© 2017

Free Slaves, Freetown, and the Sierra Leonean Civil War


  • Provides the first serious exploration of the slave trade and resettlement process of freed slaves in Sierra Leone as a touchstone of the cultural impact of slavery and emancipation in the nation

  • Provides a readable narrative historical account of various periods in Sierra Leone’s history from the fifteenth century to the end of its civil war in 2002

  • Will appeal to historians as well as international organizations, nonprofits, and tourists interested in Sierra Leone


Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 1-8
  3. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 9-31
  4. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 59-90
  5. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 91-126
  6. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 127-165
  7. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 167-183
  8. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 185-212
  9. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 213-239
  10. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 259-282
  11. Joseph Kaifala
    Pages 311-321
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 323-345

About this book


This book is a historical narrative of Sierra Leone from the mid-fifteenth century to the end of its civil war in 2002. It entails the history of Sierra Leone from its days as a slave harbor through to its founding as a home for free slaves and toward its political independence and civil war. In 1462, the country was discovered by a Portuguese explorer, Pedro de Sintra, who named it Serra Lyoa (Lion Mountains). The country later became a hub for the Transatlantic Slave Trade. At the end of slavery in England, Sierra Leone was chosen as a home for the Black Poor, free slaves in England after the Somerset ruling. The Black Poor were joined by the Nova Scotians, African-Americans who fought with the British during the American Revolution, the Maroons, rebellious slaves from Jamaica, and Recaptives, freed in enforcement of British antislavery laws. Freetown became a British colony in 1808 and Sierra Leone obtained political independence from Britain in 1961. The development of the country was derailed by the death of its first Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai, and thirty years after independence the country collapsed into a brutal civil war. This book is a historical narrative covering these periods in Sierra Leonean history.


Sierra Leone slave trade civil war slavery Britain African-American Freetown Transatlantic Slave Trade Truth and Reconciliation Commission William Wilberforce

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.The Jeneba Project Inc.New YorkUSA

About the authors

Joseph Ben Kaifala is founder of the Jeneba Project and co-founder of the Sierra Leone Memory Project. He holds a JD and Certificate in International Law from Vermont Law School, an MA in International Relations from Syracuse University, and a BA in International Affairs and French from Skidmore College. He is a graduate of the Red Cross Nordic United World College.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Free Slaves, Freetown, and the Sierra Leonean Civil War
  • Authors Joseph Kaifala
  • Series Title African Histories and Modernities
  • Series Abbreviated Title African Histories and Modernities
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-349-94853-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-95657-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-349-94854-3
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVI, 345
  • Number of Illustrations 4 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics African History
    Imperialism and Colonialism
    Labor History
    Political History
    African Politics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“It’s no easy feat to write a country’s history in one book, especially when the nation involved has been through as much hope and as much suffering as Sierra Leone. But Joseph Kaifala has managed the job knowledgeably and skillfully, by focusing on key periods of his country’s evolution. This is a first-rate guide to understanding the deep historical underpinnings of the challenges facing Sierra Leone today.” (Adam Hochschild, Award Winning Author of “King Leopold's Ghost”)