Albert Margai

Albert Margai

Infobox Prime Minister
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = Sir Albert Margai
honorific-suffix =

imagesize =
birth_date = Birth date|1910|10|10|df=y
birth_place = Gbangbatoke, Banta Chiefdom, Moyamba District, Sierra Leone
order=Prime Minister of Sierra Leone
term_start=April 28, 1964
term_end=May 17, 1967
monarch = Elizabeth II
predecessor = Milton Margai
successor = Siaka Stevens
office2 = Minister of Finance
term_start2 = 1962
term_end2 = 1964
primeminister2 =
predecessor2 =
successor2 =
office3 = Minister of Agriculture
term_start3 = 1959
term_end3 = 1962
primeminister3 =
predecessor3 =
successor3 =
office4 = Head of Sierra Leone People's Party
term_start4 = 1957
term_end4 = 1957
primeminister4 =
predecessor4 = Milton Margai
successor4 = Milton Margai
constituency_MP5 = Moyamba
Moyamba (1957)
term_start5 = 1957
term_end5 = 1957
predecessor5 =
successor5 =
spouse =
profession = Attorney

party = Sierra Leone People's Party
religion = Christian

Sir Albert Michael Margai (October 10, 1910 – December 18, 1980) was the second prime minister of Sierra Leone and the half-brother of Sir Milton Margai, [ [ National Overview – Sierra Leone] American Chemical Society] the country's first Prime Minister. He is also the father of Sierra Leonean politician Charles Margai. [ Sir Albert Margai and the Shadow of Thurgood Marshall]]

Early life

Though Margai was born in Gbangbatoke, Banta Chiefdom in what is now the Moyamba District, he was raised mainly in Freetown. [ Sir Albert Margai, Biography, SLPP Official Site] ] His father, M.E.S. Margai, was a wealthy trader from Bonthe. [ [ Sierra Leone People's Party Official Biography] ] Margai received a Roman Catholic education at St. Edward's Primary School and 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 England and read law at the Inner Temple Inns of Court where he qualified in 1948. Prior to his political career, he owned a private law practice in Freetown.

Political career

Colonial era

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 Parliament for 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 Siaka Stevens.

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 Party with 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 Nkrumah in Ghana and Milton Obote in Uganda are 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 Minister of Sierra Leone. At the time, Albert was serving as a Member of Parliament for 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.


He was made Prime Minister on April 29, 1964.

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 Mende tribe.

Public image

The tantrum prone Prime Minister was nicknamed 'Akpata', a Mende word meaning "our wild, fat man". [,9171,941075,00.html?iid=chix-sphere End of The Exception] Time, 31 March 1967] Margai was also nicknamed 'Big Albert' and 'African Albert'.

One-party state

Margai endeavored to change Sierra Leone from a democracy to a one party state.

1967 elections

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.

Coup d'état

Margai's opponent Siaka Stevens achieved 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.

Counter coup

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 Coup was led by Lientenant Colonel Ambrose Patrick Genda who Margai had fired in 1967. Eight member of the officers formed the National Reformation Council and elected Brigadier John Bangura to the post of acting Governor General. A staunch democrat, Bangura re-instated Siaka Stevens because he had won the election.

Civilian life

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,,] ]


On December 18 1980 Margai passed away in his 27, 2006,,] ] He is survived by his son, politician Charles 27, 2006,,] ]


External links

* [ Sierra Leone People's Party] - official site
* [ Sierra]

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