker to nod in from a free-kick.Aguero completed a brace in the closing stages, but it proved a mere consolation as United were left to celebrate a long-awaited victory over their fiercest rivals.Fans were treated to a pulsating edge-of-your-seat opening 45 minutes as City looked back to their best in a rapid start.Manuel Pellegrini’s side were playing with all the zip and intensity they have lacked in large periods of this season, and it took just eight minutes for the visitors to take a deserved lead.A dazzling run from Gael Clichy sliced open United’s defence, with the full-back finding Milner on the left who then jabbed a neat through-ball into David Silva in the box. The Spaniard had loads of time to look up and present the easiest of tap-ins for Aguero at the far post, with the Argentine making no mistake for his first goal in seven games.You felt the hosts had to muster a quick response to prevent the contest from running away from them, and that’s exactly what they did, though with a big helping of luck.City’s back line was caught out by David de Gea’s long punt forward, which found Ander Herrera free on the left. The Spaniard’s early cross was blocked by a sliding Clichy, but the ball bounced off the defender and fell kindly for Young, who turned on the spot to smash the ball past a helpless Hart.There was little luck involved, however, as the Red Devils began to boss proceedings, with the man recently described as ‘undroppable’ by manager Louis van Gaal, Fellaini, influential once again in his advanced role.He and Young were the focus of all United’s best moves and it was no surprise when they combined to put the Old Trafford outfit ahead; the England winger crossing superbly for his Belgian team-mate, who was free at the back post to power his header home.The tempo slowed considerably after the break following a full throttle first half, though City were lucky to escape a melee in the box moments after the restart, with the Blues struggling to clear their lines after Hart stretched to save Wayne Rooney’s free-kick.Pellegrini’s men looked a shadow of the side that lifted the Premier League trophy last term, and their lacklustre display was soon punished further as United notched two goals in seven minutes to seal a brilliant three points.Mata was at his clinical best to finish off a swift counter-attack though Hart’s legs, though the Spaniard appeared inches offside from Rooney’s defence-splitting pass, while Smalling added a fourth with ease; the centre-back rising completely unchallenged to head in the United skipper’s free-kick.Even Aguero’s late consolation, firing a shot in off the post, failed to wipe the smiles of the United players’ faces, as the Reds Devils rise to within just one point of second place Arsenal, while City remain in fourth. Manchester United celebrate their brilliant derby win over Man City 1last_img read more

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Southampton striker Charlie Austin out for up to a MONTH with hamstring injury

first_imgSouthampton striker Charlie Austin will be out of action for three to four weeks with a hamstring injury, manager Ronald Koeman has confirmed.The striker was one of two injury blows Saints suffered in Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth, with both Austin and fellow striker Shane Long limping off at the   Vitality Stadium.Saints initially believed the former QPR frontman could be on the sidelines for two months, but after a scan on Wednesday the injury is not as bad as first feared.Dutch boss Koeman said: “We did a scan yesterday and he will be out for three or four weeks with a hamstring.“It is a grade 1 hamstring injury and normally it is between two and four weeks but it wasn’t the worst [type of hamstring injury].”The 26-year-old frontman has struggled with injury since joining Southampton in the January transfer window, but Koeman says the injury is different to those he has struggled with in the past. “It is a different place to those injuries he has had before,” he added. “It is not the same injury that he had when he came to Southampton.”Southampton welcome Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday but will also be without Long who was withdrawn after a knock on his knee.Koeman said: “Shane Long is not available for the weekend but it is a different type of injury and we have full hope that he will be available next weekend but not this weekend.“He was feeling a knock on his knee and it is really painful but it will not be a problem next weekend.“It is part of football, it is hard to take for Charlie, it is hard to take for us because we have lost two front players.“We lost two and now we need the rest of the strikers to do the job.” Southampton striker Charlie Austin limps off in defeat to Bournemouth 1last_img read more

