1808-1880 History of West Africa 1919-1939

British Sierra Leone, 1880-1918

In 1880, British currency was introduced (hitherto, Spanish, Mexican and South American Pesos (Dollars) had been in use).
With the scramble for Africa going on, Britain established a sphere of interest around it's protectorate of Freetown in agreements with France (1882) and Liberia (1885). In 1888, Gambia was separated from Sierra Leone.
British economic interest in her colony of Sierra Leone and its hinterland seemed limited; expansion in the hinterland began relatively late. However, Sierra Leone played a significant role for the development of colonialism in Africa in general. For instance, when the Congo Free State was established, Sierra Leoneans were recruited to form the core of a Congolese "Force Publique" - they (Krios) were able to communicate and accustomed to interact with whites, and they did not have any common bonds with the Congolese tribes, which might have questioned their loyalty to their employers.
In 1896, Britain proclaimed a protectorate over entire Sierra Leone, extending her authority over the interior. The country was divided in 5 provinces, the borders drawn in a way to reduce the power of the traditional chief. This arrangement caused immediate protests from the chiefs. Railroad construction was begun.
When a hut tax was imposed in 1898, the indigenous Temme and Mende rose in a revolt, the Temne led by Bai Bureh, the Mende by Momoh Jah. The rebels attacked missionaries and Europeanized Africans as well as colonial oficials, defeated colonial forces on several ocasions and put up stubborn resistance; the British campaigned for 10 months, burning 97 villages. Finally, the rebels were worn down, the leaders arrested.

History of Sierra Leone, from Infoplease
The Sierra Leone Story, Installment No.8, covers years 1844-1885, Installment No.9, covers the years 1885-1904; from the Sierra Leone Stamp Collector
Hut Tax Rebellion, Sierra Leone 1898, from ACED
Bai Bureh, from Sierra Leone Heroes
Richard Gott, Sierra Leone and New Labour Militarism
DOCUMENTS From British Military Medals : East & West Africa Medal, 1887-1900
Articles Sierra Leone, Freetown, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition, in German
Article Sierra Leone, from Brockhaus Konversationslexikon 1894-1896, in German
Article Sierra Leone, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Articles Sierra Leone, Freetown, from EB 1911
News from Sierra Leone, in "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.2 No.23, Vol.2 No.24, posted by Gutenberg Library Online
REFERENCE M'Baye Gueye and A. Adu Boahen, The Hut Tax Rebellion, pp.141-143, in A. du Boahen (ed.), Unesco General History of Africa Vol.VII : Africa under Colonial Domination 1880-1935, Paris etc. 1985 [G]
David Chalmers, Mende Rising against British Tax Administration in Sierra Leone, 1898, pp.62-69 in W. Cartey and M. Kilson, The Africa Reader : Colonial Africa, NY : Vintage 1970 [G]
Article : Sierra Leone, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 pp.648-649 [G]
Article : West African Colonies - Sierra Leone, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.196-199, 1898 pp.200-203, 1901 pp.230-235, 1905 pp.254-261, 1910 pp.227-238 [G]
Article : Sierra Leone, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.702-703, 1899 pp.736-737, 1900 p.822 [G]
Article : Sierra Leone, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.719-720, 1908 pp.649-650, 1909 p.650, 1913 p.633, 1914 pp.640-641, 1916 p.636, 1918 p.594 [G]
Article : West Africa, British, in : International Year Book 1898 pp.908-909 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on August 31st 2007

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