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Monday, April 22, 2024

Thanksgiving Day: A Holiday Viewed From Coloured Glass

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By Meshach Varfaley Neufville

Most enacted holidays inherited from the First Republic of Liberia, currently observed in the Second Republic, are thought of as Christian- based which has infuriated other religions, with emphasis on Islamic adherents, to view the national observation of these holidays as constitutionally incompatible practice of effecting the glorification of Christianity over the state and other religions.

Auspiciously enough, Liberia is a religious state, however misconstrued as a “secular state”, wherein the confidence and comfort of religious coexistence are relatively a matter of trust and rubric on which peace is advancing in the post – war body politic.

It is interesting to note that the formation of the Interreligious Council of Liberia, born from the dismantled prewar ” IFMC”, has starkly provided a forum for Islam and Christianity to commingle in the interest of shared values and subsist in the building block of Christian – Muslim dialogue on peace.

While the argument of defending pre- Liberia; the Sagan Land, being occupied with indigenous ethnic groups with animistic primitive religion, even before the Jihadist encounter, remains strong and historically undefeatable, yet, it is more stronger to assert that it was upon the arrival of settlers from America that the state of Liberia was proclaimed or established..

The current “Thanksgiving Day” holiday, inherited from the Americans, was enacted in 1833 under the administration of Alfred Russell who was succeeded by President Anthony W. Gardener.

Whatever, the implication of the original motive, the holiday is abstract and has no definition for a particular religion, wherefore, it is observed by citizens in many forms.

Christians of Northern Calvinist origin engendered the colonization idea as a matter of creating an enabling environment of permanent residence thru repatriation of freed blacks that were socially suppressed in the US after manumission or emancipation.

The colonization ideation that led to the repatriation of freed men of colour on the West Coast of Africa broke grounds for the establishment of Liberia in 1822.

Johnathan Edwards Calvinist doctrine bequeathed onto some Northern theologians of the US, spearheaded by Samuel Hopkins, himself trained by Edwards and a presbyterian clergyman, played pivotal role in the establishment of the American Bible Society which was the umbrella group of Christian organizations that set out for promoting repatriation and colonization idea.

Churches were highly agile and promoted continental awareness among white and black abolitionists, American functionaries, slavers, and financial magnates and philanthropists, , to name few, that would sustain Christian ideas of ” disinterested benevolence” seeking to salvage blacks from social dudgeon in America.

A very prominent church that served as hub for springing was the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church that recruited Christian proponents of colonization idea that would not only subsist in repatriation in an exploratory land, but also embark on accompanying settlers repatriation with Christianizing and civilizing mission.

Wherefore, the idea of LIBERIA, engaging multiple sources for support, raising finances thru Christian ministries and the African repository colonial journal, was heavily effected by Christian clergymen, hence, from colonial period thru the Commonwealth to independence, it can be justifiably stated that Liberia was founded by Christian movement and state proclaimed on Christian principle.

All the patriarchs of the ACS were Christians though most of them adapted differing colonization theory.

Whatever, the rubric on which the colonization idea and establishment of Liberia was built remained orbiting on the theory of ” disinterested benevolence” – the thought of Christian selflessness or altruism that drew attention of philanthropists to consummate the Christianizing and civilizing mission of the ACS and find a safe haven on the West Coast of Africa where emancipated black men, who were socially discriminated and denied human dignity in America, would be repatriated to serve as masters over themselves and chart the course of their own governance and capital formation.

The ” thanksgiving day” would have its enactment akin to the thought that it is Christian – based, especially enacted at the time the Simon Greenleaf Constitution had posited Liberia an official Christian State, from an intellectual and analytical perspective, the day is undefined and offers a flag ship for any Liberian to use the day at observing it with patriotic consciousness and by standard of individual or collective religious conviction.

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