As any newly independent country does, Sierra Leone had their plate full. One of the most important roles that any nation needs to sort out is their position in the international community. Sierra Leone was genuinely active in their diplomatic relations. When you think about it though, it’s insanely interesting how vocal they were as a new nation. I briefly wrote about how Sierra Leone was one of the poorest countries to enter the Commonwealth of Africa. This did not phase them, as their economy slowly started to blossom. Moreover, they held the belief and passion, as a nation, that there should be a fully independent African continent. So, aside from their interactions with other countries like the U.S, they were involved with their neighboring countries just as much, if not more.
In 1961, several thousand miles across the Atlantic ocean, the United States reached out to Sierra Leone. President Kennedy sent the first African-American supreme court justice, Thurgood Marshall, to the celebration event in Sierra Leone. Marshall was sent to offer a new friendship with the country. This is not surprising in the slightest. During this time period, as the cold war started to heat up, both sides of the war were looking for new allies. Africa was the prime location for this strategy, as these new countries were gaining sovereignty. So, not only would the U.S send diplomats, or support coup, like they did in some other countries, the USSR would ship weapons and show other types of support to win them over. The international community exploited these newly independent countries as a means to win over the bilateral international system in play at the time.
Zooming in on their own continent, Sierra Leone supported other countries’ independence movements. The best example is seen with their relationship with Namibia and Zimbabwe. Both these countries are almost across the entire continent from them, yet they still supported them in any way they could. During the 1970’s, Abdulai O. Conteh, the foreign minister of Sierra Leone at the time, furthered the country’s continued support of the Namibian people in their quest for sovereignty. As a nation, Sierra Leone pleaded with the South African authorities to release all prisoners of war and to lay down their arms. The government of Sierra Leone attempted many peace talks with them, but none were successful. As for Zimbabwe, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Christian Alusine Kamara-Taylor, exclaimed that they will continue to support Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence. Kamara-Taylor understood that there were over 150 students at the Sierra Leonean university studying. He felt as though, not only for the African Commonwealth, but for them as well, that he had to help in whatever capacity posible.
Back on the international level, as part of the U.S’s desire for a long lasting friendship, they invested money into their infrastructure and agriculture. However, it was not just the U.S who decided to give foreign aid to Sierra Leone. Numerous other countries gave some type of foreign aid. The exact statistic is that $155 million (34%) of its total cumulative revenue was from a form of foreign aid. This helped the country to become more stable, but the help came with more than just a price tag. These countries now expected something in return: loyalty. As I said before, this is a direct cause of the Cold War. Everyone wanted more allies, more resources, and more people.
“U.S. HAILS SIERRE LEONE.” New York Times (1923-Current File), Apr 26, 1961. https://muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/docview/115398432?accountid=40980.