George Weah Sworn in as President of Liberia

George Weah6
George Weah delivering his inaugural speech at the Samuel Doe stadium

On Monday, January 22nd, Former Football star and Ballon d’Or George Weah  was sworn in as the 25th President of Liberia, in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in over 70 years. Weah, a decorated football star, took over from Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Liberians of all ages formed long lines outside the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, near the capital, Monrovia, to watch Weah’s inauguration.

Moved by the population’s love, Weah said in his inaugural speech, “I have spent many years of my life in stadiums, but today is a feeling like no other. I am overwhelmed with the crowd and the energy here today, … Today, we all wear the jersey of Liberia, and the victory belongs to the people, to peace, and to democracy.”

Flag of Liberia

He added: “I promise to do everything in my power to be the agent of positive change. But I cannot do it alone. … […] And so, My Fellow Citizens, I want to admonish you, that the foundation of the New Liberia must be reinforced by the steel of integrity. We need men and women, boys and girls, whose integrity provides the foundation of the trust that is required for Liberian society to benefit her people.

Brother Weah, we wish you the very best in governing the beautiful country of Liberia. We know that your getting there stems for your great love of your country, and our prayers will carry you throughout this journey! 

For the full speech, watch the video below, and read The Patriotic Vanguard Patriotic Vanguard for the full transcript of President George Weah’s inaugural speech. Enjoy!

Why the name: Liberia?


What comes to mind when you hear the name of the country Liberia? … Liberty, freedom?

Exactly, the colony of Liberia was started by the American Colonization Society (ACS) in 1820 which repatriated free slaves from the United States to Liberia.  Why exactly was that territory chosen versus any other is a mystery.  I suspect that it was just a replica of what the British were doing, as they had started repatriating free slaves from Nova Scotia (Canada) to Sierra Leone as early as 1792.  It is therefore no surprise that Liberia is a neighboring country to Sierra Leone.  On July 26, 1847, the free slave settlers issued a Declaration of independence (modeled after that of the US), and created the Republic of Liberia, with its capital Monrovia named after the American president James Monroe, one of the supporters of the ACS.

Flag of Liberia
Flag of Liberia

However, before the arrival of the 500+ free slaves from America, modern-day Liberia was located in an area known as the Pepper Coast or Grain Coast (La côte des graines) or Melegueta Coast in honor of the grains of paradise or melegueta pepper, a very common in West African cuisines.  The Portuguese actually named it Costa da Pimenta, meaning Pepper Coast, in the 1500s.  The area was inhabited by Mende people, Dei, Bassa (not to be confused with the Bassa people of Cameroon), Kru, Gola, and Kissi people.  The Pepper Coast has been inhabited at least as far back as the 12th century and perhaps earlier.

Mme President
President of Liberia: Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

There was actually a clash between the free African Americans who came to identify themselves as Americo-Liberian, and the local indigenous people.  The Americo-Liberians developed a culture based around American notions of superiority and racial supremacy: they felt superior to the indigenous people.  This was probably at the root of the Liberian civil wars which lasted several years.  As Liberia struggles to heal the wounds of war, it is making big steps toward democracy, peace, and freedom.  It was also the first country in Africa to elect a woman president: Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Today, as you enjoy the video below on Liberia, I would like to ask a question: with all the wars and political instabilities seen in Liberia, has the country’s name affected its history or destiny? Has its name been a curse or a blessing?