The House That Doe Built


A concrete mansion sits empty on the edge of Zwedru, the capital of Liberia’s Grand Gedeh county. Its tall balustrades are unpainted; its window frames lack glass. Liberia is strewn with buildings abandoned in the course of its wars, but this one was never finished. The mansion was scheduled for completion in the summer of ’91, after it was commissioned by Samuel Doe, the young army sergeant from Grand Gedeh who wrested power from William Tolbert in the 1980 coup. For his thirty-ninth birthday, President Doe planned a party at his new home–dinner in the blue room followed by dancing around the pool, lined with a mosaic of the Liberian flag. Four months before the celebrations, Doe was captured and hacked to death–ear by ear, limb by limb–in a grisly show of violence orchestrated by the former rebel chief Prince Johnson, a presidential candidate in October’s presidential race, and a former ally of the ex-President Charles Taylor, convicted on 11 counts of war crimes at The Hague last month.

more from Kate Grace Thomas at Guernica here.