The Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. Liberia means “Land of the Free” in Latin. It began as a settlement of the American Colonisation Society (ACS), who believed blacks would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States. On January 3, 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a wealthy, free-born black American from Virginia who settled in Liberia, was elected as Liberia’s first president after the people proclaimed independence. Liberia holds the record of the longest stable rule by a single political party from 1877 to 1980, by the quaintly named True Whig Party. Liberia has been independent since 1847, making it the oldest republic in Africa.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa’s first elected female President in January 2006. Liberia’s government is hard at work trying to improve its electricity access, currently only 3% of the population are connected to grid power, one of the world’s lowest, after the civil war took out its entire grid.

Liberia is home to the rare and endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus. The World Conservation Union estimates that there are fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos remaining in the wild. Liberia contains a significant portion of West Africa’s remaining rainforest, with about 43% of the Upper Guinean forest, an important forest that spans several West African nations. It hosts the last remaining viable populations of certain species including western chimpanzees, forest elephants and leopards.

The Liberian diet is centered on the consumption of rice and other starches, tropical fruits, vegetables, and local fish and meat. Liberia also has a tradition of baking imported from the United States that is unique in West Africa. Popular recipes include Liberian potato salad, Palava (stew), Chicken peanut stew, Eggplant fritters, Pineapple nut bread, Stewed mango with cloves, Jollof rice, Ginger cookies and Carrot cake. I opted to make Sweet potato pone, which I’ll be honest is one of the strangest foods I’ve tasted on this challenge. I don’t think I’ll be trying it again.

Rating: 2/10

Serves: 6 as a dessert
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

750 ml grated raw sweet potato
250 ml dark syrup
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
85ml oil

Preheat the oven to 160c degrees
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly
Grease a 9 inch baking dish and pour in the mixture
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes for the first 20 minutes to ensure that the mixture is evenly combined
Smooth the top and cook until brown
Cut into squares and serve hot or cooled

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