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Sat, 12.07.1895

Milton Margai, Prime Minister born

Milton Maragai

*Sir Milton Margai was born on this date in 1895. He was a Black African politician. Margai was born in Gbangabatoke in the Banta Chiefdom, Moyamba District of Sierra Leone.

He was the eldest son of a businessman, M.E.S. Margai of Bonthe and his grandfather were a Mende warrior chief. He received primary and secondary education at the E.U.B. school, Bonthe, and the Albert Academy in Freetown. In 1921, he obtained his B.A. degree from Fourah Bay College. He then went to Britain where he obtained an M.A. degree and studied medicine at King's College, Durham, graduating in 1926. A prominent doctor, he turned to politics in 1949 and led his country to independence (1961) while serving as chief minister (1954-61).

Margai was prime minister of Sierra Leone from 1961-64. He was a distinguished member of the Colonial Medical Service who pioneered social welfare and hygiene education in remote areas of the Protectorate. He encouraged leaders of the Mende women's secret society, the Sande, to include training courses in hygiene, literacy, and childcare in their program of initiation for young girls. These courses were taught by instructors, most of whom were trained by Margai himself. He was knighted in 1959. Milton Margai died in office on April 28, 1964.

He was followed as prime minister by his brother Sir Albert Margai, who had held important cabinet posts and had frequently disagreed with his brother. As prime minister, he initiated radical policies that finally led to his overthrow in a coup in 1967. He was knighted in 1965.

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