Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The British and French true intentions toward Liberia during the Fernado Po Incident.
Thomas Faulkner an African American came to Liberia in the 1920's.At the time many people were critical of the images of a Black republic oppressing fellow Black people.Thomas Faulkner tried his hand at politics in advocating for the poor indigenous people of Liberia.Indeed they were at the bottom of Liberia society and abuses towards them was appalling.Being from a racist society he was determined to see justice and equality in Liberia.He formed the People's Party.He was undermined not out of any real wanting to keep the status quo but the fact that Liberia was a country of although brilliant men,very shortsighted and coveted in their personal greed and arrogance.He was silenced but before he was some important things came out.The British and French were encroaching on Liberia's territory its very sovereignty was in peril.The territory of the Sherbro Island Sulima River and the Mano River hinterland was taken by a Liberia helpless to stop it.British businessmen tried to offer development in exchange for Liberia's independence.Only the United States stood in the way of a complete take over.The French had taken land on the coast from the Cavalla River to the San Pedro river and in the North the whole Guinea highland which was rich in gold and diamonds.They claimed Liberia failed to occupy this territory.Indeed Liberia wanted settlers from the United States and the West to occupy that land but they never came.So by the early 20th century Liberia was cut in half from its original size.Liberia organized the Liberia Frontier Force with the help of American Black officers of the US Army plus some British officers this stopped the encroachment.Now with it territories now defined the Fernando Po incident happens.Liberia demonstrated it can govern itself,even better than the colonial administration in the region.This did not stop the racist forces determined to take Liberia's sovereignty away.Faulkner had a good heart and good intentions.But the road to hell is often paved with good intention.
A British distinguished author Lady Kathleen Simon wife of noted British statesmen Sir John Simon made a series of attacks on the Black republic and the Americo Liberian.These prejudices were the result of rumors not anything founded in evidence.She bluntly without evidence called for the government to be put under the rule of strong high minded White men.A view sanctioned by her husband.Most of what she knew about Liberia was hear say but to think when the British were butchering half the globe in the name of empire building she like most hypocritical racist at the time said nothing.Several other leading newspapers and writers in Britain and America joined the chorus in condemning the Americo Liberians.The truth was there was hostility towards Liberia being a Black government at a time when Cecil Rhodes and Kruger and others were advancing the belief that Black men were incapable of governing themselves.Liberia like the free Blacks in the USA during slavery gave hope to other in bondage.Infact Liberia was the main reason for the African Nationalist movement.A movement that at the time struck fear in the heart of White Supremacist.So this little republic with all its problems was a threat to the racist and their myth of Black inferiority.The Americo Liberia were some of the most thorough people on the planet.In intellectual circles and international affairs the kept peace in a continent often torn by conflict.
The Fernando Po Incident was the epitome of hypocrisy.The British was in competition with Spain in the cocoa trade.The Spanish recruited labor from Liberia just like it was being done all over Africa.The British used this as evidence of slavery and called for Liberia to be mandated.The Liberians shot back and with the US intervention its sovereignty was preserved.The incident shows that although countries make mistakes.America had chattel slavery and genocide of Native Americans but only White countries keep their independence.
The Contract Labor Scheme
All over the colonial world governments sanctioned contract labor.It still exist to this day.What happens is recruiters are paid for every head delivered.In Liberia's case labor was usually communal.This means groups of men from the same village came and did work.The problem was labor may be abused and induced.This is the by product of this system that all parties are aware of.The British brought labor to South Africa from India because they could better control them.They brought Chinese labor to Malaysia and Singapore to work on plantations and in mills.In Fernando Po an Island off the coast of Nigeria and Equitorial Guinea the Spanish were growing Cocoa and needed labor.This venture was in direct competition with the British in the Gold Coast(Ghana.Now the some Liberian middlemen recruited labor from the Kru migration which the British themselves started.The British abandoned the Island and the Spanish claimed it.So in 1920 the Liberian government claiming sovereignty over all business activity in its territory taxed the enterprise like any other state would.Now the labor that was sent could have been used to build Liberia's own cocoa industry but short sighted greedy leaders went along with it.So should Liberia have lost its independence?No.Lets look at the whole reason.The Spanish recruited labor from Angola,Gabon,and Congo all under the same circumstances.Why was there no out cry about the laborers recruited by the Portuguese?Or the French?Why was Liberia singled out?Answer Racism.This was an attempt to wage a colonial war on Liberia but Liberia out witted and out foxed the fox in Britain and kept her sovereignty.