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Clarence parker, is related to remove a gentle creature yet. Why not mind venturing into the same time they are. The Kpelle are the largest with 20 percent of the population, followed by the Bassa with 14 percent.

All the other groups number less than 10 percent of the total. The official language is English, which is used for instruction in all public and mission schools and in university education. A significant portion of the population is bilingual and often competent in several indigenous languages as well as English. Those in the regions bordering Ivory Coast and Guinea are often conversational in French.

The English spoken in most common, informal settings is "Liberian English," a creole form. Liberia Educated people frequently switch between the creole form and the more standard English promoted by schools. Men tend to have more facility with both standard and creole English than do women, reflecting men's greater access to formal education and urban mores.

The official national symbols, such as the official language, reflect the American origin of the nation-state. The flag is a replica of the American flag, but with a single large white star on a blue field representing Liberia's long history as the "Lone Star," the only independent republic in Africa during the colonial period. The nation's origin as a nation-state lies in a paradox of United States history.

Even before the end of the war for American independence, public figures such as Thomas Jefferson were concerned about the status of free people of African descent and their integration into a free society.

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The ACS used private funds donated by wealthy white contributors to "purchase" land in west Africa and recruit African-American settlers, the first group of whom arrived in Most of the earliest immigrants had been born free; they were relatively well educated and belonged to an emerging class of free black professionals and businessmen.

Although white administrators appointed by the ACS governed the colony in the early years, in the settlers declared independence and became the first sovereign black republic in Africa. The first settlers were augmented by recently manumitted slaves from the United States and "recaptured Africans" or "Congos" taken from smugglers after the slave trade was abolished in Over time, these disparate groups merged to become Americo-Liberians.

The early history of the republic was characterized by struggles between political parties representing "mulattoes" lighter-skinned, upper-class businessmen or "merchant princes" and "true blacks" poorer ex-slaves and recaptives. Inthe True Whig Party TWPidentified with the "blacks" and with agricultural rather than trading interests, came to power. The TWP remained dominant for almost a hundred years, making Liberia essentially a one-party state.

It also created links with indigenous elites in the interior, and membership in the TWP was synonymous with national identity for most of the twentieth century.

The lack of racial difference between the colonized and the colonizers allowed individuals to "pass" into the Americo-Liberian group. Institutions such as adoption, wardship, informal polygyny, and apprenticeship brought many indigenous children into settler homes.

Within a generation, they had entered the Americo-Liberian group and forgotten their "tribal" origins. Another recognizable social group, the so-called civilized natives, consisted of those who had been educated and Christianized in mission schools while maintaining their indigenous identity.

This group was often a vocal source of criticism of the settler elite.

Culture of Liberia - history, people, clothing, women, food, family, social, dress, marriage

Liberia's sixteen ethnolinguistic groups, although characterized as tribes, have never constituted unified, historically continuous political entities. In the northwestern section, Mande-speaking groups formed multiethnic chiefdoms and confederacies that coordinated trade and warfare, especially during the period of the slave trade. Although there were no precolonial states, the northwestern peoples were united in two panethnic secret societies: Poro for men and Sande for women.

The linked "chapter" structure of Poro and Sande lodges could in theory mobilize the entire population under the authority of elders. South and east of the Saint John River, Kwaspeaking peoples who migrated from the east lived in smaller, less stratified communities.

As the Americo-Liberians attempted to extend their control from the coast to the interior, they created administrative units that were thought to be coterminous with existing "tribes. For most of Liberia's history, the primary meaningful division on the national level was between the tribal majority and the settler minority; with few exceptions, one's tribe made little difference in terms of life chances and upward mobility.

After the military coup ofhowever, a new tribalism or politically strategic ethnicity began to emerge. Samuel Kanyon Doe, the leader of the military government and a Krahn from Grand Gedeh county, systematically filled the elite military units and government positions with members of his ethnolinguistic group. As opposition to his autocratic and repressive regime grew during the s, it took the form of ethnically identified armed factions that attacked civilians on the basis of their presumed tribal affiliation.

