5 Things to Do in Monrovia
Named after former United States’ president, James Monroe, Monrovia the capital of Liberia, is the second permanent Black American settlement in Africa, after Freetown in Sierra Leone. Liberia’s cultural, political and financial hub, Monrovia boasts of a fair share of places to see including festivals, galleries, and markets. Here is a list of our recommended spots.
Hotel Ducor was once Liberia’s natural pride, and one of the most prominent luxury hotels in Africa, with 106 rooms in an 8-storey structure. It was built in 1960 on Ducor Hill, at the end of Broad Street across the United Nations Boulevard in Monrovia’s main business street.
The hotel’s impressive facilities were frequented by politicians, diplomats and international business people till the first Liberian civil war. As a result of the damage and looting, and then abandoned renovation plans by the fallen Gadaffi government of Libya, today, Hotel Ducor is a ground for squatters though it serves as a place for thrill seeking tourists.
Visitors are advised to pack a camera and hiking boots but go with a group as there is safety in numbers.
Monrovia Music Fest
Featuring food trucks, craft beer gardens, non-profit activity booths, vendors, art and family activities, the Monrovia Music Festival which holds annually is the perfect opportunity to be a part of the Monrovian groove while establishing lifelong connections, as communities are brought together.
The Monrovia Music Festival holds in Library Park, Memorial Fountain on 32, South Myrtic Avenue in Old Monrovia. Entry is free and no tickets are required.
If you are the gambling type and a risk taker, then this is the spot for you, with a wide range of games to play including blackjacks, oasis pokers and slot machines. There is also well-stocked bar serving light snacks with complimentary food and beverages for players only.
The casino is open Mondays through Saturdays, 9pm – 4am, and Sundays, 8pm – 3am; it is never too late to have fun while making money.
As spoken by Dr. Elwood Dunn as National Orator and also founder of Liberia Visual Arts Academy (LivArts) on the occasion of Liberia’s 165th Independence Day Celebration in 2012, “We should recognise the role of creative and expressive culture in national integration, national reconciliation and national unity. Literature, poetry, music, dance, paintings, plays, folktales, proverbs and parables are all critical assets in nation building.” As there is no national art institute in Monrovia, LivArts serves as an excellent alternative. It exhibits Liberia’s rich cultural heritage through the works of some of the country’s finest artists.
This market is the busiest shopping place in Monrovia. Located in Montserrado, the Waterside Market is a hive of non-stop activity with a large traffic of people, buying and selling. It offers a wide range of sellables including colourful textiles, pottery, shoes and leather goods— all with a dose of unpleasant smells and a lot of noise. Delightful souvenirs are also available to ensure that you keep a little bit of Monrovia.
However, navigating through the market requires much skill on the part of unsuspecting visitors. The cunning sales strategy of the Ghanaian Oxford marketer and harassment by overeager vendors are thankfully absent but there are large piles of garbage and mushy poodles of water while little children run around. This is Monrovia in its rawest form.