Vamba Sherif, Surviving Two Wars through the Written Word

In this episode, Zeze interviews Vamba Sherif, a Liberian best-selling author, essayist, motivational speaker, and activist. Vamba shares his story of survival after the Liberian civil war and the Gulf War. Listen to the episode and learn how these experiences led him to become a thriving novelist and storyteller.

Vamba Sherif was living in Kuwait when the civil war started in Liberia, his home country. As he felt the pain of what was taking place back home, he found himself in the middle of the Gulf War, seeing horrors that he is unlikely to forget. This led him to become a refugee and an exile, and he remembers his time in a refugee camp between Jordan and Iraq as one of the worst ones of his life.

However, Vamba managed to not only survive but thrive once he made a home in Holland. Thanks to his affinity for languages, he was able to learn Dutch, study, and make a life for himself. Writing stories about pre-war Liberia became his coping mechanism, which helped him preserve his mental health and led him on a successful path as a writer. In this episode, Vamba shares his inspiring story, filled with family love, his admiration for women, and the will to keep growing, embracing and sharing African stories.

ABOUT Vamba Sherif

Vamba Sherif is a Liberian best-selling author, film critic, activist, motivational speaker, essayist, and occasional actor who found himself stuck between two countries during the Liberian civil war and the Gulf War. This led him on a journey of survival, traversing through different countries before finding a home in Holland. He shares his personal experiences through his novels and memoirs, and he also focuses on  showing the history of Liberia before the war.

Highlights of the episode:

  • 04:54: Vamba Sherif shares what his life was like before the devastating Liberian civil war took place.
  • 07:47: Vamba found himself stranded between two wars, the Liberian civil war back at home and the Gulf War in Kuwait, where he resided at the time. 
  • 09:56: The return of Liberian slaves from the US to Liberia.
  • 12:37: The chaos experienced in Kuwait during the Gulf War, and how Vamba was able to smuggle himself out of the country.
  • 15:42: The strength demonstrated by Arab women fighting during the occupation of Kuwait.
  • 20:10: The sense of hopelessness experienced at a refugee camp between Iraq and Jordan and the feeling that there was no longer a future.
  • 26:02: Returning to the stories of Liberia before the war and showing the good things about the country served Vamba as a survival technique. 
  • 32:55: Being a writer can be a privilege that allows them to ascend and embrace all the stories they tell. 
  • 37:10: How his mother and grandmother influence the characteristics of the strong women that appear in Vamba’s stories. 
  • 40:09: The huge impact being loved had on Vamba’s life and how he wanted to put that into words through an emotional journey that led to him writing his memoirs.  

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