“Smell No Taste” Village In Liberia With A Terrible Origins Of The Name
“Smell No Taste” is the name of a famous Liberian village located between Roberts Intl. Airport and the infamous Firestone plantation.
The village got its name in WWII, when an American air force base filled the location with it’s wafting fragrances of cooking food which the locals could, literally, smell but never taste.
Firestone Tire and Rubber Plantation’s history is painfully enlaced with Liberia’s.
In 1920s, the Liberian government was on the verge of bankruptcy and under severe pressure from international creditors for repaying a US$ 2 million debt. Along came Firestone. It bargained with the government for a lease of one million acres of land for one hundred years.
In 1926, the Liberian government granted Firestone a 99-year lease for a million acres (to be chosen by the company wherever in Liberia) at a price of 6 cents per acre, Firestone thus created the world’s largest rubber plantation. Firestone also provided a $5 million loan at a 7% interest rate to the government to pay the foreign debts it had and to build a harbour needed by Firestone.
The loan took a larger and larger portion of the Liberian government’s incomes: it grew from 20% of the total revenue of Liberia in 1929, to 32% in 1930, to 54.9% in 1931 and nearly the whole revenue in 1932.
During the Great Depression, as rubber price fell, Firestone stopped its development of the plantation and, depriving the Liberian government of tax incomes, the government missed a payment to the loans to the company. Firestone asked the US government to send a warship to Monrovia to enforce the debt payment, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt rejected the “gunboat diplomacy”. The loans to the company were finally paid in 1952.
The next part of the story is slightly blurred and may well be apocryphal although it is often repeated in the area. Close to Smell no Taste is another village which used to be named locally as “F*** no Pay”. It’s easy to guess why… Same soldiers often ventured to this village in order to satisfy their manly natural instincts with the local lasses, promising to pay the young ladies for their services when the next pay day came around. Allegedly they frequently failed to honour their debts so the village name stuck!
Prior to a visit to the area in the 1980’s by the then Liberian President and his wife it was decided, as a matter of decency, to change the names of the two villages so they became known together as “Unification Town”.
Whilst the modern official name for the town remains as “Unification Town” and “F*** no Pay” has long since disappeared, ‘Smell no Taste’ is still the preferred name used by the locals who live in the area today.
This stories will not let you forget that they are terrible places on earth. Some can be even recognize by the names…