Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Sierra Leone

Capital : Freetown

Size: 27 700 sq m Popn: 4376 000

Eastern Province, Northern Province, Southern


In the C15th, the Portuguese called the coastal region of this Commonwealth country the Serra Lyoa and later applied the name to the whole country. In the 1787, British philanthropists founded Freetown as a colony for slaves freed by the Royal Navy who became known as Creoles and had better treatment and education than most colonial subjects. Sierra Leone became a British colony in 1808 and but British protectorate declared in 1896 left the administration of the hinterland to the traditional rulers.

After WWII, Britain began to prepare it for independence which came in 1961 as a constitutional monarchy with Dr. Milton Margai, leader of the Sierra Leone People's Party, as Prime Minister. On his death in 1964 he was succeeded by his half-brother, Dr. Albert Margai, who had economic problems and alienated the Creoles. He refused to step down although the APC and Siaka Stevens won the 1967 elections. Three military coups took place before Stevens gained power in 1968, creating a Republic in 1971 and winning the 1977 elections after which he imposed a new socialist constitution. He survived several assassination attempts, of which the most dangerous was led by Brigadier Bangura in 1971, student riots, factional fighting, general unrest and political scandals until his retirement in 1985.

The APC endorsed the army commander, Maj.-Gen Joseph Momoh, as the sole candidate for presidency in the 1985 elections but the unrest continued. He appointed a civilian cabinet and disassociated himself from Stevens' policies. A coup attempt was put down in 1989 and in 1991 moves towards multi-party politics began. Six parties combined to form the United Front of Political Movements (UNIFORM). In 1992, the army took over the government and Momoh fled to neighbouring Guinea. An interim National Provisional Ruling Council under Captain Valentine Strasser was set up, pledging to reinstate civilian rule and multi-party politics.

Ethnic groups are Temne, Mende, Lokko, Sherbro, Limba and Creole, languages are English (official), Temne, Mende and Krio, traditional beliefs, Islam and Christianity are the religions followed.



Ahmad Alieu Alpha Foday Haroun Sahusi
Saidu Sanusi Siaka Tejan    


Jumoke Mabinty Sriyani Tenneh    


Amara Bockai Braima Bundu Ganda Kabbah
Kamara Kargbo Keita Korjie Kulawanea Lisk
Margai Minah Momoh Neare Sankoh Sillah
Soalla Turay        

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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