Sherbro people

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The Sherbro and its hinterland (1901) (14783305925).jpg
The Sherbro and its hinterland (1901)
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Sierra Leone (Bonthe District and the Western Area)
Sherbro, Krio, Sierra Leone English
Traditional African religions, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Krio, Gola

The Sherbro people are a native people of Sierra Leone, who speak the Sherbro language; they make up 3% of Sierra Leone's population or about 201,000. The Sherbros are primarily found in their homeland in Bonthe District, where they make up 45% of the population, in coastal areas of Moyamba District, and in the Western Area of Sierra Leone, particularly in Freetown. During pre-colonial days, the Sherbro were one of the most dominant ethnic group in Sierra Leone, but today only few ethnic Sherbro are found in Sierra Leone. The Sherbro speak their own language called Sherbro language. The vast majority of Sherbro people are Christian.

The Sherbro are primarily fisherman and traders. They have a rich culture, that has integrated some western culture and ideals. Their culture is unlike that of all other ethnic groups in Sierra Leone. The only Sierra Leonean ethnic group whose culture is similar (in terms of embrace of Western culture) are the Krio people, descended largely from African Americans who were freed by the British and came from Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War. The Sherbro and the Krios are close allies; they have intermarried from as far back as the 1790s.

As native to Sierra Leone, the Sherbro history dates to pre-colonial times. In the 18th century, the Sherbro began to get involved in the slave trade and became more powerful than the European slave traders. They began to employ the Mende people to work for them to find slaves to meet the growing demand. In the 1920s, the Sherbro people were still being ruled by their own chiefs.


The Sherbro were one of many ethnic groups living in Sierra Leone before the colonial era. The first interaction with Europeans came during the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers, settlers, and traders came to Sierra Leone.

The English followed soon after and in the 1620s, they had a number of agents trading and purchasing items in the Sherbro Country. The Sherbro intermarried with them. Like the Krios, the Sherbro have a more westernized culture than that of other Sierra Leone ethnic groups.[citation needed] The Krios generally intermarried with their allies the Sherbros from as far back as the 18th century.

Relationship with the Krios[edit]

De-tribalised Sherbro easily assimilate as Krio, given that they share the Christian faith and Western names.

Notable Sherbro[edit]


See also[edit]

  • Thomas Corker, Chief Royal African agent in Sherbro country
  • Seniora Doll, married Thomas Corker; their descendants are the Shenge and Bonthe Caulkers



  • Adam Jones (1983). History in Africa, Vol. 10, pp. 151–162.