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History of BWI
President Charles D. B. King

The establishment of the Booker T. Washington Agricultural & Industrial Institute of Liberia was a dream comes true for the late president of the Republic of Liberia, Charles Dunbar Burgess King. During an official visit to the United States of America in 1924, president King was asked by a reporter to name any thing of significance that he would like to take back to his country. The President said, " If it were possible I would like to take Tuskegee Institute with me to Liberia." Even though it was not physically possible to transplant Tuskegee Institute of the United States to Liberia, President King's dream of a Tuskegee type institution in Liberia was fulfilled in 1929. In 1924, the year in which President King visited the United States, Ms. Olivia Phelps-Stokes, an American Philanthropist expressed her desire to finance an educational institution somewhere in Africa to be names in honor of Booker T. Washington, embracing the educational philosophy of Booker T. Washington, that of educating the mind, heart and hands. 

An educational concept, which involved theoretical and practical concept of learning.


The Phelps-Stokes Foundation was authorized to research the possibility of establishing an institution in Africa to fulfill the desire of philanthropist Olivia Phelps-Stokes. One of the researchers was James Longstreet Sibley, who later became the first principal of the Booker Washington Institute in Liberia. Researchers found out that president C. D. B. King had expressed his desire to take Tuskegee Institute with him to Liberia, which was founded on the educational philosophy of Booker T. Washington, in whose honor Ms. Olivia Phelps-Stokes would like to name the institution. Based upon the result of the study, Liberia was the first country targeted for the establishment of a Tuskegee type institution.


After few visits to Liberia by the Phelps-Stokes delegation to negotiate with the Liberian Government, amicable agreement was reached between Phelps-Stokes Fund and the Republic of Liberia to establish the Booker Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute in Kakata, Liberia. The agreement stipulated, among cardinal points, that the government of the Republic of Liberia will donate land upon which the institution would be built and US$5,000 per year for ten years and Phelps-Stokes fund would budget an initial amount to finance beginning construction.


In fulfillment of the commitment of the Government of Liberia to the agreement, 1000 acres of land was donated in Kakata, 41 miles from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. The Phelps-Stokes foundation made an initial grant of $10,000. In March, 1929, ground was broken in Kakata, where the Sibley Monument is presently located establishing what we know today as the Booker Washington Agricultural & Industrial Institute (BWI for short), our revere Alma Mater. James Longstreet Sibley was named the first principal by the then Board of Trustees.

Liberia President Charles D. B. King

(1875 - 1961)

Principals of BWI
  • James Longstreet Sible           1929

  • Louise P. Clinton (Acting)        1929-1931

  • F. E. Charleston                       1931-1932

  • Fred G. Lessure                       1932-1934

  • Harold Bare (Acting)                1934-1936

  • Claude Rupel (Acting)             1936-1939

  • Paul Rupel (Acting)                  1939-1941

  • B. B. Coefield (Acting)             1941-1942

  • R. L. Embree                            1942-1946

  • Waiter C. Wynn                        1946-1952

  • William A. Hill (Acting)             1952-1953

  • Bernard F. Coleman (Acting)  1953-1955

  • George L. Smith                      1955-1957

  • Moses K. Weefur, Sr.              1957-1972

  • Samuel J. Mentee                   1972-1974

  • F. Amadu Sirleaf, Sr.               1974-1980

  • Harry Nayou                            1980-1981

  • Daniel Jappah                         1981-1984

  • T. Kudah Jarrett                      1984-1990

  • F. Amadu Sirleaf, Sr.               1995-1996

  • Mulbah Jackollie                     1996 - 2013

  • Alexander Massey (Interim)    2013-2016

  • Harris Fomba Tarnue              2016 - Present

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