- Albert Margai
Infobox Prime Minister
The Right Honourable
name = Sir Albert Margai
birth_date = Birth date|1910|10|10|df=y
Gbangbatoke, Banta Chiefdom, Moyamba District, Sierra Leone
Prime Minister of Sierra Leone
April 28, 1964
May 17, 1967
monarch = Elizabeth II
Minister of Finance
term_start2 = 1962
term_end2 = 1964
Minister of Agriculture
term_start3 = 1959
term_end3 = 1962
office4 = Head of
Sierra Leone People's Party
term_start4 = 1957
term_end4 = 1957
constituency_MP5 = Moyamba
term_start5 = 1957
term_end5 = 1957
Sierra Leone People's Party
Sir Albert Michael Margai (
October 10, 1910– December 18, 1980) was the second prime minister of Sierra Leoneand the half-brother of Sir Milton Margai, [ [http://portal.acs.org/portal/PublicWebSite/membership/acs/welcoming/international/regional/africame/country/CTP_003756 National Overview – Sierra Leone] American Chemical Society] the country's first Prime Minister. He is also the father of Sierra Leonean politician Charles Margai. [http://www.worldpress.org/Africa/2580.cfm Sir Albert Margai and the Shadow of Thurgood Marshall] Worldpress.org]
Though Margai was born in Gbangbatoke, Banta Chiefdom in what is now the
Moyamba District, he was raised mainly in Freetown. [http://www.slpp.ws/browse.asp?page=439 Sir Albert Margai, Biography, SLPP Official Site] ] His father, M.E.S. Margai, was a wealthy trader from Bonthe. [ [http://www.slpp.ws/browse.asp?page=438 Sierra Leone People's Party Official Biography] ] Margai received a Roman Catholiceducation at St. Edward's Primary Schooland went on to be one of the first group of students to attend St. Edward's Secondary School.
Margai's became a registered nurse and this was his occupation from 1931 to 1944. He later travelled to
Englandand read law at the Inner Temple Inns of Courtwhere he qualified in 1948. Prior to his political career, he owned a private law practice in Freetown.
Margai was elected first Protectorate Member to the Legislative Council in 1951. In 1952 he became a Cabinet Minister and Sierra Leone's first Minister of Education. In 1957 he was elected
Member of Parliamentfor the Moyamba Constituency).
He served as finance minister in Milton's government after 1962, where he also held positions alternatively in Education, Agriculture, and Natural Resources. After the death of his brother, Sir Albert served from 1964 until 1967, when he was replaced by
Sierra Leone National Party
Margai was a founding member of the
Sierra Leone National Party, which was formed in 1949 to advocate and aid in the transition to independence for the country.
Sierra Leone People's Party
However, in the years leading up to independence, Margai was allied more closely with Siaka Stevens than his brother. He took leadership of the
Sierra Leone People's Party(SLPP) in 1957, but stepped down to form the People's National Partywith Stevens. A major point of contention between the two groups involved the degree of involvement of traditional chiefs and traditional rules in the modern state. In fact, Margai openly asked traditional rulers to stay out of politics. He was one of a number of leaders ( Kwame Nkrumahin Ghanaand Milton Obotein Ugandaare other examples) who attempted to remove the system of democratic governance enshrined in multi-party democracy as he believed that this would encourage politicians to accentuate the ethnic differences within the state and therefore threaten the viability of Sierra Leone as a country.
The Crown Colony and Protectorate of Sierra Leone was granted political independence on
April 27, 1961. Albert's brother, Sir Milton Margai was appointed first Prime Ministerof Sierra Leone. At the time, Albert was serving as a Member of Parliamentfor Moyamba.
Minister of Finance
Margai was appointed Minister of Finance in 1962. Margai changed Sierra Leone's currency from the British pound to the "leone", a decimal legal tender roughly equivalent to half a Sterling pound at the time. He also founded the Bank of Sierra Leone and made it the national bank.
Margai was highly criticized during his tenure. He had a penchant for extravagant pageantry and was accused of corruption and of a policy of affirmative action in favor of the
The tantrum prone Prime Minister was nicknamed 'Akpata', a Mende word meaning "our wild, fat man". [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,941075,00.html?iid=chix-sphere End of The Exception] Time, 31 March 1967] Margai was also nicknamed 'Big Albert' and 'African Albert'.
Up until the 1967 elections, Sierra Leone had been an exemplary democratic, post-colonial state. However, the campaign strategies of Margai would forever alter this trend. He was against any candidates from the opposition running against candidates from his own party. Margai refused to dignify accusation of corruption with a response. Riots broke out across Sierra Leone and the government had to declare a
state of emergency.
Siaka Stevensachieved a small parliamentary majority and he was sworn in as the third Prime Minister of Sierra Leone by Governor General Sir Henry Lightfoot Boston. Margai's friend and ally Brigadier David Lansana, who was the Commander of Sierra Leone's Armed Forces at the time, arrested both Stevens and Lightfoot Boston. He declared martial law, dismissed the election results and proclaimed himself the interim head of state.
By the end of the week, a group of noncommissioned officers staged a counter coup in an attempt to restore the democratic process to Sierra Leone. The so-called
Sargents Coupwas led by Lientenant Colonel Ambrose Patrick Genda who Margai had fired in 1967. Eight member of the officers formed the National Reformation Counciland elected Brigadier John Bangura to the post of acting Governor General. A staunch democrat, Bangura re-instated Siaka Stevensbecause he had won the election.
Margai warned "If the Stevens government does not do something to elevate the lives of the have-nots, the poor, they would one day rise to demand from the haves, the rich, their own share of the economy."er 27, 2006, wordpress.org,] ]
* [http://www.slpp.ws/ Sierra Leone People's Party] - official site
* [http://www.sierra-leone.org/heroes8.html Sierra Leone.org]
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Look at other dictionaries:
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