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Sir Milton Margai was born in Gbangabatoke in what is now Banta Chiefdom, Moyamba District, on December 7, 1895. The eldest sonSir Milton Margai of the prominent businessman, Mr. M.E.S. Margai of Bonthe, he received primary and secondary education at the E.U.B. school, Bonthe, and the Albert Academy in Freetown, respectively. 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.

Sir Milton had a string of firsts to his name: first Protectorate man to graduate from Fourah Bay College, first Protectorate man to qualify as a medical doctor, founder of the first Protectorate newspaper (the Sierra Leone Observer), Sierra Leone's first Chief Minister, Prime Minister and Privy Councillor.

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 programme of initiation for young girls. These courses were taught by qualified instructors, most of whom were trained by Sir Milton himself.

In 1950, Sir Milton retired from the government medical service and set up private practice. As a result, he had more time to devote to politics. He was from the very beginning an active member of the Protectorate Educational Progressive Union (PEPU) which later merged with the Sierra Leone Organisation Society (SOS) to form the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) of which he became the first national chairman. After the 1951 elections, he became Leader of Government Business, and in 1954, Chief Minister.

In politics, Sir Milton was the consummate negotiator and a skilful strategist. At the time he entered politics, Sierra Leone was divided into Colony and Protectorate with separate and different political systems. Antagonism between the two entities came to a head in 1947 when proposals were introduced to provide for a single political system for both the Colony and the Protectorate, with an unofficial  African majority in the Legislative Council, most of whom were to come from the Protectorate. The Creoles of the Colony naturally opposed the proposals whose effect would have been to diminish their political power. Joining the Creoles in opposition to some aspects of the proposals, however, were the educated elite of the Protectorate who saw in the proposals a means of transferring the dominant position of the chiefs from the Protectorate Assembly to the Legislative Council. It was due to the astute politics of Sir Milton that the younger, educated Protectorate elite were won over to join forces with the chiefs in the face of Creole intransigence. Later, Sir Milton was to use the same skills to win over opposition leaders and moderate Creole elements to his United Front government for the achievement of independence. He offered top ministerial positions within the SLPP cabinet to such opposition leaders as Albert Margai, who had earlier broken away from the SLPP to form the PNP; C.B. Rogers-Wright, leader of the main surviving Creole party, the UPP; and G. Dickson-Thomas, leader of the IPP, a splinter of the UPP. As a result of this, the leaders agreed to disband their parties to serve under the banner of the SLPP.

An important aspect of Sir Milton's character was his self-effacement. He was neither corrupt nor did he make a lavish display of his power or status. Although he was conservative, he was tolerant of his opponents, and was not one to insist on having his way all the time. These qualities endeared him to all Sierra Leoneans who loved, respected and admired him. Many Sierra Leoneans look back to the age of "Pa," as he was fondly known, as one of the almost idyllic stability, and there can be no doubt that Sir Milton left deep and indelible footprints on the sands of time.



Sir Albert was born on October 10, 1910, at Gbangbatoke, Banta Chiefdom (now in the Moyamba District) and was educated at St.Sir Albert Margai Edward's Secondary School, Freetown.

He first worked as a nurse from 1931 to 1944, then proceeded to Britain to study law at the Inner Temple Inns of Court where he qualified in 1948. He returned to Sierra Leone and enrolled as a solicitor and advocate in the Supreme Court and set up private practice.

Sir Albert played an active role in the debates over the Stevenson Constitution and was one of the chief spokesmen for protectorate interests. He held cabinet positions in Education, Agriculture, Natural  Resources and Finance between 1951 and 1964. In 1951, he was elected to the Legislative Council as the first Protectorate Member, and became the first Minister of Education when he was appointed to the cabinet in 1952. In 1957, he was returned to parliament in the general elections as M.P. for Moyamba South Constituency. Shortly after the elections, he challenged his brother for the leadership of the party and was elected leader of the S.L.P.P. but later stepped down for his elder brother after he had been guaranteed that his closest ally, Siaka Stevens, would return to the cabinet. It was Sir Milton's failure to honour this and other pledges that led Albert to refuse the cabinet position he had been offered, and to form his own party, called People's National Party, in September 1958. He was appointed Minister of Agriculture in the United Front Coalition in 1959. In 1962, he was returned as M.P. for Moyamba South Constituency and was appointed Minister of Finance. He introduced the decimal currency, established the "leone" as legal tender, and created the Bank of Sierra Leone as our Central Bank. He became Prime Minister on April 29, 1964, following the death of Sir Milton.

