Local Source: The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security. By Ian Smillie, Lansana Gberie and Ralph Hazleton. Original Source:

1787: 377 black and white colonists from Britain land in Sierra Leone; most
die within two years.

1792: 1200 ‘free Negroes' sail from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone where they
establish the settlement of ‘Freetown'.

1799: A Royal Charter gives legal status to the colony.

1808: Establishment of a Crown Colony (Sierra Leone thus becomes the first
modern state in sub-Saharan Africa).

1827: Establishment of Fourah Bay College, the first university in
sub-Saharan Africa.

1896: Establishment of a Protectorate over territories of the interior.

1961: Independence

1964: First Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai, dies; power goes to his
brother, Albert Margai.

1967: General elections are marred by widespread violence, in part because
of Margai's plan to establish a one-party state. Army takes power as
‘National Reformation Council'.

1968: Non-commissioned officers seize power and invite Siaka Stevens,
apparent winner of the 1967 election, to take power. Elections reconfirm him
in office.

1970s: Stevens consolidates power through violence, corruption and
intimidation, creating an Internal Security Unit with Cuban assistance. 1977
elections are rigged and marred by violence, after which Stevens declares a
one-party state.

1985: The economy in ruins, Stevens - now 80 - hands over to former army
chief, Joseph Momoh.

1990: Momoh relaxes press restrictions; moves to reintroduce multi-party
democracy; UNDP Human Development Report places Sierra Leone last out of 160
countries; Charles Taylor begins his war in Liberia; 80,000 Liberian
refugees flee to Sierra Leone; ECOMOG is established with Freetown as the
rear base.

1991: Former army corporal Foday Sankoh leads Revolutionary United Front
(RUF) attacks on Sierra Leone border towns from Liberia; attacks continue,
marked by brutality against civilians; children are kidnapped and inducted
into RUF; Momoh doubles the army, recruiting ‘hooligans, drug addicts and
thieves' and children.

1992: April: A mutiny by unpaid soldiers becomes a coup; Momoh flees;
National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) assumes power under Capt.
Valentine Strasser (age 27); brutal war continues; RUF attacks target
civilians. Their hallmark is crude amputations - feet, hands, lips, ears,
noses - with special attention to women and children. 120,000 refugees flee
to Guinea; widespread internal dislocation.

1993 Kamajor (traditional hunters) militia begins fighting against RUF along
with Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF) and ECOMOG; rebel
atrocities continue.

1994: RUF overruns diamond areas, bauxite and titanium mines; economy
essentially bankrupt; Freetown threatened. By now an estimated 50,000 have
been killed and about half the country's 4.5 million people have been

1995: February: NPRC employs Gurkha Security Guards for combat duty, but
following setbacks they withdraw; May: Executive Outcomes contracted by
NPRC; by June, the RUF is beaten back from Freetown and diamond areas
liberated; rebel activity subsides.

1996: January: Palace coup in which Julius Maada Bio replaces Strasser;
peace talks with RUF begin in Abidjan; March: elections marred by RUF
violence are reported to be otherwise free and fair by international
observers; Ahmed Tejan Kabbah becomes President; November: Foday Sankoh and
Kabbah sign a peace accord.

1997 May: Soldiers release 600 prison inmates and seize power, forming the
Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC). Kabbah flees. Major Johnny Paul Koroma,
a former coup plotter, becomes chairman and invites RUF to join the
government. AFRC/RUF rule characterized by systematic murder, torture,
looting, rape and shutdown of all formal banking and commerce throughout the

1998 February: ECOMOG launches offensive on Freetown, driving the AFRC/RUF
out. President Kabbah returns. Sierra Leone armed forces disbanded. Towns
and villages throughout the country experience continued attacks and extreme
brutality from AFRC/RUF forces. July: Security Council creates UN
peace-keeping operation, UNOMSIL, and sends 40 military observers and later
human rights observers. October: An estimated 10,000 - 12,000 ECOMOG troops
continue to battle AFRC/RUF. An estimated 800-1200 Nigerian soldiers have
been killed, and the cost is estimated at $1 million per day. October:
Trials of soldiers and civilians result in death sentences for many,
including Foday Sankoh. Attacks continue; RSLMF regroups.

1999 January: AFRC/RUF elements attack and enter Freetown resulting in two
weeks of arson, terror, murder and dismemberment. Cabinet ministers,
journalists and civil servants are tortured and killed. Parts of the city
are razed, over 6000 civilians are killed before ECOMOG pushes them back.
2000 children are reported missing. February: Nigerian presidential
candidates agree that Nigeria should get out of Sierra Leone soon after
Nigeria's return to civilian rule on May 29. The UN Security Council
discusses Sierra Leone. July: GOSL concludes a negotiated peace agreement
with the RUF, giving Foday Sankoh and several other RUF and AFRC leaders
cabinet positions. All RUF and AFRC leaders are given amnesty. August:
Phased Nigerian Troop withdrawal begins. October: UN Security Council
approves a 6000-member Peacekeeping Force for Sierra Leone with authority to
used ‘deadly force' if required. December: Kenyan and Indian contingents of
the new UNAMSIL peacekeeping force begin to arrive in Sierra Leone.

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 06/06/2000
©S D Stein

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