Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa that has a special significance in history as the core of the transatlantic slave trade. The country was used as the departure point for thousands of west African captives. Every year, on April 27, Sierra Leone celebrates their independence day, fittingly called Sierra Leone Independence Day. Having won independence from Great Britain in 1961, the West African country officially became a sovereign state with control over its institutions.
- A Guide to Sierra Leone Independence Day
- Facts you Need to Know About Sierra Leone
- How Can you Celebrate Sierra Leone Independence Day Abroad?
A Guide to Sierra Leone Independence Day
History of Sierra Leone Independence Day
Sierra Leone’s independence day marks the end of 150 years of British colonial control. Pressure to end colonialism was growing due to Britain’s weakened position following World War II alongside the rise of the pan-African demands for autonomy. Historically, Sierra Leone had been a country victim of Great Britain’s slave trade. Throughout the 1700s, over 400,000 people were kidnapped from the Sierra Leone region and transported on the Middle Passage, composing about 16 percent of the enslaved people who arrived in British colonies in the Caribbean and North America in those years. Moreover, during the 150 years of rule, the Sierra Leoneans were subject to oppression and subjugation without full control of their lives or government.
When did Sierra Leone Gain Independence?
Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961 from Great Britain, at the very beginning of the African decolonization movement that was rapidly accelerating in the 1960s and 1970s. The exact date is April 27, 1961, which is when Milton Margaim, a doctor and politician, led Sierra Leone to independence, subsequently becoming the country’s first prime minister. He achieved independence for the country with the help of the political party Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the majority support of the Sierra Leonean people.
The country’s first general election under the universal adult franchise took place in May 1962. Nine years later, on April 19, 1971, the country officially became a republic, with an elected president as the head of state.
Facts you Need to Know About Sierra Leone
Formally known as the Republic of Sierra Leone, the country is also called Salone by locals. It is a country on West Africa’s southwest coast that hosts a constitutional republic observing a unicameral parliament. The population of the country sits around 5,525,000, which fits into the 27,699 square miles of land that make up the country. The currency of Sierra Leone is the Leone, its abbreviated symbol is ‘Le’, and the international currency code has recently changed from SLL to SLE, you can find more information here.
Sierra Leone is rich in natural resources. It has some of the best beaches in the world, a rich heritage, and some stunning scenery that attracts a considerable amount of tourists to the small country every year.
5 Interesting Facts About Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone translates to Lion Mountains
Sierra Leone gained its original name of Serra Lyoa when Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra sailed to what is now Freetown in 1462. Legend has it that during Cintra’s time in Sierra Leone, he experienced a huge thunderstorm that reminded him of a lion’s roar, almost like the surrounding mountains were roaring. Serra Lyoa translates to Lion Mountains in Portuguese, and that’s how Sierra Leone acquired its beautiful name.
Roots in Slavery
The capital, Freetown, was founded as a permanent or temporary home for repatriated former slaves in 1787 and is also known as the “Province of Freedom.” Sitting on a coastal peninsula, the city overlooks the Sierra Leone Harbor, the world’s third-largest natural harbor.
A National Love for Rice
Rice is a staple food in Sierra Leone, with most locals eating it as part of almost every meal. Popular dishes in the region include jollof rice (fried rice cooked with a variety of beans and spicy onion sauce) and kukri (rice and sauce.) Rice is so popular and widespread in Sierra Leone that it is common for locals to say, “If I haven’t eaten rice today, then I haven’t eaten!”
It’s Home to More Chimpanzees Than People
Sierra Leone’s tropical climate makes it a hotbed for diverse wildlife. It’s home to hippos, lions, elephants, buffaloes, a wide variety of birds, and especially chimpanzees. Around 75 million chimpanzees live in the well-known Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
It’s home to the famous Cotton Tree
The Cotton Tree is the most famous landmark in Freetown. Now surrounded by winding roads and concrete buildings, the tree is once thought to have been a meeting place for ex-slaves.
What Religion is Practiced in Sierra Leone?
According to national government statistics, as of 2020, 77 percent of the Sierra Leonean population is Muslim, while 22 percents are Christian, and approximately 2 percent practice animism or another form of traditional religion.
The two largest ethnic groups of Sierra Leone, the Mende, and Temne are Muslim majority.
What is Sierra Leone’s Main Language?
Sierra Leone is a multilingual country, with several languages being spoken throughout the country. English is the official language of Sierra Leone and is spoken in schools, government administration, and the media. Krio, a language unique to Sierra Leone, is widely spoken as a lingua franca, with over 97% of the population speaking the language as of 2005.
Other major languages include Mende, spoken by 31% of the population as a mother tongue primarily in the south of the country, and Temne, which is spoken by 32% as a mother tongue toward the North of Sierra Leone. Other languages include Kono, Kissi, Kuranko, Limba, Fula (Pular), Mandingo, and Susu.
How Can you Celebrate Sierra Leone Independence Day Abroad?
Sierra Leone Independence Day is celebrated in Sierra Leone as a non-working day that’s usually marked by speeches from officials, concerts, and gatherings. Abroad, you can celebrate Sierra Leone’s Independence Day by researching any events nearby, trying Sierra Leone dishes, listening to Sierra Leonean music, learning more about the country, and even throwing your own Sierra Leone Independence Day celebration.
The Bottom Line Sierra Leone’s Independence day celebrates their Freedom, nationhood, history, and patriotism. Marking their freedom from Great Britain, the day commemorates the length and breadth of the small west African country. There are several ways to celebrate the day from taking part in the country’s traditions to hosting your festivities. Remember that you can send money to Sierra Leone with Small World to your loved ones anytime from the comfort of your home.