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Liberians Mourn Michael Jackson


Around the world, fans of pop star Michael Jackson are mourning his unexpected death on Thursday. It is a shocking day for everyone in Liberia where Jackson's music and style were much loved.

Opening with a Kiswahili chant, Michael Jackson's song "Liberian Girl" was the ninth and final single released from his 1987 album Bad. Though dedicated to actress Elizabeth Taylor, it naturally found a big audience in Liberia.

"He sang music dedicated to our Liberian women for their commitment, their beauty," said University of Liberia student Doko Kollie. Kollie says news of Jackson's death spread like a dry brush fire.

"Michael Jackson has left a legacy, especially his dance style and his way of singing, said Kollie. "There are a lot people who admire him for the way he sang, the way he danced even up to today. People are kind of thinking on what really caused his death. There are a lot of people who are very shocked about what happened. If you go into the villages, the name Michael Jackson has been spread all around there."

Liberian student Roland Doh says he first admired Jackson when he saw him dancing on television.

"Whenever we go to parties or shows, when somebody is dancing like Michael Jackson, the whole place is really pumped," he said. "Because his way of dancing, when it comes to Africa, people admire it the same way he danced in America."

Francis Kollie says it is a sad day for everyone in Liberian who loved Michael Jackson.

"Way back in the early '70s, when I was a young boy I used to watch him on the Jackson Five, that was a television series," said Kollie. "He used to be one of the youngest and more-hip brothers. And I used to be carried away by his songs, especially by one title called 'ABC.' I used to listen to that a whole lot and a love that song."

Kollie says people who loved his music were shocked by his death.

"Liberia, you know, the social climate in this country is so hard. And everybody is being kind of downhearted to hear such shocking news because people didn't expect that Michael would have died so soon," said Kollie. "Because especially when it was being said that Michael was trying to make a comeback, and people had hoped that he would live and come back once again and hit the musical scene."

The video for "Liberian Girl" assembles some of what were then Hollywood's biggest names on the set of a colonial-era movie about Africa. A cast that includes Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg, John Travolta, Billy Dee Williams, and Jackson's chimpanzee Bubbles, all wonder where the pop star is until he reveals in the final scene that he has been above them filming the video all along.

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