Liberation Day: 27 April 1961
April 27 is a yearly public holiday in Sierra Leone since 1961. On this day the country gained independence from its former British ruler. It was under British administration for 150 years. During the British rule the “Black Poor” program was meant to resolve slave trade. The plan was to make Sierra Leone a new place to live in for slaves from Great Britain. At the end of the 18th century the first slaves were shipped to Sierra Leone. Many did not easily adapt to the new climate and poor conditions of the new country and suffered from diseases. For around 60 years thousands of freed slaves moved and could call Sierra Leone their new home. The Sierra Leone Company was formed for former slaves. Especially a new law in 1807 forbidding slave ownership and trade in Great Britain lead to a rising population in Sierra Leone. The country however stayed under British rule. A year before independence, on 20 April 1960 negotiations were held in London, which finally lead to the complete liberation on 27 April 1961, lead by Milton Margai and under the presence of the Duke of Kent. Margai became the first prime minister. The country kept a parliament as form of governance and it stayed in the Commonwealth of Nations. The opponent, Siaka Stevens from the All People’s Congress (APC) and Isaac Wallace-Stevens were held in the capital Freetown and charged for counteracting independence. A year later, in an election the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) lead by Milton Margai became the majority in parliament.
On Liberation Day many festivities take place in the capital city of Freetown. The streets are embellished in the flag’s colors and flags are hissed. The military is on the street showcasing a parade and schools and other institutions are also presenting shows in remembrance of independency. Politicians remember in speeches about the importance of this day. As it is a holiday the people can spend time with family and friends.
Nevertheless, Sierra Leone is still a country with many struggles, as unemployment and lack of schools and poverty is prevalent. Illiteracy is far spread. Since independence, the country has been experiencing ups and downs. In spite of all that, it is a free country and can make now its own decisions. The amount of natural resources makes it an upcoming player in the global economy. It gives the country the chance to make investments and have foreign investors and donors and use profits for the benefit of its own people to improve quality of life and infrastructures.
Written by: Benjamin Sydney Pretsch