Letter from Rev. Abba G. Karnga to Henry Goeh

by: Dr. Abba G. Karnga

Abba writes Henry Goeh and family about how he survived the take-over of Buchanan by MODEL rebels and being shot in the head by a 12-year-old girl soldier.

Dear Henry,

Whatever information we send can be shared with our concerned relatives, our former missionaries, and our Christian friends.

It was July 28, 2003, at 11:30 a.m. when the MODEL rebel soldiers entered the seaport city of Buchanan. They marched in hundreds with heavy shooting. Yet there was no resistance.

At about 12:30 p.m. they returned from downtown to check every house, seeking their enemies. AS the heavy shooting subsided, I sat up from the floor to answer a phone call from Peter Dahn in the US. In that process a group of 5 soldiers rushed to our house, demanding that we must open the doors. Abba [jr.] went to open the door in the back where they were knocking the most. When I looked two other soldiers came to my windows and began to shoot at the house. Just at that time a girl soldier about the age of 12 shot the window where I was sitting at my desk. All I could remember saying was, I am shot! And I fell to the floor unconscious.

The next voice I heard was Abba, crying, “You shot my Pa! You shot my Pa!” When I opened my eyes, I saw myself lying in a pool of blood. I thought they had killed somebody and I was wondering who could it be, because I felt no pain at first. Five of them entered with heavy arms. Four of them picked me up from the floor while one was looting what he could see, including my portable radio.

They took me to the next door where Eileen and others were flat on the floor. When they saw me with blood still flowing from my head all over me, one could imagine the scene when they thought my head was burst.

Henry, God’s miracles are worth believing. There was one in my case. No one will easily believe that a machine gun shot hit my head only to go through the flesh without a bone fracture nor brain damage. Prayer indeed is powerful. Please give my thanks to the faithful brothers and sisters there in the US. Their prayers are powerful.

Besides massive looting, the killing of people was minimized. After the rebel soldiers had uprooted us into the city center, we made every attempt to meet with their leadership. The request was granted to meet the church leaders: Charlie Gborzio, David Gunnun, Isaac Karnga, Tobey Garway, Benjamin Nukah, and others, including Nellie Write, Chairman of the Concerned Citizens Buster Verdier, with executive officers Gabriel Smith, Albert Gbaa Samuels, John Gayeman, and many others.

Being a chairman of the Concerned Citizens’ Advisory Board, I welcomed the MODEL movement into Grand Bassa County based on the following points:

  • As you said that you have come to liberate us from the danger of Mr. Charles Taylor, be truthful to your words.
  • This is a praying county among all the counties of Liberia. God is in control of the people of this county. Be very careful.
  • In case you are charged before a war crime tribunal, you will not testify for yourself. We the victims will do that either for or against. You are welcome.

Then Rev. Nellie Write prayed powerfully.

During the period of discussion, they responded that they would do everything not to kill any civilian intentionally. In fact, their speaker said, “When we entered the Buchanan city, a great fear gripped us. Not only that, but you the people of Bassa did not resist our invasion into the city. God will not bless us if we shall turn around and fight you.”

They further revealed that according to their intelligence report, President Charles Taylor had a plan under way to give the people of Grand Bassa County a great massacre because he learned that the Bassa people have left him so as to support Councilor Charles Brumskine’s candidacy. He would have done that and said that the MODEL rebels attacked Bassa. But we have repelled them, MODEL told us. Although we heard the rumors before, we had not believed it. We also knew that he had accused the Bassa people with bitterness as Brumskine’s supporters.

Henry, war is not good! The amount of people that both the rebel factions and the Government soldiers killed in Liberia is too much. The people died in many ways:

  • By gunshots, rockets, and grenades.
  • By the heavy gun sounds, for the old people and many with high blood pressure.
  • By hunger, mostly children and babies.
  • By heart attack, for many whose homes and properties were looted and destroyed.
  • By terror, threat, harassment, and intimidation.

They told us that they would try every way to protect our lives but not our property. They said that their soldiers have no pay other than to do massive looting (“Operation Pay Yourself” by gunpoint). For example, this is how houses were looted: They terrified us to leave our home and be gathered in the city center. [They said] in a minute’s time enemies would attack their position, and our homes would become a battleground. There was no time for anyone to take anything except what was on you when you were told to leave.

Buchanan, a city of 25,000 to 30,000 people, has grown to 65,000 with displaced people from up country, from Rivercess, from Monrovia, etc. Many who are faster runners than us occupied all the school buildings, including SDA campus, OBS Church compound, the Bassa High School, the Catholic Mission, the Brumskine High School-UMC, and the LCC campus. My family with those who were displaced with us in our home numbered about 150. When we could find no space again to move, we went to the CEM Clinic. By the time we could get there 250 persons were waiting for us to open the doors. 400 people were jam packed in the clinic, which can seat no more than 50 patients.

While we were out of our houses, they broke into them for looting. They brought many trucks to carry looted goods back home. They looted anything they could see: beds and mattresses, pots, dishes, chairs, spoons, computers, copiers, TV, videos, clothes, tables, ice boxes, air conditioners, cement, plywood, and even took down pictures on the walls that are not theirs and carried them. They destroyed important documents including land deeds. They took books from homes and institutions. Whatever they did not want were gathered and they made a mess on them with their feces.

This was true for all our CEFL property. These are just a bird’s eye view of what is going on in our country, Henry. From July 28 up to now people are still jam packed in thousands at the city center on the floors. No adequate food, no good water to drink, no changing of clothes, no medication even up to now.

It is horrible for us here in Liberia. We feel that we are not real human beings on earth. There is a great big US ship docked in Monrovia with 2000 plus marines in it. They fly around the country in their helicopters and jet planes, and go back on the ship while the 1500 Nigerian soldiers on the ground are not enough to cope with the ugly situation which engulfed the people of Liberia. God’s people, Christian brothers and sisters, are suffering and dying by eating dust with our teeth. Our prayer now is, “Lord, let thy will be done.”

As the Monrovia-Buchanan road is closed to traffic, God spoke to Mr. Snowe, a friend of my children, who my son Garmondeh and others contacted concerning my safety. Dr. Coleman, the Health Minister of Liberia was asked to make a way for the Red Cross convoy to pick me upa and take me to Monrovia so that I would get treatment for the gun shot wound, or else death. With all of this we say glory to God.

It’s Abba Karnga