Sierra Leone Company

Sierra Leone Company

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In 1786 Jonas Hanway established the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor. This was an attempt to help black people living in London who had been victims of the slave trade. Simon Schama has argued in Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and Empire (2005) that the harsh winter of 1785-86 was one of the factors that encouraged Hanway to do something for the significant number of Africans living in poverty: "In the East End and Rotherhithe: tattered bundles of human misery, huddled in doorways, shoeless, sometimes shirtless even in the bitter cold or else covered with filthy rags."

Granville Sharp came up with the idea that this black community should be allowed to to start a colony of free slaves in Sierra Leone. This became known as the Province of Freedom. The country was chosen largely on the strength of evidence from the explorer, Mungo Park and a encouraging report from the botanist, Henry Smeathman, who had recently spent three years in the area. The British government supported Sharp's plan and agreed to give £12 per African towards the cost of transport. Sharp contributed more than £1,700 to the venture. Several supporters of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade invested money into what became known as the Province of Freedom. This included William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Samuel Whitbread, William Smith and Henry Thornton.

Richard S. Reddie, the author of Abolition! The Struggle to Abolish Slavery in the British Colonies (2007) has argued: "Some detractors have since denounced the Sierra Leone project as repatriation by another name. It has been seen as a high-minded yet hypocritical way of ridding the country of its rising black population... Some in Britain wanted Africans to leave because they feared they were corrupting the virtues of the country's white women, while others were tired of seeing them reduced to begging on London streets."

Granville Sharp was able to persuade a small group of London's poor to travel to Sierra Leone. As Hugh Thomas, the author of The Slave Trade (1997), has pointed out: "A ship was charted, the sloop-of-war Nautilus was commissioned as a convoy, and on 8th April the first 290 free black men and 41 black women, with 70 white women, including 60 prostitutes from London, left for Sierra Leone under the command of Captain Thomas Boulden Thompson of the Royal Navy". When they arrived they purchased a stretch of land between the rivers Sherbo and Sierra Leone.

The settlers sheltered under old sails, donated by the navy. They named the collection of tents Granville Town after the man who had made it all possible. Granville Sharp wrote to his brother that "they have purchased twenty miles square of the finest and most beautiful country... that was ever seen... fine streams of fresh water run down the hill on each side of the new township; and in the front is a noble bay."

The reality was very different. Adam Hochschild, the author of Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery (2005) has argued: "The expedition's delayed departure from England meant that it had arrived on the African coast in the midst of the malarial rainy season.... The ground was another major problem: steep, forested slopes with thin topsoil... When they managed to coax a few English vegetables out of the ground, ants promptly devoured the leaves."

Soon after arriving the colony suffered from an outbreak of malaria. In the first four months alone, 122 died. One of the white settlers wrote to Sharp: "I am very sorry indeed, to inform you, dear Sir, that... I do not think there will be one of us left at the end of a twelfth month... There is not a thing, which is put into the ground, will grow more than a foot out of it... What is more surprising, the natives die very fast; it is quite a plague seems to reign here among us."

Adam Hochschild has pointed out: "As supplies at Granville Town dwindled and crops failed, the increasingly frustrated settlers turned to the long-time mainstay of the local economy, the slave trade.... Three white doctors from Granville Town ended up at the thriving slave depot... at Bance Island." Granville Sharp was furious when he discovered what was happening and wrote to the settlers: "I could not have conceived that men who were well aware of the wickedness of slave dealing, and had themselves been suffers (or at least many of them) under the galling yoke of bondage to slave-holders... should become so basely depraved as to yield themselves instruments to promote, and extend, the same detestable oppression over their brethren."

Sharp refused to accept the negative reports coming from Sierra Leone. He wrote that he had chosen "the most eligible spot for... settlement on the whole coast of Africa". With the financial support of William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Samuel Whitbread, Sharp dispatched another shipload of black and white settlers and supplies. It was not long before Sharp began receiving reports that many of the new settlers were "wicked enough to go into the service of the slave trade".

In 1789, a Royal Navy warship making its down the coast fired a shot that set a Sierra Leone village on fire. The local chief took revenge by giving the settlers three days to depart, and then burning Granville Town to the ground. The remaining settlers were rescued by the slave traders on Bance Island. Sharp was devastated when he discovered that the last of the men he had sent to Africa were now also involved in the slave trade.

Thomas Clarkson suggested to Granville Sharp that Alexander Falconbridge should be sent to Sierra Leone. Falcolnbridge was appointed as a commercial agent with a £300 salary. He took a large number of gifts paid for by the company. Soon after arriving he used these gifts to persuade the local chiefs to let the settlers reoccupy their overgrown land. Falconbridge's wife, Anna Maria, was concerned about the job facing her husband. "It was surely a premature, hair-brained, and ill digested scheme, to think of sending such a number of people all at once, to a rude, barbarous and unhealthy country, before they were certain of possessing an acre of land."

