Christian Missions In Sierra Leone -- By: Raymond P. Dougherty

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 084:334 (Apr 1927)
Article: Christian Missions In Sierra Leone
Author: Raymond P. Dougherty


Christian Missions In Sierra Leone

Raymond P. Dougherty, Ph.D.

The land of Sierra Leone in West Africa borders on the Atlantic Ocean immediately north of Liberia. Its capital is Freetown, which lies eight degrees above the equator, or in about the same latitude as the Panama Canal. The geographical importance of Sierra Leone is indicated by the fact that the mouth of its main river forms the best harbor on the west coast of Africa at a point which is half-way between England and Cape Town.

History Of Sierra Leone

Few pages in history are more fascinating than those which deal with the opening up of remote parts of Africa. On the north coast along the Mediterranean the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, and Mohammedans succeeded one another as colonizers from early pre-Christian times down to the eighth century A. D. While North Africa felt the powerful touch of these commercial, political, and military movements, West Africa was a neglected and practically unknown section of the continent. It is true that about 500 B. C. the Carthagenian senate commissioned Hanno to explore the Atlantic coast of Africa, and he probably arrived at the part which is now called Sierra Leone, but, according to the record, he did not land on account of the terrifying fires and noises on shore. It was not until nearly two thousand years later that the explorations occurred which led to the modern era of colonization.

The Normans, French, Dutch, Genoese, and Portuguese took part in the fifteenth century exploration of West Africa. Of these, the Portuguese were the most aggressive in many respects. To them belongs the credit of discovering the district which they named Sierra Leone in their language. The term has found its way into one of man’s noblest poetical works, for Milton in Paradise

Lost uses the phrase, “black with thundrous clouds from Serraliona.”

After the discovery and exploration of West African lands there followed the successive periods of trading companies and colonial settlements, with much activity in the slave trade. One English company agreed to furnish three thousand slaves annually to the West Indies. During this period Sierra Leone was a favorite rendezvous for pirates, and they were a source of trouble to those engaged in regular commercial activities. Finally at the close of the eighteenth century England freed her slaves and it was suggested that a settlement of liberated negroes be established in Sierra Leone. The first contingent of settlers arrived in 1787. This project, after repeated recruiting, developed into a community which was appropriately named Freetown. Early in the nineteenth century Sierra Leone became a ...

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