Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 August 2022:
After sixty years of procrastination, the Parliament of Sierra Leone has today passed into law “The Customary Land Rights Act 2022”, which the government says will address deep inequalities and discrimination in the ownership and control of land, especially in the provinces.
Presenting the Bill to MPs, the Minister of Land, Housing and Country Planning – Dr. Turad Senesie said the new law will give rights to all Sierra Leoneans to own land anywhere, irrespective of their tribe or gender.
Addressing centuries old discrimination against the Creoles, who under existing laws cannot own land in the provinces, the minister said that with the passing of the Customary Land Right Act 2022, the Creoles will have the right to own land everywhere.
The new law he said will also promote gender equality and ensure that marriage couple can jointly register land ownership. Title to land will be registered in family names to ensure collective consent is secured in disposing of family-owned land. “We want to ensure that the rights of all members of the family are respected,” the minister said.
The Minister vowed to ensure that investments in land ownership and utilisation for development are protected. “The community and country would benefit as they are going to be properly defined,” he promised, indicating that the new law will reduce the number of land dispute cases going to court.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Lands Committee – Quinton Salia-Konneh, said that the new law is historical as it will protect the right of women to own land everywhere in the country.
The Leader of C4C in Parliament – Saa Emerson Lamina said the new law has fulfilled the age-long dream of Queen Masarico who led the Mane Invasion from Mali to Sierra Leone in search of land, and commended the Minister for bringing reforms. He described the new law as progressive.
Hindolo Moiwo Gevea MP, said that with the new law the Creoles will own land in the provinces. The new law he said will also protect the ecosystem, guarantee the right of women to land and reinstate the authority of the chiefs.
Leader of the opposition – Chernor Bah MP, welcomed the new law and said it promotes women’s rights to land ownership in the country. He said that, irrespective of one’s tribe, as long as he or she is Sierra Leonean they must have the right to own land anywhere in the country.
Leader of Government Business – Mathew Sahr Nyuma, told fellow MPs that the new law addresses gender inequality and empowerment in the country. “Today I am proud of Sierra Leone, that women are now given the space,” he said.
Who cares? The whole Creole land debate has always been merely academic or borderline comical. No Creole in his right mind really wants to go set up residence upline – none!! Most Kontris in Freetown do not want to live around other Kontris upline either – wonder why?? Some Creoles do own businesses up there and have never had problems but really, who would leave the relatively civilized surroundings of Freetown in exchange for jujuism, witch-gun talk, fangayism, mammy-water stories, human sacrifice, female genital mutilation, illiteracy, low-life expectancy, infant mortality etc. Upline is also full of strange diseases (that’s where Ebola and Corona originated in SL) and primordial regressiveness of the nth degree.
What Creoles want is for their Kontri brothers to be able to own land from where they hail so they can hopefully leave Freetown (a city built and established by Creoles) eventually and build their own cities – starting with Bo. Creoles have gone from being pioneers in several areas of black/African excellence to living in an environmental timebomb where nobody is thinking straight, let alone being creative/innovative. Too much stupid noise everywhere. Always talking about “na we dae na power” but their villages of birth (upline) are often the dirtiest, darkest, most backward places on earth. If Creoles really wanted to live side-by-side with Kontris upline, they would’ve moved out of Freetown centuries ago!!!
Nobody wants to live up there – not even you. Imagine a Creole, moving from Freetown to Kpakpandikola-Gbysekta only to return a few years later with an unintelligible accent acquired from somewhere deep inside the Gola Forest. Not cool at all.
Some of the comments in this forum shows the extent of the hate and discrimination of our compatriots. Selling of land depends on the availability of land. Last time I checked Sierra Leone had thousands of acres of unused land. There is no empty land. Well if land is not utilised economically, it is empty.
All the vast lands in the interior and yet the people go hungry.
Anyways, what the Creoles want is for the provincials to sort out their feudal and monarchical systems and enable land ownership for their own indegenes. Not for one ruling family to have all the land, while the landless peasants suffer in the slums of Freetown, thereby easing the land pressure on Freetown.
An example is Serekunda in the Gambia, it has developed extensively due to land reform, however, the idea that Bo or Makeni could surpass Freetown seems lost on the Sierra Leone intelligentsia.
