The stories behind the names of villages and towns in Sierra Leone. Add your town's name to this growing history. Include the village's name, the district and chiefdom where it is located, and a translation of the name and an explanation of how it came about, to email@example.com
KANGBE, meaning "the original," is located around the Freetown Peninsula. It is also called Hamilton in English. It is an original Creole Village that has a fine beach, poultry farms, large back yards, and houses with wide verandas. The people are often called "Kangbe Creole," meaning Original Creoles, although some think Kangbe Creoles are mixed Creoles with some Loko addition.
RICKETS, on Banana Island, because of the rickety boats that plied the route, and some were sunk during hurricanes. The village can best be viewed from Number 2 River or from Kent.
BO, Kakua Chiefdom, Bo District. The inhabitants of Bo are known for their resolve, resistance and hospitality. The town was named after its generosity. An elephant was killed close to what is now known as Bo Parking Ground. People from the surrounding villages came to receive their share. Because the meat was so large, the hunter spent days distributing it and the words "Bo- lor" (which in Mende means "this is yours," with reference to the meat) was said so much that the elders and visitors decided to name the place Bo. "Bo-lor" in Mende also translates to "this is Bo."
BOMA, Yakemo Kpukumu Krim Chiefdom, Pujehun District, is the ex-chiefdom headquarters town of Boma Sakrim Chiefdom prior to its amalgamation with the Yabai and Kpukumu Krim Chiefdoms to form the present chiefdom with the acronym "YKK Chiefdom." It has a beach-like environment situated on the southern shores of the Lake Kasay (Mape). Boma, otherwise called "Bou bou ma" means "on soft soil." It was founded around the 18th century by the great Krim warrior, Kai Mla, from whom the Minahs are descended. Legend among the Krim people has it that though the town is situated on soft soil, it was invincible during inter-tribal war times.
BONTIWO, Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District, means "Small Bonthe," and was originally established by a local Islamic scholar and businessman, the late Moibawo Lukulay.
FELEGORMA, Barrie Chiefdom, Pujehun District. The name is derived from Mende "Fele" (two), "gor" (to bargain) and "ma" (place). Literally it means a market place.
GBAAMA, Jaiama-Bongor Chiefdom, Bo District. The actual name of the town is "Gbahama." It was so called because, before the town moved to its present spot, it suffered a number of defeats in the hands of its enemies. But when they moved to the present spot, between two rivers, it became unconquerable. When enemy attack was imminent, the two rivers would flood and would remain so until the enemy retreated to its original position. The British changed the town's name to Gbaama.
GEOMA JAGOR, Sowa Chiefdom, Pujehun District is located twelve miles from Pujehun Town. Situated along the banks of the Jewei river, the town's name in Mende means a dwelling place on the upper right side of the Jewie River, unlike its neighbouring town, Geoma Jaiyahun, (a dwelling place below the Jewei River).
GBAHAMA, Makpele Chiefdom, Pujehun District. From a Mende word meaning "unconquered" or "undefeated."
HELEBU, Pejeh Chiefdom, Pujehun District. "Hele" or "Haylei" means "elephant" and "Bu" means "under" in the Mende language. Helebu was founded by a group of hunters who went hunting in the dense forests of that area and got lost. They wandered until night fell, with heavy storms and rain. Luckily, they came across an object in the darkness looking like a hut or a big tree that protected them from the rain, They all therefore decided and stayed together under the object till daylight. When the hunters saw that this was one of the animals they were hunting, they killed it and built huts around so they could stay and make a temporary home. They later decided to live there permanently.
JIMMI, Bagbo Chiefdom, Bo District. "Jimmi" in Mende means a place where people sleep. The two founders of this town were celebrated hunters in the area. One day, they decided to have a permanent home. As they set off in separate directions, one of them called to his companion: "Come, come, jimaa bei," meaning, "There is a sleeping place here."
