The Uniqueness Of Liberia’s Local Cities – A Brief Look At Harper City, Maryland County

By E. Varney Kamah | GNN Correspondent |

This week we highlight in the series of one of Liberia’s popular local capital cities, Harper City, which is the capital City of Maryland County; one of the counties in southeastern Liberia.

Harper City, situated on Cape Palmas, is the capital of Maryland County in Liberia. The residents referred to Harper as Cape Palmas and has a nickname called “The land of sunshine and happiness.” It is a coastal town situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Hoffman River. Harper is Liberia’s 11th largest town, with a population of 20,000.

Harper is truly a city of sunshine and happiness

Harper City Hall

The town is named after Robert Goodloe Harper, a prominent U.S. politician and member of the American Colonization Society. It was he who proposed the name Liberia for the American Colonization Society’s settlement in Africa, and the town of Harper was named in honor of him. Harper was the capital of the short-lived Republic of Maryland or often referred to as Maryland in Africa. Magnificent unexploited beaches stretch for miles on both sides of Harper District and warm ocean temperature year round. Fish are found in abundance, as well as whales, dolphins, lobsters, and large oysters. Small vessels sail for approximately 36 hours between Harper and Monrovia. From the Ivory Coast, Harper is accessible from Tabou.

Lake Shepherd in Harper

One of the town’s most famous residents was President William V. S. Tubman, who was born in Harper. Tubman’s residence is overlying the seaport of Harper. There are many historic buildings and monuments, telling the story of the land.

Cape Palmas is considered to be one of the traditional hometowns of the Americo-Liberians, descendants of freed slaves from the United States who settled in Liberia and declared it an independent country in 1847. John Brown Russwurm, an African American abolitionist and governor of Monrovia, was buried in Harper after his death. There is a statue to commemorate his grave site.

Campus of William V. S. Tubman University in Harper

Although the traditional homeland of the Grebos, it is a heterogeneous community where people from all walks of life come to work, live and stay in peace. For example, there are Old and New Kru towns, there is Bassa Community, and there is Bunker Hill, where descendants of settlers used to reside. There is a large community of Marylanders with Togolese, Ghanaian and Nigerian background, and they are prominent sons and daughters of the County serving in Government and the private sector.

The Mount Scott United Methodist Church in Harper City

With the presence of Tubman University, the second public University in the Republic, Harper has now become a University-City, with all the attractions that come along with such a City. It attracts students, teachers, researchers, traders, visitors and tourists from the around the globe.

With its magnificent, unexploited beaches, Harper boasts one of the finest Natural sceneries in West Africa. There are lagoons, lakes, rivers, and Atlantic beaches. Fishtown Beach (different from River Gee’s Fish Town) a town located west of Harper is home to the beach that mostly attracts the visitors to Maryland County. Harper also has huge and magnificent buildings, some lying in ruins. During the day, Harper is usually very quiet and passive.

J.J. Dossen referrer hospital in Harper City

Business people are at their business shops, office workers are at their desks, and fishermen are at sea. At night, it is a contrasting place. The main business avenue, known locally as the 18th, is alive with activities of all sorts. Though all in one straight line, all these shops exercise ‘independence’ by playing their own music, which makes the atmosphere very terrific and electrifying. Restaurants are dotted all over town, with a variety of Liberian dishes. Daily, Palm butter is a local delicacy that is on the menu. A good Cape Palmas palm butter is made fish, crabs, periwinkles and multiple Liberian spices, etc.

Mayor Ellen Blessing Howe of Harper City

Harper is one of the safest cities in Liberia. Everyone seems to care about everyone else. This is the caring spirit of Harper. So, if you’re in search of a place to spend vacation with your family, friends, and love ones, come along the great shores of the Atlantic, Harper is an attractive town – “a place to be, where one can be.”

Harper has many public and private schools. The Government’s Cape Palmas High School, the Catholics run Our Lady of Fatima School, the Methodist’s J.S. Pratt among others operate in Harper. The biggest presence is The William V. S. Tubman University (TU). It was established as a full-fledged University by an act of the 52nd National Legislature in 2008.


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About Cholo Brooks 14941 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.