I thought I’d become immune to the indignities of travelling with an African passport, but an encounter last month proved me wrong.

After a series of meetings in Dakar, I travelled back to London via Madrid on a red-eye Iberia Airlines flight. Disembarking from the plane in Madrid in the early morning hours, I got separated from my white male European colleagues—an Austrian and Brit—and was directed by a stern-looking Spanish security agent to the ‘RSU’ section of the airport to await a connecting flight to the UK. The flashing information screens designated ‘HJK’ as the lounge area for my departure, however, so I resolved to go there.

Late last week, I was informed that I would not be able to travel to Dubai for an important meeting scheduled months ago.

Like other countries across the globe, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) halted travel for those with Guinean, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean passports during the height of the Ebola outbreak. It has not lifted these restrictions.

The miniature red suitcase I had packed lay abandoned on my wooden floor. I caressed my dark green Liberian passport as if to reassure this inanimate marker of identity that my citizenship was not on trial here.

Today, I want to tell you a story. It is not my story. It is Saah Millimono’s story. Maybe it is actually not his story, it is the novel’s protagonist Tarnue’s story. And not just Tarnue’s, it is also Kou’s story. I know that if I go on, and on, this will end up as a story of Tarnue’s family, Kou’s family and by the time we are done, it will be the story of lives in Monrovia, Liberia and beyond to other countries that have been through civil war. As some commentators would want us to believe, this means not just neighbouring Sierra Leone, but much of Africa. Is this is a book about Africa? What never seems to be mentioned is that this has happened, civil war happens and will happen anywhere in the world. That war is human. And love is human too.

Recently, I ordered a copy of writer Vamba Sherif’s novel, Bound to Secrecy. Originally published in Dutch, it was republished in English by London’s HopeRoad Publishing on April 23, 2015. Due either to the built-up fervor in me to sample the author’s work—which until this book, had not been available in English, or perhaps because of the deceptive lure of the book’s relatively short length—it is all of 162 pages, or both, I breezed through it in under three hours, in one sitting.

The Liberian civil war has given us narratives ranging from fiction to memoirs. These works are attempts to capture the various experiences and atrocities committed during the war, to inform us or remind us never to forget. One of the recent offerings is the memoir written by Momoh Dudu entitled Harrowing December: Recounting a Journey of Sorrows & Triumphs. The title alludes to Charles Taylor’s crossing of the Liberian border from the Ivory Coast in December 1989, and the onset of what would turn out to be the bloodiest war in the country’s history.

MONROVIA, Liberia – United States-based pharmaceutical company Mapp Biopharmaceutical has begun testing the Ebola virus treatment ZMapp in Liberia.

Dr. Jerry Brown, the head of the ELWA 2 Ebola Treatment Unit, confirmed that the ZMapp trial would be administered to about 1,000 Ebola patients in Liberia. He clarified that the trials would be continued in neighboring countries still dealing with the Ebola outbreak if there were no remaining patients in Liberia. Brown made these statements at a Ministry of Information press briefing on Feb. 26.

Peter’s grip on the wheel tightened when the front left tire of the ambulance slammed into a pothole, which was large enough to swallow a baby. He veered sharply to the right to spare his back tire the impact, but he was moving too fast. The ambulance bucked and the woman and child in the back cried out as their bodies banged against the sides.

“Sorry’o!” Peter said, but he knew they couldn’t hear him over the siren. The best thing he could do for them was get to Blessed Cross in the next five minutes. But now the morning traffic was barely moving.

When I was ten years old I attended a sleepaway camp outside of Nacogdoches, Texas, where I told a few hundred people, with great pleasure, that my name was Bernice, not Wayétu. My family had only emigrated from Liberia five years prior, and for two weeks I basked in the glorious trope of American normalcy; a name like Bernice was proper, distinct, pronounceable.

When I arrived home my father probed about my time away. After some banter he asked me: “What is your name?” I was caught. When he was finally content with my repetitions, he said “You must always be proud of who you are. Be proud of Africa.”