An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

18. Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia

Between Dakar and Monrovia, the coastline of only 700 miles passes from ex-French Senegal to British Gambia, back to Senegal, then to Portuguese Guinea, ex-French Guinea, ex-British Sierra Leone and American-sponsored Liberia. Here were Europe's oldest footholds in sub-Saharan Africa; here, today, is a tangled heritage of four separate 'western' influences. Guinea's communist-backed nationalism jostles antique Portuguese colonialism, an explosive juxtaposition; and the westernized African society of Dakar, Freetown and Monrovia adjoins the southwestern extremity of the Moslem world.

Gambia (population 300,000) is mainly a British protectorate, only 70 square miles round Bathurst being a colony. It runs 300 miles up river in a strip only 15 miles wide, with Senegal (15) on both sides. Groundnuts (peanuts), on which it depends, sell for much higher prices in Senegal under an arrangement with France; this alone might seem a strong incentive for a union (the name Senegambia is already in use). But Gambian politicians are rather wary of a merger in which Senegal would be dominant and English-speakers at a disadvantage.

Portuguese Guinea (600,000) dates from 1446, but only in the late 19th century did Portugal attempt more than coastal trading, and the small interior was not forcibly controlled until 1912 (see also 34).

For Guinea, see 15.

Sierra Leone (21/2 million) became an independent Commonwealth country in April 1961 (for history, see 17). The 60,000 Freetown Creoles (Krio), descended from freed slaves, have a strong Yoruba (20) element and a composite language of their own, but are primarily English-speaking, with a high educational standard. The sweeping victory in the 1951 elections of the People's Party founded by Dr (now Sir) Milton Margai was largely a reaction against former Creole predominance over the tribal peoples, of whom the Mende and Temne (C) are the most numerous. But before becoming first prime minister of independent Sierra Leone, Sir Milton (a Mende) created and led a broad coalition, opposed only by a fairly small radical element in Freetown. Since 1950, diamonds (from areas east and north of Bo) and iron ore from Marampa have raised annual export earnings from £7 million to £30 million. Revenue previously lost by diamond smuggling has been restored, largely by ending the

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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