The cultural, political and socio-economic life of Sierra Leone since the amalgamation of the Colony and Protectorate under British colonial rule in 1863, has revolved around:
(i) the place and role of chieftaincy institutions in politics and administration, particularly in the Protectorate;
(ii) the relationship between Creoles and the peoples of the Protectorate;
(iii) the developing schisms and conflicts along ethnic, sub-ethnic, religious and class lines within and among the Creoles, and within and among the peoples of the Protectorate, over how to manage the country’s diversity.
The immediate post-independence period laid the foundations for a vibrant culture of competitive electoral politics within these issues. Nevertheless, there were also worrying premonitions, foreboding signposts about the future of democracy and political governance in the country during the period. Examples include: (i) isolated but not uncommon election related and other forms of political violence in the urban and rural areas; (ii)weak party organisation, demonstrated in the trend towards personality-based and elitist party and electoral politics;
(iii) intra-party schisms, leading to the formation of new parties by break-away factions;
(iv) lack of internal democracy, especially regarding party nomination processes for legislative elections;
(v)carpet-crossing in the legislature; and
(vi) the problem posed by ethnicity, reflected in the role of chiefs and chieftaincy institutions, and in the Creole/
Protectorate “cleavage,” in party and electoral politics.