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Sir Samuel Lewis

(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.



Sir Samuel Lewis served his people well and honorably, and when Freetown became a municipality in 1865, he was the obvious choice for Mayor. In 1896, he was made a knight the first West African to achieve such an honor. Like most pioneers, Sir Samuel's ideas were far in advance of his times. At a time when most settlers saw people of the hinterland as heathen strangers, he called for the annexation of the interior so that peace could be maintained in those areas and the Krios of the Colony could benefit through commerce and the development of the natural resources of the interior. He blamed much of the misunderstanding between the people of the Colony and those of the then interior on the lack of communication and contact between the two.

He therefore advocated for improved communications between the Colony and the hinterland so that there could be better understanding of the interior and greater opportunity to explore the many possibilities it offered. In perceiving the possibility of harmonious, purposeful and beneficial relations between people of different cultures and regions, Sir Samuel Lewis left his mark as one of the first men to envision a united Sierra Leone.

 

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