In 1791 the Sierra Leone Company took over from Granville Sharp's failed Province of Freedom. Henry Thornton became the chairman and one of his first actions was to sack Alexander Falconbridge, who had been a disaster as the company's commercial agent. John Clarkson was now sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where there was a community of former American slaves who had fought for the British in the War of Independence, to recruit settlers for the abolitionist colony. With the support of Thomas Peters, the black loyalist leader, he led a fleet of fifteen vessels, carrying 1196 settlers, to Sierra Leone, which they reached on 6th March, 1792. Although sixty-five of the Nova Scotians died during the voyage, they continued to support Clarkson who they called "their Moses".

John Clarkson became governor of the colony that was appropriately named as Freetown. However, as Hugh Brogan has argued: "It was the understanding between Clarkson and the Nova Scotians that got the colony through its very difficult first year. Clarkson's services were at first generally recognized. But great strains arose between him and the company directors, partly religious (he was not sympathetic to the insistent evangelicalism of Henry Thornton, the company chairman), partly because of the usual tension between head office and the man on the spot, and above all because Clarkson insisted on putting the views and interests of the Nova Scotians first, whereas the directors wanted the enterprise to show an early profit, so that they could compete successfully with the slave traders and bring to Africa Christianity." Clarkson was dismissed as governor on 23rd April 1793.

Henry Thornton, a highly successful banker, used his business skills to run the Sierra Leone Company. His biographer, Christopher Tolley, has pointed out: "The company aimed to confer on Africa the blessings of European religion and civilization through a trading operation that would be both profitable and free from the taint of slavery. Thornton was the company's most influential director and remained chairman throughout its life, writing virtually all its published reports and administering Sierra Leone from offices alongside his bank in Birchin Lane."

In March 1794 Zachary Macaulay became governor of the colony. The historian, John Oldfield has argued: "A tireless and painstaking administrator, Macaulay steered the colony through a difficult period in its short history. Undeterred by a hostile environment and disputes among the settlers, he opened trade negotiations with the Fula kingdom and in September 1794 successfully resisted an invasion by French revolutionary forces. When he handed over the governorship in 1799 the capital, Freetown, was a bustling settlement of some 1200 inhabitants and the centre of a considerable trade with the interior." After Macaulay left in 1799 the thriving community declined.

In 1808 it was decided to transfer the Sierra Leone Company to the crown, the British government accepted Wilberforce's suggestion that Thomas Perronet Thompson would be a suitable governor. He introduced an extensive range of reforms and made serious allegations against the colony's former administrators. Stephen Tomkins, the author of William Wilberforce (2007) has argued: "He (Perronet Thompson) single-handedly abolished apprenticeship and freed the slaves. He filed scandalised reports to the colonial office. Wilberforce told him he was being rash and hasty, and he and his colleagues voted unanimously for his dismissal. Wilberforce advised him to go quietly for the sake of his career."

It began as a rescue operation for the Province of Freedom which Granville Sharp had nurtured almost single-handedly for the last four years. In April 1790 the little settlement was destroyed in a dispute between an African chief and local slave traders. At the time Sharp was engaged in organising a British agency to trade with the settlers in African produce. It was called the St George's Bay Company after the great natural harbour at Sierra Leone. Unable to get government help to relieve the scattered settlers, the Company sent some relief supplies. More would not be done by the "mercantile Gentlemen" now involved until they were legally incorporated. This work was stimulated by the arrival in London of Thomas Peters as the delegate of black Loyalists now living in Nova Scotia who wanted to join the Province of Freedom. With 99 subscribers and a capital of £100,000 the Sierra Leone Company (as it was now called) received its charter from Parliament. Most of the Abolition Committee members took out shares as did benevolent merchants and bankers. Wilberforce and Clarkson each had 10 shares at £50 each and both were elected as directors.

Shares were eagerly sought and Clarkson worried that some would fall into the hands of West India merchants. Tipped off that an attempt would be made at one subscribers' meeting to seat a

West India director Clarkson hastily rounded up proxies from country shareholders and offended Wilberforce's good friend the Reverend Thomas Gisborne in the process. He asked Gisborne for his proxy without troubling to say why....

The nature of the colony was radically altered as evangelical businessmen replaced Sharp. To attract investors the government was taken out of the settlers' hands and placed in the Company's in London. Sharp had to accept a number of "humiliating changes" or leave his infant colony destitute.

William Wilberforce, the most celebrated campaigner against the slave trade, was also implicated in slavery and the trade, according to a forthcoming book about him and the Clapham sect, written, it so happens, by me. Having given 20 years of his life to the struggle, after the Abolition Act was passed in 1807, he allowed the abolitionist colony of Sierra Leone, which the Clapham sect managed, to use slave labour and buy and sell slaves.

This is not a claim I make with the relish of trying to bring down an over-venerated icon a peg or two. I'm a critical fan of Wilberforce for his central role in the astounding achievement in abolition, which without his stamina would certainly have failed.

Neither is it a case of reading too much between the lines of meagre evidence. The facts are indisputably clear from colonial office manuscripts in the Public Record Office, whatever interpretation one might put on them. It's just a matter of information that biographers of Wilberforce have not picked up on – a point I make without any great arrogance, having been one of them myself.

