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The Long Voyage Home

Today, under a transitional government headed by Gyude Bryant, the country is to hold elections Oct. 11, and there are hopes that the peace will hold. Best, who in 2000 was listed as a Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute's International Journalism Report, is determined to help the country recover.

For 11 years Best and his family have lived in Silver Spring, Md., where he has worked as a media consultant and journalist in residence at American University and taught English as a second language in the Montgomery County adult education program. The Bests are making plans to return to Liberia as soon as they can and restart The Daily Observer.

The only problem is money. It was in search of this that Best visited Richmond March 1 to speak to a group of possible supporters gathered by Edmund Rennolds III — founder of the former Richmond Mercury — at the Williams room in Agecroft Hall.

About 20 people came to hear Best tell about his narrow escapes from the government thugs and his intense belief that a country needs an independent paper that will do its best to tell the truth. He says he needs $100,000 to get the paper up and running again, and he has staff ready to work.

The United States and Virginia have an interest in calming Liberia. Along with its strategic location on the eastern coast of Africa, it's a source of iron ore, rubber, timber, coffee and cocoa. In August 2003 a contingent of U.S. Marines briefly joined the West African peacekeeping force that was sent in to put an end to the civil war. As for Virginia, according to Edward Bates, president of the Liberian Auxiliary Association, there are approximately 500 Liberians in Central Virginia. And for your trivia file: The first president of Liberia in its more peaceful days was Norfolk native Joseph Jenkins Roberts, elected in 1847.

For more information on Best's newspaper, go to The site is run by Best's nephew Rodney Sieh, who is front-page design editor with the Daily Press in Newport News. — Rozanne Epps

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