Between 1807 and the 1870s, tens of thousands of enslaved Africans were liberated across the Atlantic and settled in Sierra Leone. For thousands of these recaptives, many walked through the King’s Yard Gates located on Wallace Johnson Street. Many Liberated Africans crossed through the gates into the yard to get processed at the Liberated Africans Department, where they would then be placed as residents in mountain villages along the Western Peninsular and Freetown.
Another one of Sierra Leone’s notorious marketplaces is the King Jimmy market that sits at harbor of Freetown along Wallace Johnson Street. The market gets its name from King Jimmy, a ruling Chief in the late 18th century who burnt down the first attempt at a free settlement by freed blacks from London.
In 1792, over a thousand black Americans arrived at the shores of Sierra Leone, having gained their freedom and eager to establish a settlement they would call Freetown. One of the first symbolic gestures they made was to gather underneath a big tree and sing praises and prayers for the journey to their “Zion”. This 200+ year old tree still stands tall and wide right in the heart of Freetown and remains one of the most captivating things to see in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is known for its eccentric indoor marketplaces. One of the most eventful and exciting places to get an authentic Sierra Leonean shopping experience is at its famed “Big Makit (Market)”. Located off Wallace Johnson Street, this historic market has been popular since the 1800s. One of (if not the) largest of Sierra Leonean markets, you’ll find a plethora of goodies including unique crafts, home decor, traditional wear, and many shopping goods that you may not get anywhere else in Sierra Leone.
In 1800, about 500+ Maroons from the mountains of Jamaica, arrived and settled in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone. These Maroons, consisting of several families were from the town of Trelawney (also known as Cudjoe’s Town), located near Westmoreland, Jamaica.
This group of Maroons were the same group that waged the Second Maroon War in 1795 against the British Colonials in Jamaica. After their unsuccessful attempt to defeat the British, they were exiled to Nova Scotia where they spent the next few years. Experiencing similar conditions the earlier Black Loyalists of Freetown had experienced, they also agreed to be sent to Sierra Leone. Their objective was to build a settlement in Freetown, though part of the condition was to aid the British in Freetown suppress the revolting Black Loyalist group there.
In 1800, the Trelawny Maroons along with their families and military captains landed in Freetown just in time to stop an active rebellion between the Freetown Settlers and the British, siding with the British.
In return they received great favor from the British, including land to build their new settlement called Maroon Town. Within a few years, they blended with the Freetown Settlers and both groups began to form a common unit. The Maroons, along with the Black Settlers and the Liberated Africans who arrived later on, form the majority of the ancestral groups of the Sierra Leone Krio people.
Although many Maroon Settlers returned to Jamaica in the mid 1800s, many remained in Sierra Leone, with descendants still there today in Maroon Town.
The ‘Maroon Church’, known as St. John’s on Westmoreland Street in the heart of Maroon Town was built in the 1820s. It is one of the Sierra Leone National Monuments.
Located in the north of Sierra Leone, near one of Sierra Leone’s most favourite of Villages, Kabala, is deserted hilltop settlement called Old Yagala. The town was once filled with stone houses as the entire place was designed as a defense against slave raiders
Bunce Island is arguably one of the most important historic sites for African Americans in Africa. Located off the coast of Sierra Leone, it was one of the main trading ports during the trans-Atlantic Slave trade. Many African American Ancestors passed through Bunce Island during the trade, before being taken across the Atlantic.
The island, which is about 1600 feet, and about 20 miles from Sierra Leone contains remnants of the old British fort that was based there from the 17th century until the 19th when the fort was abandoned. It was one of the largest, if not the largest British slave fort in the entire ‘Rice Coast’.
The island has attracted many popular visitors such as former US National Security Advisor Colin Powel in the early 1990s, who noted in his autobiography about his experience, “I felt something stirring in me.”