The story starts 15 years before the abolition of the slave trade, when Wilberforce and the Clapham sect founded the colony of Sierra Leone as a new front in the abolition campaign – to resettle former slaves and establish legitimate commerce with Africa. They continued to effectively manage it when it became a crown colony on the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.

After abolition, the British navy patrolled the Atlantic seizing slave ships. The crew were arrested, but what to do with the African captives? With the knowledge and consent of Wilberforce and friends, they were taken to Sierra Leone and put to slave labour in Freetown.

They were called "apprentices", but they were slaves. The governor of Sierra Leone paid the navy a bounty per head, put some of the men to work for the government, and sold the rest to landowners. They did forced labour, under threat of punishment, without pay, and those who escaped to neighbouring African villages to work for wages were arrested and brought back. Women were "given away".

The one difference by which apprenticeship was distinguished from slavery was that it had a maximum term of 14 years – and in fact apprentices were generally freed a lot sooner. But this only makes it temporary rather than permanent slavery.

The first crown governor of Sierra Leone, Lt Thomas Perronet Thompson, turned up when this was already underway. He was an abolitionist protege of Wilberforce, chosen by him for the job, and he was appalled at what was happening. "These apprenticeships", he complained, "have after 16 years successful struggle at last introduced actual slavery into the colony".

He single-handedly abolished apprenticeship and freed the slaves. Wilberforce advised him to go quietly for the sake of his career, which he did and indeed eventually became a general and MP.

What are we to make of it all? No interpretation that involves Wilberforce being corrupt, or insincere in his abolitionism, can possibly hold water. Vast amounts of his private letters and even privater journals are publicly available, and they reveal a man of extraordinary integrity and an implacable and lifelong (if slightly sentimental) hatred of slavery.

The key I think is that the apprenticeship system was explicitly authorised in the 1807 Abolition Act. Wilberforce told Thompson, "I wish I had time to go into particulars respecting the difficulties which forced us into acquiescing in the system of apprenticing". Which is tantalising, but also suggests that Wilberforce had made a political decision to support it as a government policy.

My theory is that Wilberforce and the Clapham sect believed that the Abolition Act would not get through the House of Lords without the apprenticeship clause, and once it was passed felt duty bound to support the system against Thompson's maverick actions.

But if so, and if Wilberforce was right that without apprenticeship the abolition bill would not have been passed, then it follows that he made the right choice to support it. Before abolition, 40,000 African people each year were being made slaves by the British. After abolition, several hundred of them a year were still ending up as slaves in Freetown.

It is a bitter irony, and a disappointment, but it does seem that Wilberforce was faced with a choice between two evils, and chose the less.



Sierra Leone remains among the world’s poorest countries, ranking 180 th out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index in 2011. Decades of economic decline and 11 years of armed conflict had dramatic consequences on the economy. Poverty remains widespread with more than 60% of the population living on less than US$ 1.25 a day and unemployment and illiteracy levels remain high, particularly among youth. However, Sierra Leone has made considerable progress since the end of the civil war in 2002, consolidating peace, democracy and improving development indicators amid rising rates of economic growth.


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, 1,200 freed slaves from Nova Scotia joined the original settlers, the Maroons. Another group of slaves rebelled in Jamaica and travelled to Freetown in 1800. Through the efforts of men such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharpe, Lord Mansfield formed an administration in 1806, which was instrumental in the British Empire’s abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The British established a naval base in Freetown to patrol against illegal slave ships. A fine of £100 was established for every slave found on a British ship.

In 1808, Sierra Leone officially became a crown colony with the land possessions of Sierra Leone Company (formerly known as St George’s Bay Company) transferred to the crown. In 1833, British Parliament passed the Emancipation Act and slavery was finally abolished. By 1855, over 50,000 freed slaves had settled in Freetown. Known as the Krios, the repatriated settlers of Freetown live today in a multi-ethnic country. Though English is the official language, Krio is widely spoken throughout the country allowing different ethnic groups a common language.

Sierra Leone gained independence from the British on April 27 th 1961. Since independence, the country has experienced many challenges in the social, economic and political spheres. From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone was devastated by civil war after a rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front, intervened in an attempt to overthrow the country’s Joseph Momoh Government. The conflict, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, was characterized by acts of extreme brutality and resulted in over 50,000 deaths and the displacement of over 2 million people. A UN Peacekeeping and subsequent British military intervention resulted in the war being declared over on January 18 th 2002. The country has made tremendous strides since the cessation of conflict to establish good governance and consolidate peace and security, and is often cited as a success story in peacebuilding.



Despite Sierra Leone’s important progress in consolidating peace and strengthening democracy since the end of the conflict in 2002, it places low in the human development category, ranking 180 th out of 187 countries and territories. While life expectancy has increased from 39 years in 2000 to 48 years in 2012, around 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line.

