Even when the region - nowadays
the Republic of Liberia - was still called Malagueta Coast, Pepper Coast or
Grain Coast, it was known for its secret societies, ritualistic killings and
cannibalism. In 'A Dutch Account of the Grain Coast in the Seventeenth Century'
Sir Harry Johnston cites Olfert Dapper who wrote one of the most popular books
on Africa in the seventeenth century when still little was known of this
continent which was increasingly visited by European traders. The Dutch scholar
Dapper described African peoples, cultures and conditions on the continent on
basis of conversations he had with traders and sailors who had visited the
continent. His book, 'Description of Africa', first published in 1668, was
reprinted many times. Dapper classifies the Kru people behind Cape Palmas as
cannibals, an opinion shared by Sir Harry Johnston who wrote a two-volume book
on Liberia in 1906. Johnston also quotes the French traveller Chevalier des
Marchais who visited Cape Mesurado in 1724-25 and who wrote that the natives of
this part of the Grain Coast were much addicted to human sacrifices (Johnston,
1906: p. 108).