At the time he became leader of the S.L.P.P. and Head of Government, Sir Albert was no longer a young man, but he did not enjoy the reverence which old age had bestowed upon his elder brother. As the first up-country lawyer, he was highly respected but, unlike Sir Milton, did not enjoy the support and confidence of all factions of his party. As the recognised leader of the progressive wing of the S.L.P.P., he advocated a faster pace of development for Sierra Leone and took an "African" stand on most international issues. Sir Albert was also known to have advocated less attachment to traditional institutions, and while he was leader of the People's National Party (PNP), he openly asked traditional rulers to stay out of politics.

As Prime Minister, Sir Albert, who had come to be popularly known as "Big Albert," "Albert of Africa," and "Akpata," infused dynamism and glamour into the somewhat sedate politics of Sierra Leone.

He had great respect and admiration for Presidents Sekou Toure and Kwame Nkrumah, and sought to emulate the two leaders in their stands on international issues and their preoccupation with politicising the mass of their people. Sir Albert personified the African personality both in his attire and his public utterances on African issues.

Until he came on the scene, S.L.P.P. politics was largely a conservative affair left to chiefs, elders and opinion leaders. Sir Albert added glamour by increasing pomp and pageantry in the office of Prime Minister. Outriders on motorcycles and police landrovers with blaring sirens became more conspicuous. Gaily attired women in ashobi, young men in party t-shirts, praise singers and drummers also became a regular feature of the political scene. With the introduction of the institution of Mammy Queens, women suddenly became important in politics, organising their fellow women in sections to provide political support for the leadership.

In his attempt to project himself as a symbol of national unity and as catalyst for mobilising the progressive forces of the country, Sir Albert found himself in the same dilemma in which many African leaders of his time found themselves. His impatience with the gradualism of the older generation, and his revolt against their authority, not only alienated him from a section that still had considerable sway, but also opened him to attacks from younger elements who perceived his efforts as not going far enough.

Racked by accusations of corruption in high places and of disregard for the interests of significant sectors of the population, Sir Albert lost the 1967 elections to the opposition A.P.C., and in the process became the first and only leader of an  African state to have officially lost an election.

In spite of the failings of his regime, this genial giant who was wont to threaten to shoot down his opponents, brrr...had profound respect for the law and the constitution of the land. He relied on legal rather than extra-legal means in his fight against his opponents, and in the process helped to preserve a sacred heritage.



Eustace Taylor-Cummings was Mayor of Freetown from 1948 to 1954. His contribution to the medical service as a doctor, to civic Eustace Taylor Cummings duties as mayor, and to fostering education in Sierra Leone is an example worthy of emulation.

Eustace was born the son of a leading Krio merchant, Emmanuel Cummings, who had himself been Mayor of Freetown. As would be expected from this background, he had the opportunity of the best education that could be offered in Sierra Leone at the time. He attended the Wesleyan Boys High School (now Methodist Boys' High School) and, from 1909 to 1911, studied at Fourah Bay College. He then proceeded to Britain, where he became the first African to qualify as a doctor from the University of Liverpool.

After working in Birmingham as a doctor for a short while, he returned home in 1920 and joined the medical service. Those were the days when European doctors did not care to serve under a black doctor, and many resigned rather than accept this. Eustace Cummings was first attached to the Sanitation Department. In that position, he made an extensive tour of the protectorate. He also worked to improve the sanitary conditions of Freetown in particular and the colony in general, advocating a proper drainage system and proper ventilation in houses. By the time of his retirement in 1947, he had risen to the rank of Senior Medical Officer.

Eustace Cummings was also very active in civic affairs in Freetown, achieving the position of Mayor of Freetown in 1948. He first joined the Freetown City Council as nominated member in 1936, and held this position until he became mayor. As mayor, he was instrumental in establishing the system which has now become the municipal schools in Freetown, starting with the Interim Municipal (now Regent Square) School. He also successfully pressed the colonial government to build these new schools in Freetown.