Although Sierra Leone has experienced positive economic growth in the past decade, the country remains heavily dependent on aid, with about 50% of public investment programmes financed by external resources. Inflation remains high due to internal factors and external disturbances, including rising food and fuel prices. Despite improved domestic revenue mobilization, including through the introduction of a goods and services tax, the fiscal deficit widened in 2011 due to a higher wage bill, fuel subsidies and spending on infrastructure projects.

A combination of factors is holding back the further economic recovery of the country. These include a largely unchanged economic structure at low levels of productivity, with agriculture remaining the mainstay of the economy (46% of Gross Domestic Product) and providing employment for about 75% of the rapidly growing population inequalities in life expectancy, gender, education and income an inadequate, poorly maintained infrastructure shortcomings in the business climate despite recent gains and, as a consequence of these factors, a small private sector.

The youth population, aged 15-35, comprises one third of the population of Sierra Leone and youth unemployment was a major root cause of the outbreak of civil conflict in Sierra Leone. Approximately 70% of youth are underemployed or unemployed and an estimated 800,000 youth today are actively searching for employment. Furthermore, illiteracy remains a persistent challenge and youth that lack that skills and education find it extremely difficult to compete for the limited jobs available.

Sierra Leone has a Gender Inequality Index value of 0.662, ranking 137 th out of 146 countries in 2011, reflecting significant gender-based inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity. In Sierra Leone, 13.2% of parliamentary seats are held by women and 9.5% of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education compared to 20% of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 live births, 970 women die from pregnancy related causes.

Recovery and development are also threatened by vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters. Climate change will lead to low yields of critical crops and, potentially, an annual loss of between $600 million and $1.1 billion in crop revenues by the end of the century. Water, soil and forest resources are threatened by population growth, the dependence of energy consumption on biomass (80% of the total), unsustainable mining activities, pollution of rivers, and rising demands from agribusiness, resulting in massive deforestation (3,000 hectares per annum) and increased vulnerability to soil erosion and landslides.


Sierra Leone has made significant progress over the past decade in terms of post-conflict recovery and is now firmly on the path towards the further consolidation of peace and democracy and long-term sustainable development. The post-conflict economic performance of Sierra Leone has been strong. Growth in Gross Domestic Product picked up from 4.5% in 2010 to 5.3% in 2011, with positive contributions from all sectors of the economy. Real Gross Domestic Product is projected to expand by a staggering 50% in 2012, driven by a jump in iron ore production, but even without that the economy is projected to grow by 6% per annum on average during 2012-2014.

With the successful conduct of the 2002 and 2007 general elections, Local Council Elections in 2008 and a number of by-elections held in recent years, Sierra Leone has made important gains in the strengthening of its post-conflict democracy and progress towards self-sufficient administration of its electoral system. On November 17 2012, Sierra Leone’s Electoral Management Bodies conducted free, fair and peaceful Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections, and the first time that the National Electoral Commission has taken a leading role in organizing and executing the polls. The high voter turnout, with 87% of eligible voters exercising their right, was a clear sign of the country’s strong commitment to continued peace, good governance and development.

The institutional frameworks and capabilities needed to secure greater peace and respect for human rights have been improved in recent years, for instance, through the use of creative approaches such as ‘Saturday Courts’ which help to address the substantial backlog of sexual and gender-based violence cases in the country. As a sign of its commitment to reduce the gender gap and empower women, the Government introduced three Gender Laws in 2007 (Domestic Violence Act 2007, Devolution of Estates Act 2007, Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act 2007) and the President gave his support to the national campaign for a minimum quota of 30% of women in political decision making positions.

Government commitment to Public Sector Reform has been promising, and a combination of measures bringing together diaspora experts, training and recruiting mid-level technical experts and implementing performance management and performance contracting systems have been introduced. In addition, improved local governance and local economic development practices has led to increased revenues at the Local Council level, and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has enhanced its functioning through the establishment of the National Association of Local Councils.

Finally, the establishment of the National Youth Commission in 2010 was an important first step in beginning to reverse the negative youth employment trend in light of its coordinating role in strategic planning and policy development to create more youth employment opportunities in Sierra Leone.

About Sierra Leone: History

More than six centuries ago, tribes from the African interior decided to settle in the virgin forest, where they would be protected by the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. They were probably the ancestors of the Limbas, the oldest ethnic group in Sierra Leone, the coastal Bulom (Sherbro), Tine, the Mande-speaking people including Vai, Loko and Mende.

Portuguese sailors were among the first Europeans to discover the site of what is now Freetown. As foreign influence increased, trade commenced between the locals and Europeans in the form of a barter system. The British began to take interest in Sierra Leone and in 1672 the Royal African Company established Forts on the Islands of Bunce and York for trading. With the emergence of the slave trade, human being became the major commodity in the market. Indigenes were sold as slaves. In fact, Bunce Island became a prime spot for the transporting of slaves to Europe and America.