Western journalists attributed the violence to "ancient tribal hatreds" even though these ethnically identified groups had emerged only in the previous ten years. Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space Before the civil war of —, Liberia was predominantly rural, with the majority of the population involved in subsistence agriculture; small-scale market production of cash crops such as rubber, sugar, palm oil, and citrus fruits; or producing primary products for export iron ore, rubber, and tropical hardwoods.

Monrovia had a population of about two hundred thousand, and other coastal cities had less than one hundred thousand. Areas of resource exploitation operated by foreign-owned concessions were the primary population centers in the interior.

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During the war, the population of Monrovia swelled to over three hundred thousand as refugees attempted to escape from the fighting in the interior. While rural communities still contain examples of traditional round huts with thatched conical roofs, most newer houses have a rectangular floor plan and are roofed with sheets of corrugated zinc or tin. Wattle and daub construction, in which a lattice of sticks is packed with mud and covered with clay or cement, is the most common building method regardless of the shape of the structure, but many people aspire to a house built of cement cinder blocks and may spend years acquiring the blocks.

Rural communities have a "palaver hut," an open-sided roofed structure that functions as a town hall for public discussions and the hearing of court cases. In the cities, especially Monrovia, imposing public buildings from the prewar period were built mostly in the post-World War II International Style, including the Executive Mansion, which became an armed fortress during the civil war.

Houses from the nineteenth century are similar to antebellum architecture of the American South, with verandas and classical columns. The civil war reduced many buildings to ruins and left others occupied by homeless refugees.

Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. The primary staple is rice. This complex carbohydrate forms the centerpiece of the meal, and savory sauces provide flavor. Meat or fish is used as a garnish or ingredient in the sauce rather than being the focus of the meal. In rural areas, people begin the day with a small meal of leftover rice or boiled cassava dipped in the sauce from the day before.

Depending on the time of year and the work schedule, the main meal may be served at midday or in the evening. Snacks of mangoes, bananas, sugarcane, coconut, fried plantain or cassava, and citrus fruits may be consumed throughout the day. In the countryside, rice is produced by a system of rain-fed swidden slash and burn horticulture.

Men clear an area of the forest and burn the dried brush, and women and children do most of the planting, weeding, and harvesting. Rice is used ceremonially to make offerings to ancestors and the recently dead and is offered to social superiors when one is asking for favors or initiating a patron-client relationship. Use rights to land are acquired A wall painting on a house near Robertsport depicts the motif of a mask dance of the Kru people. Because tropical soils are fragile, fields must be moved every year and, once harvested, allowed to rest for seven to twelve years.

This system requires a large amount of available land and a low population density.

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Some areas have been overfarmed, with resulting damage to the tropical forest ecosystem, but the greatest constraint on agriculture is a shortage of labor. This system is capable of providing for family subsistence but not of producing a large surplus for sale. Urban areas have depended on imported rice, mostly from the United States. Locally produced vegetables, including eggplant, peppers, pumpkins, and greens, are sold in outdoor markets.

It is a sign of Western sophistication and wealth to be able to afford imported processed foods such as corn flakes, canned goods, and snack foods.

During the civil war, agricultural production was almost completely disrupted and the entire population was dependent on donations of food. The prewar economy was heavily dependent on a few primary products or raw materials. In75 percent of the value of exports came from iron ore alone; iron ore and rubber together amounted to over 80 percent.

This dependence on a few income earners left the country vulnerable to the worldwide economic recession of the s. There was almost no growth in the annual value of the economy between andand many workers in the mining industry lost their jobs. This economic crisis was one of the factors that led to the military coup of Social Stratification Classes and Castes. There is a status division between the minority claiming descent from the American settlers and the indigenous majority. The settler group contains people at all class levels, from rich to poor, who continue to maintain a sense of prestige and entitlement.

