Liberia today is like an Alzheimer’s patient, missing common stories from yesteryears that serve as social glue. Also absent are guides from the past that can be applied to solving problems in the present and the future. Without a sense of history, the nation lacks a coherent self-identity, a key prerequisite for collective insight, coordination and growth.
In addition, Liberians suffer from a profoundly negative self-image, a legacy of centuries-old Eurocentric conditioning that has gone unchallenged. Entrenched in Monrovia is a mindset that was uprooted from Dakar, Accra, Dar Es Salam and other capitals some 50 years ago, during the era of decolonization.
Whether slum dwellers or inhabitants of mansions, Liberians routinely refer to traditional African religion as “witchcraft,” ethnic groups as “tribes,” and ritual masquerades as “country devils.” This legacy of self-denegation has been exacerbated by divisive and dehumanizing memories from the war years. An absence of positive collective memories makes it difficult, as with individuals, to keep negative moods in check. The result is a nation adrift and at odds with itself.
This website, Historic Liberia, assumes there is nothing more important to a post-conflict recovery than the humanities, without which societies lack empathy. Living within the same boundaries doesn’t not make people into a nation. It takes a common stock of ideas, circulated through shared media, to activate a sense of us-ness and belonging.
Meet the Team
Historic Liberia is building a team committed to recovering a inclusive and unifying history of Africa’s oldest republic. If you share our vision, please volunteer to help.
C. Patrick Burrowes
Patrick directs the institute for research and policy studies at the University of Liberia.
From 1995 to 1998, he was the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Marshall University.
Patrick is the author of Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea: A History of the Liberian People Before 1800, among other historical works.
His research has received awards from the International Communication Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Patrick earned a B. A. in Journalism (Cum Laude), Howard University, 1976; M. A. in Communications, Syracuse University, 1979; and Ph. D. in Communications, Temple University, 1994.