Through the efforts of some British philanthropists, slavery was abolished in England. A naval base was established in Freetown to intercept slave ships and also to serve as settlement for freed slaves in 1787. This settlement was called the ‘Province of Freedom.’ By 1792, 1200 slaves were thereby sent to Freetown from Nova Scotia and a large number from Maroon in the 1800s to join the original settlers from England. Few years later in 1808, the colony officially became a British Crown Colony. Trade commenced between the indigenes and the settlers. This paved the gateway for the British to infiltrate the protectorate- the need to extend their rule became necessary. In 1896, a protectorate was declared. The country then became a single entity with a shared history, culture and language called krio which evoked out of the fatua and mixed languages of various other settlers and traders. English became the official language.

During British colonialism, Sierra Leone served as the seat of Government for other British colonies along the West Coast of Africa. The first college for higher education south of the Sahara was established in 1827. The country is well known for its early achievements in the fields of medicine, law and education earning the name ‘the Athens of West Africa’.

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.

Through the efforts of such men as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, Lord Mansfield formed an administration in 1806, which was instrumental in the British Empire’s abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade (1807). The British established a naval base in Freetown to patrol against illegal slave ships. A fine of GBP £100 was established for every slave found on a British ship.

In 1808 Sierra Leone officially became a crown Colony with the land possessions of the Sierra Leone Company (formerly known as St. George’s Bay Company) transferred to the crown. The colony was dedicated to demonstrating the principles of Christianity, civilization and commerce.

In 1833 British Parliament passed the Emancipation Act, and 1883 slavery was finally abolished. It wasn’t until 1865 the United States passed the 13th amendment abolishing slavery.

By 1855, over 50,000 freed slaves had been settled in Freetown. Known as Krios, the repatriated settlers of Freetown today live in a multi-ethnic country. Though English is the official language, Krio is widely spoken throughout the country allowing different tribal groups a common language.

During British colonialism, Sierra Leone served as the seat of Government for other British colonies along the West Coast of Africa. The first college for higher education south of the Sahara was established in 1827. The country is well known for its early achievements in the fields of medicine, law and education earning the name ‘the Athens of West Africa’.

Sierra Leone gained independence on the 27th of April 1961 and the Republican status on the l9th April 1971. Since independence there have been many changes in the socio- political, and economic spheres.

The outbreak of the war in Sierra Leone caused set back to many areas in the country. The conflict in Sierra Leone started in March 1991 when fighters of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) launched a war from the east of the country near the border with Liberia to overthrow the government. With the support of the Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sierra Leone's army tried at first to defend the government but, the following year, the army itself overthrew the government. The RUF continued its attacks.

On 18 January 2002, the war in Sierra Leone was officially declared over.

Sierra Leone

In the 1980s, several Sierra Leoneans joined the Church while living in other countries. After returning to Sierra Leone and finding that the Church had not yet been established there, these faithful converts—including Michael Samura, Bai Sama Sankoh, Elizabeth Judith Bangura, Monica Orleans, and Christian George—worked independently to build the Church in the country. In 1988 the first missionaries arrived in Sierra Leone, and a branch in Freetown was soon established.

When war spilled from Liberia into Sierra Leone in 1991, missionaries were evacuated. Just over 1,000 members were living in the country at the time. For nearly 11 years, as they endured violence and hunger, members put their trust in God and were “supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions” (Alma 36:3). They continued to meet often, support and uplift one another, and preach the gospel to their neighbors. By the end of the war in 2002, Church membership had grown more than fourfold to nearly 5,000.

In the decade after the war—despite ongoing regional conflict and the Ebola epidemic—growth continued and a stake was created in Freetown. Just five years later, nearly 20,000 members of the Church were living in five stakes and four districts in Sierra Leone.

People, Locations, Episodes

*On this date in 1787 the Sierra Leone Creole people (or Krio people) are affirmed. They are an ethnic group whose decedents are the Creole people of African America.

They are also west Indian, and Liberated African slaves who settled in the Western Area of Sierra Leone between 1787 and about 1885. The colony was established by the British, supported by abolitionists, under the Sierra Leone Company as a place for freedmen. The settlers called their new settlement Freetown. In the 21 st century, the Creoles comprise about 2% of the population of Sierra Leone. Like Americo-Liberian in Liberia, Creoles have varying degrees of white-European ancestry. This was due to the close historical relations between the ethnicity's through decades of indenture, slavery sexual abuse, and voluntary unions and marriages in North America. Some have Native American ancestry as well. In Sierra Leone, some of the settlers intermarried with other English or Europeans. Through the Jamaican Maroons, some Creoles probably also have indigenous Jamaican Amerindian Taíno ancestry.

The Americo-Liberians and the Creoles are the only recognized ethnic group of African American, Liberated African, and West Indian descent in West Africa. The Creole culture is primarily westernized. The only Sierra Leonean ethnic group whose culture is similar (in terms of its integration of Western culture) are the Sherbro, who had developed close connections with Europeans and English traders from the early years of contact. The Creoles as a class developed close relationships with the British colonial power some were educated in British institutions and advanced to leadership positions in Sierra Leone under British colonialism. Due to this history, the vast majority of Sierra Leone Creoles have European first names and/or surnames. Many have both British first names and surnames. The vast majority of Creoles live in Freetown and its surrounding Western Area region of Sierra Leone. They are also primarily Christian. From their mix of peoples, the Creoles developed what is now the native Krio language (a mixture of English, indigenous West African languages, and other European languages). It has been widely used for trade and communication among ethnic groups and is the most widely spoken language in Sierra Leone.