KARLEH, Sogbeni Chiefdom, Bonthe District. Karleh means "fish trap." A Mandingo man who once settled in Mattu Jong, often visited Tihun, which is the chiefdom town, to run errands. The name of the man was Nfatoma Kamara. On his way, he came across a stream which had lots of fish. Being an industrious trader, he took advantage of exploring an opportunity to set a fish trap on his discovery. He periodically visited the fish trap. Since he started making unusual visits to this area, people became curious. From time to time, they started asking him, "Pa Kamara Where are you going?" "To Karleh" he replied. His Mende wasn't very clear, being a Guinean immigrant. Later, Pa Kamara decided to relocate, and establish a new settlement from Mattru Jong. He named the village "Karleh."
KPETEWOMA, Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District. "Kpetewoma" is derived from the Mende words "Kpetei," meaning "swamp," and "woma," meaning "at the back," "behind," or "rear." Thus, Kpetewoma means, "behind the swamp." The town got its name from the huge swamp separating it from a neighboring township called Tobanda.
LARGO, Korie Chiefdom, Moyamba District. "Largo" means "to feed" a large group of people in copious amounts. It is believed that before a major war ("Kowa"), the warriors feasted at this location. Largo today is located on the main Freetown - Bo road about three miles from Vaama to the west and four miles from Kowama to the east. In fact these three towns: Vaama-Largo to Kowama ("big war town") gives a pattern of movement of the then Kpa-Mende war machine in the Korie Chiefdom.
LUAWA JONG, Jong Chiefdom, Bonthe District. "Luawa" means "come later." Jong Chiefdom takes its name from the Jong River.
MAGBEMA, Tikonko Chiefdom, Bo District. "Mai" is the short form for "Mahei," meaning "chief" in Mende. The word "Gbeemei" in Mende means place where people get busy. Putting the the two words "Mahanga + Tigbeemei" together to mean "the place where the chiefs gather and get busy with affairs of the chiefdom" results in the polished name "Magbema."
MASSAM, KPAKA, Kpaka Chiefdom, Pujehun District. The name "Kpaka" comes from a three-legged traditional seat (kpakai) that was frequently used by a British colonial worker called Rogers. His love for this seat changed the name of the village.
MATTRU, Jong Chiefdom, Bonthe District. Mattru is a Europeanized version of the true name, Mo-Tewoo. Present day Mattru Jong lies on the banks of the Jangay (Jong) river, the river that is called the Tehya River in the Moyamba District. The town Taima got its name from this river. On the other bank of the river, almost across the Centennial Secondary School campus, is a hamlet called Senehun. This hamlet was the only occupied territory for miles around. The present day Mattru was nothing but grass land with roaming buffalos. As legend goes, a hunter from Senehun crossed the river into this grassland in search of a game to kill for his family. He spent the whole day looking with no success. Towards the evening, his luck came up. He saw a large buffalo, took aim and shot it. The animal was too big for him to carry across the river in his small dugout canoe. So he carved a piece out of the body and took it home to Senehun for the day's meal. The next morning he brought his family over to see the kill. The family stayed and feasted on the meat for days. The news of this kill spread in Senehun like wild fire. Other hunters decided to make this grassland their hunting ground. These hunter were not disappointed, because every time they came across the river, they will not return empty handed. Some of the kills were too big to take back to Senehun. So they started putting up huts for their families. The news about the abundance of Buffalos in this grassland took a life of its own. So when a hunter who was seen preparing his gears for a hunt was asked where he was going, would reply, â€˜I am going to Mo-Tewoo,' the Place of the Buffalos, or simply, the Home of the Buffalos.
MOMANA, Bagruwa Chiefdom, Moyamba District. The town's name means "land of bananas."
MOWIE, Bagbo Chiefdom, is taken from the Mende word meaning "firewood."
PELEWAHUN, Mano-Dasse Chiefdom, Moyamba District. "Pele" in Mende means road, "wa" means big and "hun" means inside.
