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Sierra Leonean Heroes

(ca. 1540)

GREAT MANE CONQUEROR

Farma Tami was a great warrior and is regarded by the Temne people as their founder. He is said to have organized the Temne into strong kingdoms and established their importance in the country. According to tradition, Farma Tami came from the east with a great army, conquering and destroying all opposition in his advance, until he reached the estuary of the Rokel River. He established his capital in what is now Koya Chiefdom at the town of Robaga, near modern Freetown. Temne elders say that Farma Tami ruled when there were still no guns or swords - only spears, shields, knives and bows and arrows.

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(ca. 1650-1720)

GREAT KORANKO WARRIOR - KING

Mansa Kama was a great Koranko warrior who led the first major push of the Koranko people into the heart of present-day Sierra Leone. He was the founder of Kamadugu, formerly a chiefdom and now part of Sengbe Chiefdom in the Koinadugu District. and of Kholifa , which constitutes a chiefdom in todays Tonkolili District. Mansa Kama's dynamism is largely responsible for the Koranko influence found among the Temne of Tonkolili today. Mansa Kama lived from about the mid-16th to the early 17th century. He is said to have been descended from Sundiata Keita , a ruler of medieval Mali in central West Africa, and was a member of the Kargbo clan (another name for Keita). Manso in most Mandinka related languages means ruler; and the name "Kama", meaning "elephant", was given to him because he was a grcat hunter and killer of many elephants. His real name is believed to have been Yira.

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(ca. 1738-1792)

TRUE FOUNDER OF FREETOWN

Thomas Peters was a courageous Afro-American whose efforts made possible the founding of Freetown. He was born a slave in the North American Colonies and worked in his master's flour mill in North Carolina. During the American Revolution, Peters ran away and joined the British Army, becoming a sergeant in the Black Pioneers. When the British lost the war, they evacuated Peters and hundreds of other Black Loyalists to Nova Scotia - but after seven years in Canada, the former slaves had still received no land and were living only on a meager government ration and suffering from the cold.

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(1794)

A MAN OF COMPASSION

Pa Demba was a simple village headman whose generous offer of help may have saved the Freetown colony. When Freetown was founded, Pa Demba ruled a small village near the junction of modern Campbell Street and Pa Demba Road; and his little town was probably the closest Temne village to the Freetown settlement. In September. 1794. five French warships sailed into the harbour and attacked the tiny colony. The French fired their great cannons time and again at the fragile houses. driving the British officers and Nova Scotian settlers into the surrounding countryside. Then they landed and looted the houses and storerooms and set fire to cvery building, including the church, governor's house, and apothecary shop.

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(ca. 1750-1820)

LOKO RULER AND ENTREPRENEUR

Gumbu Smart was ruler of Rokon in Masimera Country by the end of the 18th century. By dint of hard work and enterprise. he built up a large and thriving centre at Rokon. Though Loko, he did not hesitate to join the Wunde, a Kpaa Mende secret society, or to settle in the heart of Masimera Temne country. Smart's real name was Koko and he hailed from Kalangba in what is now the Gbendernhu - Gowahun Chiefdom in Bombali District. He had accidentally killed his brother as a boy and had fled from home. Captured and sold as a slave to British slave traders on Bunce Island, he displayed so much industry there that his new masters gave him the name of 'Smart' and kept him as an employee, rather than selling him off like the other slaves.

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(ca. 1770-1842)

SOSO RULER, BUSINESSMAN, AND DIPLOMAT

Dala Modu should be remembered as the single most important liaison between the British Colonial Government and the local rulers in the interior in the early decades of the British Colony at Sierra Leone. His efforts helped in solving many a conflict between the Colony and interior rulers. His reputation as a major commercial force was enhanced in the process, and he built up the prominent Soso community around Lungi in the Kafu Bullom country. Dala Modu was born into a family of traders at Wonkafong in Sumbuya near Conakry, where his father, Fenda Modu, had been advisor to the King of Sumbuya and Headman of Wonkafong. Dala Modu first came to Freetown with his father in 1794. Desirous of fostering his commercial contacts with the new colony, Fenda Modu sent his son Dala Modu with fifty followers in 1795 to settle on the outskirts of Freetown. The town Dala Modu built up there, named Dalamodiya after him, quickly became a commercial centre; and he became landlord for many traders from the interior, mostly from his own Soso ethnic group. Dala Modu was welcomed by the Governor, who was also keen on developing the trade with the interior on which the Colony's survival depended. In Freetown Dala Modu learnt English and studied the Colony's monetary system and weights and measures.

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(ca. 1810-1872)

FROM RECAPTIVE SLAVE TO MAYOR

John Ezzidio was a Recaptive slave from Nupe, in Nigeria, who rose to become a wealthy merchant. the Mayor of Freetown, and the first African elected to Sierra Leone's Legislative Council. Ezzidio was kidnapped as a small child and taken south to theYoruba country. In 1827, while in his teens, he was sold to white slave traders who put him on a ship bound for Brazil. But the British Navy's Africa squadron captured the ship and released the "Recaptives". including young Ezzidio, at the City of Freetown. The young man now began a new life as the apprentice to Jean Billaud, a French shopkeeper. Billaud called the former slave "Isadorc ", which gradually became pronounced as "Ezzidio".

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(1832-1912)

THE FATHER OF PAN-AFRICANISM

Edward Wilmot Blyden was the foremost African intellectual of the 19th century. His brilliant career in both Liberia and Sierra Leone spanned the fields of religion, education, journalism, politics and philosophy. He is best remembered as an African patriot whose writings contributed significantly to the rise of Pan-Africanism. Edward Blyden was born in the Virgin Islands in the West Indies. A descendant of Ibo slaves from Nigeria. He was a gifted student and at the age of eighteen attempted to enroll at a theological college in the United States. But the college would not accept him because he was black and he experienced many frightful scenes in the U.S. at a time when slavery was still lawful. In 1851, young Blyden emigrated to Liberia with the intention of building a new life in Africa. He would remain there for more than thirty years, rising gradually to the highest levels of Liberian society.

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(1835-1883)

SCIENTIST AND AFRICAN PATRIOT

Africanus Horton was a surgeon, scientist, soldier, and political thinker who worked toward African independence a century before it occurred. . Born James Beale Horton, he grew up in Gloucester Village, the son of an lbo Recaptive who worked as a carpenter, Horton was educated at the eMS Grammar School and at the Fourah Bay Institution (later Fourah Bay College), and in 1853 received a War Office scholarship to study medicine in Great Britain. He studied at King's College, London and Edinburgh University, qualifying as a medical doctor in 1859. While a student, he took the name "Africanus" as an emblem of pride in his African homeland.

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(1843-1903)

LEGAL LUMINARY AND MAYOR OF FREETOWN

Sir Samuel Lewis, the third Sierra Leonean to qualify as a barrister, was the most famous of the early Krio lawyers. To many young men of the day, it became obvious that a sound education and training in one of the respected professions – law, medicine and the clergy - was indispensable for leadership positions among their people, or for a career in the Colonial Government. On completion of his education however, Lewis, a man of firm conviction and one who valued his independence declined to serve in government office so his hands would not be tied. He worked incessantly for his clients and devoted most of his energies to their defense. He was a very successful lawyer winning most of his cases but he still found time to criticize the Colonial Government over policies with which he disagreed. One such disagreement erupted into a violent dispute with Governor Cardew soon after the latter became Governor. Inspite of his reluctance to serve in the Colonial Government, the yearning to serve his people led him to accept membership in the Legislative Council in 1882.

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