‘Zogos’ Call on Gov’t to Establish Drug Rehabilitation Programs

MONROVIA, Montserrado – November 12 brought scores of substance abusers, commonly referred to as ‘zogos,’ to the Foreign Ministry to petition President George Weah to establish a drug rehabilitation program to address their plight.

Many of the individuals regularly partake in the use of harmful or hazardous psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. They can usually be identified by their visibly gaunt figures and the fact that many of them earn income as car loaders.

Weah was out of the country when the petitioners arrived at the Foreign Ministry, however, both Monrovia’s Mayor Jefferson Koijee and the office of Nathaniel McGill, minister of state, received copies of the petition.

Gathered under the banner of the West Africa Network of Civil Society Organizations on Substance Abuse, the petitioners chanted slogans such as “Zogo go, zogo come, zogo want change.”

Jacqueline Jackson was one of the petitioners. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Ansu Fofana, who chaired the group, said they had assembled before the president’s office to petition him to provide “access to the appropriate healthcare and education.”

“We need a drug free society to help improve our mental health, socioeconomic, psychological, and physical well-being in the society,” Fofana said.

According to Fofana, he and his colleagues want to be active participants in the fight against substance abuse across the country. However, he said they must first be rehabilitated.

He stressed that substance abuse and drug trafficking have become a serious problem affecting the country’s youths.

“The issues should be addressed by the government and other stakeholders with the active involvement of [we who are] involved in taking the substances,” he added.

Fofana said he was concerned about the increasing rate of substance abuse among the youth in Liberia, a situation which he says undermines the growth and development of the country.

He also called on the government to provide funds to focus on the prevention and rehabilitation of young substance abusers. He asked that the curriculum in schools focus on the education and prevention of substance abuse. Fofana also called for the establishment of a mental health home to meet the needs of young people suffering from mental illness.

Jacqueline Jackson, a 26-year-old who admitted to abusing illegal drugs, told The Bush Chicken that she had joined her colleagues to petition the government because her mother had cried over the years to see her come back home.

“I became frustrated and decided to take in drugs because my baby’s father abandoned me after giving birth,” Jackson said.

However, she said she was now tired of being in the streets and sleeping in graveyards.

“We need to be given a second chance in the society,” she said.

Reuben Bobby Logan, who heads the Association of Progressive Youth of Liberia, joined the call for the government to act.

Reuben Bobby Logan, executive director of the Association of Progressive Youth of Liberia. Photo: Zeze Ballah

“There is a need for the government to address the plight of drug users through the implementation of concrete programs and policies,” Logan said.

He called the growing wave of drug users across the country a “national emergency.”

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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