LIBERIA. First Independent Country in Africa. Facts About Liberia. First Independent Country in Africa (1847) Country formed by free slaves from the U.S., The Caribbean and Britain Many similarities to Southern African-American culture: cuisine, architecture, music etc
*The history of Liberia is unique in Africa as it started neither as a native state nor as a European colony, but began in 1821 when private societies began founding colonies for free blacks from the United States on the coast of West Africa.
*Modern Liberia was founded in 1822 by freed slaves from the United States. They were sent to Africa under the auspices of the American Colonization Society, a private organization whose purpose was "to promote and execute a plan for colonizing in Africa, with their own consent, the free people of color residing in the US.“
*The settlers recreated American society, building churches and homes that resembled Southern plantations. And they continued to speak English. They also entered into a complex relationship with the indigenous people -- marrying them in some cases, discriminating against them in others, (and enslaving them in the worst of cases) but all the time attempting to "civilize" them and impose Western values on the traditional communities.
The new colonies adopted other American styles of life, including southern plantation-style houses with deep verandahs, and established thriving trade links with other West Africans. The Americo-Liberians distinguished themselves from the local people, characterized as 'natives,' by the universal appellation of "Mr."
Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Joseph Jenkins Roberts (1809-1876) was born in Virginia, U.S.A. His parents were poor. He came to Liberia in 1829. Roberts soon became a prosperous trader and also engaged in politics. After the creation of the Commonwealth of Liberia, in 1838, he became Vice-Governor. In 1841 Governor Thomas Buchanan, a cousin of the President of the USA, James Buchanan, died and was succeeded by J.J. Roberts. It was the first time that the colony was not governed by a white agent of the American Colonization Society - its legal owner - but by a colonist. Although Roberts was a colonist, "he was not really black; he was an octoroon and could have easily passed for a white man", as AboyomiKarnga, one of Liberia’s best-known historians reported.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
*Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born October 29, 1938) is the current President of Liberia, Africa's first elected female head of state and Liberia's first elected female president. She was elected President in the 2005 Presidential Election and took office on January 16, 2006. She is often referred to as the “Iron Lady".
Liberia hosts the last two significant blocks of the remaining closed canopy tropical
rainforest within the Upper Guinea Forests of West Africa. The Upper Guinea Forest,
recognized as one of the world’s twenty-five biodiversity hotspots, consists of a belt of
fragmented forests that runs parallel to the coast of West Africa, and covers all or part
of some ten countries, from Guinea at its western end to southwestern Cameroon at
its eastern terminus. It ranks first in mammalian diversity among the world’stwentyfive
hotspots. The Upper Guinea Forest hosts 551 different species of mammals and is
home to half of the mammal species known to the African continent. Additionally, it
is among the highest priority regions in the world for primate conservation, and is
consequently one of the priorities for global biodiversity conservation.
The Upper Guinea Forest has shrunk to an estimated 12.7% of its original size,
estimated to be 727,900 square-kilometers, and almost 45% of this remaining forest is in Liberia
***SHOW POSTER ON RAINFOREST ANIMALS!
The Liberian rainforest, however, is under great threat, primarily from industrial logging. From 1997 to 2001 log production increased by more than a staggering 1,300%. Unsurprisingly, this is already having an enormous impact on indigenous rural communities and local people who depend on the land and the forest for their livelihood. Their cultural and spiritual practices are so dependent on the forest that, with the rapid loss of forest, the survival and growth of these communities is being severely endangered. The current level of poverty in these communities is a clear indication of what is to come if nothing is done to check the current trend of forest exploitation.