POTORU, Barri Chiefdom, Pujehun was traditionally "Kpotou." Derived from Mende, "kpoto" means "plenty." "kpotou" became "land of plenty." It is the headquarters town of Barri Chiefdom.
SENEHUN, Kamajei Chiefdom, Moyamba District. Senehun is the headquarters of Kamajei Chiefdom. "Sene-wo" in Mende means "welcome." Senehun is a place or town established to welcome warriors after winning a battle. There are several towns by this name in Moyamba District.
TAIAMA (1) is the headquarters of Korie Chiefdom in Moyamba District, located on the main Freetown - Bo motor road. The town name derives its name from the Taia River. Founded by Pa Korie, a Kpa-Mende hunter, Taiama for a long time in the pre-colonial period served as a headquarters for the Kpa-Mende people and their confederacy. (2) The town was named after the river that runs through, in Mende Te-le-yea-ma, meaning "Dark River." When the first settlers arrived by the bank of the Taia River, they settled by the river so that any enemy coming to attack them will be seeing from across the other side of the river: Te-le-yea, Dark River. It is the only chiefdom with a university.
TIKO (pronounced Ti-kor) Makpele Chiefdom, Pujehun District. From Mende, means "they don't know." This name became adopted, as opposed to the original name "Giko," because it sounded rude. The story is that the founder lived in another village when he founded Tiko. Interested people who asked whether or not he was trying to make a settlement got the answer "Gi ko," meaning "I don't know."
VAAMA KASWE, Korie Chiefdom, Moyamba District. "Vaa" in Mende means "get set," and "ma" means "in it." "Vaama" means "use it to get set or to gain momentum." In the days when people fought each other to gain territory, Vaama was a key town for such war ventures. Kaswe is the name of the mountain used to distinguish this Vaama from several other towns by the same name in the chiefdom and in the country.
YABAIMA, Jaiama-Bongor Chiefdom,Bo District. Yabaima was founded by two notable warriors of their times and is situated on the bank of a river called Seiyea. It was then named "Njabeima," meaning "a once river flooded area" in Mende. It was vulnerable to frequent war attacks in those days because of its founders, hence its location served as a hindrance to further attacks. Unfortunately, it was re-christened by the white man as "Yabaima," which has no Mende meaning today.
YOYEMA, Kaiyamba Chiefdom, Moyamba District, Yoyema (pronounced yawi-yeima) is a village situated four miles from Moyamba. The meaning of Yoyema is derived from two traditional beliefs. The first belief claims that the main stream where the villagers fetched water was surrounded by many trees that bore nuts, called 'yawi' in Mende. In order to distinguish the stream from other streams, the village folks used "yawi" as an adjective to describe the main stream. Hence, the name yawi yema, meaning "the yawi stream or water." Another tradition associates the meaning of the village with an arrogant woman called Yema. Because she disrespected everybody in the village, she was described as "disrespectful Yema" -- "yaw yema" in Mende.
KAMBIA, Magbema Chiefdom, is located along the Great Scarcies River, otherwise known as the River Kolenten. It is the headquarters of Magbema Chiefdom and Kambia District. Before the advent of the white man in Sierra Leone, a farmer and fisherman/hunter settled on the banks of the river where Kambia lies today. His name was Pa Kambi. As other natives from neighboring locales wandered about, they discovered Pa Kambi thriving on his trades. They, too, decided to settle down and named the area Kambia, meaning the town of Pa Kambi.
KATEMA, Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District. Katema is a small village in the northwest of Mambolo Chiefdom. This village derived its name from a name of a bird (bush fowl) in Temne. "Ka" means "to," "tem" means "bush fowl," and "ma" means "place." Located along the Little Scarcies river, the area was known for its wild fowl.
