President Tolbert visiting Harper, Maryland County, 1978 (picture taken by the author)
The following does neither pretend to cover Tolbert’s
entire presidency nor to exhaustively treat the years that indeed are covered
(1976-1980). It will be shown that the practice of ritual killings was neither
extinct nor limited to a particular region of the country. It will also be made
clear that both tribal and non-tribal Liberians were guilty of it. Finally - and
maybe most important - the essay leaves no doubt as to the existence of a close
relationship in Liberia between elections and internal politics on the one hand
and the occurrence of ritual killings on the other.
Again the following year, on July 21, 1977, Vice-President Greene died, after a protracted illness. Vice-President James Edward Greene, who hailed from Sinoe County, had been President Tolbert’s Vice-President since 1972. Who would become the new Vice-President?
Subsequently, on September 9, 1978 the Secretary General of the True Whig Party,
McKinley Alfred DeShield, and also Postmaster General and cabinet member, died.
In 1971 Mac DeShield (‘Big Mac’) had been most helpful in fighting the
presidential claims and ambitions of then Secretary of State Rudolph Grimes, a
member of the important Grimes and related Barclay clans. Also the DeShields
clan was one of the most influential and powerful clans within the Americo-Liberian
elite. What was going to happen with the balance of power within the Americo-Liberian
elite - which consisted of 20-30 large families who, however, never ruled at the