Liberia began in the early 19th century as a project of the American Colonization Society (ACS), which believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States. Between 1822 and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, more than 15,000 freed and free-born African Americans, along with 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to Liberia. Gradually developing an Americo-Liberian identity, the settlers carried their culture and tradition with them. Liberia declared independence on July 26, 1847, which the U.S. did not recognize until February 5, 1862.
The Americo-Liberian settlers did not relate well to the indigenous peoples they encountered. Colonial settlements were raided by the Kru and Grebo from their inland chiefdoms. Americo-Liberians formed into a small elite that held disproportionate political power; indigenous Africans were excluded from birthright citizenship in their own land until 1904.
Fatima Massaquoi-Fahnbulleh (/ˈmæsækwɑː/; 25 December 1911 – 26 November 1978) was a Liberian writer and academic. After completing her education in the United States, she returned to Liberia in 1946, making significant contributions 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 biology at the University of Hamburg. In 1937 she moved to the United States for further education, studying sociology and anthropology at Lane College, 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 it, 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 21A 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)