Eustace Cummings was a member of the Commission on Higher Education in West Africa, appointed by the British government in 1943. This commission's report resulted in the establishment of the University Colleges of Ibadan and the Gold Coast. Cummings recommended that Fourah Bay College be retained for the time being as a college of Durham University and then be allowed to develop as an autonomous university, which turned out to be precisely the way things developed.

When the colonial government threatened to reduce the status of Fourah Bay College to that of a technical college in 1944, Cummings was one of the concerned citizens who formed the "Save the Fourah Bay College" Committee to mobilise popular support against the move.

From 1950 to 1953, Cummings was President of the Fourah Bay College Council, the governing body of the college, being the first Sierra Leonean to hold that position. In 1960, he was awarded the Doctor of Civil Laws by Durham University in England. He lived a very upright life as an active churchman, and died in 1967.



Ethelred National Jones was born at Gloucester in the Mountain District of Freetown on June 28th, 1884. From the 1920s onwards, he Lamina Sankoh used the name Lamina Sankoh. He was one of the most prominent and fearless leaders in pre-independence Sierra Leone, and one of those most dedicated to the unification of colony and protectorate. An astute politician, he founded one of the first political parties, the Peoples Party, in 1948. He was also a radical churchman, and a political writer, analyst and educator.

He was educated at the village school at Gloucester, the Cathedral School, Albert Academy and the C.M.S. Grammar School. He went to Fourah Bay College where he graduated with a B.A. He entered Wycliffe College, Oxford, where he read Theology and Philosophy.

Lamina Sankoh returned home in 1924, but his relations with the church were not so cordial because of his controversial sermons. He was ordained a priest and appointed curate of Holy Trinity Church, a post he held until 1927. During his curacy, he also lectured Logic at Fourah Bay College. He was dissatisfied with the lack of progressive thinking in the Church in Sierra Leone. He therefore resigned his curacy and again proceeded to Britain where he read Education at Oxford. A year later, he travelled to the United States where he taught at Tuskegee Institute at Alabama, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the State College at Orangeburg, South Carolina. In 1930 he went back to Britain where he was active in the West African Students Union (WASU), a political pressure group agitating for self-government. He was a regular contributor to the WASU Journal, of which he later became editor.

He returned to Sierra Leone in the early 1940s, and he immediately embarked on political and civic activities. He was at the same time untiringly involved in settling the political conflict between colony and protectorate. He took an active role in the reconstruction of the Freetown City Council and was elected a councillor for the Central Ward in 1948. He taught courses at the Extra-Mural Department of F.B.C. and was at one time President of the Freetown Adult Education Society. He founded the Sierra Leone ARO (Co-Operative) Society and established a Penny Savings Bank for his supporters. In 1948, he started a newspaper in Freetown called "The  African Vanguard." He established an African church where theology and philosophy were relatively free of Western influences.

It was however in national politics that this competent political philosopher made his most lasting impact. He founded the (People's) Forum, a cultural organisation intended to examine the values held by Sierra Leoneans. When almost the entire colony was misguided enough to uphold the idea of a "united country based on segregation and prescriptive rights," this colony-born man had the courage to stand by his conviction that Sierra Leone was one country, and that its inhabitants should live and work as one. He merged his People's Party with the Sierra Leone Organisation Society and, through the merger, the S.L.P.P. was born. He also transferred ownership of The African Vanguard to the new party.

Lamina Sankoh was a popular and dedicated nationalist who, with other men of his time, introduced intellectualism into Sierra Leone politics. His untiring efforts to unite colony and protectorate, for which he is always fondly remembered, constitute a significant contribution to the process of national integration.



John Karefa-Smart was born at Rotifunk, Bumpe Chiefdom in what is now Moyamba District. He is one of Sierra Leone's mostJohn Karefa-Smart articulate politicians.