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Things To Do

first_img Ranger-led nature hike, 11 a.m. the second, third and fourth Sundays of each month at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce. Call (661) 268-0840. To submit an event for the Things To Do calendar, contact Sharon Cotal two weeks prior to the event at (661) 257-5256, fax her at (661) 257-5262, e-mail her at sharon.cotal@dailynews.com or write to her at 24800 Avenue Rockefeller, Valencia, CA 91355. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Jimmy Brogan and Greg Vaccarella will perform, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at J.R.’s Comedy Club located inside Marie Callender’s at 27630 The Old Road, Valencia. Cost: $12 or $22.99 for dinner and the show. Call (661) 259-2291 or visit www.comedyinvalencia.com. Bird Walk, 8-10 a.m. Saturday at Towsley Canyon, 24255 The Old Road, Newhall. Call (661) 255-3606. Family Nature Walk, 11 a.m.-noon, and an animal presentation, 1-2 p.m. every Saturday at Placerita Canyon Park and Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Call (661) 259-7721. Grateful Dudes will perform bluegrass music, 7:30-10:30 p.m. every Saturday at Vincenzo’s, 24504 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Call (661) 259-6733. Waterfall Hike, 9 a.m.-noon Sunday at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Call (661) 259-7721. Swazzle Puppet Show, “Harry and the Tyrannosaurus Rex,” 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library, 18601 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country. Call (661) 251-2720. “Cabaret” will be presented, 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday in the Hart High School Auditorium, 24825 N. Newhall Ave., Newhall. Call (661) 259-7575. Moonlight Hike, 6-7 p.m. Friday at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Call (661) 259-7721. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 18 at the Repertory East Playhouse, 24266 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. Call (661) 288-0000. last_img read more

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South Fork High School football to compete at eight-man level starting in 2017 season

first_imgNo matter what year it has been, the thought has always been in the back of Andy Olsen’s mind, he’d always ask himself…“Can we make it through the week with just a couple of extra bodies?”This week, Olsen decided to go through with something that he’s also thought of the since South Fork came back in 2011 following a year away from the North Coast’s football scene after not having enough players to field a varsity team.In an interview with the Times-Standard, Olsen confirmed that the Cubs …last_img

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‘Enough is enough’ say McAuley House students

first_imgEvery Friday, students at McAuley House in Johannesburg stage a silent hour-long protest; they stand outside their school, right hands raised, palms out, in solidarity with victims of abuse.Their stand is part of the school’s Kwanele Kwanele – Enough is Enough – campaign to raise awareness of abuse against women and children.Kwanele Kwanele was initiated in 2013 by school principal, Eleanor Hough, an abuse survivor, who “could not take the hurtful moments anymore”. She says, “I was in my car driving within the heart of Durban and a part of me just could not take the hurtful moments anymore; my bleeding heart said shout ‘enough is enough’ which was my turning point.”The campaign is advocating for support for more stringent penalties for convicted abusers, and a more sympathetic justice system in which victims are always treated with dignity. It also aims to provide access to information for victims and survivors of abuse.The campaign also supports national non-governmental organisation POWA, People Opposing Woman Abuse (Images: McAuley House Facebook page)“We want to educate more people about … the … abuse that is within our country,” said Hough.“Even though we are a private school, most of our learners come from places where they see the abuse, are abused or know someone who is being abused; however most of the youth in our school have now found their voice to say ‘no’ and to come talk to us if they can’t find someone at home to talk to,” she said.The campaign also supports national non-governmental organisation POWA, People Opposing Woman Abuse, through funds raised from t-shirt sales. The t-shirts – sporting the Kwanele Kwanele logo – sell for R40 each and are available through the school.Hough hopes to involve more schools in the campaign and set up initiatives to promote Kwanele Kwanele; she wants to set up a solidarity walk and encourage pupils and their families to volunteer at local women’s shelters. She also invites speakers to talk to communities around the school about what constitutes abuse and how it affects victims and their families.PLAY YOUR PARTTo learn more about the Kwanele Kwanele campaign, visit McAuley House, or call Wendy Neervoort or Iva Brennan on +27 (0) 11 726 1310.last_img read more

