Sierra Leone gains independence – Sir Milton speaks to the nation

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2019:

58 years ago, on 27th April 1961, Sierra Leone’s first prime minister – Dr Sir Milton Margai, spoke to the people of Sierra Leone about the kind of nation they should expect in the coming years, after gaining independence from Britain, and what it would take to get there.

There was euphoria, hope and promise. The people of Sierra Leone looked forward to a brigher and better future, being able to govern themselves, feed themselves, and provide for all of their basic needs as well as continue to be the Athens of West Africa through its excellent education institutions.

But what did Sir Milton tell the nation? This is what he said; and how much of what he promised have been achieved by successive governments, 58 years after independence:

Men, women and children of Sierra Leone, I greet you all on this historic day, and I rejoice with you.

Sierra Leone today becomes a unified and independent nation to take her place as an equal partner in the Commonwealth of nations and as equal entity in the world at large. For this we rejoice, and may your own rejoicing wherever you are be really full of happiness.

We must also face up squarely to the problems which will confront us, and I want you all to understand clearly that the Sierra Leone Government in future will depend very greatly upon the active support and assistance of each one of you.

The aim will certainly be to make a our country a land worth living in, a land worth serving; but this can only be done by wholehearted service and hard work now.

I have told you this before, and I call upon you to give the Government your active help and support.

I ask you to deal fairly and honestly with your fellow men, to discourage lawlessness, and to strive actively for peace, friendship and unity in our country.

We have much to do to bring improvements to all parts of our country. I am fully aware of this and I assure you all that my Government is determined that general progress shall be made as fast as possible.

But there is also much that can be done by yourselves to meet your own needs, and I shall continue to support and encourage voluntary local support, whether it is directed to the building of a road, a bridge, a school, or a community centre, a sports field, a water supply, or any other communal requirement.

I would like to make it clear that independence will not result in any sudden changes in our day-to-day life. Whether you are a farmer, a clerk, a trader, an artisan, a daily wage worker, a fisherman, a lawyer or a judge, life will go on just the same, with the same rights and privileges safeguarded, the same type of laws, the same justice in our courts, the same taxes and other responsibilities, the same articles for sale in the stores. Mining companies, missions, trade unions, hospitals, schools, and government departments will go on as before.

The significant change is that we are now in complete control of our destiny and for the formulation of our external as well as our internal policies.

I wish you all to be assured that we in Sierra Leone will stand for the freedom and prosperity of men everywhere.

Sierra Leone is proud to be a member of the Commonwealth because this great family of nations has exactly the same aims. We believe in the dignity of men and the sovereignty of states, and we will oppose to the limit of our power any movement of aggression which may conflict with these ideals.

This is the time when all you men and women should strive to know what is being done, what your responsibilities are and what the responsibilities of your country are.

The Government Information Service is working hard to help you to do so, and I and my Ministers will continue to come round and talk with you, but you must want to know, and you must bring others with you to listen to the authoritative words of Government, and you must pass the true word to those who cannot attend.

As I have said before, Paramount Chiefs, Section Chiefs, Tribal Headmen, and Tribal Authority Members all have a great responsibility to do this, and I expect them all to do what is required of them.

Exactly the same applies to Town Councillors and more particularly to District Councillors. It is not enough to attend your Council meetings, and then go home to sit in your hammocks. Many of our people are thirsting for knowledge of what your Council and the Government are doing.

All your elected people must tell your constituents the true word and bring their questions and desires back to your Councils so that they may be answered.

I look forward to a long period of mutual cooperation and understanding between the Sierra Leone Government and the Sierra Leone Council of Labour.

Over the past years we have supported and encouraged the growth of trade unions in our country because these are accepted as the best means of ensuring good relations between the employers and employees, and of securing the rights and deserts of trade union members. Much of what I have said before in this message applies with great force to trade unions.

The Sierra Leone Government in the years to come will depend upon your cooperation and active assistance. You have an especial responsibility to maintain the high standards you have set in past years, to stand by the rules of procedure in the case of disputes, and to avoid conflicts which may be detrimental to the good of your country.

And to those of you who are studying at school or college I say: You are seeing history made this day. Work hard, for you are the future leaders of your country. We will lay traditions of which you will be proud. It will be for you to uphold them and to build upon them in the future.

I pray for God’s help and guidance on this historic day and in the years to come, and for His blessings on you all.

2 Comments

  1. This is the best Independence speech for our nation ever read. Governments have come and gone with the leaders who on one part had been selfish and not prepared to work for the Unity of the country but segregation and corruption which had found their seats in our country and it has become hard to drive them or do away with them.

    Only a true Sierra Leonean will work hard to see all that Sir Milton worked for and a blessed place where anyone working hard can find a peaceful place to live and work. I do believe all Sierra Leoneans will work hard and together irrespective of where they are or live to make the country go forward and not back.

    I profoundly agree with our brother now that the president of the country working hard to make Sierra Leone a place to live, instead of migrating to other countries. Migration had caused and is causing a lot of havoc to Sierra Leoneans and other African nationals and sometimes death, in trying to come to Europe to better their lives.

    Sierra Leone should have been a place where any person could have tried to join the developed nation from their precarious lives. I am happy to be and join other Sierra Leoneans to work for the progress of our nation.

    LONG LIVE SIERRA LEONE AND HER PEOPLE. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL SIERRA LEONEANS ACROSS THE WORLD TRYING TO SUCCEED IN LIFE.
    MAY GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE AND ALL THE Sierra Leoneans living in the country and abroad. AMEN

  2. I just feel very sad and upset each time I read this UNIFYING SPEECH. Very sad and upset indeed. I ask myself, why was Sir Milton Margai taken so early from us by the almighty GOD? I remembered when my dad used to say to me, that, a flyover would have been constructed around the Eastern Police area to ease traffic in the city, if Sir Milton Margai should have lived longer in power.

    He also told me how the railway should have been in place for all generations to see and enjoy. But a company called James International collaborated with some rogue politicians to SCRAP the RAILWAY. SAD. He further explained many more things of interest to me which unfortunately, I did not see and live to enjoy. Since then, as a child, I just lost trust in politicians. But what could I do then? Nothing.

    Thank GOD, today, I have the opportunity to express my frustrations and anger in a peaceful and respectful way. All those responsible for the demise of our country and who made us not to enjoy what we should enjoy today, will pay dearly when they face GOD. AMEN AND AMEN.

    GOD BLESS Sir Milton Margai and all true PATRIOTS of Sierra Leone this day now and FOREVER, in JESUS’S name, AMEN AND AMEN. R.I.P SIR MILTON MARGAI.

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