In the indigenous community, a distinction between "civilized" and "native" people emerged early in the nineteenth century as a result of mission education and labor migration along the coast. Civilized "kwi" status implies facility with English, a nominal allegiance to Christianity, a degree of literacy, and involvement with the cash rather than the subsistence sector. Although kwi people maintain their ethnic identities as Grebo, Kru, Vai, or Kpelle, an undeniable prestige difference separates them from their native neighbors and kin.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Civilized people, especially women, are distinguished by Western-style clothing and household furnishings. The association is so strong that native women are also known as "lappa women," a reference to the two pieces of cloth lappas that constitute native female dress.

The constitution of was patterned on the American constitution and provided for a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The legislature is bicameral with an upper house based on equal representation of the thirteen counties with two senators each and a lower house based on population. This structure was retained in the revised constitution ofwhich was intended to prevent the abuses of one-party rule that had characterized most of the nation's history.

At the local level, each county is administered by a superintendent appointed by the president and further divided into districts, chiefdoms, and clans. The system of "native" administration retains much of the older system of indirect rule in which local chiefs are empowered by the central government to collect taxes and judge minor court cases.

Leadership and Political Officials. Politics has tended toward the autocratic, with the constitution more a symbol of democracy than a guide for action.

Although elections were held regularly, the absence of opposition parties made them largely nationalist pageants rather than expressions of the people's will.

The True Whig Party's patronage system ensured that the president never faced opposition from the other branches of government, and as a result, the executive branch was overwhelmingly dominant.

The personality cult around the presidency reached its height with W. Tubman, who served from to Tubman was widely popular for creating the illusion of broad participation in national life but was extremely repressive: This tradition of concentrated power in the hands of the president has continued in the administration of Charles Taylor, who was elected in Social Problems and Control.

Liberia has long had a system of multiple and often overlapping judicial structures. A separate judiciary with hierarchically arranged statutory courts was established in but rarely has been independent of the executive branch. The statutory courts delegated most local-level social control to "chiefs' courts," where a modified version of "native law" was codified and applied in cases ranging from divorce to petty theft. Liberians who are Muslims can settle disputes in Imam's courts where judgments are based on Islamic law.

Individuals in search of a favorable verdict have been known to try their luck in all three kinds of courts, claiming to be "civilized" in the statutory court, "native" in the chief's court, and Muslim in the Islamic court. Indigenous methods of trial by ordeal have long been used in rural communities. Ordeals include the testing of suspects with hot knives, hot oil, or the drinking of poison.

In the poison "sasswood" ordeal, suspects drink a decoction of tree bark; the innocent vomit the poison and live, while the guilty die of its effects; this system combines the determination of guilt and the administration of punishment.

The sasswood trial was outlawed by the central government early in the twentieth century; other forms of ordeal were tolerated through the s. During the civil war, all legal and social control institutions experienced complete breakdown. Random massacres were conducted by armed fighters as young as nine years old in the service of warlords with no political agenda beyond survival and profit.

SinceLiberian legal institutions have been slowly reestablished, but many abuses of civil rights have continued. Sincepolitics has been dominated by armed men. In the early years of the republic, a Frontier Force of indigenous conscripts was used to "pacify" the peoples of the hinterland and enforce the collection of taxes and corvee unpaid labor. In late s, the ethnic split between the officer corps made up of Americo-Liberians and the rank and file created tension, with soldiers often used as unpaid laborers on the farms and building projects of their superiors.

The men who led the coup which brought down the True Whig Party government in were all noncommissioned soldiers of indigenous background. The first military coup provided a model for many future attempts.

The Executive Mansion

Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe was threatened by ambitious young men like himself, leading him to institute increasingly repressive policies. Foreign aid from the United States, especially during the Reagan administration, took the form of a vast military buildup. This lethal equipment was later turned against the Liberian people during the civil war. Under the current administration, the armed forces and other security agencies At the Liberia National Commemoration, women wear dresses depicting the Liberian flag and political leaders.

According to the peace accords that led to the election, the national military was supposed to have been restructured by the West African intervention force ECOMOG to reflect all the parties that contested the war. Once elected, however, Charles Taylor claimed his constitutional role as commander in chief to essentially remake the armed forces along the lines of his faction, the National Patriotic Front for Liberia NPFL. Tensions in the armed forces and among demobilized combatants remain a destabilizing factor in national life.

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