Kru people

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Regions with significant populations
 Sierra Leone
 Ivory Coast
 Ivory Coast14,000
 Sierra Leone6,000
Kru, Liberian English, Sierra Leone English, Kriol, French, Ivorian French, Nouchi
Christianity, African traditional religions, Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Bassa, Jabo, Krahn, Grebo

The Kru or Kroo are a West African ethnic group who are indigenous to eastern Liberia and migrated and settled along various points of the West African coast, notably Freetown, Sierra Leone, but also the Ivorian and Nigerian coasts.[1] The Kru were famous for their skills in navigating and sailing the Atlantic. Their maritime expertise evolved along the west coast of Africa as they made livings as fishermen and traders. Knowing the in-shore waters of the western coast of Africa, and having nautical experience, they were employed as sailors, navigators and interpreters aboard slave ships, as well as American and British warships used against the slave trade.[1]

Kru people were more valuable as traders and sailors on slave ships than as slave labor. To ensure their status as “freemen,” they initiated the practice of tattooing their foreheads and the bridge of their nose with indigo dye to distinguish them from slave labor.[1]

Their history is one marked by a strong sense of ethnicity and resistance to occupation. In 1856 when part of Liberia was still known as the independent Republic of Maryland, the Kru along with the Grebo resisted Maryland settlers' efforts to control their trade. They were also infamous amongst early European slave raiders as being especially averse to capture.[citation needed]

The Kru are one of the many ethnic groups in Liberia, comprising 7% of the population. It is also one of the main languages spoken. The Kru are one of the three main indigenous group players in Liberia's socio-political activities along with the Krahn and Mano people.[citation needed]

Notable ethnic Krus include the 25th President of Liberia George Weah, who is of mixed Kru, Gbee, Mano, and Bassa heritage, as well as his predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , who is of mixed Kru, Gola, and German ancestry. Dr. George Toe Washington, Former Armed Forces Chief of Staff of Liberia and Ambassador to the USA, Canada and Mexico who is of Kru and Grebo ancestry. Soccer star William Jebor is exclusively of Kru background, as is Christian Evangelist Samuel Morris who was originally known as Kaboo.[2][3][4] Mary Broh, the current mayor of Monrovia, is of mixed Kru and Bassa ancestry. Didwho Twe, a judge and politician, who ran for President of Liberia in 1951 was of Kru heritage.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Juang, Richard M.; Morrissette, Noelle, eds. (2008). Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: a multidisciplinary encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. p. 674. ISBN 978-1-85109-446-2.
  2. ^ "BBC News, Profile: George Weah". BBC News. 2005-11-11. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  3. ^ Kramer, Reed (2008-05-14). "Reed Kramer, "Liberia: Showered With Enthusiasm, Liberia's President-Elect Receives High-Level Reception in Washington",, 11 December 2005". Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  4. ^ "Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf". Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  5. ^ "The Man Called D. Twe". The Perspective. Retrieved 1 February 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Baldwin, Lindley, Samuel Morris: Men of Faith Series, Bethany House Publishers, 1942;
  • Behrens, Christine Les Kroumen de la Côte Occidentale d'Afrique, Bordeaux: Centre d'Etudes de Géographie Tropicale, 1974;
  • Brooks, George, The Kru Mariner in the Nineteenth Century: A Historical Compendium, Newark,Del., 1972 (Liberian Studies Monograph Series no.1);
  • Davis, Ronald, Ethnohistorical Studies on the Kru Coast, Newark, Del., 1976 (Liberian Studies Monograph Series no.5);
  • Fraenkel, Merran, Tribe and Class in Monrovia, New York-London: OUP, 1964;
  • Mekeel, Scudder, "Social Administration of the Kru: A Preliminary Survey", Africa 10 (1937) 75-96; 11 (460-68);
  • Massing, Andreas W., The Economic Anthropology of the Kru, Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1980 (Studien zur Kulturkunde 55);
  • Massing, Andreas W., Kru, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History, vol.2, 306-309, New York, 2007;
  • Schwartz, Alfred, Peuplement Autochthone et Immigration dans le Sud-Ouest Ivoirien, Abidjan: ORSTOM, 1973;
  • Tauxier, Louis, Les Kroomen de la Forêt de Côte d'Ivoire, Paris: Larose, 1935;
  • Zetterström, Kjell, Ethnographic Survey of Southeastern Liberia: Preliminary Report on the Kru, Robertsport: Centre of African Culture, 1969