Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Matilda Newport and the cannon

Liberians, for the most part, have historically been proud of two things: 1) the fact that they were they only country in Africa (out of 52 countries) that was never colonized, (yes, despite resent claims by Ethiopia that they were also never colonized, that is not correct. Ethiopia was briefly colonized by Italy in the 1930s, and King Victor Emmanuel was even referred to as the "Emperor of Ethiopia").  

2) The second thing Liberians appreciate (again, for the most part) is their long, and somewhat close relationship with America - at least MUCH closer than any other country in Africa. You would be hard pressed to find a Liberuan who does not have a close relative in the States, and almost everyone who has a graduate or a post graduate degree has done at least part of their studies in the U.S.

Both of these things are the result of Liberia being founded by both free and former slaves retuning to Africa to found their own country.  But the returning American-Africans were not warmly received by the Bassa people native to the area.  The returning settlers built a fort on Crown Hill, which over looks modern day Monrovia and Mamba point, (sounds like the snakes they discovered weren't friendly either!).

From their fort they had to defend Crown Hill from the local people who assumed they were raiders from the Congo, (Americo-Liberians are still called "Congo People" by Liberians today). A famous battle ensued where the now famous  heroian Matilda Newport fired a cannon at the natives at close range killing a number of them. 

As kids we used to celebrate Matilda Newport Day every December first until the insecure Samuel Doe took office via a military coup and abolished the holiday.

Bessie by the statue and monument of J. J. Roberts - the first president of Liberia.  The monuments base has murals in stone of the history of Liberia.

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