Liberated Africans in Sierra Leone

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The Sierra Leone Liberated Africans were Africans rescued from slave ships in the Atlantic Ocean from the Middle Passage in a mission by the British after the latter abolished the slave trade.


After the British outlawed the slave trade in 1808, the Royal Navy started patrolling along the African coast and high seas, seizing all slave vessels. They transported most liberated Africans to Freetown, but sent some to Liberia, a colony established by the United States; Saint Helena, Guyana in South America, and the British West Indies. Over 40,000 liberated Africans arrived in Freetown between 1808 and about 1855. They were given land, baptised and given Christian first and last names.

The liberated Africans came from all over West Africa and some Central African countries; of the people who settled in Freetown, however a significant portion of the Recaptives settled in Freetown were Bakongo, Beninese, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Akan.

Life in Sierra Leone[edit]

While information on the day-to-day lives of the liberated Africans living in Sierra Leone is scarce, there remains registers of Africans liberated by the British, letters written to the governor, and other sources that allow the present to understand the lives of the Africans forced to remain there.

In the registers kept by the British, many of the African names were changed to European ones, highlighting the transition to their new circumstances in a British colony.[1] Through the registers, it is clear that recaptives were forced to be apprentices to Europeans and often sold as apprentices.

Liberated African Villages[edit]

A number of villages were established to provide accommodation for these new residents of Sierra Leone.

Formation of Sierra Leone Creole people[edit]

The Colony-born children of Liberated Africans, the Jamaican Maroons and Nova Scotian Settlers sometimes called the liberated Africans "Willyfoss niggers".[2] Nevertheless, after several decades all three groups developed into the Sierra Leone Creole people who became recognised as a particular ethnic identity alongside others in Sierra Leone.

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