KUKUNA is the chiefdom headquarters town of Bramaia Chiefdom, Kambia District, situated on the north-western side of the district bordering Sierra Leone and Guinea, with the Kolenten River separating the two countries. Oral tradition has it that a great Susu hunter used to cross the river from the Guinean side to hunt antelopes and deer, for this region was, and is still, very rich in wild life. After a successful hunting expedition, the old hunter could not carry everything back to his base in Guinea, so he instructed his elder son, Brima (The chiefdom has its name from him) to go across the river and collect the remains of the animals. He had hidden the carcasses under a baobab tree, whose Susu name is "kukui." The suffix "na" means in Susu the "place of." Kukuna therefore means "the place of the baobab tree."
KYCHOM, Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District. Kychom is the headquarters of Samu Chiefdom, and takes its name from a Sherbro word meaning "a place to rest." During the tribal wars in Sierra Leone the town served as a refuge to the Sherbro ethnic group fleeing from the areas of fighting by canoe. They founded the village and called it "Kychom," which they were able to use as a resting place before moving on to either rejoin the fighting or return to their homes.
LUNSAR, Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District. Lunsar is a fairly big town in Port Loko district. Its most recent history has been an iron ore mining town. The ore, for the most part, is set in stone which forms a huge mountain, called Massaboin Hill. The word stone in the local Temne language is "Sar," and thus befits the area where the iron ore was found. Thus, the townâ€™s initial name was "Ro-Sar" meaning the place where the stones are found. Ro-sar later evolved to Lunsar during the colonial era.
MAKABARIE, Dibia Chiefdom, Port Loko District. "Makabarie" means "twins" in Temne. The town was named for two twin brothers who, along with their parents, moved to settle there from the nearby village of Gbombana.
MAKOMP, Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District. Makomp is about three km. from Lunsar. The word "makomp" means palm tree. It is where people of all the surrounding villages were going to fetch palm kernels and palm wine. Makomp is like a reservoir of palm treed for the surrounding villages. Up to now, it still holds that title.
MATHORA, Cholifa Chiefdom, Tonkolili District. Mathora is about four miles away from Magburaka, the district headquarters. It is the only village/town with a government secondary school for girls in the provinces. "Thora" in Temne means "put down" or "bring down." It was said that a traveller was passing by these group of huts. Wanting to know the name of the village, he decided to ask an old man he saw putting down some bags of salt. Replying, the old man said: "Come to think of it, we have not thought of a name for this village. But since I'm in the process of putting down (thora) these bags of salt when you asked, we might as well call it Thora." Everybody agreed, and the prefix "ma" was later added. Thus, Mathora.
MAYATA, Bombali District is a small Loko village, 12 miles from Makani. Pronounced MAI-THA, in Loko, maitha means 'town with food to eat'. 'Mai' means eat and 'Thaa' means town. The village had sufficient food to eat because the warrior (Pilleh) was protecting the village from the Temne aggressors who were plundering the harvests of the indigenous Loko natives in the District. Therefore, people from the neighbouring villages used to come there for food. Maitha has now been 'Britainised' to Mayata for spelling and better for the sake of pronunciation.
PATIFU-MAYEPPOH, Gbokolenken Chiefdom, Tonkolili District. The name Patifu means "new town". The nearby town of Mayeppoh is the old town. Mayeppoh means "scissors" in Temne. There are stones shaped like scissors in one of the highest mountains in the area which give the town its name. Since there is another Patifu near Yele, the chiefdom headquarters, this village is called Patifu-Mayeppoh.
PETIFU, Port Loko District. The name Petifu means " New Town". Petifu is located in the Northern province in the Port Loko District, 20 miles from Lungi Airport. It was created by migrants from present day Guinea. They arrived in that part of Sierra Leone many years ago and consisted of a mixture of tribal groups, including the Fullahs, the Susus and Temnes who lived together and gave the name Petifu, made up from two of the three languages: Susu and Temne -" Pet" means a place outside the bush in Temne, and "Fu" means new in Susu.
