Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Thu, 04.27.1961

Sierra Leone Gains Independence From The UK

Sierra Leone flag

*On this date in 1961, Sierra Leone gained 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 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.   Soon after, the country fell to European action after the Berlin Conference.

Sir Milton Margai became the country's first Prime Minister and was 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, and 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 several parliamentary seats, 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. Most of the powerful paramount chiefs in the provinces were key allies of his government at the time.   

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

Your door is shut against my tightened face, And I am sharp as steel with discontent; But I possess the courage and the grace To bear my anger proudly... THE WHITE HOUSE by Claude McKay.
Read More