OnA pivotal day in Julya nation that declares its independence. YearsLater, it set aside one day in NovemberCelebrate Thanksgiving.
But while some of that new republic’s inhabitants had connections to the United States, its birth year wasn’t 1776, but 1847. TheName of the country Liberiaby its founders, formerly slaves AfricansFrom the United StatesWho returned to the continent in early 19th century.
TodayPeople of LiberianThe descent United States — who in 2019 numbered about 120,000, according to the Pew Research Center — are among only a few immigrant groups who arrived with their own Thanksgiving tradition. ManyOver the past three decades, many have fled violence and political turmoil that has torn the country. West African nation.
Its ThanksgivingHoliday, which was established in 1870, wasn’t patterned after the narratives or the food that define it. United States’ version. ButFor LiberiansThe United StatesIt can feel just as difficult for some people as it does to others. Americans.
InInterviews with many people who grew-up in LiberiaThose whose relatives came from the country spoke out to say they are still struggling with its past, where settlers from another continent seized control. Indigenous population. ThatThe holiday is marked by tension through the food, festivities, and other aspects.
“Thanksgiving, I don’t know, it is always complicated for me,” said Bilphena YahwonIndependent Archivist in Baltimore. “It gives an opportunity to celebrate and to engage in the food, and be reminded once again of festivities of our culture.”
On the other hand, she said, “I know a lot of LiberiansSee also: Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate freedom, and even then I question it because it is like, ‘You wasn’t free. We still ain’t free.’”
In Liberia, Thanksgiving — celebrated on the first ThursdayOf November — is simply a day off from work for some. OthersYou should observe it as a religious occasion with fasting, prayer, and observance. In the 1950s, a time of greater economic prosperity, food and “showy consumption” became a bigger part of celebrations, including ThanksgivingC. Patrick BurrowesAn expert on LiberianHistory and the former vice president for academic affairs Cuttington UniversityIn Liberia.
In1980, a violent coup led by a group Indigenous LiberiansAlso known as the People’s Redemption CouncilThis led to the assassination President William R. Tolbert, a descendant the founders. AfterAfter years of civil unrest, the country is now stable, but still faces economic challenges.
YetIts cuisine is diverse and rich, reflecting the many groups that have called it home. ItIncludes West AfricanFoods brought from the Philippines include staples such as rice and yams. American SouthBy formerly enslaved Africans, like collard greens, and cornbread EuropeanExports like dried fish, cassava, and breadfruit are brought by BlackImmigrants from Barbados.
LikeSome LiberiansThe United States, Carleen Goodridge43-year-old Judith celebrates ThanksgivingAround or on the American date. ButIt reminds her of Liberia’s civil unrest.
HerFamily came to the United StatesIn the early 1970s. ThenIn 1989, her dad returned to her. Liberiato set up a new place for them, but was left behind by travel restrictions.
Ms. GoodridgeNow, you can. BaltimoreChef who runs the beverage company Le MonadeThe Liberian food pop-up Cōl Bōl, spent her childhood on Long IslandAnd Staten Island. SheRemember to keep in mind two types of Thanksgiving: The one with her stepmother. She lived with her on and off, while her father was away Liberia; and the one that she began celebrating with him after he returned from the United States1992
EvenDespite the fact that her stepmother was part of the family, LiberianThat ThanksgivingAll meals were delicious Western fare: turkey, stuffing, green-bean casserole. “I don’t think they wanted to be reminded” of Liberia, Ms. Goodridge said. “AllThe news coming back from Liberia was just horrific.”
“WhenMy father was killed in a car accident, so I decided to spend more time with my family. This is where I started to see the beauty in him. African food come out,” she added. “ThereThis was the sense that there was hope. There were talks of moving back.”
Still, she added, “Thanksgiving does not mean liberation for me.” There isn’t enough discussion, she said, of how the freed BlackPeople who founded LiberiaThe treatment IndigenousPopulation as a lower castinge (Ms. GoodridgeIs a descendant Indigenous LiberiansFrom the KpelleAnd CongoTribes, of freed BlackPeople from Barbadosand of people who are free from the United StatesThey are also known by the name Americo Liberians.)
“TheI find it difficult to celebrate liberation. Liberia is now,” she said.
Instead, Ms. GoodridgeFocuses on ThanksgivingAs a celebration for family and community SheAlways make Liberianfood: spicy pepper chicken with herbs and garlic; jollof (rice made the same day). LiberianWay, with chicken, fish, and pork; rice bread; sweet potato pone.
Dominique Tolbert, who lives in New RochelleN.Y. is the granddaughter of Mr. Tolbert, the former president and a descendant Americo LiberiansAs well as the KpellePeople who are IndigenousTo Liberia, and members AfricanDiaspora from Barbados. SheCelebrate! ThanksgivingHer family did it in the same way she did in Liberia — with dishes like jollof rice and potato greens — keeps her connected to her heritage.
