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The Republic of Liberia

By D. Garkpe Gedepoh           

July 26, 1847 was declared Liberia Independence Day by freed Africans who were once sold or abducted into slavery in America. But upon obtaining freedom they returned home after hundreds of years and established a nation which they named “Freedom” or “Liberia,” a derivative from the Latin root word “Liber.”

The constitution of the republic was carefully patterned after the American Constitution but failed to work in the interest of the masses. Majority of the returnees had worked on plantations in America and developed the plantation mentality or way of life, and controlled by an overseer within a patronage system. And so they felt alienated in Africa.

Prior to the establishment of Liberia, the indigenous inhabitants of West Africa had Kingdoms. West Africa was the land of many kingdoms ruled by kings not chiefs. The Europeans traded with the kings along the coast and referred to the land as the “Grain Coast” because it was also blessed with plenty of food.

In their quest to expropriate land and dominate the indigenes, the settlers overthrew the Kingdoms with the help of American gunships and canons and established townships, districts, and chiefdoms, which became conduits of their indirect rule.

They appointed native chiefs who were willing to obey their orders through divide-and-conquer mechanism. They also set up security check points around the perimeters of their settlements to watch out for any rebellious indigenes. This situation led to a semi-colonial domination by the settler minority over the indigenous communities.

The history of Kingdoms was now replaced with the history of the settlers. And most of the history that was written about the indigenous by the settlers was distorted.

The story of Chief Boatswain who the settlers claimed was a Bassaw (Bassa) Chief is an example of such distortion. Boatswain was never a Bassaw Chief! On the contrary, he was a Mandingo King and a Muslim who accommodated and protected the settlers when they arrived at Dugbor Nin or Ducor. The settlers later changed the name Dugbor Nin or Ducor to Monrovia after an American President. Boatswain’s Mandingo name was King Sao Boso…

We will revisit the history of Kingdoms or Liberia in depth in part 2 of “The Republic of Liberia,” but I will like to focus on contemporary Liberia for the moment.

Now, as we celebrate Independence Day on July 26, it is important for the patriots of the nation to reexamine and come to terms with the true meaning of the word “independence.”

What does the word independence mean? According to Merriam Webster online dictionary, independence means: Self-government, self-rule, self-determination, self-sufficiency, self-reliance; the quality or state of not being under the control of; SOVEREIGNTY.

No sovereign nation allows her territory to be occupied by foreign military forces. The presence of foreign forces in any country under the banner of peace keepers means that the occupied country has lost her sovereignty and the existing peace is fragile. So in light of this, you can only concur that Liberia Independence Day celebration is strictly ceremonial with regards to words and not deeds in our contemporary times…

You see: the moment the safety and security of Liberia got transferred from the citizens to foreigners, Liberia lost her sovereignty.

So let’s pray to the Almighty God for LIB (Liberia) to regain her sovereignty and become a nation capable of protecting everyone; a nation that will truly implement the rule of law throughout its borders; where real liberty and justice can be guaranteed to all; where this phrase that has been written in stone on the walls of the Temple of Justice, “Let justice be done to all men” will be rectified indiscriminately to reflect everyone, “Let justice be done to all”…

We pray for the real independence of our beloved nation (LIB), that our independence celebration will mark the true meaning of independence without neo-colonialism; where justice can no longer be shackled; and jungle justice has seized to exist; and a place where crooks and criminals have no place to hide their loots or build their mansions from the coffers of the nation.

Let’s pray for a better Liberia where real social and economic justice is guaranteed to all with her citizens serving as the true custodians of the state…

D. Garkpe Gedepoh is based in Maryland, USA.


Category: Editorial, News Headlines

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