Showing posts from May, 2016

Sierra Leone and Guinea: The Special Relationship | Fantasy History 9

The People's National Party (PNP) was formed mainly by defections from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in September 1958, the same month Guinea voted to exit the French Community.     The PNP based their hopes of success on the split in the SLPP, which they considered would occur on the death or retirement of an ailing leader, Milton Margai.   The PNP had neither a written constitution nor a policy manifesto. However, their aims and objects were expressed as the attainment of independence and they were not averse to seeking outside help. According to scathing Colonial diplomatic cables on PNP leader Albert Margai, which described him as “greedy and unscrupulous for power” there was some concern that Albert had visited Sekou Toure in neighboring Guinea. Although Britain and the United States had been allies throughout World War I and World War II, colonial policy was decidedly cool towards cooperation between African countries like Guinea and Sierra Leone, which sh

A Not-So United Front | Fantasy History 8

In this undated photo, Dr. Milton Margai dances with Britain's Queen Elizabeth F ollowing the 1957 elections, the United (Sierra Leone) Progressive Party was the official opposition to the Sierra Leone People’s Party, which had the most members in the House of Representatives, plus the support of traditional rulers, the Paramount Chiefs. A shrewd political leader although not a dominating personality, Dr. Milton Margai, leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, was seen to have "a remarkable grip on his party."  According to Maurice Dorman, who became governor of Sierra Leone in September 1956, Margai was undeterred by “the exuberant opposition.” In the House of Representatives, the United Progressive Party (UPP) consisted of Cyril B. Rogers-Wright alone, but he had the backing of vocal skeptics in Freetown's influential social set. One of the shrewdest lawyers of his time, Rogers-Wright had been disbarred three times. Once reputed to be fabulously

Masimera in FiftySix | Fantasy History 7

Banja Tejan-Sie attended the Government Bo School in Bo, where his father was an Arabic teacher. He also attended the Prince of Wales School in Freetown.  After his school days he worked as a nurse and matriculated as an external student in the University of London. He then went to Britain, where he entered Lincoln’s Inn and later the London School of Economics. He took an active part in student politics and held several offices at the West African Student Union in London.  Tejan-Sie was called to the Bar in 1951, returned home to Sierra Leone the same year and set up practice. He served as a member of the Bryan  Keith Lucas Committee on Electoral Reform in 1954, and was one of the members of the Electoral Reform Committee in 1955. In the summer of 2000, Vitabu interviewed Tejan-Sie in London over several weeks. Born on August 7, 1917, Tejan-Sie died August 8, 2000, aged 83. He was the last governor-general of Sierra Leone.  Excerpts from the interviews appear in Fantasy

Reflections on the 1955 Riots, Ezekiel Alfred Coker | Fantasy History 6

In his memoir, “Reflections on Sierra Leone by a Former Senior Police Officer: The History of the Waning of a Once Progressive West African Country” (published by iUniverse in April 2016), Ezekiel Alfred Coker, provides a living history, discussing the social and political landscape of Sierra Leone before, during and after its independence. Coker was born and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He served for many years as a senior assistant commissioner on the police force, where he later headed the special branch. Retiring in 1981, he acted as commissioner of police from 1978 to 1980. Below is an excerpt on the February 1955 Riots from “Reflections on Sierra Leone by a Former Senior Police Officer”: In February 1955, very serious riots and looting occurred in Freetown – the worst in Freetown in living memory up till then. Sierra Leone was in transition to independence. The top minister at that time was Chief Minister Dr. Milton A.S. Margai, who was leader of the Sierra Leon