Ethnic Origin

The Gola

The Gola people seem to have been among the first to migrate to the region of Liberia. Their language is difficult to classify; it is virtually distinct from neighboring languages, and is possibly a direct descendant of the mother tongue of West Africa.

The Gola were an invading group from the Upper Sudan, a turbulent and aggressive people who first settled in the Kongba Forest. They were skillful fighters and the blood of their enemies was liberally spilled about the edges of their land. They were formidable opponents to early Liberian rule.

Elder N’jola Pate of Gbonjima states that one group of Gola people, the Tehr, migrated south from their early Liberian habitat in search of salt. They were infested with yaws and wore bark shoes to prevent rocks from cutting their feet; they lived in huts built of bee bark covered with pawa grass.

When the Tehr Gola approached the coast they arrived at the northern perimeter of Dey territory and sought permission to pass through to the sea. With true diplomacy they presented their White Heart to one of the Dey Leader, Disson, in the form of seven women and seven slave-money (about $49).

Disson held council, and invited the Tehr Gola to enter his land. In a fitting ceremony he place some Dey soil on a white plate and gave it to the leader of the Gola. a symbol that they could not only pass through to the sea, but were welcome to settle on Dey soil as his stranger-children.

The Tehr Gola later turned against the Dey and almost destroyed them.