Saturday, November 12, 2011
1921 Liberia.The Fernando Po Incident.
The Fernando Po Incident was a scandal involving the Liberian Presidency of King during the 1920's and 1930's with the collaboration of traditional rulers of the people.This involved forced of coerced labor from the interior to islands in Fernando Po.Now coerced labor was being done in South Africa,Belgium Congo,Kenya-Mombassa on much larger scales and brutal methods.The Liberian situation was different in that the perpetrators were Americo-Liberian agents their tribal partners and the Government of Liberia who taxed labor as a state would tax any economic activity under its control.Laborers were forced to work much like the Black codes in the post Slavery South in the USA.This system of exploitation was common in much of the world.It is what brought the labor movement of the 1930's in the West.Now It should be noted that the perpetrators against the natives of Liberia were also native Liberians who assimilated into the Americo Liberian society.They along with the elite Americo Liberian were the most harsh on the indigenous population.Grebos educated people were middlemen in dealing with the kings who got paid for every head sent.Also without the Kings who had the authority over the people this system would never have worked.Never the less the enemies of the only Black Republic in Africa besides Ethiopia,used this to discredit the government of Liberia.The attempt was to get Liberia to cede it's independence and become a colony.It had nothing to do with concern for the Native Liberians.The Belgium King Leopold occupied the Congo and made himself one of the richest men in the world by enslaving the whole Congo.Men,women and children had their fingers,hands,ears,cut off for not meeting a quota of rubber.Now in Liberia workers never faced that sort of brutality.The Liberians never made profit off the labor they only taxed it.The bigger question is why is this incident known but the outrages in the Congo not? This was racist propaganda against Liberia.The Liberian elite saw the Native African as competition if they did not assimilate with them as the Grebos did.When Native Africans read about what was going on in the rest of Africa they joined and supported the Liberian government more than the settlers.Liberia elite began to exploit the natives out of a false sense of superiority.The issue was why the native would obey White visiting administrators but never give the Americo Liberians the same respect.This created a sense that they had to be controlled. This is the root of the bitterness lingering in Liberia today.The The best way to exploit people was to control where they worked.Instead of using the labor to create roads and farms the corrupt Americo Liberian agents and officials found it easier to export the labor.The years of lost manpower,that could have developed Liberia was a scandal.