The Liberian capital – despite recent troubles and a reputation for being misunderstood – now has much to recommend it: wonderful beaches, great food and a fascinating history

In Liberia’s national museum, there is a beguiling mahogany sculpture called Twin Mother, a gracefully carved bust of an African woman breastfeeding twins. “You have to feed both your children at the same time,” Lamie, the energetic guide, explains, introducing this as a symbol of Liberia’s troubled past. “You can’t let one develop and neglect the other.”

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