Pig Feet & Chicken Feet in Liberian Diet Traced as Legacy of Slavery

Pig Feet & Chicken Feet in Liberian Diet Traced as Legacy of Slavery

A renowned Liberian historian has traced the consumption of pig feet, pig bones, chicken feet, and some vegetables and crops in Liberia to the diet of formerly enslaved people who opted for home food even after slavery had ended.

In a keynote speech on Day Two of a three-day “Afterlives of Slavery” International Conference in Monrovia, Prof. Dr. William Ezra Allen, Director of the Center for Diaspora and Migration Studies at the University of Liberia, gave some historical accounts based on findings from his current research project.

Dr. Allen explained during the ongoing conference at the EJS Ministerial Complex on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, that the culture is when settlers come home, they tend to want home food or the food that they are accustomed to. 

From one of the several books he read, Dr. Allen explained that he discovered that every dish [contained] pig (pork).

“Because every dish was [a] pig, and what happened on the plantation was that when the pig was slaughtered, the enslaved people tended to get … the bone, the feet, the head … and they creatively prepared something big,” Dr. Allen said.

Even after slavery, he said, pork remained the sole food for formerly enslaved people, adding that they also ate chicken feet, and ducks. 

From what was called the slave garden, Dr. Allen detailed that enslaved people used to get their collard green, beans, some crops, and other vegetables to prepare their food after working all day on their masters’ farms.

He said he went to the archives to find out, and he also read several books that helped him to understand the cultural diet of the settlers.

“So I began to look into the archives to find out when the settlers came to Liberia, did they also continue to want home food?” said Dr. Allen.

Dr. Allen delivered a Keynote on the theme: Adopting “Merica People” Ways: re-examining Liberia’s assimilation policy.

Prof. Dr. William Ezra Allen, Director of the Center for Diaspora and Migration Studies at the University of Liberia

Dr. Allen is a  former  Vice President for Academic Affairs, a professor of History, and the Chairman of the planning committee of the ongoing conference on the “Afterlives of Slavery”. 

He is a well-versed researcher and has published many books including, “Liberia and the Atlantic World in the Nineteenth Century: Convergence and Effects,” “Historical Methodology and Writing the Liberian Past: The Case of Agriculture in the Nineteenth Century,” and “Rethinking the History of Settler Agriculture in Nineteenth-Century Liberia.” He has developed and taught courses on the history of Liberia, before and after 1822, and the History of Atlantic Civilization, 1415-1888.

On Day Two of the conference, a panel discussion was also held with a focus on  diverse topics on the “African Abolitionists and their approaches to ending slavery.” 

The panelists were Emmanuel Saboro “On George Ferguson and Local Abolitionism in 19th century Northern Ghana; Michael E. Odijie, “The strategies, networks, and ideas of local abolitionists in late 19th century Accra, the case of Francis Fearon”; Monsoru O. Muritala, “The life of Mustapha Adamu: a historical and biographical sketch of abolitionism in colonial Lagos, Nigeria”;  Ugbode J. Jackie, Local abolitionism, status and struggle for identity in Central Nigeria, 1900-1960”; and Benedetta Rossi.

On Monday, October 18, 2022, the University of Liberia and United States-based Princeton Theological Seminary, jointly kicked off the three-day International Conference on the Afterlives of Slavery in the Trans-Atlantic World in Monrovia.

Held under the theme: “Colonization, Christianity, and Commerce: The Afterlives of Slavery in the Trans-Atlantic World,” the conference is geared towards understanding the impact of the more than four hundred years of slavery on generations of formerly  enslaved people and the nature and consequences of their interactions with the local population upon their return to Africa.

The conference is convening at the EJS Ministerial Conflex in Congo Town. It will climax this Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

It is part of events commemorating Liberia’s Bicentennial Celebration in observance of the arrival of free slaves in Liberia in 1822 to settle following the abolishing of slavery in the 1800s. 

Several Liberian and international historians, clergymen, and clergywomen are discussing Colonization, Christianity, and Commerce at the conference which brings together local and foreign guests at the Ministerial Complex.

Liberia’s Minister of Information, Hon. Ledgerhood Rennie, officially launched the conference on Monday on behalf of the Visitor of the University of Liberia and President of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah.

Earlier on Monday, Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., President of the University of Liberia (UL), said the conference is historical because it is a part of the Bicentennial Ceremony and the first of its kind in the existence of the University of Liberia.

“…[It] is expected, as it is seen today, to bring together UL’s faculty, staff, and students, along with Liberians from all walks of life, senior policymakers, government officials, as well as dignitaries and academics from abroad, and the sub-region to deliberate on those fascinating topics that befit the occasion,” said President Nelson.


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