Salone News

New Themne Head for Western Area

20 May 2017 at 10:50 | 1063 views

PV Staff

Chief Pa Alhaji Hassan Bangura (photo) is the new head of the Themne ethnic group in the Western Area (Freetown, the capital, and its environs) of Sierra Leone.

The Themnes are one of the two major ethnic groups in the country. The other is the Mende ethnic group.

All the ethnic groups in Sierra Leone have their heads or chiefs in Freetown and other major cities in Sierra Leone except for the Creoles. Many Sierra Leoneans however consider the mayor of Freetown as the "Creole Chief" since that ethnic group was resettled in Freetown in the 18th century by the British from North America and Britain.

A Freetown headman or chief is almost like the Paramount Chiefs of the interior of the country but without the traditional pomp and pageantry and rituals of the latter. But he (it’s usually a male person) has enormous influence over the majority of the members of his ethnic group in the bustling capital of Sierra Leone. He is also frequently consulted by politicians and presides over minor cases brought to his customary law court.

Freetown chiefs used to be very powerful until the British, using superior arms and ammunition, imposed their will on them and declared the area a British crown colony in 1808. They had already renamed the area Freetown (a haven for freed slaves from Europe and North America ) in the 18th century (original name was Romarong).

They (British) then declared most of the land in the Western Area "crown land."

That action considerably angered the Themne chiefs who burned Freetown down twice using traditional guerilla tactics. British counter-attacks however forced the Themne chiefs to retreat further inland to what is now known as Koya chiefdom with Masiaka town the capital. Many Themnes however remained and others that had fled from British reprisals gradually returned to Freetown and their descendants and other Themnes constitute today the majority of its inhabitants.

Freetown headmen are appointed by the Ministry of Local Government after consultations with elders and major stakeholders of the ethnic group concerned.

Here is the new chief celebrating his appointment with his supporters at his home in Freetown: