In 1462 Portuguese explorer da Cintra saw the tall mountain rising up on what is now the Freetown Peninsula. He christened it Serra Lyoa. Successive visits by other English people and eventual colonization by Britain modified Serra Lyoa to Sierra Leone.
The country is in the west coast of Africa, north of the equator. Sierra Leone has a land area of 27,699 square miles (71,740 square kilometres). It bordered on the north and north east by Guinea, on the south and south east by Liberia, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean.
President: Ernest Bai Koroma
Currency: The Leone
Population: 6.092 million (2013) World Bank
Official languages: English, Bengali
Government: Constitutional Democracy
Weird Facts About Sierra Leone
Here are 11 more weird facts about the country which you will love to read.
1. ALL AT LEAST BILINGUAL
The official language of Sierra Leone is English. But nearly everyone speaks one or the other of the three major local languages which are Mende, Temne, and Krio. However, each ethnic group also speaks its own language.
2. MOST IMPORTANT TREE
Palm tree is a most important plant to the Sierra Leoneans because of its various derivatives. The only thing Sierra Leoneans consider more important than the palm tree is rice. It is said that the Mende ethnic group has over twenty different words to describe rice in its various forms.
3. UNITING SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS
Two major things unite all Sierra Leoneans. One of them is the lingua franca Krio which every Sierra Leonean speaks well. The other is membership of social organizations by nearly the entire population. The men belong to the Poro while the women belong to either the Bundu or the Sande.
4. UNITEDLY DIVIDED
Near the outside of every village is a cemetery. And at the other edge of two there are bushes on both sides of the road, carefully defined Poro or Bundu. What that means is that the Poro is out of bounds to women and the Bundu out of bounds to men.
5. ALL-IMPORTANT FOOD
A Sierra Leonean would say, “If I haven’t eaten rice today, then I haven’t eaten.” This statement is somewhat literal. It simply underscores the fact that rice is central to the Sierra Leonean food culture. Every other food is considered snack.
6. FOOD TABOOS
Food taboos differ from family to family or from village to village. Such food taboos are usually a prohibition of the eating of this animal or that oil. It could also be food prepared by someone in so-and-so condition, or food prepared in a certain way.
7. AFFRONT AGAINST TABOO GUADIANS
Like most African countries and societies, Sierra Leoneans are superstitious. Violation of food taboo and indeed all taboos, for example, can be viewed seriously. It is usually seen as affront against the (usually dead) guardians of such taboo.
8. FOOD FOR THE ANCESTORS
On ceremonial occasions, rice is cooked in very large quantities and shared to guests till they have all eaten to satisfaction. Such occasions include weddings, funerals, initiations, and memorial services. And after (sometimes, even before) the guests are served, some food is also offered to ancestors.
9. LIBATION RITUAL
Sierra Leoneans also demonstrate their superstitious belief in one other way that is common to many other African societies. It is the ritual of libation. They pour liquor at corners of their home in honour of their dead ancestors.
10. IMPORTANCE OF KOLA NUTS
Kola nuts are highly valued by many African societies. Sierra Leoneans are well known to value kola nut in like manner. In Sierra Leone, the kola nut is associated with a number of things. It is used in greeting, diplomacy, provision of respect, religious rites, initiation ceremonies, cloth dye, and preparation of medicine.
11. STATUS TIED TO GENEALOGY
Status matters to the Sierra Leoneans. But such status does not really have to be as a result of one’s wealth, education, or power. The status that is respected is one where the person’s genealogy can be traced to one hunter or warrior who first settled in the land.