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Sierra Leone flag
*On this date in 1961, Sierra Leone gained its independence from Great Britain.
In the 1800s, the colonial British settlement of Sierra Leone was unique in that the population was composed of displaced Africans who were brought to the colony after the British abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Upon arrival in Sierra Leone, each new person was given a registration number, and information on their physical qualities would be entered into the Register of Liberated Africans. However, oftentimes the documentation would be subjective and would result in inaccuracies, making them difficult to track. In addition, differences between the Register of Liberated Africans of 1808 and the List of Captured Negroes of 1812 (which emulated the 1808 document) revealed some disparities in the entries of the people, specifically in the names; many people decided to change their given names to more anglicized versions which contributed to the difficulty in tracking them after they arrived in Sierra Leone.
Sir Milton Margai became the country's first Prime Minister and was in celebrated. The republic retained a parliamentary system of government and was a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The leader of the main opposition All People's Congress (APC), Siaka Stevens, along with Isaac Wallace-Johnson, another outspoken critic of the SLPP government, were arrested and placed under house arrest in Freetown, along with sixteen others charged with disrupting the independence celebration. In May 1962, Sierra Leone held its first general election as an independent nation. The Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) won a plurality of seats in parliament, and Milton Margai was re-elected as prime minister.
Margai was very popular among Sierra Leoneans during his time in power, most known for his humility. He was neither corrupt nor did he make a lavish display of his power or status. He based the government on the rule of law and the separation of powers, with multiparty political institutions and fairly viable representative structures. Margai used his conservative ideology to lead Sierra Leone without much strife. He appointed government officials to represent various ethnic groups. Margai employed a brokerage style of politics, by sharing political power among political parties and interest groups; and with the powerful paramount chiefs in the provinces, most of whom were key allies of his government at the time.