MARAKA, Gbonkolenken Chiefdom, Tonkolili District. This means the town where the "Rakas" live. Rakas are top members of the Poro Society, a society that is predominant in several communities of Sierra Leone.
ROGBIN, Sanda Tanraren Chiefdom, Bombali District. The name Rogbin means "where people swear". This means when the people of Rogbin swear they mean it and they do not eat their words, as it is a taboo. This village of over 200 houses is inhabited by a people who emphasise unity, as in the saying: "Never start a fight with a Rogbin man, or you stand to fight a whole village". They are a resilient, hospitable, and no-nonsense people who speak with one voice.
ROKORAY, Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District, is situated along the northern banks of the Great Scarcies River, AKA "Kolenten". It is about 3 sea miles from Rokupr, the headquarters town of the West African Rice Research Station. Being founded by people of the Soso tribe, the village derived her name from the Soso word "Koray" meaning "up". The fact that it is founded along the the northern banks of the Great Scarcies River, the name symbolises her location, "up" the river. The suffix "Samu" indicates the Chiefdom in the Kambia District where the village is founded. Notwithstanding the dominance of the Temne language among the village inhabitants, the Soso cultural influence remains manifest.
ROMANKNEH, Bombali District, Northern Province. Romankneh is one mile from Makeni going toward Kabala. It's from a Temne word meaning "hiding place." This small town of historical importance was well known as a hiding place for chiefs and their councils in times of war. It is believed to have been very safe and was fully guarded by very sacred societies of those days. It's the only town with a radio station and hospital, owned by the Wesleyan Mission. It was also notable as headquarters for the Fugerol Construction Company during construction of the Makeni-Kabala Road.
TAMBIAMA, Bombali District. (Loko) "Tambi" is the name of the river which borders the town; "ma" = "place of." A small river called the "Tambi River" surrounds this small Loko village eleven miles north of Makeni on the Kamakwie road. The river winds around and eventually joins with the Mabole.
YIRAIA, Sengbeh Chiefdom, Koinadugu District is a small village located southeast of Kabala. It derived its name from the first chief and founder, Alpha Yiraia. It became well known when one Chief Banjah (1892-1984), the younger brother of Alpha Yiraia, disappeared instead of dying since 1984.
BAAKA, Kailahun District. Also spelled "Baka" or "Baraka." Derived from the word "bika" which means "thank you" in Mende.
BAIAMA, Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono District. The town is located on the river Baia.
BANDAKORO, Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono District. Means "under the big cotton tree."
BOAJIBU, Simbaru Chiefdom, Kenema District. "Boaji" is the name of a hill found in this area before the town of Boajibu was founded. "Boajibu" thus means "under the Boaji hill." Simbaru, which is the name of the entire chiefdom, originated from the name of the first village in that area.
BUEDU, Kissi Tongi Chiefdom, Kailahun District. Buedu is situated within Kailahun District and is the headquarters of Kissi Tongi Chiefdom. The name "Buedu" is derived from the word meaning an area of rich soil for farming and other agricultural services. Kissi Tongi Chiefdom was once the only chiefdom for all the Kissi area/territory. According to the history of Kissi people, Kailondo, who founded the town of Kailahun, now headquarters of Luawa Chiefdom, was once the chief/warrior for the Kissi land. Kailondo ruled Kissi land/chiefdom for many years. In the history of Sierra Leone, Kailondo has been mentioned as one of greatest warriors of all time. Those who have written the history of Sierra Leone said a lot about the great warrior Kailondo when he fought and defeated another warrior, N'dawa. Through the greatness of Kailondo, more land was acquired when he defeated those warriors from the Liberian side. Buedu, has been one of the border towns between Sierra Leone and Liberia. Buedu has a central market on Fridays, where people from both Liberia and Sierra Leone meet to transact business.
