Book Review: Legends of Liberia

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The adventure of Fala Wubo and Seimaile Halingi’s hunt for a new land, a place to call their home, is one of the most interesting and must read stories among those captured in the Legends of Liberia.

A story set in Lofa County among the Kissi and Gbandi peoples, Fala and Seimaile, whose father was a Kissi king and mother a Gbandi slave, were denied privileges due children of the king, because their mother was a slave.

This led the two brothers to go in search of land, and after days of searching they found a rich, fertilized land that was occupied by giants called ‘Wonos.’

As tradition demanded at the time, they sent a messenger with a gift asking the Wono chief to allow them to settle on the land they’d discovered.

However, the Wono chief’s refusal resulted into war and at the end the Wonos were driven out, and they fled to a nearby mountain known today as Wologizi, meaning ‘the mountain of the mourner.’

This story and other stories captured in the Legends of Liberia retell and bring back to life lost, unique, and classic legends of Liberia, as well as examining the origins of the various tribes featured in them.

In addition, some chapters of the book are supported by modern illustrations that give readers a clear picture of the stories they are being told.

First of all, Legends of Liberia is a must read and beautiful book everyone should get a hold of. From the first page to the last, each story provides detailed information or narration, most especially when it comes to the history of the tribe, which makes it a standout among any book that talk about legends from Liberia or about Liberia.

Apart from the tribal histories (legends) being told in the book, there are other good short stories that are not so well-known, but armed with inspiring messages to keep the reader glued to the pages, and wanting to re-read them after completing the book.

Living up to its name, the book features 13 out of the 15 tribes, as well as giving details about their ancestry/linkage and how each came to Liberia.

For example, the Mano tribe came to Liberia, according to the legend, through Lormia, who on his way from Sudan in search of fertile land fought and conquered many towns. He also captured slaves along the way, including the Ge, who later became Gio, who much later became the race of the Gio and Mano.

The nickname Gbezohn for modern day Grand Bassa County means ‘stagnant and odorous,’ and came as a result of people dumping trash into a small stream, which subsequently smelled like the dirt poured into it.

Apart from its historical value, Legends of Liberia has great visuals to encourage young Liberians to learn their ancestry and civilization. Sponsored by the EU delegation in Liberia, the book brings back to life Liberia’s once lost rich heritage

This book belongs to each and every Liberian, young and old because stories told therein remind us of our traditional values, which can better prepare the youth for adult life.

Although the stories have survived long years of violence, they are still valid and should not be forgotten.

Legends of Liberia was illustrated by Luca Bai Wakokai Varaschini, a Liberian born European and produced under the leadership of EU Ambassador to Liberia Tiina Intelmann.

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