Written By: Tiana Bouma
Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic. It is unique amongst African states in that freed slaves from the American South founded the country. For the first time since it’s founding, the diverse ethnicities of the region are joining together in the aftermath of a 14-year civil war to create a new peaceful and successful chapter in both history and culture.
In January 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected as Africa’s first female president.
The culture of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, has two distinct roots: the Southern US heritage of the freed Americo-Liberian slaves and the ancient African descendants of the indigenous people and migratory tribes. The diverse tribal ethnicities that make up the current population of Liberia have added to the richness of cultural life. The gradual integration of all of Liberia’s ethnic groups has given rise to a renewed interest in its tribal culture.
Although the official language of Liberia is English, there are more than 16 indigenous languages. Two of the most widely studied, Kpelle and Bassa, are noted for their unique alphabets and phonetics that emerged from visions of each language’s inventor.