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Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa’s Kru People

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The Kru are a West African ethnic group who are indigenous to eastern Liberia. During the Slave trade era, they were also infamous amongst European slave raiders as being especially opposed to capture.

Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa's Kru People

The reputation of the Krus was such that their value as slaves was less than that of other African peoples, because they would would rather fight or take their own lives upon being captured.

Their history is one marked by a strong sense of ethnicity and resistance to occupation.

To ensure their status as “freemen,” the Kru initiated the practice of tattooing their foreheads and the bridge of their nose with a blue dye to distinguish them from other tribes.

The Fascinating Story of Africa's Kru People

The blue mark acted as a sign of their nationality, which always protected them from purchase by the white men.

The slavers would, therefore, never purchase a local with the mark, as their value as slaves was less than that of other African tribes.

The Kru were also famous for their skills in navigating and sailing the Atlantic. Their maritime expertise evolved along the west coast of Africa as they were mostly fishermen and traders.

Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa's Kru People
The Kru were famous for their skills in navigating and sailing the Atlantic — Image source: f2fa

Due to their Nautical experience and navigation prowess, the Kru people were employed as sailors, navigators and interpreters aboard slave ships, as well as American and British warships used against the slave trade.

Fighting Slavery With Suicide
Kru women

Today, the Kru tribe is one of the many ethnic groups in Liberia, comprising about 7 per cent of the population.
It is also one of the main languages spoken and the people are major indigenous group players in socio-political activities in Liberia.

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Some of the famous Kru include the current president of Liberia, George Weah, as well as his predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is of mixed Kru, Gola, and German ancestry.



Talk Africana
Fascinating Cultures and history of peoples of African origin in both Africa and the African diaspora

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Female Slave Traders: Meet Niara Bely, the African Queen Who Doubled as a Slave Trader in the 1800s

Niara Bely Also known as Elizabeth Bailey Gomez, was a African queen who also doubled as a slave trader in nineteenth-century Guinea.

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