Citizenship & Nationality in Liberia
Author: C. Patrick Burrowes
Publish: 2019
Publisher: Know Your Self Press
Format: ebook, Paperback
ISBN: 978-1689851022
Pages: 144

Liberian citizenship has been restricted to people of African descent since the country declared its independence in 1847. In 2018, President George Weah called that restriction "racist" and called for the Constitution to be changed. In urging an extension of Liberian citizenship to non-blacks, Pres. Weah said the limitation may have been “appropriate for the 19th century, and for the threats and conditions that existed at that time. However, here in the 21st century, I am of the view that these threats no longer exist.” But as Weah was speaking many of those historic “threats and conditions” were reemerging in the West. Support surged for anti-immigrant political parties and candidates. Mounting restrictions are directed mainly at people of color, especially those of African descent. Who is a Liberian? What rights and responsibilities should citizens have? These are some of the critical questions facing Liberians, given the destruction to citizenship and nationalism wrought by the war. These questions can’t be ignored or postponed. They are key to fixing the country’s politics and economy. They require dialogue among today’s Liberians before expanding citizenship to others. To do otherwise would be an invitation to disaster. This book reviews the history of citizenship and nationality in Liberia, including the origin of the "Negro Clause."

Here are some highlights: Liberia, at its founding, was "a nationality in search of a nation." Due to Samori Touré's incursions and the European Scramble for Africa, the country shifted from a loose confederation of ethnic groups to a state with tight borders. As a result of globalization and the Civil War, Liberians are functioning less as citizens and more like clients of "big men" in politics and other spheres. The role of women as guardians of public morality was evident toward the end of the war when a group known as Women Crusaders for Peace played a critical role in shaming male leaders of warring factions to engage in negotiations.

Author Details:

Carl Patrick Burrowes, Ph. D. is Liberia’s leading historian. He’s served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cuttington University, Liberia, and Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Professor at Marshall University. Burrowes is the author of Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea: A History of the Liberia People Before 1800 and Power and Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830 to 1970.

He is also co-author, The Historical Dictionary of Liberia. His research has received awards from the International Communication Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Patrick earned a Ph. D. in Communications, Temple University, 1994.