The British and the Unrest on the Kru Coast
The Kru are one of the most important ethnic groups of Liberia. They live on the south-eastern coast of Liberia. They are great seafarers and fishermen. Many Krumen worked as deck hands on European, especially, British ships.
Like others who lived in the interior, they resented any demand for taxes or restrictions imposed on their trade with the European ships that visited their ports.
During the period of our study, the Kru had problems with the government of Monrovia on two occasions: one in 1915 and the other in 1930. The withdrawal of right of entry from seven ports on the Kru Coast in 1913 and the outbreak of World War I eventually triggered the conflict of 1915.
The unrest of 1930 was of greater dimension. It began in the wake of the International Commission of Enquiry’s report on labour exportation to Fernando Po. This had a tremendously unsettling effect on the Kru which was exploited by Juah Nimley, a Kru leader. The atrocities committed by Col. Davis, a black American on employment with the government of Monrovia, made it worse. Britain, championing the cause of the Kru, was most vociferous, and Anthony Eden went to the extent of proposing expulsion of Liberia from the League of Nations. The issue died when Juah Nimley surrendered and some years later breathed his last.
To provide some sort of comic relief to the Kru question, a large group of over 4,000 people from Damah chiefdom of Kenema district of the British protectorate of Sierra Leone crossed the border into Liberia, apparently to escape oppression of their paramount chief and submitted a petition “asking for the privilege of becoming Liberian citizens”. A Liberian newspaper wrote, “Should the League now send one Liberian to investigate into the matter?”