Meaning of SIERRA LEONE, FLAG OF in English

SIERRA LEONE, FLAG OF

horizontally striped green-white-blue national flag. Its width-to-length ratio is 2 to 3. Sierra Leone, which was founded in the late 18th century as a home for freed slaves (hence Freetown, the capital), used a variety of flags under the British colonial regime. Only the badge in the British Blue Ensign, representing the local colony, contained symbols for the territory of Sierra Leone. It was not a distinctive emblem, however, because the same design was used (except for the initials of each territory displayed at the bottom) by the Gold Coast, Lagos, and Gambia colonies. The badge displayed mountains in the background and an elephant and oil palm tree in the foreground. In 1914 Sierra Leone was able to obtain a coat of arms of its own, also approved for use as a flag badge on the Blue Ensign: this showed the old British Union Jack, an oil palm tree, and an African saluting a vessel arriving from the high seas. The Latin motto read, Auspice Britannia liber (Free under the protection of Britain). When independence was finally achieved on April 27, 1961, a new national flag was hoisted. Its three horizontal stripes stood, respectively, for the resources of the country and its people, notably agriculture and the mountains (green); unity and justice (white); and the aspiration to contribute to world peace, especially through the use of its unique natural harbour at Freetown (blue). The same three colours were featured in the new national coat of arms, which included a lion to reflect the country's name, a Portuguese phrase meaning Lion Mountain. Whitney Smith History Early history Archaeological findings show that Sierra Leone has been inhabited for thousands of years. Traditional historiography has customarily presented it as peopled by successive waves of invaders; but the language pattern suggests that the coastal Bulom (Sherbro), Temne, and Limba have been in continuous settled occupation for a long time, with subsequent sporadic immigration from inland by Mande-speaking peoples, including Vai, Loko, and Mende. They organized themselves in small political unitsindependent kingdoms or chiefdomswhose rulers' powers were checked by councils. Secret societies, notably the Poro society, also exercised political power as well as instructing initiates in the customs of the country. Muslim traders brought Islam, which became firmly established in the north and subsequently spread through the rest of the country. Portuguese voyagers gave the name Serra Lyoa (Lion Mountains), later corrupted to Sierra Leone, to the mountainous peninsula at the mouth of the Rokel River where, from the 15th century onward, European traders congregated near the site of modern Freetown under the protection of African rulers, who welcomed them for the commercial opportunities they provided, exchanging imported manufactured goods for ivory and slaves to be employed across the Atlantic. A group of freed slaves arrived in Sierra Leone from England in 1787 to form a settlement. It failed but was revived by a commercial company, the Sierra Leone Company, sponsored by English opponents of the slave trade. Black settlers who had liberated themselves from American slavery were brought over from Nova Scotia and built a new settlement, named Freetown. Maroons, free blacks from Jamaica, were also brought in. These settlers were English-speaking, and many were literate and Christian. After the British Parliament made the slave trade illegal in 1807, the British government took over the settlement (Jan. 1, 1808) as a naval base against the slave trade and as a centre to which slaves, captured in transit across the Atlantic, could be brought and freed. Between 1807 and 1864, when the last slave ship case was adjudicated in the Freetown courts, the British Navy brought in more than 50,000 recaptives. Drawn from all over western Africa, these heterogeneous people lacked any common language or culture. The government therefore introduced a deliberate policy of turning them into a homogeneous Christian community. Protestant missionaries, along with the black pastors of Freetown churches, worked with such success that within a generation the policy was virtually fulfilled. The (Anglican) Church Missionary Society founded an institution to train teachers and missionaries, Fourah Bay College, which was affiliated to the University of Durham, England, in 1876. The Society also opened boys' and girls' secondary schools. The recaptives and their children, known as Creoles (today usually rendered Krios), prospered as traders, and some entered the professions, qualifying in Britain as doctors and lawyers. Thus they formed an educated West African elite. Notable examples include James Africanus Beale Horton, who qualified as a doctor and served as an officer in the British army, publishing books on medical and political subjects, and Sir Samuel Lewis, a distinguished barrister. Many Creoles sought employment opportunities in other parts of West Africa. At their suggestion, Anglican missions were founded in what is now Nigeria, where one of them, Samuel Adjai Crowther, became a bishop. Colony and protectorate During the 19th century the area around the coastal settlements was drawn increasingly into the British economic sphere. There was a market in Britain for shipbuilding timber, and most of the accessible forest trees in the coastal country were felled, altering the environment irrevocably. There was also a European market for vegetable oils, and unprocessed palm produce and peanuts were supplied in return for imported manufactures. Rulers fought for control of the trading centres and built up larger territories for themselves. The colonial government made treaties of friendship with neighbouring rulers and gradually acquired jurisdiction over the coastline. At the period of the European partition of Africa frontiers were delimited with the neighbouring French and Liberian governments, and a British protectorate was proclaimed in 1896 over the area within the frontier lines, though the original colony retained its status. To raise revenue to pay for administration of the protectorate, a hut tax was imposed. The ruling chiefs, who had not been consulted about the protectorate, objected, and a revolt broke out in 1898 under Bai Bureh. It was suppressed by the end of the year. There were no further large-scale armed risings against the British. In the protectorate the chiefs ruled under the supervision of British district commissioners. Innovation was discouraged, and little was done to extend education. In the colony many Creoles had held senior official posts in the 19th century and looked forward to governing themselves ultimately. After the protectorate was assumed, however, they were gradually removed from office, and the colony and protectorate were governed by British administrators.

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