Sierra Leone has become the latest West African state to win independence, after more than 150 years of British colonial rule.
The new nation was born at the stroke of midnight, when its green, white and blue flag was unfurled. A huge crowd, gathered at Brookfields Playground in Freetown to watch the historic moment, broke into tumultuous cheering.
Independence Day formally began as the Duke of Kent handed over royal instruments recognising Sierra Leone as an independent nation.
Sir Maurice Dorman, Governor since 1956, was then sworn in as Governor-General by Chief Justice Beoku Betts. Continue reading
With kind permission from the CEO of Awareness Times
Since 1971 until the overthrow of the APC by the NPRC in April 1992, Sierra Leone under the APC had always celebrated April 19th as its National Holiday. April 19th 1971 was the date that the Siaka Stevens led Government got the assent from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to declare that Sierra Leone was now a Republic.
In this article, Awareness Times Newspaper is taking a look at the events leading to this declaration from the perspective of top insider of that Siaka Stevens APC regime. Read more on Awareness Times
A Time to Work and a Time to Rest
Much of my book (What Life has taught me) has dealt with what life has taught me. At 78 I am glad to claim that I am still learning in the school of life and sometimes hardly receiving passing marks. Those who feel that they have nothing more to learn, or are tired of learning, are most probably tired of living. I am certainly not a member of that club, but I am aware of the limitations resulting from increasing age.
The leadership of a country like Sierra Leone is a very demanding job, combining responsibility for the day-to-day affairs of the country and planning for the future with diplomatic work and the performance of ceremonial functions.
Moreover, the African tradition being what it is, our people expect their leader to be also the father of the nation, to hear personally complaints and suggestions, to settle disputes, including personal ones, to attend functions, to relieve cases of hardship and often to represent the country abroad.
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Sierra Leone Remembered
Esther Megill had an extraordinary life experience in Sierra Leone as a medical technologist-extraordinary in the work she did, in the work
“…Sierra Leone under former president Siaka Stevens once tested that socialism road. Albeit president Stevens did not openly declare this country a socialist state, most if not all of his policies had their roots in socialism…the corruption that permeated the political landscape of that time showed that socialism as a system of governance would never be a panacea for this country’s political salvation….the half-assed socialist policies of Siaka Stevens which were continued by ex-president Joseph Saidu Momoh are some of the reasons why this country is at present in a pretty prickle…”
In 1964 Dr. Karefa-Smart hoped to succeed Sir Milton Margai as Prime Minister on the death of the latter. On this occasion, the SLPP in its wisdom and within its constitutional rights voted for Sir Albert Margai in preference to Karefa Smart refused to accept this democratic decision. He resigned from his party and started courting a relationship with the Opposition Party of Siaka Stevens, the All Peoples Congress (APC) as from that day. At the same time, he wrote to all the Paramount Chiefs of the Northern Province informing them of his new political relationship and urging them to transfer their allegiance to the Opposition Party. Karefa-Smart claims to have affinity with the Northern Province, of Sierra Leone. He did not relent in his efforts to revenge against Albert Margai until the latter fell from office in 1967.
When Siaka Stevens eventually became Prime Minister, Karefa-Smart hoped to be appointed to the vacant post of Governor-General as his reward for his support for Siaka Stevens. When his effort in this regard failed, he engineered a coup against Siaka Stevens in 1970. He escaped from custody to the United States where he remained until Siaka Stevens left office in 1985. His fellow coup plotters were tried and convicted. Some were executed. Others including Cpl. Foday Sankoh received terms of imprisonment. His present affiliation the coup of 25th May 1997 is therefore nothing strange to his nature or the people of Sierra Leone.
On the infrastructural level, old-fashioned and dangerous ferries gave way to modern, concrete bridges; footpaths to motor feeder roads, laterite roads, often impassable during the rainy season, to asphalted highways; oil lamps to electric lighting; bacteria bearing brook and ditch water to treated pipe-borne water, shacks and frame houses to modern multi-storeyed buildings. The almost total dependence on foreign vested interests, which political independence from Britain had done little to reduce, gave way to a substantial and growing Sierra Leone share in the management and control of key companies in industry, mining, commerce, banking and insurance. In foreign affairs, virtually exclusive relations with a very small number of traditional partners gave way to cooperation with a broad spectrum of countries around the globe. Continue reading
Perhaps one of the most painful memories that I have is that of the trial we were forced to conduct in order to weed out destructive and evil forces within our number. I can scarcely look back on these treason trials without experiencing very strong emotions. Nobody likes to come across such cases of disloyalty as I encountered; nobody likes to know that people they have trusted prove to be acting in the worst possible interests, while all the time professing loyalty. I would not wish such a confrontation with deception on my worst enemy — it is something that nobody should have to go through. But I suppose that it is something to our credit that we did come through it, and we survived it only a little conscious of the taste of bitterness that it left behind.
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Isaac Theophilus Akunna Wallace-Johnson (1895 – 10 May 1965) was a Sierra Leonean and British West African workers’ leader, journalist, activist and politician. Born into a poor Creole family in Sierra Leone, he emerged as a natural leader in school. After attending United Methodist Collegiate School for two years, he dropped out and took a job as an officer in the customs department in 1913. He was dismissed for helping organize a labor strike, but later reinstated to his position a year later. After resigning from his job, he enlisted as a clerk with the Carrier Corps during World War I. After being demobilized in 1920, Wallace-Johnson moved from job to job, before settling as a clerk in the Freetown municipal government. He claimed to have exposed a corruption scandal, which resulted in the incarceration of top officials, including the mayor. After being fired from this job in 1926, he left Sierra Leone and became a sailor. He joined a national seamen union and it is believed that he also joined the Communist Party. In 1930, he helped form the first trade union in Nigeria and attended the International Trade Union Conference of Negro Workers inHamburg, where he established a number of contacts. He published articles and edited the Negro Worker, a journal devoted to uniting black workers around the world. He traveled to Moscow, where he claimed to have attended classes on Marxism-Leninism theory, union organization and political agitation.
Written by David Tam-Baryoh
Two serious historical blames have often been dished out by several of Sierra Leone’s political discussants against, Siaka Probyn Stevens and Sir Albert Margai; two prominent political leaders of Sierra Leone. While some have accused Siaka Stevens of having militarized the politics of Sierra Leone, others have accused Sir Albert Margai of ever investing in the tribalization of the country’s politics. Read more
With regard to the holding of a general election before independence, which the P.N.P., the U.P.P. and several other parties had persistently agitated for, I took it that this was a foregone conclusion for Milton Margai himself had only recently, in London, publicly stated that there would be a pre-independence general election for the people to decide for independence or not. In addition to the Premier’s statement on the issue, general elections had been a prerequisite for the granting of independence by the British in the case of other African countries, even in Ghana where Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party was not only unquestionably truly representative of the people, but had been in office only two years at the time, whereas the S.L.P.P. Government would be four years old in 1961, when we anticipated independence, with only one year to run.