Happy Sierra Leone National Independence Day 2024!

Saturday, April 27th, 2024

Today is Sierra Leone Independence Day! On this day in 1961, Sierra Leone gained independence from England, emerging as a sovereign state.

To honor this important day, we asked several Sierra Leoneans to recount their personal Independence Day reflections and celebrations. Each story offers a unique perspective on what this day means to them and their loved ones, highlighting the diverse ways they honor this historic moment.

Alie Kamara, Community Engagement Officer

“Independence Day is a historic day in my country, Sierra Leone,” Alie said. “This year is our 63-year anniversary of independence. It means a lot to me. This is a day for freedom, responsibility, peacefulness, and loving. 

“Also, this day reminds me of the sacrifices made by numerous heroes or freedom fighters to secure the freedom I cherish today. This day enables me to live my own life and pursue my dreams. It taught me how to be able to adapt to any situation and be satisfied with what I have. It’s to take full responsibility [for] my actions and be ready to face any challenges that might arise. 

“I also learned that independence is to respect and take care of myself and learn new skills. Above all, I am also proud to admit that I/you need others too.

“I normally celebrate Independence Day quietly with my family and friends/relatives at home. We go to the Mosque and pray for the country, people, and the freedom fighters who have passed away. We sit together and explain the meaning of this day or [the] history of the country. My wife will cook food for us to eat and sometimes I assist her to do the cooking together with our children at home. We eat the food and have fun together.”

Abdulai Jalloh, Maintenance Officer:

Abdulai smiles with the Sierra Leone flag.

“Independence Day means a lot to me because, if I can remember, it makes up the time we get liberty. So, that’s why we celebrate. Other countries celebrate their independence. Like for us in Sierra Leone, we got our independence [on] April 27, 1961. It means a lot to me now because I have liberty and I have peace, so I feel happy about that.

“I celebrate Independence Day with my family. We cook at our house. We eat. I will buy special drinks. We sit together with my family and friends, and we discuss issues. When someone gets peace, we can all sit together. 

“We live very good. We live in peace. We sit together, discussing things, very simple. My friends, they have no problem with me. They come over, and we eat together.

“We like to prepare rice and couscous. We like to make different kinds of foods. We have mangos. The main food we prepare is rice.”

Lauretta Thompson, Infant Nutrition Coordinator:

“Independence Day means to me that it’s a time that we got our freedom. Everybody in the country celebrates in their own joyful way. For me and my family, we celebrate in a quiet way at home. We wake and pray for our country and family, then go to the market and buy what I want to cook that day. After cooking and eating, we sit together. We have prepared our breadfruit chips to sell. Everybody loves those, and I sell them to make a small profit. We like to celebrate the day quietly.”

“Independence Day to me means peace, freedom, and justice. That’s what Independence Day means to me.

“I celebrate it in a very simple way with my friends and my family. We watch our African cultures. We watch movies. We have African cultures. We wear our green, white and blue dresses with our friends and our family. We celebrate it in a peaceful and quiet way and we watch our African cultures that they usually play on the television that day.

“Because I am an African, for Independence Day, I prepare African food. Sometimes we will prepare cassava leaf, but we like to prepare crain-crain. We don’t normally have a special food that we prepare, but on Independence Day, we prepare an African dish.”

Betty Johnson, Cleaner:

“When I think about Independence Day, I feel very happy. I’m happy about our independence. I can bring my family together in our house. We sit down, and I explain to them about the past for how we got this independence. We pray over this Independence Day and we pray that the past will never repeat itself. We can be happy together about the independence and the peace, and we are happy about that.

“I can celebrate Independence Day with my friends and family. We feel such happiness because of the peace and the freedom that we have. Anytime you meet up with your friends on that day, you express your joy to each other. We should not forget to pray for nothing to ever repeat like what we’ve had in the past.

“I do have special food that I like to cook for Independence Day. I can cook rice with cassava leaves. That’s what I like to prepare for Independence Day.”

Each Independence Day celebration, though different in form, shares common themes of gratitude, remembrance, and hope. These reflections show us the significance of Independence Day and illuminate the rich cultural tapestry that makes Sierra Leone uniquely vibrant.

Today, as we remember Sierra Leone’s past, let’s also look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Happy Independence Day, Sierra Leone!

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Jamie Heminway

Jamie is a storyteller by nature. In joining the Water Project, she’s finally found a workplace where that pesky bleeding heart of hers can be put to use (and, less importantly, that BA in English Language & Literature from New England College).