Constitutional Development and Ethnic Entrepreneurism in Sierra Leone: A Metahistorical Analysis



This chapter explores the history of constitutional development and its impact on identity formation and politics in colonial and postcolonial Sierra Leone, particularly Freetown. It argues that the use of the majoritarian principle by the colonial government created a recipe for ethnic entrepreneurism and identity politics in the colony and postcolony. The elitist Creoles and ascendant Temne in colonial Freetown, the seat of power, configured and shaped their identities for hegemonic advantages. A careful examination of historical documents shows that Sierra Leone’s political trajectory is characterized by ethnic tension driven by the desire for dominance of the state apparatus. In other words, members of different ethnic communities flocked in and out of various ethnic groups for instrumental reasons. The chapter notes that the circumstances and factors which resulted in the adoption of various constitutions between 1863 and 1951 induced a labyrinthine process of ethnic entrepreneurism and ethnoregional politics. The principles which undergirded the various constitutions impelled the dominant ethnic groups to adopt measures that gave them demographic advantage over others. The atmosphere created by this process resulted in the colony—protectorate divide, which in turn created the atmosphere for the formation of Sierra Leone’s second oldest political party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and its main rival, the All People’s Congress (APC).


Political Party Ethnic Identity Identity Politics National Archive Colonial Government 
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