Liberia began as a settlement of the
American Colonization Society (ACS), who believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in
Africa than in the
United States. The country declared its independence on July 26, 1847. The U.S. did not
recognize Liberia's independence until February 5, 1862, during the
American Civil War. Between January 7, 1822, and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, more than 15,000 freed and free-born people of color who faced social and legal oppression in the United States, as well as 3,198
Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to the settlement. The settlers carried their culture and tradition with them. The Liberian constitution and flag were modeled after those of the U.S. On January 3, 1848,
Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born African American from
Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected Liberia's first
president after the people proclaimed independence.
The Americo-Liberian settlers did not relate well to the indigenous peoples they encountered, especially those in communities of the more isolated "
bush". The colonial settlements were raided by the
Grebo from their inland chiefdoms. Americo-Liberians developed as a small elite that held on to political power, and indigenous tribesmen were excluded from birthright citizenship in their own land until 1904. Americo-Liberians promoted religious organizations to set up missions and schools to educate the indigenous peoples.
Fatima Massaquoi-Fahnbulleh (/ˈmæsækwɑː/; 25 December 1912 – 26 November 1978) was an educator in
Liberia, West Africa. After completing her education in the United States, she returned to Liberia in 1946, where she contributed much to the cultural and social life of the country.
Born into a family of African royalty, Massaquoi grew up in the care of an aunt in Njagbacca, in the
Garwula District of
Grand Cape Mount County of southern Liberia. After seven years, she returned to the northwestern part of the country in
Montserrado County, where she began her schooling. In 1922 she accompanied her father, a diplomat, to
Hamburg, Germany, where she completed her school education and started a course in medicine at the
University of Hamburg. In 1937 she moved to the United States for further education, studying sociology and anthropology at
Fisk University and
Boston University. While in the US, she collaborated on a dictionary of the
Vai language and wrote her autobiography, though a legal battle ensued over the rights to her story. She won an injunction barring others from publishing and returned to Liberia in 1946, immediately beginning collaboration to establish a university there, which would become the
University of Liberia.
Committed to national cultural preservation and expansion, Massaquoi served as the director, later dean, of the Liberal Arts College and was the founding director of the Institute of African Studies. She co-founded the Society of Liberian Authors, helped abolish the practice of usurping African names for Westernized versions, and worked towards standardization of the
Vai script. In the late 1960s, Vivian Seton, Massaquoi's daughter, had the autobiographical manuscript microfilmed for preservation. After Massaquoi's death, her writings and notes were rediscovered, edited and published in 2013 as The Autobiography of an African Princess. (Full article...)
Image 36Loggers and logging truck, early 1960s (from Liberia)
Image 37A proportional representation of Liberian exports. The shipping related categories reflect Liberia's status as an international
flag of convenience – there are 3,500 vessels registered under Liberia's flag accounting for 11% of ships worldwide. (from Liberia)