The Story Behind the Name

How Fish Town in River Gee Got its Name

As told by Soklo Teh

The creek itself after which the city of Fish Town in Palipo district is named is called Neseme. Ne is water or river/creek and Seme is fish all in the Grebo language. When the town was built, it was called Nesemekon or “on top of Neseme” just like most Grebo towns and villages. So there was no confusion as this fell in line with the Grebo naming convention of places. It had no “civilized” or “kwii” name then.

Later, there were school built in the town and other areas and English became the medium of communication on school campuses. Speaking Palipo or other dialects was prohibited on school campuses.  This was not a punishment but a way for school kids to learn the English language. The locals wanted their children to learn English, be educated and so they encouraged them to communicate in English on school campuses and when speaking to a teacher, government official or visitors from other cities. It therefore behooved the students and teachers alike to literally translate the name to the town into English. Saying “Nesemekon” was tantamount to speaking dialect and therefore not allowed on the school campus. No, Palipo was not to be spoken. So they translated the name Nesemekon to Fish Town.

Camp Johnson Road

By Arthur B. Dennis, MPA, MSW

On February 6, 1908, the Liberian National Legislature passed an Act creating the new army, known and styled “Liberian Frontier Force (LFF).” One Captain Mckay Cadell, a British Army Officer serving on duty in Sierra Leone, was appointed and promoted to the rank of Major to command the Army. He arrived in Liberia with two British officers, along with over hundred indigenous Sierra Leonean soldiers; wearing British style uniforms and caps—all stamped with the emblems and seals of the British Monarchy. The local citizens in Monrovia were terrified by their strange military attires.

Upon arrival, Major Cadell told the government authorities in Monrovia that he was appointed by the British Colonial Office in London; as such, he would take orders directly from London. And truly, throughout the period of his service, Major Cadell defiantly refused to be supervised by the Government of Liberia.

In the months that followed, Major Cadell appointed himself to the positions of City Mayor, Police Inspector, and Tax Collector. He unilaterally ordered the construction of the soldiers’ barracks exactly where the Executive Mansion stands today. The barracks was later named “Camp Johnson” in honor of the Hilary Wright Johnson family who donated the land for construction. Hilary Richard Wright Johnson was Liberia’s 10th president who served from 1884-1892. Camp Johnson Road Which runs from Broad street all the way to the Executive Mansion was named after Camp Johnson Barracks. 

Full article from which this excerpt was taken can be found on The Liberian Dialogue

The Barclay Training Center

By Dr. Joe Gbaba

 The Barclay Training Center (BTC) got its name from Liberia’s 14th President Arthur Barclay who served as  president from 1904-1912. The BTC Barracks was named In honor of President Arthur Barclay Because his family donated the land to the Liberian government to establish Liberian Frontier Force


By Dr. Joe Gbaba

PHP is an area in Monrovia near the Barclay Training Center or BTC. PHP stands for Public Health Pond. A pond is a pool of water. The Public Health Pond was located near the beach where most young folks in Monrovia went to swim. It was called Public Health Pond because the Department of Public Health was located nearby on Lynch Street, about a hundred yards away from the pond.

I was born near the pond in BTC and this is the most accurate information about that section of Monrovia called PHP.

Smell No Taste

Smell No Taste – is the name of a place near the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County. The name is dated back in WWII, when an American air force base was located in the area. According to the story, smell from the food of the army being cooked filled the location with it’s mouth watering fragrances but the locals could, literally, only smell but never taste.

Bend and Stop

Bend and Stop is a place in Barnersville less than a mile from the Barnersville Housing Estate. There is a loop in the road making a sharp left turn towards the Barnersville Housing Estate. Passengers on commercial vehicles often told the drivers or conductors to stop the vehicles after they have made the left turn or “bend and stop.”

Chocolate City

Long before Gardnersville became what it is today, the area that is called chocolate city used to be a place where many went and defecated. Those riding in cars along the highway would smell the stench of human excrement. Instead of calling it feces or pupu spot, people began calling it chocolate area to minimize the effect. And so it became known as Chocolate city.


7 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Name

  1. Division 17, Firestone. There is a hill called Gboyo Hill where it is believed that people who go there never return.They are kidnapped and killed by heartmen.

  2. Calling any member of the Mandingo ethnic group a dingo is very insensitive. We need to do to others what we expect them to do to us. Stop the insensitivity.

  3. Very interesting and indigenous recap on historical places in Liberia… Bravo and kudos to the contributors indeed… well Done. I enjoyed reading your scripts!

  4. This is a very interesting article. I couldn’t stop laughing and nodding my head in agreement of why certain places were named like that – sounds so funny and very important information. It just confirms the level of ignorance and lack of education of Liberians who named these places. No formalities. I love it.

    • Also, this is the reason Liberia has lost a vast portion of very important history. These places were created by early settlers, chiefs, warriors and early migrants. Who were those people? What kind of they lived, where did they come from – their fundamental structures that served their communities, their cultures. All the story needs to be written.

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