The 5th President of Liberia Edward James Roy, was a Nigerian. He was the first pure descendent of an Ibo tribe in Nigeria. His Nigerian parents were taken as slaves to North Carolina but later migrated to Newark, Ohio USA, where he was born on February 3, 1815. Roye was the first pure black slave to occupy the executive mansion as head of state and commander-In-Chief, Armed Forces of Liberia. He arrived in Liberia in 1846 one year before independence was announced and he became president in 1870.
What is seriously and exceedingly laughable, is the fact that a Nigerian and other strange national like Jamaicans, Ghanaians, and Senegalese all of whom from systemic slave backgrounds served as Presidents of Liberia at different times interval. The question becomes; who then is or not a Liberian? Even the so-called natives or inhabitants of the land before the emergence of the so-called slaves did not own the land legally or constitutionally, it was the slaves who finally named the land, and legalized its existence.
The inhabitants of natives who occupied the land now called Liberia before the advent of the slaves from the US didn’t have any legitimate, legal, or constitutional documentation to claim land, the slaves did. The natives were rather a group of loose individuals who were potential wanderers and traders from Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast Guinea, Sierra Leone, etc., who settled in those dark forests and later owned multiple spots for themselves illegally.
The so-called natives were rather covered by slaves who officially discovered the land, named it, legitimized its status, created a government, created a constitution, and declared official independence in 1847 under the very noses of those who called themselves natives or inhabitants of the Land, before the emergence of the slave’s junta. The land was first named by a Portuguese explorer Oct. 6 1462 as Grain Coast or Pepper Coast under the noses of the same so-called natives who had no idea of statehood, needless talks about a constitution. Who then is a Liberian and who owned the land officially, the Native or the Slaves?
Who is or isn’t a Liberian is a big issue? Millions of other nationals around the world possess Liberian passports and also call themselves Liberians who are involved in the multinational business as Liberians around the world. For example, Liberia Maritime head office in the US is heavily possessed by foreigners who called themselves Liberians. Today there are 3, 377 ships currently flying the Liberian flags and every worker at the US Maritime office carries Liberian passports but doesn’t know where Liberia is even located in Africa.
The majority of other Africans bordering Liberia called themselves citizens of Liberia as soon they crossed into Liberia. For example, Guinea borders Liberia in the North. Guineans who crossed to Liberia referred to themselves as Liberians. The bulk of them hides under the shield of the religious Muslim culture as well as the Mandigo tribe especially when the late Doe referred to them as citizens.
Today the Mandigo tribe is protected by the feeble 1986 Liberian Constitution initiated by the late Pres. Samuel Doe. Today, the Mandigo tribe has succeeded to have their district call “Quinobodo” exclusively to themselves with no other tribe in their midst which is one of the most dangerous precedents the late Doe ever put into motion in the constitution. Sierra Leone also bordered Liberia on the West. A great deal of the Mandi tribe crossed from Sierra Leone into Liberia and referred to themselves as Liberians, the same is with those who hailed from Ivory Coast and Guinea.
When the Liberian civil genocide broke and many Liberians settled in foreign parts especially in refugee camps across Africa, those countries nationals, like Ghanaians, Togolese, Nigerians, Guineans, Sierra Leoneans, and Ivorians took advantage of huge overseas traveling opportunities under the banner of Liberian refugees and were opportune to travel as Liberian all over the world as Liberian refuse to escape from the civil wars brought upon them by Charles Taylor, Prince Johnson, and other warlords.
Most of the above nationals are getting ample benefits as Liberians when the true native Liberians are being denied regularly. Another emerging group that is using their leverage to become citizens of Liberia are the Lebanese, Fulani, Jamaicans, Ivorians, and ordinary Nigerians and Ghanaians especially those in the fishing category in Liberia.
Today, the question remains who is a Liberian, and who owns Liberia? Is it the natives, the foreigners, or the slaves who discovered the land under the noses of the so-called natives and the mixture of other close inhabitants? The issue of who is a Liberian will one day trek another war in Liberia.