In summary, I would not dare to buy land in the provinces for fear of machete wielding peasants spurred on by their royals to kill me.
However, I would be happy, if people could develop their areas in Sierra Leone and make it a more advanced country.
I would love to build a ranch in Kabala rather than living in Freetown. However, it is what it is. From the comments, with the exception of Mr Jalloh, we are still not welcome in the provinces.
This was a long time coming .The proposed land reforms if implemented correctly,has the potential to improve the lives of ordinary communities up and down the country. And improve food production .So food security becomes the norm not the exception. The good news, the colonial era laws that have always prohibited the Creole community from owing lands in the provinces is now under the microscope and might be ditched to where it belongs , the dustbin of history. It’s a shame it took us that long to realised such discriminatory laws against a particular group of people is practice in our country. Whilst at the same time Sierra Leone was at the forefront in the fight against Apartheid South Africa ,where similar laws were passed by the minority nationalist government against the majority black community before the abolition of those laws back in the 90s .
This Colonian era apartheid laws that discriminated against the Creloe community that have contributed immensely in the history of our country ,and helped knit different tribes with the use of the common krio language, has to endure this outdated door law for such a long period of time is not only a scar in our conscience ,but out our political leaders should hang their heads in shame . The fact that no African leader have ever apologise to the decendants of the barbaric slave trade never mind offer them compensation for the suffering of their forebears , we have to even punish them after they return to the land of their ancestors .
Land reforms are political and social issues that try to address the inequalities that exist in agrarian societies.As the Grapes of Wrath put it:”And the great owners, who must lose their land in the upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history, and know the great fact :when property accumulates in too few hands , it is taken away.And that companion fact : When a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need .And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history:repression works only to strength and knit the repressed” Food for thought. Now the process have started we should make sure it is carried through .
The buying and selling of land to anyone and anywhere in Sierra Leone will still depend on the availability of land for sale.
From its inception, the country’s colonial masters and the immediate post-independent leaders promulgated so many odd laws that disadvantaged some communities. For example, Lebanese people were not allowed to settle in Tongo Field in the Kenema district. Tongo Field after Kono district has the most Diamonds in Sierra Leone. As a result, Tongo Field remains a big village even though it is far more populated than several district headquarters in the country. Business people exploited and are still exploiting the diamonds in Tongo Field and they take the proceeds to develop other communities within and outside Sierra Leone. Until today, you cannot find a decent house or infrastructure in Togo Field because of that odd and discriminating Law. Lebanese men would rather stay in Kenema or Koidu while exploiting the Diamonds in Tongo.
Concerning the Law to own land anywhere in Sierra Leone as long as you are a Sierra Leonean, I hope the proposed Bill clarifies how to acquire land. If this is left mute, it has the potential to breed more problems in the future. There is no empty land in the country. People own all the lands in the hinterlands. Unfortunately, there has never been an effort for people in the provinces to demarcate and register their lands. Unlike the western area, where most of the lands were appropriated by the colonial masters and therefore became state land after independence, there is no such provision in the provinces. So it is imperative that the Bill addresses the process of land acquisition to avoid in the future the situation that is currently taking place in Malen Chiefdom against the Sofcin Oil Palm Plantation. In the instance of the Sofcin Plantation, President Koroma’s then Minister of Lands in the APC government and the greedy Paramount chief of Malen hoodwinked and bullied the people into giving up their lands without any compensation. Several people had died in the ugly situation that ensued since then. The current government had been complacent in the wrong done to the indigenes of Malen, possibly through kickbacks received from the investors to keep the status quo. Until today, the skirmishes continue in Malen between the plantation owners, government, and the Paramount chief on the one hand and the poor land owners on the other.
One other thing I will suggest is that the Bill should include in it the process and right to mine Timber in any land around the country. Today, in many African countries, you can only mine Timber on your Timber farm, and Timber farming is a business. We should avoid the situation where those with political powers misuse their powers to allow criminal investors to come in and start cutting the few remaining forests indiscriminately, all to make money. The trees in these forests have taken decades and centuries to grow. Anyone involved in the Timber business should have a timber farm. In short, we should avoid the Timber gate-like situation that our former Vice President Chief Samuel Samsumana was involved in when he was vice president.