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David Lansana

David Lansana




Brigadier David Lansana was a distinguished military officer and political figure in Sierra Leone, born on March 22, 1922, in Baiima, Mandu Chiefdom. He had a notable career in the military and was one of the first Sierra Leoneans to train at the esteemed Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. Lansana served as Military Attaché to the United States after Sierra Leone gained independence, showcasing his capabilities and leadership.

Lansana's rise through the ranks was significant, becoming army commander of Sierra Leone in 1964 and taking control from the British colonial advisor, Brigadier R.D. Blackie. His close association with Prime Minister Albert Margai, both being from the Mende tribe, heightened tensions with other ethnic groups such as the Krios and northern tribes. Lansana's tenure saw the marginalization and purging of northern and Krio officers from the armed forces, which contributed to an atmosphere of discord.

The pivotal moment in Lansana's career came on March 21, 1967, when he staged Sierra Leone's first coup d'état. This coup followed a general election in which the All People's Congress (APC) defeated Prime Minister Margai's party. Lansana's move to arrest the newly elected Prime Minister Siaka Stevens and declare martial law was an attempt to restore Margai to power. However, his actions faced significant opposition, including from fellow Mende officers who did not agree with using the military as a political tool.

Lansana's coup was short-lived, as senior military officers, led by Major Charles Blake, countered his efforts and established the National Reformation Council (NRC). This led to Lansana's arrest and eventual charge of treason. He and his sister-in-law, Paramount Chief Ella Koblo Gulama, were detained for their alleged conspiracy with Margai to stage the coup. Though Gulama was eventually released, Lansana remained incarcerated.

On July 19, 1975, Lansana, along with other high-profile figures, was executed by hanging at Pademba Road Prison in Freetown. His execution marked a dark chapter in Sierra Leone's political and military history. Lansana's legacy is one of ambition and controversy, reflecting the complex interplay of military influence and political power in Sierra Leone during his time.


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