He was educated at the E.U.B. Primary School, Rotifunk, the Albert Academy, and then Fourah Bay College. Later, he went to Otterbein College in the United States and McGill University in Canada. In the course of this academic activity, he acquired the degrees of B.A., M.Sc., C.M., D.T.M. He worked in various parts of the world, and was Regional Medical Officer for the West Africa Region of the World Health Organisation.

Dr. John Karefa-Smart entered politics in 1957. He was a foundation member of the Sierra Leone Organisation Society, which later became the S.L.P.P. He was active in the constitutional committees that eventually led to Sierra Leone's independence in 1961. In 1957, he was appointed Minister of Lands, Mines and Labour with special responsibilities for Defence. After the 1962 elections, Dr. John Karefa-Smart was appointed Minister of External Affairs, a position which he used to foster the good image of the young nation. It was in his term of office as Minister of External Affairs that Sierra Leone established diplomatic relations with several countries.

Dr. John Karefa-Smart is known in Sierra Leone as a politician rather than as a medical doctor — which is actually his profession. This was because he devoted most of his time to the nationalist struggle. He will be remembered for the intellectual vigour which he introduced into the politics of Sierra Leone.



Kande Bureh was born Saidu Bai Kamara in 1908 at Mange Bureh in what is now Port Loko District, Northern Province. He started hisKande Bureh primary education at the A.M.E. School, Mange, and also learnt Arabic through the articulate Arabic scholar, Santigie Rembu. In 1920, Kande Bureh left his native home of Mange to settle in Freetown, where he attended the Methodist Boys' High School and later qualified as a teacher.

His abiding desire to educate the young and prepare them for a better future, and his unquenchable urge to spread knowledge far and wide, saw Kande Bureh serving as a teacher for well over fifteen years. He taught at the Bethel Primary School at Kossoh Town, Freetown; later he moved to the Ebenezer Amalgamated School and then to the Madrassa Islamia.

He left the teaching field in 1945 and was elected Tribal Headman for the Temne community in Freetown. At this stage in his life, Kande Bureh wanted to do more work for his people. His major task, and one which  he successfully accomplished, was to bring about a closer relationship between the various ethnic groups. He worked amicably with other tribal leaders and, in his desire to foster participation and integration in Sierra Leone, founded several friendly societies such as Murkaramin, the now legendary Ambas Geda, and the Temne Progressive Union. Through these various organisations, over eleven mosques were built to cater to the religious needs of his people. The mosques were also utilised as "barries" where people met and discussed social and political issues. Thus Kande Bureh started a development which contributed to the enlightenment of his countrymen in the drive towards independence. He sponsored the Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement in Freetown and also helped the Movement secure lands at Rokupr, Bo, Boajibu and several other towns in the provinces.

Kande Bureh eventually entered national politics. He joined the Sierra Leone Organisation Society (SOS) formed by the protectorate elite. In mid-1951, the SOS which, until then, was essentially an instrument for educational advancement in the protectorate, was dissolved and in its place, a political party, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), was formed. Following elections in 1957, in which the SLPP emerged as the victorious party, Kande Bureh was appointed Minister of Works and Housing. After the 1962 elections, he became  Minister of Transport and Communications and, on several occasions, acted as Prime Minister.

Kande Bureh is a prominent member of that great generation of leaders from the then protectorate who guided the transition from colonial rule to national independence.



Alhaji Amadu Wurie was one of Sierra Leone's foremost educators in the 20th century. An active politician, he was appointedAmadu Wurie Minister of Education in the first post-independence Sierra Leone government.

He was born in Gbinti on the estuary of the Melacourie River. His father, Paramount Chief Bai Sheka Bundu, was one of the principal supporters of Bai Bureh during the 1898 uprising against the British.

Amadu Wurie was a foundation pupil of the Bo School in the Southern Province, established in 1906 to cater for the education of sons and nominees of chiefs. In 1916, he was among the first pupils of that school to succeed to the Civil Service Entrance Examination. He was appointed an Assistant Master at the school in 1916, subsequently rising to the rank of Senior Assistant Master in 1925. In 1927 he suggested the formation of the Old Bo Boys' Association (O.B.B.A.), serving first as general secretary and later as president of this organisation which was the inspiration for many other old boys' clubs in the country. On several occasions between 1933 and 1935 Amadu Wurie served as Acting Principal of the school, the first African to fulfill such a role.

