Publications of Fred van der Kraaij quoted /
Book reviews / Additional reading on the subject:


This Child Will Be Great
Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

See: pp. 45, 47, 49 and Bibliography

Capitalists Trickle Down, Not Profits, Corruption On Wall Street, In Liberia, Everywhere
By J. Yanqui Zaza
November 13, 2008
In: The Perspective

(...) As evidenced by a fourteen-year civil war, Liberian capitalists did not share profits, rather paid minimal taxes, which prevented the government from investing into social programs, Dr. Van Der Kraaij (FrontPage Africa, 10/20/08) stated. Big business paid minimal taxes by corrupting corporate lawyers and lawmakers. That was part of the reasons profits did not trickle down even though Liberian capitalists operated the world’s largest rubber plantation and were among the largest iron ore exporters (at the time Liberia ranked the world’s third iron ore exporter). (...)

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Selfishness, Greed, Corruption Undermine Liberia Development
Writen by Front page Africa
October 17, 2008

Selfishness, Greed, Corruption Undermine Liberia Development

According to some Liberians, the 27 years rule of the late President William V. S. Tubman, who some saw as dictatorial and aristocratic, was characterized by record level of development throughout the country compared to the entire century before he came to power. And Liberians should be grateful to him for that.

Dr. van der Kraaij’s take on Tubman era

Here’s what Dr. Fred van der Kraaij wrote in his expert study on Liberia during that period: “Whatever may [have been] the case, Tubman strongly influenced Liberia’s political and economic performance during the second half of the 20th century. Economically, the country could boast of a number of impressive achievements. During the investment boom of the 1950s Liberia even had the fastest growing economy in the world, after Japan.”

“When Tubman died,” Dr. Van der Kraaij also wrote. “Liberia had the largest mercantile fleet in the world, it hosted the world’s largest rubber plantation and latex factory, it had become Africa’s main exporter of iron ore and it ranked number 3 on the world list of iron ore exporters. It had attracted more than US $ 1 billion of foreign investments including the largest Swedish investment abroad after 1945 as well as the largest German investment in Africa - at that time”  - please go to

Now, with that much investments brought into the country at that time (which was significant even by today’s standard for a small country like Liberia) the nation should really have been more developed than what Tubman had left it. But the sad reality is that most of the income earned by the country as the direct result of those investments were either ill-managed, squandered by government officials or both.

Tubman saw economic development and education as dangers

“Simultaneously, however, economic development and education of more and more people also increasingly unlashed political forces that had been suppressed during more than one century. Tubman had acknowledged these dangers on more than one occasion”, Dr. van der Kraaij also wrote in his study.

The only reason why I’m bringing up the Tubman era is to put things in their correct historical perspectives in view of the fact that Liberians are somewhat ecstatic that foreign investments are again pouring into the country.

The lesson to learn here is that while these investments may be good for the country, they may not necessarily benefit every Liberian or the country as a whole as they should like the Tubman years demonstrated.

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Capital Inflow & Sovereignty
Performance of Firestone in Liberia 1926-1977
By Alhaji G. V. Kromah
Posted July 4, 2008
Written 2003

(...) Perhaps the most important impact of Firestone was the trend set in the exemption from crucial taxes and fees as an investment incentive. Van der Kraaij reveals that these privileges given to Firestone cost the Liberian government between $.6 to $.7 million just in ten years starting 1965. The Dutch economist cites a British auditing company as having revealed that the Liberian government also lost about $930,000 at the close of the 1960’s. (...)

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Awards Must Translate Into Better Life For All Liberians.
By James W. Harris
November 5, 2007
In: The Perspective

(...) Dr. van der Kraaij’s study
To fully comprehend Liberia’s plight and what we’re up against, I cordially invite you to read a study undertaken by Dr. F. P. M. van der Kraaij (PhD.) of the Netherlands. Dr. van der Kraaij, who has studied Liberia extensively for many, many years has written that: “One of the most important conclusions of [his] study is that the disappointing results of the Open Door Policy [which is definitely still in place today] cannot be blamed only on ignorance and the lack of knowledge on the part of Liberia at the time of negotiations with foreign investors. They were also caused by the fact that the ruling Americo-Liberian minority voluntarily [key word] accepted the dependence on foreign investors and refused to cooperate and integrate with the tribal population of the country.” I’m not too sure whether or not this scenerio has changed in Liberia. So, as far as I’m concerned his conclusion is valid even today.

Dt. van der Kraaij, who I vividly remember teaching me Economics 201 at the University of Liberia in the late 1970s, went on to say that: “Because of this [in reference to all of the above], the economic, as well as the political future of the country depends on the realisation of an acceptable combinatin of foreign investments, economic development and national unification for all parties concerned.”

Stability depends on combination of things
I think every well-meaning Liberian who wants to see the country finally break away from its ugly past and move into the future with hope and prosperity would do well to visit the good professor’s website and read for themselve his entire study, conclusion and recommendations. In that way, each of us would be able to understand the many challenges which lie ahead and how best to resolve our differences and work toward building a brand new nation on the basis of making sensible decisions for the greater good of all.

