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Chief Zanzan Karwor urges Liberians to rewrite history

By Kruah Thompson

The Orator of Liberia’s 176th Independence Day anniversary, Chief Zanzan Karwor, underscores a need to rewrite the history of Liberia to make it more comprehensive and reflective.

Liberia declared independence on July 26, 1847, after its formation by the America Colonization Society, ACS in 1822.

Delivering this year’s Independence Day Oration Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia, Chief Karwor, who heads the traditional council of chiefs and elders, highlighted the significance of reclaiming the past, reshaping the present, and forging a brighter future for the Motherland.

According to him, the current historical records of Liberia only date back from 1842, neglecting important events and names from 1841, particularly resettlement near the Duu Rivers otherwise known as Measurado River.

Chief Karwor cautions Liberians from forgetting their history, stressing the importance of knowing where they came from, where they aspire to go, and the present state of the country.

He notes that the current history of Liberia only includes events from 1842 up to present, while events of 1841, including the resettlement near the Duu Rivers, were left out hence, a need to include events of 1841 for a comprehensive understanding.

Before discussing the assigned theme for the occasion, “Nonviolence, free elections” he firstly delves into the history of Liberia’s formation, recalling struggles faced by the settlers upon their return from slavery in America and how they settled at Providence Island.

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He narrates that the settlers first arrived at Duu River, but were faced with malaria, which led them to move to Providence Island. However, upon their arrival, they decided to claim ownership of the area without acknowledging that someone had already cleaned and prepared the place.

He also mentioned that the place bears a traditional name known as “Dosua,” which is now referred to as Providence Island today.

Chief Karwor continues that after settling on the land for some time, the settlers realized the importance of identifying rightful owners of the lan so they approached King Peters and explained that while they couldn’t stay in one place indefinitely, they had arrived at their current location seeking a place to call their own.

Consequently, they were warmly received by the king, who granted them the space to settle and also provided them with a well from which they could drink.

“As history unfolded, conflicts arose between the traditional people and the settlers, leading the settlers to leave. However, realizing that they found no comfort elsewhere, they eventually made the courageous decision to return and humbly apologize for their past actions”, he narrates.

He reiterates the urgent need to revisit the events of 1841 in order to gain a comprehensive understanding and a more accurate depiction of Liberia’s history, saying “In 1822, the settlers engaged in thorough discussions with the traditional landowners, ultimately leading to their acquisition of a piece of land.” 

He details that prior to the settlers’ arrival, the traditional people had students known as “sotletos,” and the Sandee society was under the control of leaders like Sister Gbo Ma Yanplay with a strong emphasis on

respect for elders, and there was an overseeing king responsible for the traditional Zoes’ activities.

“This practice of respecting elders and the traditional way of resolving disputes had been ingrained in the country since its formation, demonstrating the importance of respecting one another,” he adds.

He says in the past, Liberia’s governance was characterized by traditional practices and leaders chosen by the traditional people received wholehearted support without engaging in current days political debates. Instead, the focus was on unified support for the chosen leader. 

However, he observes that over time, everything has changed, and Liberia has evolved, but the orator urges the nation to embrace the transformation while also learning from its historical roots. 

Emphasizing the significance of unity and understanding, he encourages Liberians to work together to build a better future, upholding their cultural heritage while adapting to contemporary challenges. 

He maintains that embracing change, combined with respect for shared history, can pave the way for a prosperous and harmonious Liberia for all irrespective of tribes, religion and cultural diversity. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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One Comment

  1. Chief a good point on the rewrite of Liberia’s history. To buttress that, I want to state that I have some Documents from the Maryland COLONIZATION Journal on Liberia that speak of current day Monrovia was estbalished by 1816. Also, I want to reference everyone to the Rev Gloster SIMPSON and ARCHY MOORE visit to Liberia from MISSISSIPPI, 1832. Google search: REV Gloster SIMPSON, Liberia 1832. Lastly, where is the British in all of this? I have a map of NEGROLAND and GUINEA PUBLISHED in 1727 at St Paul CHURCH Yard…ENGLAND. That Map clearly States the Europeans Own the LAND by that TIME. THERE IS A NEED FOR INVESTIGATION INTO LIBERIA HISTORY. VISIT: www. Maphill/simpson/liberia. Thanks.

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