Africa's oldest independent nation, Liberia, on Friday (26 July) celebrated the 127th anniversary of its birth.
Africa's oldest independent nation, Liberia, on Friday (26 July) celebrated the 127th anniversary of its birth. Liberia, founded by slaves returned from the United States, has been independent for more than a century longer than any other African country.
The celebrations were held in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, some 300 miles (482 kilometres) form the capital, Monrovia.
Among the distinguished guests attending the celebrations were Gambian President Dawda Jawara and his wife, Tanzanian First Vice President Aboud Jumbe, the Foreign Ministers of Ghana and Lesotho and other delegates representing Guinea, the Ivory Coast and the Soviet Union.
Liberian President William Richard Tolbert decided in 1972 to hold the annual anniversary celebrations away from the country's capital, chosing different regions for each year's festivities.
The highlight of Friday's activities was the inspection by President Tolbert -- accompanied by President Jawara -- of the country's armed forces. President Tolbert is also Commander-in-Chief of Liberia's armed forces.
An 'Orator of the Day' was appointed to address the assembled thousands in Zwedru's Stadium. He was History Professor Yancy Peters Flah. He called on the administration to widen the base of the democratic system in Liberia -- especially the nomination of at least two candidates for political positions to allow the electorate a choice.
President Tolbert later addressed the assembly, opening his remarks with a call to the people to participate fully in the process of nation building and improving the environment. He also expressed the hope that Portugal would soon grant independence to all African territories still under its rule. He ended his speech by underlining Liberia's support for the cause of African unity and solidarity.