It could well be that the Johnson Sirleaf administration may succeed in bringing some level of development to our now ruined nation, but her biggest challenge yet would be to “[realize] an acceptable combination of foreign investments, economic development and national unification for all parties concerned” as Dr. van der Kraaij eloquently puts it.

Is President Johnson Sirleaf up to the challenge? That’s the big question, but we’ll see sooner rather than later – won’t we! (...)

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Arthur Barclay

Arthur Barclay was born on July 31, 1854 in Bridgetown, Barbados, British West Indies. He was the tenth of twelve children of his parents, Anthony and Sarah Ann Bourne Barclay. Dr. Fred P. M. van der Kraaij, a Dutch national who taught at the university of Liberia in the 1970s, describes Arthur Barclay, in his book, The Open Door Policy of Liberia, as being eleven years old upon the family’s arrival in Liberia. Dr. van der Kraaij further tells us that the family “settled in Monrovia where Arthur engaged in petty-trading in the streets of the capital city. Monrovia may have had 5,000 inhabitants at the time.”[6] He goes on to say that Arthur Barclay “was educated at Liberia College, studied law and became a counsellor-at-law. He was called to the Bar of Montserrado County in 1977. Three years later he joined the Supreme Court. He also gained reputation as a scholar.”[7] Arthur Barclay’s climb to success continued. He became interested in politics and held various positions in government until he reached the ultimate position – that of President of the Republic of Liberia, in 1903. He was re-elected twice thereafter, thus serving as President from 1904 to 1912.

Edwin Barclay

Edwin James Barclay, poet and composer, the nephew of Arthur Barclay, served as president of Liberia from 1930-1944. He composed Liberia’s national hymn, “The Lone Star Forever”, in 1909 at the age of 19. As president, Edwin Barclay was responsible for the Open Door Policy which helped to transform Liberia for the better economically. Dr. Fred van der Kraaij informs us that the door, which had been closed since 1864 by Edwin Barclay’s predecessor, Charles King, was reopened to investors. He did this by “repealing the famous port of Entry Law of 1864 that had restricted the economic activities of foreigners in the country.”[8] His administration was not without problems. Liberian sovereignty was threatened internally and externally during his rule: “In the 1930s a small group of Liberians, mostly retired Government officials petitioned President Barclay to invite the US government to take over the administration of the country, which Barclay refused to do. In the same period, the League of Nations attempted to impose a Plan of Assistance in the aftermath of the Forced Labour scandal. This would have meant the end of Liberia’s sovereignty."[9]
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(...) In order to fully expose the biases
underlying the IMF’s policies, we need to reflect more on the austerity measures which the Liberian government was obliged to undertake. First: these measures included savings- and taxation schemes, such as a compulsory national savings scheme, a national reconstruction tax
and higher excise taxes, - proposals which targeted Liberian citizens, instead of Liberia’s foreign concession-holders (8). This was a grave injustice to the Liberian people, as research undertaken by the Dutch academician van der Kraaij brings out crystal clear. In his
comprehensive investigation of the role of concessions in the Liberian economy completed in 1983, van der Kraaij argues that the Liberian treasurer lost potential revenues of nearly $ 300 million during the period from 1975 to 1979. According to him, $ 60 million or 40 percent of
the average annual domestic revenue was foregone in consequence of poor taxation policies vis-à-vis foreign companies (9).
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History Online
The Dispatch

Edwin Barclay was selected to complete King's term as president. One of the first official decisions of President Barclay was to repeal the famous port of Entry Law of 1864 that had restricted the economic activities of foreigners in the country. Subsequently, in the early 1930s concession agreements were signed between the Liberian Government and Dutch, Danish, German and Polish investors.Fred P.M. van der Kraaij, 'The Open Door Policy of Liberia. An Economic history of Modern Liberia' (Bremen, 1983), Chapter 2, The origins of the Closed Door Policies and Open Door Policies 1847-1947, pp. 12-46.
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By Carl Patrick Burrowes, Ph. D.*

(...) After the Legislature had approved the agreements, Harvey Firestone took the first of many controversial steps that would come to characterize his company’s dealings with Liberia: He inserted a clause (the infamous “Clause K”), which made the one million acre lease dependent on the government accepting a $5 million loan from him. Firestone’s proposal aroused widespread and high-level protests inside the country: The secretary of the treasury denied the need for a new loan in his Annual Report for the Fiscal Year 1925, while the attorney general of Liberia judged some articles in the Loan Agreement to be unconstitutional.
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Why the E.U. Concept of Development in Liberia is Dangerous?
By Moses Geply, Ph.D.

In this short paper, therefore, we intend to argue that the EU Election Observation Mission Chief’s concept of economic development in Liberia is both a blatant disrespect for the Laws of Liberia and a lack of knowledge of the economic history of that country. On this note, without going too far, Max van den Berg should consult his compatriot and economic historian, F.M.P. van der Kraaij’s (...)
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The Fagalde Collection of West African Tribal Art
Kissi Money or ‘Money with a Soul’

After being replaced by Western currencies, the use of Kissi money became virtually limited to ritual ceremonies such as on the occasion of the return of young men and women from the bush schools (Poro and Sande schools) or for sacrifices and divination ceremonies. It also serves for making protective fetishes and to decorate the graves of old warriors. Still many people believe the old money to possess magical powers. Hence, according to many tribal Liberians, the Kissi money still is ‘money with a soul’.