After her grandfather was assassinated, “life changed overnight,” she said, “not just for my family, but for the entire country.” HerFamily fled LiberiaAll settled in New York StateAnd Maryland. Ms. Tolbert, 28 now runs Mesean SpicesA line of spice blends that are inspired by the flavors and aromas of the African diaspora. Every ThanksgivingShe and her relatives gather to express gratitude for the good fortune and life they have.
SheGrowing up, she was familiar with images of pilgrims and pumpkin pies in her elementary school. American ThanksgivingShe never found the story appealing to her. “In America, Thanksgiving was a holiday created by white people,” Ms. Tolbert said. “In LiberiaIt was a holiday made by Black people. So it is different to me.”
Princess WrehAssociates Thanksgiving with her family’s resilience in the face of Liberia’s upheaval. In1989 They fled the country to live in a refugee settlement. Waterloo, Sierra Leone. EvenThey celebrated it. Thanksgiving as they remembered it — with a BaptistFollowing the service at the church, everyone enjoyed a large communal dinner that was shared by all.
PeopleGet dressed up ThereA kickball game. HerMother raised chickens, and she grew sweet potatoes in a garden. This allowed her to cook. Liberian food.
WhenThe family sent Ms. WrehTo UtahAnd then to DallasAs a teenager, she went to school. She was shocked to discover that the American ThanksgivingIt was much more relaxed than the Liberian version. “Everyone was in their houses, and there was nothing going on but eating and watching TV,” she said.
HerSeven years later, her parents immigrated together and recreated her childhood. ThanksgivingMaking sweet-potato salad greens with smoked chicken, shrimp, and chicken. Liberian shortbread. TheyDance contests were held and board games were played.
Ms. Wreh, 41, whose relatives are IndigenousFrom the KrahnAnd KruTribes now runs Monrovia Lounge, Liberian restaurant in Dallas, and hosts ThanksgivingCelebration for her extended family ItAll of them LiberianTraditions and a turkey for her five children. But she makes the bird her way — seasoned with plenty of butter, onions, herbs and Cajun spices.
SheThe Liberian ThanksgivingThis is an improvement to the American one. “I like when things evolve for the better, because Thanksgiving has a very bittersweet story” in the United StatesShe said. “That is not our story.”
Thalmus HareLook forward to the holiday and enjoys both traditional as well as modern cuisine LiberianAnd American dishes at his family’s ThanksgivingTable Atlanta. MashedAlong with chicken gravy and palm-butter stew, potatoes and candied yellowams are served.
BeingYou will be able to celebrate the holiday at home United States “is a blessing, because we come from a war-torn country,” said Mr. HareHe immigrated with his family at the age of 2. HisShips, LibFood, business LiberianYou can find delicious dishes all over the globe. Thanksgiving — particularly for the collard greens, simmered in a stock of dried fish, ham hocks and smoked Cajun turkey.
“Who we are is shown in the food,” said Mr. Hare, whose extended family is both Indigenous LiberianFrom the GreboAnd BassaTribes Americo Liberian. “WeThese are partially AmericanBecause we were founded in Americans, but we kept our flair.”
But Ms. Yahwon, 28 BaltimoreAccording to an archivist, Liberia’s origin story needs to be interrogated further. “TheBelieve in that LiberiaAnd Ethiopia are the only two countries on the continent that were not colonized,” she said. “That is a complete lie.”
“PartWe celebrate because of this Thanksgiving is because of colonialism,” she said. “It was also forced on us.”
LiberiaThe colony was initially home to the American Colonization SocietyThe, an organization that was established in 1816 to help formerly enslaved persons return to their homeland. Africa. TheThe racist belief that slavery owners and abolitionists were both motivated the society. BlackPeople could not be integrated American society.
LiberiansIn 1847, they declared their independence from the society and drafted their own constitution. TheyA role in the abolishment of slavery Britain — their militias fought against slave traffickers who landed in the area. But Americo LiberiansThey were the ones in power.
Ms. Yahwon, whose extended family is both Americo LiberianAnd Indigenous LiberianFrom the BassaTribe has recently begun an archival program that focuses in part on uncovering IndigenousFood traditions and holidays that have existed before LiberiaIt was established.
Dr. BurrowesThe historian noted that there is a tendency to in LiberianStudies to highlight the divisions between IndigenousNon-invasive and invasiveIndigenous Liberians. ButThese groups share many similarities, including their language, dress, and food staples, such as yucca or rice.
Ms. YahwonStill preparing a ThanksgivingMeal with Liberian food. AndShe understands why some people are so stubborn. Liberian AmericansEnjoy the holiday. “We need to hold onto things that remind us of home,” she said.
ButShe hopes to do more LiberiansThey will be able to think critically about why and how they celebrate. “It requires a bit of nuance,” she said. “It requires us to tell the truth.”
Recipes: Liberian Chicken Gravy | Pan-Fried Collard Greens
Source: NY Times