BUNUMBU, Peje West (Kpejewaa) Chiefdom, Kailahun District. "Bunumbu" is anglicized from "Gbonibu," meaning "under the gboni tree." The town is located sixteen miles from Segbwema. It is the chiefdom headquarters town for the Peje West Chiefdom, and is home to the Bunumbu Teachers College.
CHEGBASIMA, Sandor Chiefdom, Kono District. "Place where the penis is beaten." It is a very remote village. In the days when people still wore loincloths, the penis would swing back and forth and knock against legs before one reached it.
FAAKOR, Soa Chiefdom, Kono District. From "Faa" (elephant grass) and "kor" (under). Under the elephant grass.
FAAMA, Soa Chiefdom, Kono District. "Faa" is from "faagbaneh", or an area of ground covered by a rock, and "ma" means place. The village was founded next to a rock floor which people use for a variety of purposes.
FOINDU, Kamaa Chiefdom, Kono District. "Foin" for "beg (ask for)" and "du" for village. People originally asked for land to farm, and this eventually became a village settlement.
GBANFAOR, Sandor Chiefdom, Kono District. From "Gbanfa" meaning "trousers" and "A or" meaning "in it" - inside the trousers. This village was named in humourouse response to Koakor in Gbense Chiefdom, meaning "inside a woman's lapa."
GELEHUN, Jawei Chiefdom, Kailahun District is about seven miles from the Moa River. The name means "where the village stopped." At that time, there was no other village beyond Gelehun.
GIEHUN (NGIEHUN) is the headquarter of the Fallay Section in the Lower Bambara Chiefdom. Ngie-yei in Mende means hill or mountain. The Mende people hardly clearly distinguish between a mountain and a hill. Ngie-ye-hun means inside the hills. During the war years, people took refuge in areas where they were most protected and where they could easily spot the advance of the enemy. 'Hiding' between the hills became a common practice (cf. 'Sokoi-hun' in the just concluded rebel war). As the name suggests, Giehun is surrounded by hills, and legend has it that it produced some of the fiercest fighters in all the wars before the 1900s. The spelling was modernised to suit certain circumstances.
GIEMA, Dama Chiefdom got its name because it sits up on a hill. You drive up a hill to enter the town and also go down the hill to exit. The word "giema" in the Mende language means "on the hill". Once the people decided to settle on that site, they decided to name it "Giema".
GORAHUN, Tonkia Chiefdom, Kenema District. "Gorahun" means jungle forest where a lot of animals live.
KAINKORDU, Soa Chiefdom, Kono District. From "Kaineh" (money), "kor" (under) and "du" (village). Named for the sacred cotton tree in the late Paramount Chief Gbenda's compound where, according to legend, people used to find coins. One story relates that the town was founded by a farmer named Kainba from the nearby town of Kundima who had a farm and baffa at the site of present-day Kainkordu. Eventually he built a house there and others followed him. The town became Kainbadu. Then a Gbenda warrior came along and drove the farmer out. He changed the name to Kainkordu so there would be no reminder of the original settler. Kainkordu is the headquarters town for Soa Chiefdom.
KAMADU, Soa Chiefdom, Kono District. "Kama" (top) and "du" (village). The founder of the village was known for his skill at tops, a gambling game.
KAYIMA, Sando Chiefdom, Kono District. The name means "by the Kayi River." This town is the chiefdom headquarters of Sando Chiefdom, the biggest and richest chiefdom in the Kono District of Sierra Leone. It was nicknamed "Kono London" in the 1950s because it was the cleanest town and well planned with street names.
KOARDU, Gbane-Kandor Chiefdom, Kono District. "Koa" (big rice) plus "du" (village). The headquarters of Gbane-Kandor Chiefdom, named because it produces abundant rice crops.
KOMENDECHA, Kamaa Chiefdom, Kono District. From "koÎµÎµ" for "rice"; "mendÎµ", a small knife; and "ya", to take. Rice which is harvested with a small knife. The small village grew out of a farm.
