Waiting to be published is one book that could change Liberian history for good. It reveals the long-hidden story of those who lived in the region before Liberia was created. That ground-breaking book is Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea.
Here are a few of the inspiring revelations it contains:
• The different languages and ethnic groups of Liberia share a common root.
• The barkless "kaykay" dogs found in Liberian villages were the favorite pets of Ancient Egyptian pharaohs.
• Kola - once used as an ingredient in soft drinks - was discovered by the ancestors of Liberians.
• Early European explorers learned from early Liberian seafarers how to navigate some dangerous currents and winds of the Atlantic Ocean.
• Rice growers from West Africa's "Grain Coast" helped teach Americans how to grow rice. Today, the United States exports rice to West Africa, including Liberia.
Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea took 30 years of research and uses documents first published in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish and French. The book also draws on oral traditions, archaeological digs, historical linguistics, studies of cultural patterns embedded in masks and other forms of material culture, regional and continental histories, and even biological anthropology.
For centuries, African cultures have been portrayed as “strange,” “weird,” even “evil” through the use of words like “fetish,” “witch,” and “country devil." Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea demolishes those negative stereotypes, just as West African farmers burn a field to remove weeds. Instead, the book uses more neutral words to describe African culture, such as ethnic group (not “tribe”) and energy or power (not “spirit”).
The chapters of the book provide a taste of its content:
- The Eden of West Africa, c. 9000-2500 BC
- Land of Sea Salt, Kola and Canoes, c. 300 BC - 700 AD
- The Way of the Ancestors, from 2500 BC
- Egypt and Religions of the Book, 1413 BC-800 AD
- The Rise of Empires, c. 700-1100 AD
- Down from the Niger, 1076-1461
- The World Turned Upside Down, c. 1462-1580 AD
- Dispersal of the Malinké, 1550-1670
- Into the Forest, 1560-1668
- “They work excellent well in Iron,” c. 1500-1630
- Two-Story Huts and Sugar-Loaf Baskets, 1554-1727
- Lamentations and Chants of Grief,” c. 1630-1800
- Guns, Rum and Rebellions, 1666-1822
- Crawling Ahead, Falling Behind, 1462-1822
- A New World Order, from 1600
Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea is part of a campaign that will launch in early 2016 to address negative portrayals of Liberian history and to counteract their harmful effects on the Liberian psyche. Entitled "Reclaim the Dream," it is designed to do for Liberian history what Carter G. Woodson and other pioneering scholar achieved for black history in America.
The campaign will highlight many commonalities and bring to light significant accomplishments of earlier Liberians. It aims to foster greater unity, a sense of national dignity, and empathy among Liberians, regardless of ethnicity. By supporting the publication of Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea you will be helping to "Reclaim the Dream."
Risks and challenges
Getting here has not been easy or cheap. To gather research materials, the author traveled to Britain and France, as well as across the United States. He spent tens of thousands of dollars on books, travel and photocopying of research materials. Producing original maps alone cost $2,000.
Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea was completed a year ago. It was read by 20 diverse Liberians, who suggested minor changes but praised the work highly.
The book is now at a critical stage. This Kickstarter campaign will pay for a few remaining expenses:
• an index of key concepts, place names and persons
• layout by a graphic designer
• a professionally designed book cover
• printing and shipping
If you see value in this book, please help get it across the finish line.
Printing will be done by a high-quality yet inexpensive press in Shanghai, China. On time printing and delivery of the books to the U. S. will be coordinated by one of the author's sons, a Shanghai resident.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)