Liberians Converge On Providence Island -Kickoff Of Bicentennial Cerebrations Begin In Color

The historic Providence Island is expected to light up in colors and speeches today, January 7, 2022, as Liberia traces and celebrates its founding, not only as the first black republic on the African Continent, but also as the foremost decolonization and political self-determination hero. It was on this tiny island that those who founded what is now modern-day Liberia first stepped foot on their native continent upon return from four centuries of servitude in the United States. For the first time since that momentous disembark, the country is looking back to behold the liberation odyssey that has turned 200 years now. Succeeding generations – sons and daughters – of those who landed on the shores and those who received their brethren in 1822 are gathering on the notable Island today to commence a yearlong reflection, adoration and celebration of a country and people that have evolved over the last two centuries not only upholding their common heritage but also extending the torch of freedom, liberty and independence onto the rest of the then Dark Continent. As The Analyst reports, President George M. Weah and his entire government, joined by other Liberians, including Diaspora citizens and African Americans who made their way to Liberia, are converging on the Providence Island to take a kickoff of the yearlong commemoration of the country’s Bicentennial.

In earnest, the much-talk-about Bicentennial celebrations put into place by the Government of President George Manneh Weah begin today, with a horde of national and international dignitaries converging on the historic Providence Island in Monrovia.

The Government, since last year, embarked on a series of activities and public relations stunts for the Bicentennial intended to pay homage to efforts that culminated into the founding of the Republic of Liberia.

President Weah first named a steering committee which in turn appointed subcommittees on various aspects of the celebration.

Then recently, shortly before the Christmas Season, the Steering Committee held an elaborate press conference to launch the slogan and theme of the Bicentennial.

The theme, according to the committee, is “Liberia: The Land of Return – Commemorating 200 Years of Freedom and Pan-African Leadership,” while the slogan is, ““The Lone Star Forever, Stronger Together.”

The Steering Committee says the theme signifies three important historical milestones achieved by the country since it was founded in 1822 by free people of African descent and their patrons from the United States. 

Today’s Event

The significance of the Bicentennial kickoff is expressed in massive publicity embarked upon by the communication sub-committee which has been inundating the airwaves and pages of the media about what is expected and who is expect at the occasion.

Already the Liberia National Police has begun announcing “vehicular protocol” in Central Monrovia as the country emptied itself onto the Providence Island today.

The Gabriel Tucker Bridge, which overlaps the Island, will be closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic today; they are to detour to the Waterside flank of Vai Town, veering towards Mamba Point.

The President of the Republic, Dr. George Manneh Weah, will be leading his entire cabinet to the occasion along with foreign diplomats and business executives.

It is not clear immediately who all, besides the President will make major statements, but insiders requesting anonymity have hinted that the History and Culture subcommittees will drill attendees through the historic significance of Providence Island and the negotiations that followed the arrival of the settlers who first arrived at the Island in 1822.

It is expected that most speeches will focus on how the former Peppercoast as Liberia was called then by European explorers became the land in West Africa chosen as refuge by free people of African descent who endured many years of servitude in the United States, to settle as their home country.

Others are expected to zero on the American Colonization Society (ACS) under whose auspices many of the free people of color emigrated from the United States and disembarked on Providence  Island in Liberia on January 7, 1822 as their home country.

Still, it is expected to be expounded upon Liberia’s role in sparking black freedom and nationhood on the Continent of Africa, and the determination for self-governance that began with it 200 years ago when it was established in 1822.

In an era when people of African descent were seeking freedom and self-determination, the founding of Liberia, “the Black Republic,” which gained independence in 1847 stood as the clear indication that Africans were capable of self-rule.

Other speakers are expected to acknowledge and accentuate Liberia’s pivotal Pan-Africanist leadership role played, specifically in crusading for Africa’s decolonization and independence, including its uncompromising stance against the racial segregation in South Africa known then as Apartheid.

Liberia would later champion the establishment of multinational unions on the African Continent and the global stage.

Foremost, was its Pan-Africanist leadership role in organizing the historic 1959 “Sanniquellie Conference” involving Liberia, Guinea, and Ghana which ultimately resulted into the formation of Organization of African Union (OAU) in 1963. Liberia assumed similar Pan-Africanist leadership in the formation of the African Union (AU), successor to the OAU. It likewise joined the call on the Continent for creation of regional economic organizations, such as, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union.

Others will also recall similar spirit of Pan-Africanism that inspired Liberia to join other nations in supporting the formation of international bodies, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As a Pan-Africanist leader, Liberia became the vision bearer and founder of the African Development Bank when the bank was established in the 1960s to foster economic cooperation on the African Continent.

It can be recalled that even while slavery remained legal in the United States until 1865, the resettlement efforts of the ACS culminated into the establishment of present-day Liberia in West Africa to relocate free black men, women and children from the United States and other people of color from other parts of the world. This led to the departure of the first group of about 86 free Blacks from the shores of New York in 1820. By the end of the 1800s, approximately 17,000 free Blacks from the United States.

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