The Daily Talk / by Morgana Wingard

 In 2000 Alfred Sirleaf unfolded his chalkboard newspaper flanking Tubman Boulevard in Monrovia, Liberia for the first time. Since then, Alfred has posted important, relevant news stories in colloquial language and images for thousands of locals and expats to read daily. By informing citizens of their rights and responsibilities without the negligent gossip cluttering local papers, the Daily Talk empowers citizens to serve as a check against corruption.

Between calls from various news sources on his black Nokia cell phone, Alfred energetically demonstrates how he folds and rotates the chalkboard inside a plywood hut and methodically writes the latest news with strategic shades of Giotto Robercolor chalk. He is a walking encyclopedia on the history of Liberia. As he crouches inside the hut, he explains the photograph of the week -- an image of a man with his hands tied behind his back. "During the time of civil unrest in Liberia, the rebels introduced Tie-bay. It's a french word, but we have to spell it in Liberian way."  He carefully washes a corner of the board with a wet clothe and opens his tool box of Giotto Robercolor chalk to update the corner with the latest story. 

Alfred's chalkboard newspaper is still open thanks in part to Accountability Lab -- an organization in Liberia with a mission to cultivate citizen participation and develop innovative tools to fight corruption and demand accountability. Their Accountapreneurship Funds support projects like the Accountability Film School and a text message system enabling students at the University of Liberia to anonymously report problems at the school.  Accountability Lab is currently helping Alfred empower thousands of more Liberians by building a second chalkboard in Red Light -- a swarming market neighborhood in Monrovia.