From Bo, he moved on to Koyeima School, Bo District, where he served as headmaster from 1935 to 1942. In the latter year, he became Education Officer, a post he held until 1952 when he was appointed the first principal of the Kenema Secondary School. In 1953, he was appointed a member of the Port Loko District Council and Chairman of the Port Loko Education Authority. In 1955, he was appointed Provincial Education Secretary, Northern Province. Six years later, he became a member of the Mine Workers' Wages Board.

By 1961, when Sierra Leone became independent, Amadu Wurie had served in most of the districts in the country. His connection with the country's leading political figures dated from his Bo School days. As early as the late 1940s, he had become an active member of the Protectorate Educational Progressive Union  (P.E.P.U.), which then comprised most of the protectorate elite. In 1962, he entered parliament under the Sierra Leone People's Party (S.L.P.P.) banner and was appointed Minister of Education in recognition of his life-long devotion to teaching. After the cabinet crisis following Albert Margai's appointment as prime minister in 1964, Amadu Wurie was one of the few prominent northern ministers loyal to the new head of government. He later served as Minister of the Interior. In 1964 he was awarded the C.B.E. (Companion of the British Empire) for his significant contribution to the educational progress of the country.

After the 1967 general election, in which he lost his seat, Amadu Wurie retired into private life at Mahera, near Lungi, in the Port Loko District. During this period, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca. In January 1973, the University of Sierra Leone conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws.

Besides politics, Amadu Wurie also took a lively interest in the history of the country, especially that of his Fula ancestors, the Bunduka, in whose territory he collected many oral traditions. These were published in the Journal, Sierra Leone Studies. While in retirement, he co-authored (with Elizabeth Hirst) a biography of his grandfather, Alimamy Rassin, which was published in 1968.

He died on June 13, 1977.



The introduction of party politics in Sierra Leone ushered in the active participation of women in national affairs. Although their Ella Koblo Gulama number was small, the few that ventured into politics became very prominent. One such notable woman has been Ex-Paramount Chief Madam Ella Koblo Gulama.

Madam Ella, as she is fondly called, succeeded her late illustrious father, Julius Gulama, as Paramount Chief of Kaiyamba Chiefdom, Moyamba District, in 1953. Thereafter, she became actively involved in national politics with the support and encouragement of Sir Milton Margai and Sir Albert Margai. She became a member of the Moyamba District Council and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1957—the first ever woman member of that august body. She was re-elected to parliament in May, 1962 and appointed the first woman cabinet minister.

She became a close ally of both Sir Milton and Sir Albert. But it was essentially during the brief period of Sir Albert's premiership that she gained a reputation as one of the most powerful members of the government.

This pioneer of women's liberation in modern Sierra Leone politics went into temporary political limbo after Sir Albert's fall from power, before bouncing back as an APC stalwart and leader of the Moyamba District APC Women's Organisation in the early 1970s.

Born in 1921 at Moyamba, Ella was educated at the Harford School for Girls, and the Women Teacher's College, then at Wilberforce. Although she ruled a predominantly Mende chiefdom, Ella Koblo married a powerful Temne paramount chief from the north of Sierra Leone, Ex-Paramount Chief Bai Koblo Pathbana, in 1946. This association may have contributed to the process of national integration.

All who get to know Madam Ella Koblo Gulama for even a brief period are fascinated by her charm, engaging presence and public spiritedness. She is undoubtedly one of the most colourful and resourceful women national figures who have contributed to the political development of Sierra Leone.



Sir Banja Tejan-Sie, one of Sierra Leone's most prominent politicians during the colonial and post-colonial periods, was born onSir Banja Tejan-Sie August 7th 1917 at Moyamba, in what is today the Southern Province of Sierra Leone.

He was educated at the Bo Government Secondary School and the Prince of Wales School. Before proceeding for further studies, he worked as a station clerk in the Sierra Leone Railway from 1938 to 1939 and as a nurse in the Medical Department from 1940 to 1946. He went to Britain and studied at the London School of Economics, and at Lincoln's Inn, where he was subsequently called to the Bar in 1951.