Scholars such as Olumbe Bassir and Ramatoulie O. Othman distinguish between the Oku and the Creoles. By contrast, the Oku are principally of Yoruba descent and have traditionally maintained strong Yoruba and Muslim traditions. They also have more traditional African culture, and widely practice formal polygamy and, to a significant extent, practice female genital mutilation. The Creoles settled across West Africa in the nineteenth century in communities such as Limbe, Cameroon, Conakry, Guinea, Banjul, Gambia, Lagos, Nigeria, Abeokuta, Calabar, Accra, Ghana, Cape Coast, Fernando Pó. The Krio language of the Creole people influenced other pidgins such as Cameroonian Pidgin English, Nigerian Pidgin English, and Pichinglis. Thus, the Aku people of the Gambia, the Saro of Nigeria, Fernandino people of Equatorial Guinea, are sub-ethnic groups or direct descendants of the Sierra Leone Creole people.

In 1787, the British helped 400 freed slaves, primarily African Americans freed during the American Revolutionary War who had been evacuated to London, and West Indians and Africans from London, to relocate to Sierra Leone to settle in what they called the "Province of Freedom." Some had been freed earlier and worked as servants in London. Most of the first group died due to disease and warfare with indigenous Black Africans. About 64 survived to settle Granville Town. In 1792, they were joined by 1200 Black Loyalists from Nova Scotia these were former Black slaves and their descendants. Many of the adults had left rebel owners and fought for the British in the Revolutionary War. The Crown had offered them freedom who left rebel masters, and thousands joined the British Army. The British resettled 3,000 of the Blacks in Nova Scotia, where many found the climate and racial discrimination harsh.

More than 1200 volunteered to settle in the new colony of Freetown, which was established by British abolitionists. In 1800, the British also transported 550 Maroons, militant escaped slaves from Jamaica, to Sierra Leone. After Britain and the United States abolished the international African slave trade beginning in 1808, they patrolled off the continent to intercept illegal shipping. The British resettled Liberated Africans from slave ships at Freetown. The Liberated Africans included people from the Yoruba, Igbo, Efik, Fante, and other ethnicities of West Africa. Some members of Temne, Limba, Mende, and Loko groups, indigenous Sierra Leone ethnicities, were also among the Liberated Africans resettled at Freetown they also assimilated into Creole culture. Others came to the settlement voluntarily, seeing opportunities in Creole culture in the society.

On the voyage to Sierra Leone, 96 passengers died. However, enough survived to establish and build a colony. Seventy white women accompanied the men to Sierra Leone, they were most likely wives and girlfriends of the Black settlers. Their colony was known as the "Province of Freedom" and their settlement was called "Granville Town"' after the English abolitionist Granville Sharp. The British negotiated for the land for the settlement with the local Temne chief, King Tom. However, before the ships sailed away from Sierra Leone, 50 white women had died, and about 250 remained of the original 440 who left Plymouth. Another 86 settlers died in the first four months. Although initially there was no hostility between the two groups, after King Tom's death the next Temne chief retaliated for a slave trader's burning of his village. He threatened to destroy Granville Town. The Temne ransacked Granville Town and took some Black Poor into slavery, while others became slave traders.

In early 1791 Alexander Falconbridge returned, to find only 64 of the original residents (39 black men, 19 Black women, and six white women). The 64 people had been cared for by a Greek and a colonist named Thomas Kallingree at Fourah Bay, an abandoned African village. There the settlers reestablished Granville Town. After that time, they were called the "Old Settlers". By this time the Province of Freedom had been destroyed Granville Sharp did not lead the next settlement movement. Sierra Leone gain Independence in 1961. The national language of Sierra Leone is English. In addition to English, the Krios also speak a distinctive creole language named after their ethnic group.

In 1993, there were 473,000 speakers in Sierra Leone (493,470 in all countries) Krio was the third-most spoken language behind Mende (1,480,000) and Themne (1,230,000). In the 21 st century, The Creole homeland is a mountainous, narrow peninsula on the coast of west Africa. The whole of Sierra Leone covers some 72,500 square kilometres. At its northern tip lies Freetown, the capital. The peninsula's mountain range is covered by tropical rain forests split by deep valleys and adorned with impressive waterfalls. White sand beaches line the Atlantic coast.


The name Sierra Leone dates back to the year 1462 when the Portuguese discoverer, Pedro Da Cintra discovered the peninsular mountain when he sailed along the west coast of Africa. Some say he named the peninsula, ’Sierra Lyoa’ (Lion mountain), after what he thought was the roar of lions on the mountains. Other say, it was the shapes of the mountain that influenced the name. An English sailor later changed the name to ’Sierra liona’, which later became Sierra Leone.

