Virtual Kollage: The peopling of Sierra Leone

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The peopling of Sierra Leone


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THE PEOPLING OF SIERRA LEONE
Introduction
The term “peopling” refers to the mixture or intermingling of various groups of people within the space of their culture and tribes in an exceedingly explicit settlement. The “peopling” of Sierra Leone therefore, merely refers to how the various people mixed, mingled, reticulated and interacted by methods such as communication, migration and intermarriages.

History of the creation of Sierra Leone
Information about those who settled in Sierra Leone in the 13th and 14th century is hazy but archaeology has shed a little light on the period and historians are able to deduce that the region may probably have been populated around 2500 B.C. Fifteenth century Portuguese records show that a certain Pedro Da Sintra, a sailor, gave Sierra Leone its name judging from the mountainous coastline. This was possible because Pedro Da Sintra was the man who mapped the region in 1462.

There are 17 or 18 ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, depending on which historian one interacts with. However, they all agree that there were indigenous ethnic groups in existence before the advent of the colonialists. Each of the ethnic groups is believed to have come from somewhere except the Limba, who have maintained that they were the original settlers of the region. Indeed, the Limba do not have any history of migration according to their oral tradition.

Historical evidence shows that the Mane people, arriving from the Liberian hinterlands in the middle of the 16th century, invaded the coastal areas of Sierra Leone and may have subjugated almost the entire indigenous ethnic groups. In the course of time, they mingled with the local people. This is the present day Mende ethnic groups and constitutes the largest in Sierra Leone.

The second largest ethnic group is the Temne whose historical tradition traced their origin to Futa Jalon. This claim has been challenged by some historians like Dr. Ijagbani, on the grounds that they may have claimed links to Futa Jalon for prestigious reasons. Other traditions claimed that they entered Sierra Leone in the 15th century through the North-East. By the 18th century, they had organized themselves into an important political group.

The Lumba ethnic group makes up the third largest group in Sierra Leone. They do not have any oral tradition of migration to their present day location. They maintain that they have been in Sierra Leone from the beginning of time. They are believed to have first settled around the Wara-wara hills in the north before later spreading northward and southward in the 16th century. Today, they can be found in all the five districts in the north of Sierra Leone.

Another ethnic group in Sierra Leone, albeit small, about 2% of the entire population, is the Creole ethnic group. This is a collection of descendants of freed African slaves, West Indian and liberated African slaves. They settled in the area between 1787 and 1885. Their settlement was a result of a combination of reasons, including but not limited to abolition of the slave trade and the establishment of a colony by the British, supported by slave abolitionists.

These are the various people who make up the nation of the Republic of Sierra Leone today. As a British colony, they fought and gained independence in 1961.


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