Sir Banja returned home and set up private practice. He also became involved in politics, and was one of those who agitated for an end to colonial rule. Sir Banja was a prominent member of the Sierra Leone People's Party from its inception, and was elected vice-president of the party in 1955. In 1958, he was appointed Police Magistrate, but he continued to be quite active in politics, and was a member of the Independence Constitutional Committee. In 1967, he was appointed Chief Justice and, in April 1968, he was appointed officer performing the functions of the Governor-General.

Sir Banja Tejan-Sie quit politics in the wake of the introduction of the Republican Constitution in 1971 and retired to London. In April 1987, he visited Sierra Leone, heeding President Momoh's call for national reconciliation.



Alhaji Mohammad Sanusi Mustapha has made lasting contributions in the fields of Islam, education, commerce, and politics. And, Alhaji Mohammad Sanusi Mustapha indeed, he stands in a long and proud tradition of Islamic leadership in Sierra Leone stretching back to the early history of this country.

M.S. Mustapha was born in the Oku community of Fula Town in the east end of Freetown, and has maintained a life-long attachment to that historic area. His parental grandfather, Alpha Abubakar Bilal, was the first Freetown merchant to start trading up the Scarcies River in the last century. His maternal grandfather, Sheikh Ibrahim Njai, was a Wolof from Senegal who was a noted Islamic teacher and writer in Kambia at the time of Foday Tarawaly's great Islamic University there.

As a child, Mohammad Sanusi Mustapha was a gifted student, and was at one point head prefect at the Prince of Wales School. He went on the read law at Lincoln's Inn. M.S. Mustapha spent the early years of his career in the civil service, while growing more and more active in public affairs. In 1935, he was Honorary Secretary of the East Ward Rate Payers Association, one of the major pressure groups in the colonial politics of the time. During that period, he was also Assistant Secretary of the National Congress of British West Africa. In 1951, he was elected to both the Legislative Council for Freetown and the Executive Council, and from there his rise was rapid. M.S. Mustapha was one of the founders of the Sierra Leone People's Party (S.L.P.P.), and was among the first Sierra Leoneans to be appointed to cabinet rank in 1953. He was a member of the delegation for constitutional talks in London which ushered in Sierra Leone's independence in 1961. Between 1953 and 1964, Alhaji Mustapha held several cabinet portfolios, including Finance, Works and Transport, and Trade and Industry. He continued to serve in parliament into the 1980s, on one occasion serving as Acting Vice-President II, and is still a member of the Governing Council and Central Committee of the A.P.C.

But quite aside from his brilliant political career, Alhaji Mustapha has also been a dynamic leader in the field of business. At a time when educated Sierra Leoneans avoided business as something beneath their social station, he launched himself with vigour into the world of commerce. In 1946, he helped to establish Mustapha Brothers and  Company, Importers and Exporters, a thriving business venture. Alhaji Mustapha was the first Sierra Leonean to do local rice milling. He became a licensed buying agent for the Produce Marketing Board in 1950, and was President of the Association for Buying Agencts for the S.L.P.M.B. in 1967. His commercial success is an invaluable example at a time of great need for diverse forms of indigenous private enterprise in this country.

Along the way, Alhaji Mustapha has also made important contributions to the Islamic community and to the field of education. He has been a Muslim leader in the Fulah Town area for half a century and a force in the Sierra Leone Muslim Congress for over forty years, and he was instrumental in 1958 in launching the Sierra Leone Muslim Congress Secondary School at Kissy. When the British colonial authorities wanted at one point to reduce Fourah Bay College to the status of a technical college, Alhaji Mustapha helped organise the "Save Fourah Bay College Committee" and, as Joint Secretary, toured the then protectorate whipping up support. In 1987, the University of Sierra Leone awarded Alhaji Mustapha the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws in recognition of his many contributions to Sierra Leone's advancement.

For many years, Alhaji Mohammad Sanusi Mustapha has been known fondly as "Akpata," from the Yoruba expression akpata kin gberu ojo, meaning watasay ston noh de fred ren. And, indeed, Alhaji Mustapha, like the watasay ston, has persevered and endured in many trying and challenging circumstances—much to the betterment of his fellow countrymen.