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Durban wins prestigious Stockholm water award

first_img30 May 2014Durban Municipality’s eThekwini Water and Sanitation has been named the 2014 winner of the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award for its transformative and inclusive approach to providing water and sanitation services.Announcing the award on Wednesday, the Stockholm International Water Institute described eThekwini Water and Sanitation as the most progressive water utility in Africa and “a forerunner in the world of utility-run services”.“In the past 14 years, 1.3-million additional people in greater Durban have been connected to piped water and 700 000 people have been provided with access to toilets,” the institute said in a statement.“In respecting the constitutional right to water while maintaining financial sustainability, access to basic water supply and sanitation is provided at no cost to poor families, while higher levels of service and consumption are charged at full cost.”Besides providing basic services to a large and diverse population, the institute noted, eThekwini Water and Sanitation is at the forefront of exploring technical and social solutions.These include pioneering solutions for harvesting rainwater and converting urban waste water for agricultural uses, as well as a mini hydro-power project which replaces pressure-reducing valves in pipes running down steep hillsides with mini-turbines that use the excess pressure to generate electricity.This open approach to experimenting and piloting new solutions across both technical and social aspects of service delivery has made eThekwini “a forerunner in the world of utility-run services”, the institute said.Neil Macleod, head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation, said the award “reflects the work of our whole team over the past 22 years and is a tremendous honour for all of us here in Durban”.South Africa’s Constitution, widely praised as a model for its inclusion of social rights, enshrines the human right to water.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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BlockChalk Shares “Lessons Learned” From Raising Seed Funding

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Company blogs are a good way to post press releases and make staff and product announcements. But they’re always particularly helpful when startups use them to share “lessons learned” from various stages of the entrepreneurial process.Last month, anonymous neighborhood messaging service BlockChalk announced that it had secured a $1.5 million investment, the company’s first. Today BlockChalk updated its blog today with some of the lessons the founders learned from raising angel investment.1. Find Early SupportersBlockChalk points to the importance of securing the support and advocacy of an angel investor, in this case Joshua Schachter, founder of . Schachter was able to play a key role in investor introductions and referrals, product advice, and pitch feedback. 2. AngelList PwnsAngelList is a service run by VentureHacks that helps put entrepreneurs in touch with angel investors. As BlockChalk describes, the process of honing a pitch for the AngelList was a beneficial act in its own right, but the AngelList helped them cultivate investor interest. Venture Hacks have also written about the BlockChalk funding today.3. The Team Is Key BlockChalk stresses the importance of a sold founding team in being able to attract investment. The founders’ backgrounds in business, their connections within the industry and their history of technical expertise improved their ability to raise funds. And Nivi echoes this in his Venture Hacks post today: “I think the foundation of BlockChalk’s fund-raising story is the pedigree of their team: Stephen Hood is the former head of product at del.icio.us, Dave Baggeroer is part of Stanford’s d.school faculty, and Josh Whiting is a former senior engineer at craigslist and former head of engineering for del.icio.us.”As the BlockChalk founders write, “It’s hard to go it alone. It’s probably also not smart in most cases. A powerful team is greater than the sum of its parts, and investors know that.”4. Continue to Tweak Your PitchJust because you’ve honed your pitch doesn’t mean you’re done. Continue to solicit feedback and revise and refine your presentation.”This shouldn’t be just a surface exercise. Your pitch is an extension of your product and your business, and any learnings should flow in both directions. “5. The Blessing and the Curse of the PrototypeWhile the feedback you receive from investors when they hear your pitch is important, it will never replace the feedback from actual users. BlockChalk describes its “soft launch” of a prototype in the hopes of getting early feedback. However, the prototype had an unintended consequence, as some potential investors thought the prototype was the finished product. In retrospect, says the blg post, “If we could do it again we might have launched our prototype under a different brand. Or perhaps emblazoned it with the word “beta”, or even “alpha”. But at some level this is the price you pay for having a “product” before you have funding. Prototyping is a double-edged sword. Be prepared for both blades!” Photo credits: Flickr user dixieroadrash audrey watters A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img Tags:#start#tips Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

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