20 December 2012

Liberia: More Sellers Than Buyers

With barely five days to the much publicized Christmas, several marketers have decried this year's Christmas celebration on grounds that business is too "rough".

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who is considered the Son of God, and the savior of all people. With the birth of Christ, Christianity essentially begins; thus, Christmas also celebrates the beginning of Christianity. Though Christmas is normally celebrated on the 25th of December, strong evidence suggests that Jesus may have in fact been born in the spring. Though many Christians date Christ's birth as the end of the "Before Christ" or BC era, most believe Christ's birth can actually be dated to 4 BC.

This is a bit ironic, since the Christian era is thought to begin with the birth of Christ, but actually begins later. In Liberia, the celebration of Christmas is predominately occasioned by merrymaking. According to the marketers, who spoke to this writer at Red Light and Waterside Markets respectively, there are more sellers than buyers, blaming the situation on the high unemployment rate in the country.

"There are no customers, everybody selling in the streets. No job and so the only way out is for people to sell," said one Wesseh Doe, a resident of the Township of West Point, who sells on Mechlin Street, down the Waterside Market." "Our girls, who supposed to remain home to prepare our food, are all in the market selling with us simplest because of nothing to do," he pointed out.

Also speaking to this writer, one Thelma Sewar, who works in the hair salon on Ashmun Street, Monrovia remarked: "Business is too hard now. Many People are not really coming to beautify their hair as it was during previous Christmas celebration." She claimed that the business was much better during the regime of former President Charles Taylor and the Interim Government headed by Charles Gyude Bryant than the current Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

"Things are too hard. At least things were better during Taylor and Gyude Brant time than they are now. We are just getting limited customers as compared to before. In fact, we have to reduce our price just to get something for us and our family to eat at home," Thelma further claimed.

Like the Waterside Market and other business areas in Monrovia, the Redlight Market is no exception. The Red Light Market is a densely populated area in the city of Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

Meanwhile, to make matter worst, some of the marketers complained that the police usually take away their goods in the name of enforcing a government regulation which forbids people selling in the streets and areas not designated for selling. In most cases, they alleged, the police do not give back their goods, thereby retarding their business progress.

As observed by this writer, both the police and marketers are usually in confrontation over the enforcement of this regulation. The marketers had been instructed to sell in the market buildings designated for their selling. But it seems difficult to control the majority "Christmas sellers."

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