Despite being the second poorest nation globally, Liberia is experiencing a deteriorating poverty situation that has resulted in high mortality rates. The country’s economy has been greatly affected by a 15-year-long war, making it Africa’s poorest country. Nevertheless, Liberia manages to preserve its cultural diversity and showcases different dressing styles depending on the region of residence.
In urban areas, Liberians tend to dress in typical western style, which includes wearing jeans and t-shirts. However, in rural areas, Liberians opt for more traditional West African attire. Men wear shorts or long pants along with loose round neck shirts, while women wear a long wrap skirt called “lappa” and a loose top called “bubba”. They may also wear a head wrap. West African clothing is renowned for its bright colored and patterned fabrics, as well as its conservative nature. It is worth noting that rice is the primary food in Liberia, something that is also common in American cuisine.
Rice has multiple roles in Liberian culture. It acts as both a staple food and an offering in ceremonies to ancestors, the recently deceased, and social superiors when seeking favors. Unlike meat and fish, which are used as garnishes, rice assumes a central position in Liberian meals. The timing of the main meal varies depending on the season, either being served at midday or in the evening. Liberia is mainly a Christian nation with around one-fifth of its population practicing Islam and two-fifths adhering to other religions.
In Liberia, there are more than 2,000 languages spoken. English is the primary language, but other dominant languages include Kpelle, Bassa, Gebo, Dan, Kru, Mano, Loma, and Mandingo. Marriage is a significant aspect of Liberian life but differs from other cultures. Traditional Liberian marriages involve polygynous and patrilocal arrangements where the bride moves to her husband’s compound to live with his extended family. This custom allows a man to have multiple wives at the same time.
In addition, Liberia follows a rule called Bridewealth, which gives the husband the power to take care of any children from his wife, regardless of their biological father. The husband takes on complete responsibility for the child as if it were his own biologically. Before the war, Liberia heavily depended on a few primary commodities or raw materials, such as iron ore and rubber, which made up more than 50% of the country’s export revenue.
Following the war, Liberia relied heavily on timber and rubber exports to generate substantial revenue. However, these commodities alone are insufficient in effectively combating poverty. The music scene in Liberia experiences constant changes in popular genres, currently influenced by nearby countries such as Ghana and Nigeria, particularly pop music. Additionally, Liberians appreciate local folk and Christian music while also drawing inspiration from R&B and hip-hop originating from the United States.
Despite the cessation of the civil war in Liberia, political and economic instability persist. The government’s mismanagement has resulted in significant economic hardships with 80% of the population living below the poverty line and relying on agriculture and small-scale farming. Nonetheless, Liberia’s economy has displayed resilience by achieving an average growth rate surpassing six percent over the last five years, despite a challenging global economic climate.
The new government needs to enact effective macroeconomic and microeconomic measures, like encouraging foreign investment, to rebuild the infrastructure, improve incomes, and revive the struggling economy. Although there are signs of economic growth, meeting the requirements set by the International Monetary Fund for creating a favorable economic environment that attracts foreign investment has been challenging. The civil conflict in Liberia has caused considerable damage to productive facilities, presenting opportunities for growth in various sectors.
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- http://www. state. gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/6618.
- http://www. heritage. org/index/country/liberia
- http://www. globalsecurity. org/military/world/liberia/economy. htm
- http://www. everyculture. com/Ja-Ma/Liberia. html