This article is published with the kind permission of Dr Fred van der Kraaij (...)
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The Fagalde Collection of West African Tribal Art
Ritual object or 'Kru money'?

The civil war - fourteen years of looting, destruction and fighting - has cost the lives of an estimated quarter of a million people and has seriously damaged Liberia’s cultural heritage. It has added to the negative effects of a humid climate, carelessness and economic modernization. Today, tons of Liberian art have been lost.

This article is published with the kind permission of Dr Fred van der Kraaij (...)
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Dictator of the Month: October 2003
Samuel Kanyon Doe was born on May 6, probably in 1951. He was born in Tuzon, a small town in Grand Gedeh County, in the Southeastern part of Liberia. His parents were poor and uneducated, like most rural Liberians, and they belong to the Krahn tribe. Samuel Doe had only accomplished primary education when he became a career soldier, presumably because of lack of other job opportunities.
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Die Außenpolitik Liberias seit der Unabhängigkeit
- Aspekte ihrer Bestimmungsgründe -
Von Klaus D. Loetzer

Zum Ende der Regierungszeit Tubman besaß Liberia
die weltweit größte Wirtschaftsflotte, beheimatete die größte Gummiindustrie der Welt,
war die drittgrößte Eisenerzexportnation, und hatte mehr als eine Million US-Dollars an ausländischen
Direktinvestitionen ins Land geholt, darunter die höchste schwedische Auslandsinvestitionen
nach 1945, ebenso wie die größte deutsche Auslandsinvestitionen in Afrika zur
damaligen Zeit (van der Kraaij, 1983).
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The Liberia’s Culture of Unlawful Practices Continues Under New Officials
By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

During the 27 years reign of President Tubman, newspapers were closed down and their editors jailed for criticizing him or his government. According to Fred van der Kraaij, “authors such as Robert A. Smith, A. Doris Banks Henries and Lawrence A. Marinelli ‘devoted eulogies’ to him, while others such as Albert Porte, Tuan Wreh, Robert W. Clower and Gus J. Liebenow did not attempt to hide their criticism and, in some cases, their disgust at his policies and practices”.
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Liberia 1989 - 1994
A study of Ethnic and Spiritual Violence

by Stephen Ellis
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Amos Sawyer

Rubber production and iron ore mining were the two dominant economic export activities and foreign
exchange earners. Together they accounted for more than 40 per cent of the wage earning labor force. For
about a decade as of the early 1960s, government’s resistance of workers’ initiative to constitute unions
and collective bargaining associations was a constant source of tension. Sporadic strikes were perceived by
the government to threaten the security of the state. (See Clower et al. (1964), Mayson and Sawyer (1979),
van der Kraaij (1983)
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Ritualistic Killings Spark Mob Action in Maryland
By Josephus Moses Gray
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Reviews of The Open Door Policy of Liberia - An Economic History of Modern Liberia", 2 vols., 703 pp. (Bremen, 1983). Thesis, Ph. D., Tilburg University, The Netherlands (1983).
Volume I: Main report
(pdf file)
Volume II: Annexes, footnotes and bibliography (pdf.file)

Reviews by:

  • J. Vingerhoets, in: Internationale Spectator, September 1984, Volume xxxviii - no.9, pp. 531-532;
  • Togba-Nah Tipoteh, in: West Africa, "Liberia Special", no. 3529, 15 April, 1985, p. 735.
  • J.Pal Chaudhuri, in: Liberia Forum, Vol. 2, no. 2, 1986, pp. 110-114;
  • Rina Okonkwo, in:
    The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 19, No. 4 (1986), pp. 728-729 (review consists of 2 pages) Published by: Boston University African Studies Center Stable URL:



Further, related to 'Structural Adjustment and Beyond in sub-Saharan Africa', edited by Rolph Van Der Hoeven and Fred Van Der Kraaij (James Curry Publishers, 1994)

Book review in African Affairs (1995):

Structural Adjustment and Beyond in sub-Saharan Africa, edited by Rolph Van Der Hoeven and Fred Van Der Kraaij (James Curry Publishers, 1994)
Negotiating Structural Adjustment in Africa, edited by Willem Van Der Geest (James Currey Publishers, 1994)

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Another review of these two books: click here

Book review by Henk Meilink (ASC) - in Dutch

Rolph van der Hoeven & Fred van der Kraaij (ed):
Structural Adjustment and Beyond in Sub-Saharan
Africa. Londen/Portsmouth, James Currey/Heinemann, 1994
Laetitia van Drunen & Fred van der Kraay (ed):
Structural Adjustment and Beyond in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Den Haag 1994

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Mentioned on the following blog:

October 6, 2010



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