Click to supersize When in 1821 the black colonists from the USA arrived they met with these people though for nearly half a century contacts were virtually limited to the coastal region. Gradually the settlers expanded the territory of the republic, created in 1847, into the interior, called the Hinterland. The new state's territory underwent a number of changes between 1847 and the early 1900s, notably during and after the Scramble for Africa. The Government of Liberia acted like the major European colonial powers and claimed or annexed land belonging to tribal communities, chiefdoms and - sometimes - kingdoms. In general, this territorial expansion was never preceeded and often not even followed by effective control or administration of this so-called Hinterland. As a result, tribal organizations and customs continued virtually unchanged. In particular, the (many) secret societies continued to carry out their traditional practices including ritual killings. Although the latter had been outlawed by the Monrovia-based Government it was geographically at too great a distance and was military and financially too weak to enforce full respect of this legislation and to wipe out these illegal practices.

In the first half of the 20th century various sources report the existence of a number of secret societies of which some still exist. The Poro and Sande societies are legal and still exist; in general, the organizations' goals and the activities of their members are not criminal. However, the central government did enact some laws that regulate these tribal organizations, notably restricting the number of years of 'bush school' which prepares boys for their functioning in society (Poro) and instructs girls in their role in tribal life (Sande). A number of secret societies have been outlawed since ritual killings and voodoo-like practices belong(ed) to the core of their 'business'. The most notorious of these secret organizations was the 'Leopard Society'. It was reported to be active in nearly all parts of the country. Other well-known secret societies were the Snake Society and the Crocodile Society.




























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Unidentified Black Colonist