Joseph Saidu Momoh

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Joseph Saidu Momoh
2nd President of Sierra Leone
In office
November 28, 1985 – April 29, 1992
Vice President Francis Minah (1985-87)
Abu Bakar Kamara (1987-91)
Abdulai Conteh (1991-92)
Preceded by Siaka Stevens
Succeeded by Valentine Strasser
Personal details
Born (1937-01-26)January 26, 1937
Binkolo, Bombali District, Sierra Leone
Died August 3, 2003(2003-08-03) (aged 66)
Conakry, Guinea
Nationality Sierra Leonean
Political party All People's Congress (APC)
Spouse(s) Fatmata Momoh, Hannah Momoh

Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh, OBE (January 26, 1937 – August 3, 2003) served as President of Sierra Leone from November 1985 to April 29, 1992.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Joseph Saidu Momoh was born on January 26, 1937 in Binkolo, Bombali District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone to Limba parents. He was a Christian.

President of Sierra Leone[edit]

Momoh served as President of Sierra Leone from November 28, 1985 to April 29, 1992. A professional soldier drawn into politics, Momoh rose from the enlisted ranks to the highest position in the Sierra Leone Military Forces (Major-General), during his presidency.

In 1985 Momoh succeeded President Siaka Stevens by becoming the only candidate in a one-party election in the form of a referendum under the banner of the All People's Congress party (APC).

Momoh declared a state of economic emergency early in his rule, granting himself greater control over Sierra Leone's economy, but he was not regarded as a dictator. Instead, his people viewed him as far too weak and inattentive to the affairs of state, allowing his notoriously corrupt advisors to manipulate matters behind the scenes.

President Momoh appears on the Leone

Momoh has inherited a disintegrating economy from his predecessor and he was unable to stop the trend. The country's currency decreased in value. Sierra Leone reached the point under President Momoh where it could not afford to import gasoline and fuel oil, and the country went without electricity for months at a time. In September 1991, after the start of the Sierra Leone Civil War, Momoh ushered in a new constitution which dismantled the one-party state established in 1978 and instituting multiparty democracy. He also played a great part in dissolving tribalism.

Marriage and family[edit]

Momoh was marriage Fatmata Neppie Momoh, a Fulani woman from Kono.[1] They later divorced.[1]

He fathered a natural child Abdul Momoh with a woman called Hawa Marah.[1]

His second marriage to Hannah Momoh was also unsuccessful as she felt humiliated by his incessant infidelities.[2] Shortly into his presidency, the Fullah community of Kono offered Momoh a young girl from their community as a "bribe".[2] When Momoh openly made the girl his mistress, First Lady Momoh left their residence at Wilberforce Road and relocated to London, England.[2] She never returned.[2]

Momoh later reconciled with his ex-wife Fatmata.[1]

Military Coup[edit]

However, Momoh's efforts at reform came too late to rescue Sierra Leone from chaos. He was overthrown in a military coup staged by Valentine Strasser, a 25-year-old army captain, in April 1992.

In April 1992, a group of young soldiers marched to Freetown from the war front where they had been fighting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh.[3] Incesenced by terrible working conditions, unpaid salaries and a lack of government support they staged a coup d'état.[3]

On 29th April 1992, while Momoh was giving a speech to a group of schoolchildren, the soldiers, led by Captain Valentine Strasser announced the military coup on the radio.[3]

Momoh fled immediately to Guinea and sought political asylum.[3]

Exile and Death[edit]

Momoh spent the last years of his life as a guest of the military government in neighboring Guinea.[1] He took up residence in Nongo Tadi, Conakry.[1] He reconciled with his first wife Fatmata, who joined him there with their children.[1]

He died from hypertention in 2003.[4] He bequeathed his property, including seven homes in Sierra Leone, to Fatmata.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "On Ex-President Momoh's will. Wife reveals it all". 2005-12-24. Retrieved 2018-06-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d Tumoe, Tatafway (2010-11-03). "Sia Nyama Koroma : Sierra Leone's Special First Lady". Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d Mansaray, Ibrahim Sourie (2013). "Was the 1992 coup a blessing or a curse for Sierra Leone?". Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  4. ^ "Joseph Momoh, 66; Sierra Leone President Ousted in Coup". Los Angeles Times. 3 August 2003. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  • Reno, William. Corruption and State Politics in Sierra Leone (New York: Cambridge University Press), 1995.
  • Tuchscherer, Konrad. “Joseph Saidu Momoh,” Encyclopedia of Modern Dictators, ed. by Frank J. Coppa (New York: Peter Lang), 2006, pp. 189–191.
  • Tuchscherer, Konrad. “Joseph Saidu Momoh: A Legacy of Missed Opportunity,” Awoko (Freetown, Sierra Leone), 25 July 2003, p. 7.
  • Tuchscherer, Konrad. “Joseph Saidu Momoh: Human Rights,” Daily Observer (Banjul, The Gambia), 14 August 2003, p. 12.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Siaka Stevens
President of Sierra Leone
Succeeded by
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah