It is the 60th anniversary of Sierra Leone’s independence. The country gained independence from Britain on the 27th of April 1961. Sierra Leone is a beautiful country in west Africa, which was massively inhabited by former slaves from the United States.
To celebrate Sierra Leone’s Independence, here are interesting facts about sierra leone
The Cotton Tree
The Cotton Tree is a historic symbol in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. According to tradition and history; when the former African-American slaves landed on the shores of sierra Leone, they walked up to this giant tree and held a thanksgiving service. They prayed and sang hymns to thank God for their deliverance to the free land. They settled here, the site of modern Freetown.
The capital of Sierra Leone is named Freetown for a reason. The Land was bought from local Themne chiefs in the late 18th century and became the new home for resettled freed slaves from Britain and North America; and also the home of ‘recaptives’ taken off seized slave ships on the Atlantic after Britain passed the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. To learn more about this period of the country’s history, take a short boat ride out to Bunce Island with a guide for a sobering tour. The island used to be the final point of departure for many West Africans who had been sold into slavery across the Americas.
In 1972, the world’s third-largest gem-quality diamond was found in Sierra leone. This diamond is called the Star of Sierra Leone. The country is also one of the top ten diamond producing nations in the world. Unfortunately, the diamond industry has also been a great source of conflict and pain in Sierra Leone.
In 1462, A portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra (also known as Pedro da Cintra) named the area around Freetown the name Serra de Leôa (Portuguese for Lioness Mountains). The Italians eventually translated this name into their language and made it masculine, turning the country’s name into Sierra Leone. De Sintra was quoted as saying that the area was named for “its wild and rugged appearance.”
Land Of Freed Slaves
In the year 1787, the British sent 400 former slaves to settle in modern-day Freetown, however most of these settlers died, after their arrival. Then again in 1792, the British sent 1,200 former slaves living in Nova Scotia, Canada, to settle in Sierra Leone. Also, in 1808, after the abolition of the British slave trade, the British sent more freed slaves to Sierra Leone after they had been liberated from illegal slave ships. Today, Sierra Leone is made up of the descendants of these early settlers and the indigenous tribes such as the Mende and Temne people.
The pews and rafters in Saint John’s Maroon Church in Freetown are recycled pieces of history. The church was built from a ship that brought freed Jamaican slaves from Nova Scotia, Canada. The church was built in 1820, making it one of Freetown’s oldest churches.
Sierra Leone is the home of West Africa’s Oldest University
Fourth Bey, West Africa’s oldest university which was founded in 1827, sits at the top of Mount Aureol; showcasing great views of the city’s east end. In its heyday, Fourah Bay drew students from across the region and southern Africa with its quality of teaching, earning Freetown the nickname Athens of West Africa. Two former heads of state were educated here; as was Christian Cole, a Sierra Leonean who became the first black student to study at the University of Oxford in 1873. It may no longer be an internationally renowned seat of learning, but you can spend some time in the grounds and soak up its historic importance.
Freetown has the largest natural harbor on the African continent. It is capable of receiving oceangoing vessels of all kinds. The former shoreline used for the transportation of captured slaves is now a large dock for commercial goods.
Cassava is a staple in Sierra Leonean households. The locals use cassava leaves to make a green stew. Green stew is a meal that traditionally contains meat and fish, and they use the roots to make bread.
A giant snail called the Ghana Snail (Achatina achatina) lives within 99 to 190 miles of the coastline of Sierra Leone; and also other West African nations such as the Ivory Coast, Benin, and Nigeria. This native snail species routinely measures about 7 inches long and 3.5 inches wide; but can reach a size of almost twelve by six inches. Considered to be an invasive species in America, the Ghana Snail is often confiscated at U.S. airports when travelers are caught attempting to bring the mollusk into the country. Although they are consumed for their protein by an array of native groups living in Western Africa; due to their large size these land snails have also become somewhat popular as pets in the west.