Customs and traditions
The Sierra Leonis are known for their
kindness and hospitality. You can generally behave
fairly in the company of Sierra Leoneans. Hand greeting
is an important part of socializing and initiates all
meetings, even with people you meet every day. It is not
uncommon for one to keep holding each other's hand long
after the formal greeting. Communication occurs not only
with words, gestures and meanings, but also through
touch, one grabs the other person's arm or shoulder to
emphasize what one wants to say. In very formal
contexts, this kind of body contact is not suitable at
all, and the elderly should also be treated with a
respect that does not allow for physical touch. During
the Ebola epidemic 2014–2015, people also became more
cautious with close physical contact.
One topic of conversation that should be avoided in
at least superficial contacts is the civil war. The
brutality left behind deep wounds that most people do
not want to tear up. Almost everyone was affected in
some way by the violence.
Overview of the capital city of Sierra Leone, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Similarly, you should avoid talking about work with
people you do not know. Unemployment is so widespread
that such a topic can be embarrassing.
The hospitality is great and when visiting a private
home you are probably invited to stay for dinner. Rice
is the staple food of all meals. It is served with pots
and sauces on meat or fish, seasoned with peanuts or
maybe cassava blend with onions, pepper (often piripiri),
vegetables and palm or coconut oil.
Traditionally, everyone eats from the same casserole,
where you pick up sauce and meat pieces with the lump of
rice you kneaded in your right hand. The best pieces are
always reserved for the elderly. In traditional
households, women and girls usually eat for themselves
or wait until the men and boys have finished eating when
they get what is left over. Meals are usually taken in
silence. You save the talk after the food, and generally
you do not drink anything until you have finished
eating. Talking during the meal is considered to show a
lack of respect for the food.
Sierra Leone celebrates all the usual Muslim and
Christian holidays and has few secular weekends. An
exception is Independence Day on April 27. Then you can
see the green-white-blue flag (see how it looks on the
Sierra Leone home page in the Country Guide) and hear
the national song, High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the
The road network is in poor condition after
decades of inadequate maintenance. An exception is the
road north from the capital Freetown towards Guinea. A
refurbishment of the road network has started with
funding assistance from the World Bank and the EU, in
Freetown has one of Africa's best natural ports, but
the facilities are severely worn down and partially
bombed during the 1991–2002 war, but are now being
refurbished with the support of the World Bank.
Telecommunications also collapsed more or less during
the war, but now a rapid expansion of the mobile
networks is underway.
During the 2014–2015 Ebola crisis, almost all air
traffic to and from Sierra Leone was closed; parts of it
have then started again. In 2017, the international
airport in Lungi outside Freetown was expected to be
replaced by a new one in Mamamah (also outside Freetown)
which is under construction thanks to a loan from China.
Sierra Leone has no railways for passenger traffic
but two shorter lines are available for shipping iron
ore from the mines to the coast. The river traffic is
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) grants a $ 96 million loan to Sierra
Leone for a three-year period. The money will be used to develop the economy and
fight poverty. Figures show that the country's GDP rose by over 15 percent in
2012 thanks to increased iron ore extraction.
Criticism from human rights organizations
According to the magazine Africa Confidential, the Sierra Leonean government
is secretly helping Ibrahim Bah, a gun dealer and Ruf leader with close ties to
Charles Taylor, leave Sierra Leone where he has lived since 2008. He is put on a
flight to his native Senegal. Both the UN and human rights organizations have
pressed for Bah to be brought to justice for their part in the abuses committed
during the civil war, but nothing has happened. The human rights organization
Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (Carl) has filed a single indictment
against Bah. The trial against him was scheduled for August.
The Korean government is also accused of protecting drug traffickers, corrupt
foreign businessmen and politicians.
New anti-corruption deals
Two employees of the Ministry of Finance are sentenced to three and five
years in prison for corruption, respectively.
At least 13 people are arrested at the end of the month in a corruption
crisis involving employees within the country's banks and tax authorities. In
conjunction with this, temporary restrictions are imposed on anyone working in
the banking or tax authorities.
Concern about mining project
Unrest erupts around a mine in Tonkolili, between Makeni and Magburaka in the
middle of the country, after the company African Minerals Ltd started building a
dam outside its area. Equipment worth several hundred thousand dollars is
destroyed and personnel are taken hostage (however, they are released after a
A strike later breaks out in nearby Bumbuna in protest of foreign workers
receiving higher wages. The police are resorting to harsh methods against the
strikers - at least one woman is killed - and criticized by the country's human