Earlier on, African clans’ people had lived in the forests where they were said to have been protected by the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other side. They were presumably the fore fathers of the Limba people, the oldest tribe in Sierra Leone. There existed the coastal tribe of the Bullom (Sherbros), the Temne, the Mende, Loko and so on.

After Pedro Da Cintra’s discovery, foreign influence in the region, through commercial activities between the local people increased. In 1672 the British establishes the Royal African Company commercial centre on Bunce Island and York. This started the trade in humans, which later became the slave trade. Bounce Island became one of the main transit points for the transshipment of African slaves to Europe and the Americas.

British Colonialism

Britain abolished slavery and established a marine base in Freetown. The city became a settlement for freed slaves in 1787 and Freetown was named the ’Province of Freedom’. In 1792, 1200 freed slaves from Nova Scotia were reunited with a number of Maroons. Freetown became a British crown colony in 1808, and trade between the Indians and the settlers started. This paved the way for British expansion of further territories. And, Freetown was later declared a protectorate in 1896.

During the British rule, Sierra Leone was used as a centre of administration for other colonies along the west coast of Africa. Fouray Bay College was established in 1827, and was then the first college for higher education in sub Saharan Africa. English speaking Africans came to Sierra Leone to obtain higher education, and Sierra Leone was dubbed the ”The Athens of Africa” for it early practice in medicine, lag etc.

Sierra Leoneans revolted many time against British colonialism, and the country was later granted her independence on the 27 of April 1961. During the first Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai, the newly independent Sierra Leone became parliamentary rule. But, in 1971, the country became a republic. A civil war broke out in 1991 and Sierra Leone was plunged into her darkest period. Peace was restored in 2002 and the country since then become a force to reckon with in the region

Darwin Project

This project was put on hold due to the outbreak of Ebola and then incorporated into the Darwin Initiative Funded project 'Alternative livelihood opportunities for marine protected areas fisherwomen' that started in 2014 and finished in 2018. For more information and the final report visit:

Now the project has finished the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company has committed to fund the next five years of the Bonthe Oyster Festival, one of the projects successful outcomes, and associated activities to ensure this important work continues.

We want to fund more work in Sierra Leone so have also committed to give 1 penny from every oyster sale in Whitstable from 1st May 2019, so every one of our oysters you eaten in whitstable will help in a small way to a more sustainable future for Fisherwomen in the Sherbro river estuary.

'Jena Bacong, 40, collecting mangrove oysters with machete in dugout canoe near Bonthe Island. She has 8 children, one of which died recently and a husband who is too ill to work. She must hire the canoe each day to collect oysters which are her only source of income.'
Sunday Times September 2018

From Whitstable to Sierra Leone we are trying to promote a sustainable future through oysters

Sierra Leone Company - History

Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited,
52 Wellington St., Freetown Sierra Leone


Sieromco, a subsidiary of Alusuisse, mined bauxite in the concession for more than 32 years, from 1963 until operations were suspended in January 1995 due to internal conflict in Sierra Leone.

In late 2001, SRL, a subsidiary of Titanium Resources Group Ltd, (TRG), acquired the former assets of Sieromco and was granted an exploration license regarding the restart of bauxite operations.

On 10 December 2001 SRL assigned the exploration license to SML and sold to them the Sieromco assets, which comprised of washing.


Sieromco, a subsidiary of Alusuisse, mined bauxite in the concession for more than 32 years, from 1963 until operations were suspended in January 1995 due to internal conflict in Sierra Leone.

In late 2001, SRL, a subsidiary of Titanium Resources Group Ltd, (TRG), acquired the former assets of Sieromco and was granted an exploration license regarding the restart of bauxite operations.

On 10 December 2001 SRL assigned the exploration license to SML and sold to them the Sieromco assets, which comprised of washing plant, workshops, earthmoving and haulage equipment, residential facilities, port facilities and marine fleet.

SML completed the restart feasibility study in May 2003 and was successfully presented and accepted by the Sierra Leone Government and a Mining License was issued.

The Operator and mining contract was assigned to PW Mining International, an internationally renowned mining contractor with off-take agreements. Bauxite mining commenced in 2006 and continued till November 2010 at Gondama under the guidance and management of PW Mining.

In July 2008, Vimetco N.V., the global producer of primary and processed Aluminium products, acquired the whole of the issued share capital of Global Aluminium from Titanium Resources Group Ltd. PW Mining International continued to be the managing operator with Vimetco as the new owners until 15th November 2010. This operator contract was then terminated and Vimetco introduced their own mine management and production team. Thus Vimetco moved away from contractor management portfolio to an owner management philosophy.

