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Liberian Observer (Monrovia)
By: J. Lisa Lumeh
Known for her rich history and heritage, exotic traditional villages, islands, mountains, beaches, waterfalls, forests etc., Liberia remains a country least toured since the wreckage of the 14 years of civil crises.
Caroline C. Bernard, Founder of Liberia Heritage Tours and Daughter of the Settlers It is against this background that Caroline Nelson-Barnard, a daughter of settlers and founder of the Liberia Heritage Tours has decided to exhibit the beautiful side of Liberia this 2020 commemorating what is called Black History.
"While in the Diaspora, I only received negative news about Liberia. I know good things were happening here, but apparently the news wasn't getting out there. It disheartened me but I am here to change those views, she said.
The essence of Black History is for the world to see exhibits highlighting the progress of their people since the destruction of slavery. It is usually celebrated in February.
The origin of this History can be traced as far back as 1915 when Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History Month, traveled to Chicago from his home in Washington, D.C. to take part in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation. There he formed an organization for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) to promote the scientific study of black life and history.
Since Liberia gained her independence on July 26, 1847, the nation has had ten African Americans as its presidents who made waves on the African continent and the world.
As a Liberian and daughter of the Settlers, Caroline said she is inviting people who are celebrating Black History month to come to Liberia and connect with the African American history that is here, "Come and see for yourself the land that about 20,000 settlers, though in the minority, founded and still stands today", she asserted.
Madam Caroline has composed over 75 songs one of them being "One Way Ticket to Monrovia", a famous Liberian song swayed by many Liberians during the 2005 general elections and peace process.
The song was an anthem for Africans in the Diaspora who were yearning to come home after the devastating civil war. The song jammed political and social gatherings and on several Liberian community radio.
One way, Caroline said she'll raise funds is through her tour packages. "We will have different categories of packages: Eco-tourism package for business investors, Religious Leaders, local Gov't officials and students’ packages. We will also include people who don't know the history of some of these sites.
One of the challenges Caroline mentioned is the maintenance and of tourist sites. According to her, there is no monument in honor of Madam Suakoko, commonly known as "The female Chief/Warrior Princess."
"We even visited the monument of King Bob Gray and surprisingly there is no monument in honor of him. This is the reason our people need to come back home so that through our collective work, we can upgrade and maintain our heritage."
Caroline's ancestry can be traced from Frederick County, Maryland (USA) where her ancestor, Eden Nelson hails. Eden came to Liberia on the ship, "The Ann", which sailed from Baltimore, November 28, 1833 to Cape Palmas to found a colony for the State of Maryland, USA.
The first settlers landed in Liberia on Dozoa Island on January 7, 1821 and arrived with white agents of the American Colonization Society (ACS) who ruled them for many years. The Island was later renamed Providence Island in thanks to God for giving them a home among their own people.
The year 2021 will mark 200 years of slavery since the return of the settlers to Providence Island. Madam Caroline noted that the gov't of Liberia is already making plans to celebrate the Year of Return in 2021.
Madam Caroline urged everyone to work together and continue to shout the Lonestar forever so that "oh, long may flow over land and o'er sea!