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Sierra Leone


In 1787, British philanthropists founded the “Province of Freedom” which later became Freetown, a British crown colony and the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade. By 1792, 1200 freed slaves from Nova Scotia joined the original settlers, the Maroons, another group of slaves, rebelled in Jamaica and traveled to Freetown in 1800.

Like many African leaders at independence, Sir Milton Margai, Sierra  Leone’s first prime minister, knew what was coming. He saw the urgent  need for national cohesion after the deep divisions that had marred the  run-up to independence.

There had been tensions between the “countrymen” (people from the  inland “protectorate”) and the Krios in the Western Area who had had a  better relationship with the colonial administration, probably because  of their education and adopted European lifestyle.

The taste and smell of politics during the run-up to the  “independence conference” at Lancaster House in London (known locally as  the Constitutional Talks) became unpleasant as rivalry among various  political parties and interests became blatantly spiteful. But the time  for independence had come. The British were ready to go and nothing  could prevent the green, white and blue flag of the new Sierra Leone  from replacing the Union Jack.

When Sir Milton led the nation, which was once called Romarong by the  indigenous Mende people to independence on 27 April 1961, he was keen  on reunifying the people.

He was a man who did not know tribe or region. A medical doctor, he  had worked in different parts of the country, made good friends, and  gained the admiration of the people and their British colonisers. Sir  Milton wanted to see a nation that was strongly united.

In his independence message on 27 April 1961, he made this clarion  call to the people: “I ask you to deal fairly and honestly with your  fellow men, to discourage lawlessness, and to strive actively for peace,  friendship, and unity in our country.”

Sir Milton’s message sounded more like a priest’s homily to a  congregation on a Sunday morning. For him, being a leader at that point  in time was more than just holding the country’s highest office. He  believed that the basic life principles of “honesty” and “fairness” in  human relations were crucial to the growth of the nation.

At sixty-six at the time, Sir Milton knew and acknowledged that  independence could not bring “sudden change”. What was important was the  fact that the people were “now in complete control of [their] destiny”.

Unfortunately, the polite and conciliatory Sir Milton did not live  long enough to actualise his dreams of making the country a place to be  proud of. He died in 1964 – barely three years into his reign. It was  then that his younger brother, Sir Albert Margai, controversially took  over as premier and succeeded in trashing Sir Milton’s dreams of a  united and development-driven Sierra Leone.


The civil war in Sierra Leone began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Liberian dictator Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), intervened in Sierra

The Sierra Leone Civil War was a conflict that took place in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. It was primarily fought between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group and the government of Sierra Leone.

The war began when the RUF, led by Foday Sankoh, launched a rebellion against the government, seeking to overthrow it and gain control of the country's rich diamond resources. The conflict was characterized by brutal tactics, including widespread atrocities committed against civilians, such as mutilations and killings.

The war was marked by several notable events, including the involvement of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), a military junta that briefly took control of the government in 1997 with the support of the RUF. The AFRC-RUF alliance was later ousted by a coalition of West African forces (ECOMOG) and the Sierra Leonean military, with support from the United Nations.

The conflict finally ended in 2002 with the help of international intervention, including the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping forces. The war left thousands dead and many more displaced or maimed. It also had a devastating impact on Sierra Leone's infrastructure and economy.

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