Monrovia – Liberia has not been able to brand its cultural and heritage sites for the world to see. All of that is about to change.
Following a thorough assessment by experts and the government of Liberia, two of Liberia’s heritage sites have been selected to be recommended to the UNESCO convention for consideration as world heritage sites. A World Heritage International Expert, Pascal Taruvinga, named the Nimba Reserve and the Providence Island as the two sites to be submitted to UNESCO.
“The recommendation for the sites to be included on the tentative listing to be submitted are two; the first is Mount Nimba, it is a protected area which is significant due to biodiversity, endanger and endemic species,” he said.
Taruvinga continued: “This site is going to be considered as a trans-boundary heritage site. The second site is the Providence Island. It is significant for the issue of slavery, the reason why it is important because Africa went through the period of slavery. During the slavery, Providence became a place of no return when you were taken to the island. When slavery was abolished, it became the place of return.”
Taruvinga said initially four sites were presented to be assessed whether any met the criteria to be submitted, adding that only two of the sites have a global significance.
“We look at Mount Nimba, Lake Piso, Providence Island, Kpatawee water fall so as to ascertain the scientific value coming from each of those sites, when we looked at the four sites only two met the criteria”, he said.
The international expert added that his role is to assist the government in developing a tentative list to be submitted to UNESCO.
“To assist the government in developing a tentative list to be submitted to UNESCO, the convention protects sites that have international significance, the property must have a management system, and the property should be protected at national level, for this week we look at four sites,” Taruvinga said.
Mount Nimba Reserve
Mount Nimba Reserve is located on the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. Mount Nimba rises above the surrounding savannah. Its slopes are covered by dense forest at the foot of grassy mountain pastures; it harbors an especially rich flora and fauna, with endemic species such as the viviparous toad and chimpanzees that use stones as tools.
The Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve is dominated by a chain of mountains that culminate at 1,752 m altitude at Mount Nimba. The slopes, covered with dense forest at the lower levels, with grassy mountain pastures, overflow with particularly rich endemic flora and fauna. Extending over a total of area of 17,540 ha, with 12,540 ha in Guinea and 5,000 ha in Côte d’Ivoire, the property is integrated into the public domain of the two States.
This Reserve contains original and diverse species of the most remarkable animal and plant populations, not only in West Africa, but also in the entire African continent; notably threatened species such as the Micropotamogale of Mount Nimba (Micropotamogale lamottei), the viviparous toad of Mount Nimba (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis) and chimpanzees that use stones as tools.
The property includes almost the totality of the massif of Nimba located in Guinea and the Côte d’Ivoire. Today, the Reserve covers an area of about 17,540 ha of which 12,540 ha in Guinea and 5,000 ha in Côte d’Ivoire. The part of the massif located on the territory of Liberia is greatly degraded due to former mining activities.
A Look at Providence Island
The Providence Island was originally called the Dozoa Island. From its original name, it was first renamed Perseverance Island, to indicate that the settlers who came to Liberia had the determination to find a new home despite all the setbacks they had encountered at the Sherbro Island, now in the Republic of Sierra Leone.
In January 7, 1822, a transformational event happened in Liberia that links with African-American history: the first group of black American emigrants landed on Providence Island near what is now the capital city of Monrovia.
While African-Americans started emigrating in small numbers to Sierra Leone as early as the 1780s, the Providence Island landing marks the first “Back To Africa” critical mass emigration flow from the U.S. Between 10,000-15,000 African-Americans to Liberia.