Monday, November 8, 2010


Last Thursday, we celebrated Liberian Thanksgiving. To be honest, I really didn't even know Liberia celebrated Thanksgiving until we were at our weekly meeting and they said we didn't have to come to work on Thursday. I can definitely give thanks for that.
After some Google time, I found out that for Liberians, the day is
"celebrated to give thanks to God and Americans for freeing the slaves and granting them Liberia in Africa to live as free men."
I'm no Liberian history buff, but I'm pretty sure the slaves were sent back because they weren't needed anymore and they were no longer wanted in America- a "we're finished with you now so please leave" mentality. It was also thought that sending them to West Africa was preferable to emancipation in the US... or as Henry Clay put it, because of "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country. It was desirable, therefore, as it respected them, and the residue of the population of the country, to drain them off." Have you ever been thankful for being "drained off?"
Oh, and they weren't 'granted' Liberia- The ACS sent ships to the coast of West Africa looking for a place to leave the 'freed' slaves. After some time they were able to bargain with (and threaten) the natives and buy Cape Mesurado (a strip of land near current day Monrovia). Here they could leave the 'freed slaves' to fend for themselves- against sickness, a new harsh environment, angry natives, and hunger. Let's all give thanks.
But, despite all of this, Liberia does have a lot to be thankful for today. They have been out of war for about 7 years now, their land is full of natural resources (although sometimes being rich in these resources can be a curse and cause more harm than good. This is another story though....), and they have a President who is truly working towards turning the country around (example A).
Our Zwedru Thanksgiving Day celebrations were actually pretty spectacular, not only because we didn't have to go to work, but because we got to eat a lot of food and didnt have to cook any of it. Or clean any of it up. There was no turkey or stuffing, but there were plantains, hot pepper sauce, fish, palm butter and chicken... all in the company of good friends.
Now thats something to be thankful for!

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