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Kru People: What You Need to Know About African Tribe that Refused to be Captured into Slavery

The Kru people are an African tribe of coastal southeastern Liberia and neighboring Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The tribe is known for sailing. Many of the Kru people also migrated to neighboring areas such Sierra Leone to look for work as fishermen and dockworkers. The Kru along with the Grebo resisted Maryland settlers’ efforts to control their trade. They were also infamous amongst early European enslavers as being especially opposed to capture.

There were about 24 subgroups with dialectal and cultural differences. Their political organization was traditionally un-centralized, each subgroup inhabiting a number of autonomous towns. It was believed that the Kru people were viewed as less valuable during the Transatlantic slave trafficking because they would not allow themselves to be captured by Europeans they would often take their own lives first, or fight viciously to avoid being taken away.

The Kru people engaged in migrant labor, seafaring and migrant working. They settled as far as fareast as Cameroon and west as Freetown and Cape Verde. They had exceptional canoeing skills in treacherous surf waters and were well-known for it by the 1700’s when they served on British merchant and warships. Although the natives were in many respects similar in type and tribe, every village was an independent state; there was also very little intercommunication.

The tribe is one of the many ethnic groups in Liberia, they comprise about 7 percent of the population. It is also one of the main languages spoken. By the late 20th century there were probably more Kru outside tribal territory than within. The largest single Kru community in the late 20th century was in Monrovia. Notable ethnic Krus include former soccer star George Weah and Christian Evangelist Samuel Morris who was originally known as Kaboo. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is of mixed Kru, Gola, and German ancestry.

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