Bai Bureh, Sierra Leone rebel

Bai Bureh, the Hut Tax rebel

We learned the story of Bai Bureh at Sierra Leone’s National Museum in Freetown. As a chief in the northern part of the country, he earned a reputation for stubborn resistance against British colonial rule. It’s not surprising.

When he trained as a warrior, Bai Bureh was given the nickname Kebalai—one who never tires of war. He was considered a great ruler and military strategist with supernatural powers. Throughout the 1860s and 70s, he won many battles against neighbouring tribal leaders.

Sierra Leone drum

Perhaps this drum was used as a call to arms

His biggest fight began when the British ordered that a ‘hut tax’ be collected from every Sierra Leonean household. Bai Bureh was furious that a foreigner asked him to pay tax on his land in his own country. His refusal to pay caused the British to issue a warrant for his arrest. In 1898, Bai Bureh led a guerrilla revolt that became known at the Hut Tax War. Although his men held the advantage for some time, Bai Bureh was eventually captured and sent into exile. He returned in 1905 and reinstated himself as chief of Kasseh.

You have to love his style and attitude.

P.S. All pics were taken in Sierra Leone’s National Museum in Freetown. The main pic features Bai Bureh. The other two are of his possessions or those of his followers. Stay tuned for a post on more museum items.

Sierra Leone weapons

I think these were weapons

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