spot_imgspot_img
Monday, June 17, 2024

INDIGENOUS LIBERIANS CRAVE FOR THE PROTECTION OF SACRED FORESTS

Date:

By Ceedor T. Roberts and Paul M. Kanneh

LIBERIA – Residents of remote Liberian towns and villages in Grand Bassa County have called for concerted efforts in ensuring the protection of sacred forests. The residents made the call during a visit by journalists, who had gone to the community to acquaint themselves with procedures on how community members protect their heritage, specifically sacred sites/bushes.

Sacred forests/sites visited are located in Barcoline, Weh, and Dogan’s communities in Grand Bassa County, Electoral Districts #3 and 5. Traditional people in those towns and villages called on the Liberian Government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, local and international nongovernmental organizations to assist them in the preservation of their heritage and natural resources.

The second edition of the Liberia code of forest harvesting practices, which was amended on 31 May 2017 places emphasis on the need to protect cultural or spiritual sites during logging activities. The code of forest harvesting practices called those spiritual sites “Exclusion Zones.

It defines a cultural site as areas that have significant cultural value, e.g. religious sites, graveyards, archaeological sites, historical sites, rare topographic formations, viewpoints, waterfalls, etc. In doing so, one must observe 100 meters in width and distance from the active logging zone.

Borbor Kelleh, a Senior Elder in Weh town explained to journalists that the forests in heir in their area should be preserved for the future of their Children, and as such, they must be protected from intruders.

Elder Kelleh noted that there are rules and regulations governing the forests, especially sacred bush, which he said cannot be easily broken except through a special traditional ceremony. This, he said must be done with the full knowledge and agreement of chiefs, elders, and traditional people provided the overarching goal is community development that seeks to address major gaps in the delivery of social services such as hospitals, clinics, and safe drinking water.

“The penalty for violators or intruders into our sacred bushes is grave and cannot and should not be comprised unless through a special ceremony unanimously agreed to by all in charge of the bush”, said Elder Borbor Kelleh.

Elder Kelleh lamented that logging companies are taking away resources from their forests without benefits-leaving them in abject poverty. The 2009 Community Rights Law (CRL) gives the community the right to own, control, and manage their forests and their resources. The overall objective of this constitutional backing was to put resources at the disposal of communities to decide their own development drive.  But as it stands, decisions regarding community forests otherwise known as customary land are being made with less or no input from community members, who are the main custodians of the forest.

In August 2021, a member of the community assembly in Sinoe County decried a decision to leave them out during the selection of a logging company to harvest logs in the community forest.

Like several indigenous communities in Liberia, Barcoline, Weh, and Dogan communities are left with no option but to give their forests out for commercial purposes due to a lack of support for livelihood initiatives. Daniel Karwor is the son of the Chief of the National Traditional Council of Liberia. He explained that community members are compelled to give their forests out for commercial purposes so as to be able to feed them and take care of other domestic needs, including the provision of education for their children.

A female traditionalist in charge of a Sacred River, Cecelia Koone said the preservation of sacred sites remains a key priority for them, as those places are linked to generation upon generation. “The fish in this water can be spoken to and can also respond if you ask for anything positive”, said Cecelia. She said the fishes in the river can alert them whenever a prominent elder is about to die. Those fishes cannot be eaten, said madam Koone.

She said a special sacrifice is required before they can engage the river, and if the fish agreed, then they can present their request or need, noting that during the heat of the Liberian crisis, a fighter defied the custom and ate the fish, but later died.

Reporting was supported by funding from The Pulitzer Center Rainforest Journalism Fund.

smartnews
Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

LATEST DEVELOPMENT

GONGLOE’S ANTI-CORRUPTION EFFORTS UNDER SCRUTINY BY CIVIL SOCIETY ADVOCATE

MONROVIA – A recent speech by Cllr. Tiawan Saye...

ADDITIONAL REVELATIONS: SENATORS REPORTEDLY RECEIVED $15K EACH BEFORE CONTROVERSIAL RETREAT

MONROVIA – In a startling revelation, prominent activist Martin...

MARTIN KOLLIE RESIGNS FROM UP GOVERNMENT, CRITICIZES LEADERSHIP AND RETURNS TO CIVIL SOCIETY ADVOCACY

MONROVIA – Martin Kollie, a prominent advocate within Liberia's...

THE SENATE’S EXTRAVAGANCE AMID ECONOMIC DESPAIR

The recent Senate retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County,...

LIBERIA’S LEGAL SYSTEM UNDER SIEGE: THE UNPUNISHED CRIMES OF MARIA LUYKEN

In October 2020, the Criminal Court ‘B’ at the...

COMMUNICATIONS MISHAP: A SIGNIFICANT EMBARRASSMENT TO THE PRESIDENCY

The recent debacle surrounding the Unity Party government's conflicting...

COMMENTARY

NO, SPEAKER KOFFA, I DISAGREE WITH THE DEFENSE OF LAWMAKERS

By Wondah L. Jah In a recent public statement, Grand...

COMMEMORATING THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY: A DEFINING MOMENT IN HISTORY

Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, the course...

THERE SHOULD BE NO BIG DEAL WHEN A GOVERNMENT DOES WHAT IT WAS ELECTED FOR…

A Patriot's Diary  With Ekena Nyankun Juahgbe-Droh Wesley  President Joseph Boakai's...

LATEST NEWS

Share post:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

OPINION

ELEVATING THE AG BIBLE COLLEGE TO A UNIVERSITY: A MILESTONE ACHIEVEMENT

By Jacob N.B. Parley After many years of successful preaching...

THE DILEMMA OF PRESIDENTIAL SUPREMACY IN LIBERIA: EXAMINING THE BALANCE OF POWER

By Dr. Clarence R. Pearson, Sr. Superior presidency is the...

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN UP-LED GOVERNMENT’S DEAL RAISES SERIOUS CONCERNS

In a shocking and controversial move, the Unity Party...

THE PERILS OF PRAISE SINGING: HOW JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY IS ESSENTIAL FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN LIBERIA

Journalists play a crucial role in holding public officials...

THE GALLERY

spot_imgspot_img

MORE ARTICLES

spot_imgspot_img

MORE NEWS

LATEST DEVELOPMENT NEWS

LATEST CRIME NEWS

Share via
Copy link