Sherbro people

Sherbro people

infobox ethnic group
group = The Sherbro

poptime = 201,000 []
popplace = Bonthe District, Western Area
langs = Sherbro
rels = Christianity
related =
The Sherbro people are a native people of Sierra Leone, who speak the Sherbro language. They are also known as the Bullom people. The Sherbro are primarily found in Bonthe District, where they make up 40% of the population, and in the Western Area of Sierra Leone.

Since the Sherbro people are native people of Sierra Leone, their history dates back to pre-colonial times. In the 1920s the Sherbro people were still being ruled by chiefs and were still under their own rule. There are few ethnic Sherbros today in Sierra Leone.

The Sherbro people, like many other Sierra Leonean ethnic groups (such as the Sierra Leone Krio people), have a rich culture. The Sherbro people are primarily Christian.


The Sherbro were one of many ethnic groups living in Sierra Leone before the colonial era. The first interaction with Europeans came during the 1400s, when Portuguese explorers, settlers, and traders came to Sierra Leone. The two peoples eventually intermarried, forming Afro-Portuguese clans that began to trade with both European and African people and became very influential.

The English followed soon after and in the 1620s they had a number of agents trading and purchasing items in the Sherbro Country. During this time, the most powerful Afro-European bonds were established. The English traders married Sherbo princesses, and soon many multiracial Afro-English children became middlemen fostering trade between African and English people. These families included the Tuckers, Hubbards, Caulkers (Corkers), Rogerses, and Clevelands, and all had a white progenitor who had married a daughter of one of the Sherbro ruling chiefdoms. Soon these multiracial clans began expanding and establishing more powerful chiefdoms and began to trade successfully as well.

During the 18th century, however the slave trade began to dominate the Afro-English clans' trading markets. The Tuckers and Caulkers became the leading slave traders in the region and grew extremely powerful and notorious. The Hubbards, Tuckers and Caulkers hired Mende people during their trading exploits for the slave trade and even hired white people to work for them. During this time the "mulattoes" became even more powerful than the white slave traders, as they spoke both African and English languages, and sometimes mixed the two. This mixture of languages was a precursor to the Krio language of the Sierra Leone Krio people.

Afro-European dominance in Sherbro society did not diminish with colonial rule by the British, though the chiefdoms were now subject to British rule. In 1820 the Caulkers who ruled in Banana Island were forced out and their kingdom was moved to Bumpe by the British.

Relationship with the Krios

The Sherbro people generally intermarried with Krios without any objection from as far back as the 1880s. Sherbro families such as the Caulkers and Tuckers married into Krio families and vice versa. There was at one point a belief that the Sherbros were Krios; this is not true but the Krios and Sherbros did have a close relationship, and there was no ethnic tension between the Krios and Sherbros.

Notable Sherbros

*Kpana Lewis, Sherbro chief and an opponent of colonial rule
*John Karefa-Smart, Sierra Leonean politician and the former leader of the United National People's Party (UNPP)
*Hindolo Trye, current Sierra Leone's minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs
*Patricia Kabbah, late First Lady of Sierra Leone and late wife of former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
*John Akar, Sierra Leonean entertainer; he composed the music of the Sierra Leone's National Anthem
*Margaret Thompson Seibureh, current Paramount Chief of Bonthe District
*Paul Kpaka, Sierra Leonean football star
*Kpana Lewis (1830–1912), Sherbro Chief and opponent of colonial rule
*B. J. Tucker, an American football cornerback who plays for the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL.
*Seniora Doll, Sherbro princess during the early years of Sierra Leone
*Peter L. Tucker, Chief Executive for the Commission for Racial Equality (UK)
*Desmond Luke, former Sierra Leone ambassador to France, and Germany
*Joseph Christian Humper, a Bishop in the United Methodist Church
*Thomas Caulker, King of Bumpey
*James Corker, son of William Cleveland and an African princess, and a member of the Corker (Caulker) family
*Charles Hubbard (Marthyn Shenge), the first Sierra Leonean tennis player to beat a European player (1970s). He was the Men's Singles national champion for three consecutive years and retired undefeated. He was also the first indigenous tennis coach in Sierra Leone.

Afro-European clans

*Sherbro Hubbards
*Sherbro Tuckers
*Sherbro Caulkers
*Sherbro Rogerses
*Sherbro Clevelands

ee also

*Thomas Corker Chief Royal African agent in Sherbro country
*Seniora Doll married Thomas Corker and their descendants are the Shenge and Bonthe Caulkers



Adam Jones (1983). "History in Africa", Vol. 10, pp. 151-162.

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