KOAKOR, Gbense Chiefdom, Kono District. Means a settlement under a large tree called a "koakonÎµ". Also has a second meaning meaning "under a woman's lapa". Another village, Gbanfaor, was named in response to this second meaning.
KOQUIMA, Kono District. The original spelling was "Koakoyima," meaning a waterside to wash clothes.
KUMALA, Nieni Chiefdom, Koinadugu District. The name means "a person who talks too much" in the Koranko language. It was first settled by a man who was said to be very talkative.
KUNDIMA, Soa Chiefdom, Kono District. From "kundi" (hair) and "ma" (place). Located on the bank of the Kundi River, named for its apparent colour.
KWIDADU, Gbense Chiefdom, Kono District. From the words "kwii" for "leopard", "daa" for group of leopards, and "du" for village". The village was established where there were numerous leopards.
LALEHUN - TONGO FIELD, Lower Bambara Chiefdom, Kenema District, also known as Lalehun - Niawalokoma (Nia-wa-lo-ko-ma, meaning "the leader of the wives' hand") is located in the Lower Bambara Chiefdom, Kenema District, the Eastern part of Sierra Leone, West Africa. Lalehun is the headquarter town of both the Niawa Section and the entire Tongo Field area. It is situated on top of a small hill and almost surrounded by the Tongo River; from the northwest to the northeast, and on the northern part of the town is a small creek called Ngimayei (meaning bloody stream) which enemies never crossed without being killed. Lalehun - Tongo Field is about 27 miles from Kenema and 8 miles from Panguma, the chiefdom headquarters. Historically, the town, La-le-hun, got its name from the furious traditional fighters who were the inhabitants of the town many years ago. They fortified the town so that any enemy trying to invade never survived, and his mouth was cut off â€“ thus the name, La-le-hun. In the early 1950s, Europeans from the Sierra Leone Selection Trust (SLST) Ltd in Kono came to prospect the Tongo River and the land for diamonds. They were so impressed that they came back to establish another mining area, a subsidiary of SLST in Kono with Yengema as the headquarters. So the Tongo River and entire land was named Tongo Field, comprising of the following towns: Lalehun, Kpandebu, Upper and Lower Tomkpombu, Tongola, Semewabu, Bomie, Ngaliama, Landoma, Njagbahun, Sokaigbetema and some other villages. In the 1970s, SLST was nationalized and became NDMC (National Diamond Mining Company, Sierra Leone Limited).
MAKA KPAKEIBU, Kailahun District. "Maka", a mispronunciation of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, derived from its flat white sand topography. "Kpakeibu" meaning "under the roof drip line," the line formed by rain water from roofs where villagers gather rain water in buckets.
MALEMA, Yawei Chiefdom, Kailahun District. Malema is fourteen miles north of Bunumbu, and seven miles south of Ngandorhun. Malema is so called because of its proximity to the Male River. Literally, it means "on the Male," with the "e" sounded as in "well."
NGEGBWEMA, Upper Bambara Chiefdom, Kailahun District. The meaning of the word "Ngegbwema" is "Looking at the sky." The history of the village goes back to the period of tribal wars among the Mende people. It was founded by a warrior called Kenei (Honourable) Ndoli Felewa. His strategy was to avoid surprise attacks by settling his warriors on the highest hill in the area, from where they could look-out in all directions without any obstruction. The sky was the limit for these warriors. There are many villages and towns in Sierra Leone that carry the name "Ngegbwema."
