LIBERIA: Point of Return
by Judge Bill C. Littlejohn
My first visit to Liberia was in 2012. The trip was sponsored by a travel club, which offered travel opportunities in all 50 of the United States and 21 foreign countries. However, earlier, my wife and I took business trips to China in 1988 and India in 1989. This is when international travel became my interest.
I was part of a trade delegation led by Mr. Val Thompson, President of the Houston International Trade Development Council (HITDC). Later, I traveled with his organization to Panama. When HITDC initiated its trips to China, it attracted my attention. HITDC’s trip to the Canton Fair in China (the oldest & biggest) trade exposition show in the world was an eye-opener to me. HITDC hosted another trip in 2015 wherein we went to five countries: Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.
Needless to say, I heard that HITDC was hosting a trip to Liberia in 2013. That renewed my interest in Liberia – the Country that has less than 5 million people. Although the Country had internal strife that caused great destruction, I have always felt that I could do my part to assist Liberia to return to its former glory, and world status as a model Country.
The research revealed that the Country started as an experiment:
The American Colonization Society (ACS) was formed in 1817 to send freed African-Americans to Africa as an alternative to emancipation in the United States. In 1822, ACS established, on the west coast of Africa, a colony that in 1847 became the independent nation of Liberia.
During this era, many freed African-Americans, like Frederick Douglass and others resisted the effort of the movement to go back to Africa by arguing that “the sweat and blood of our families that were once enslaved, actually built America; therefore, we have just as much right to be in American and to be citizens.” Hence, they resisted going back to Africa.
Liberia was established as a Colony in 1821 and became a Country on July 26, 1847. The other countries, which are displayed below, were colonized in 1884 at the Berlin Conference and gained independence as follows:
• Ghana 1957; Nigeria and Somalia 1960; Sierra Leone 1961; Uganda 1962;
• Malawi and Zambia 1965; Kenya 1963; Botswana and Lesotho 1966;
• Zimbabwe 1980.
The abovementioned countries are major English speaking British Colonies. However, the Belgian, French, South Africa, Spanish, and Portuguese are all colonies of other languages.
South Africa abolished Apartheid with the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela.
History shows that Liberia has been “Exceptional” since its inception. Our objective is to build upon that. It would be good for the Liberian people and the Liberians in the Diaspora and especially the United States, to build on that relationship.
Several U.S. presidents and other notables have visited Liberia to further that relationship: Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, Jimmy Carter in 1978, George W. Bush in 2008; first ladies: Pat Nixon in 1971, Laura Bush in 2008, Rosalynn Carter in 1978, Hillary Clinton in 2009, and Michelle Obama in 2016.
It just makes sense to build upon that history. Besides, it has an abundance of natural resources within the Country. Too, we believe that TOURISM could benefit Liberia immediately and lead to further development. Based on its history, Liberia is the true “Point of Return”. In 2015, the “Gate of Return”, the “Door of Return”, the “Year of Return” etc. became terms suitable for tourism. Americans and others visit Liberia for its tourist attractions. Therefore, revenue would benefit such a young nation because Liberia has a workforce that can be trained readily for the Hospitality Industry. Besides, it would encourage other investments from around the world.
Tourism in Liberia offers these unique amenities:
• Rain Forest of 700 sq. miles
• Beaches – breathtaking and beautiful
• Liberian Cuisine
• 18 Mountains
• Water skiing, para skiing, jet skiing, water sports
• Lake Piso
• Sapo National Forest with its pygmy hippopotamus, zebras, mongooses,
o forest elephants, 2000
flowering plants, 125 species of mammals, 580 species of birds, 74 species of reptiles and amphibians
• Blue Lake – 300 feet deep human-made in Bomi County
• Kpatawee Water Falls
• Chimpanzee Island
• Canoeing on Farmington river
• Seven major rivers that can be considered for hydro energy
• SAIL Farming trips to Bomi county to interact with the piggery, fishery, baby chicks and see and taste farm products grown by Liberians
• Colleges and Universities
• Places of Worship
• Jeep® ventures, bicycling
• Tribal arts & crafts markets
On October 14, 2019, a group comprised of Liberians and Americans formed a Nonprofit Corporation that was registered in Liberia called Sustainable Agricultural Innovations for Liberia (SAIL). The purpose of SAIL is broad, which tends to elevate all of Liberia. For this effort, we have started using unskilled labor of men and women without mechanical tools to begin farming 200 acres of land. The land is cleared by simple tools and by hand. The project built a 3,000 square foot structure by to house chickens. We have purchased our first batch of 300 baby chicken to start. Also, the project will include a piggery, hydroponics, and crops. One objective is to grow enough food for approximately 1,000 people on the land to feed themselves; subsequently, grow enough food to become entrepreneurs, and sell in the local markets. Another objective is to increase revenue through export, such as peppers, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, and cassava.