Contact Office:

Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited,
52 Wellington Street, Freetown
Republic of Sierra Leone, West Africa


Sierra Mineral Holdings 1 Limited,
Gondama Plant Site & Nitti Port Harbour,
Moyamba District, Southern Province,
Sierra Leone, West Africa

Sierra Leone at 60, The SLPP at 70: Our Collective History and Future

The full glare of the local and international media is fixed on Sierra Leone as she celebrates 60 years of Independence. At the same time, our party commemorates 70 years of quality existence as the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) was formed exactly ten years prior to the date Sierra Leone attained its Independence as a Nation. As a political party, our founding fathers’ reflections about the destiny of our people (Sierra Leoneans) led to the establishment of our party in 1951.

The history of Sierra Leone’s Independence and the SLPP are inextricably conjoined. As the country marks 60 years of Independence, the Executive and Members of the SLPP wish the government and people of Sierra Leone a peaceful and joyous celebration. As a nation, we have shown resilience and fortitude to rise from the ashes of destruction of civil war and bad governance and on to the path of greatness.

The peaceful struggle for and attainment of Independence was made possible by the savvy and dexterous leadership of the SLPP under Sir Milton Margai. The progressive path to sustainable development that the SLPP administration of Sir Milton Margai fashioned for Sierra Leone was interrupted by over two decades of a disastrous political dictatorship (1978-1992) that created the foundations for state failure and a brutal civil war (that lasted for a decade: 1991-2002). In 1996, the people of Sierra Leone elected the SLPP administration of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. The President Kabbah-led SLPP administration ended the civil war and set the country on a path to a people-centered economic development and pro-democracy institutional reforms. However, this glorious path to postwar development was interrupted by a failed political leadership between 2007 and 2017. But we would want to remind all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans that the dreams of our Founding Fathers are still alive and that no adversity would stop us from moving towards development.

70 years of political existence has seen the good, the bad and the ugly, but as a party we have risen from despair to hope from dejection to aspiration and from the nadir of hopelessness to the apex of administration. In those 70 years our party brought forth to our nation, an Independence that was intended to catapult the country to heights others have attained. We were stopped in our tracks by the murky and uncertain political dynamics of our society. Nevertheless, we are proud of our immeasurable and invaluable contribution to the development of our country.

The best moments of Sierra Leone have been under the SLPP administrations – past and present. Apart from gaining Independence for our country, it is the SLPP government that ended the eleven years bloody internecine strife that claimed the lives of thousands of our innocent compatriots. It is the SLPP that created the most enviable and viable institutions that this country can boast of. From the Sierra Leone Ports Authority to the National Social Security and Insurance Trust to name but a few, the SLPP has always shown a belief in building strong institutions. These and many more are the lasting legacies of SLPP administrations.

As the country commemorates 60 years of Independence, and the Party celebrates 70 years of existence, let us have faith in President Bio’s SLPP administration. His administration is on the right track and set to hoist us to the pinnacle of success. With the SLPP, under President Bio, quality education is assured. The fight against corruption has won Sierra Leone international admiration. We are rebranding our country’s image internationally. The world is looking towards Sierra Leone for leadership in the fight against COVID19. We are building strong institutions. We are committed to the rule of law and the Independence of the judiciary. We are accountable and transparent. We promised and delivered press freedom. Gender equality is becoming a reality. Youth empowerment/employment is assured under the SLPP. We reject violence and are committed to peace and national cohesion.

To the general membership of the SLPP, the Executive recognizes your sacrifices. We celebrate our collective quest to build upon the legacies of our founding fathers. Like the election manipulations of 1967 and 1977 that our founding fathers experienced, we had also endured the ignominy election manipulations in 2007 and 2012. Yet, we survived it and prevailed in 2018 because, like our founding fathers, we believe the electoral victory of the SLPP is a victory for Sierra Leone. Yes! Our founding fathers persevered the indignation of proscription in 1978 after the orchestrated enactment of a One-Party Bill in Parliament that year. Yet, they did not give up. So we must not give up we should not give in to the unhelpful tactics of our opponents. We should peacefully resist all the dirty tricks in the books of our opponents. Unlike our opponents, we did not win elections through dirty tricks. It was hard work and a commitment to build a sustainably developed Sierra Leone that led to our bouncing back to power in 2018. We should remain committed in our quest to provide hope for all Sierra Leoneans. Let us continue to hold the moral high ground and lay the foundation for decency in our body politic. We should play our part to ensure that His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio succeeds in his efforts to create a united, gender-equal, corruption-free, peaceful, and sustainably developed Sierra Leone.

Finally, the Executive and the General Membership of the Sierra Leone People’s Party wish to congratulate His Excellency the President and his Government, our Chiefs, Community Leaders, the women, men, and children of Sierra Leone on this commemorative occasion of 60 years of nationhood, and 70 years of the SLPP’s founding.

We congratulate the people of Sierra Leone for their patience and resilience over the decades. We entreat them to be hopeful that the present SLPP government will uplift them and change the narratives in Sierra Leone.

Happy 60th Independence Anniversary!

Happy 70th SLPP Anniversary!

Long live Sierra Leone!

Long live SLPP!

Umaru Napoleon Koroma
Secretary General

Watch the video: Sierra Leone resumes timber exports, worrying environmentalists