PANGUMA is the headquarters of Lower Bambara Chiefdom, which includes the diamondiferous Tongo Field. The original name was Kpanguima. Kpanguima means a secluded area, almost invariably at the outskirts of a town or village in Mendeland where young women are initiated into the Sande society. A long, long time ago, legend has it that a powerful Sowei from neighbouring Dodo used to initiate young girls in this particular area. (Sowei is the head of the Sande society). She was allegedly the wife of one of the warriors. The area was well fortified against invading warriors. The Sowei became so popular that people travelled from afar to have their girls initiated by her. Little by little, those who came refused to go back, and eventually built huts to stay. The town became prosperous with a bevy of young beautiful girls. Men from all over came to court the new initiates. Whenever a young prosperous young man, a chief, or any one else wanted a wife, he would go to this place called Kpanguima, the area for young initiates. However, like most mende names, it was difficult for the whiteman to pronounce correctly, so he chatted a shortcut, Panguma, without losing much of its original meaning. To date, the town is renowned for its young beautiful girls, irrespective of the destruction by the rebels.
PUJEHUN, Lower Bambara Chiefdom, Kenema District is 64 kilometres from the district headquarters town of Kenema and near the diamond-rich town of Tongo. It was named for the former warrior Nyagua, who was residing at nearby Panguma. When Nyagua and his men went to battle, they used the site of the present village as their resting place. There was a lot of pepper growing there, which the Mendes call "puei." At any time they reached that area, they called it Pujehun.
SAMBAYA, Mofindor Chiefdom, Kono District. A long time ago the inhabitants of the town asked their loved ones to bring them a souvenir upon their return. The meaning in Krio ("Send for me" or "samba me"), Sambaya in Kissi means just that, and it became the name of the town.
SEGBWEMA, Njaluahun Chiefdom, Kailahun District, is seven miles away from the Moa River. In the sixties, the town used to be a major trading centre in the Eastern Province. The name "Segbwema" is historical: Long before some of us were born, there was a man who discovered this town. He was called Sei. According to tradition, he was the chief in the then Segbwema and its surroundings. He lived in the old town, which is now called Tehyama. His wife was pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy. Naming his son after him, the boy was also called Sei. So what happened? All the people in the surrounding areas came to visit this newborn baby. So they said in Mende (the widely spoken language in southern and eastern Sierra Leone) "Mu li ma Sei lo gbe ma," which means, "We are going to to look at Sei."
SEMIBU, Njaluahun Chiefdom, Kailahun District. Segbwema is the chiefdom Headquarters. This village is about two and half miles away to Moa Barracks, Daru. The name is derived from the word ''Semi'' meaning cane, and ''bu'' meaning under. The village has cluster of cane sticks that attract a lot of people in the surrounding villages who have interest in building huts, fences or even making drinking cup out of cane stick. In the past, when the British were in the military, and even up till now, the soldiers go to cut cane sticks in this village whenever there is a festival such as Easter or Christmas in the barracks. Besides, the source of drinking water is from under these cane sticks. If one could ask where are going to fetch water, the answer is always to be under Semibu - hence the name.
TEFEYA, Sando Chiefdom, Kono District, was one of the richest mining bases for the National Diamond Mining Company (SLST/NDMC) and hence very metropolitan. Just a few meters from its southern flank passes the Baffin River, which brings in rich deposits of gold and diamonds. The name "Tefeya" bears its significance in the historic peaceful abode for warriors who came to settle after tribal wars. (Tefeeh, in Kono, expresses the softness of a gentle breeze.) Hence the metropolitan aspect can be traced far back into the background of local chiefdom warriors who came to find rest after conquests, or defeats. The great River Baffin provided a barrier against invaders coming in from Nimiyama or Nimikoro.
WOAMA, Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono District. "By the Woa River."
WOLOMA, Malema Chiedom, Kailahun District. Before Woloma acquired its present name, it was called "Keguma" after a nearby small stream of the same name. The present name is derived from the Mende word "woloo" which means "to listen," and "ma" meaning "to." During the days when people were still fighting one another for territorial gain, Woloma was used as a site (because of its high hills) where people could go and listen for advancing enemies of war.
YAGBYA, Nimikoro Chiefdom, Kono District. From three words, "yaa" for "lion"; "gbee" meaning "path"; and "ya" meaning "on". The town used to be in thick forest, and the assumption is that the town was founded by a hunter who built it on the lion's path.