(Photo: Tom Claytor)
HUMAN SKULL - Monrovia, Liberia.
There were 20,000 skulls at the end of the runway at Spriggs-Payne airport in May 1992. Claytor's was the first civilian aircraft to land there after two years of civil war. As you stood in the sand, red ants emerged from beneath your feet; they were feeding on human flesh. A young child shamelessly holds a skull; his father and brother fell victim to the death squads that operated here. But his eyes are clear, as if to say, "what is so unusual about this - Does this not happen everywhere in the world?" A man named Louis fought in this war; he stands by the skulls. He is a strong man, but he has troubled eyes - as if he wants to talk about something. Finally, he does. "You know we ate people during this war; not because we were hungry, but because we were scared, and to eat your enemy makes you strong."
There is a church where 600 people were killed. There are still blood stains on the alter; they had placed small children here and made them scream, "there is no God," as they cut their throats. There is a smell of death, and there are bullet holes everyw here. A hysteric woman tells of how soldiers at road blocks would take bets on the sex of an unborn child. They would then slice the woman open to pull out the fetus with a bayonet - to realize who had won the bet.
It is numb. It can't be real. With time, our minds make it less - as if to protect ourselves from the horror. The images and stories are real; they won't let us forget. Why does it happen?