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25th June 2018

History of Foulah Town and how Yorubas Displaced the Fulas!!

By a press release (31/03/17)

Slave ships captured on the high seas under the British Parliamentary Act of 1807 began to arrive in the Colony of Sierra Leone in 1810.

Among the re-captives put ashore from these ships were many Muslims who were consigned to the Eastern and North Eastern part of Freetown that is Fourah Bay and Foulah Town. (Pictured: Late Bailor Barrie, the most popular Fula leader and business tycoon in Sierra Leone in the 20th century).

By 1819 many Fula immigrants have settled in the South East of Freetown, a lush green hilly slope where they grazed their cattle, hence the name Fulatong (Foulah Town).

Many re-captives, mostly Yoruba settled down in Foulah Town where they organised themselves according to their customs, securing the services of the Fulas who were Muslim teachers to instruct their children in the doctrines of the Islamic faith.

The Yorubas eventually displaced the Fulas by building houses, doing small scale farming. This was very inconvenient for the Fulas and their cattle. The Fulas moved further East into areas where their cattle can graze easily.

The Yoruba community grew rapidly in Foulah Town and a much larger place of worship had to be considered. The mud house was built on Mountain-Cut which was used as a mosque, an Islamic centre for teaching and meetings.

Relationship between the Muslims and Christians and the colonial government was peaceful until a foreign Christian Missionary who was nervous about the growth of the Muslim religion in the Colony advised the colonial government to force some Muslim people to convert to Christianity.

The then Governor, Governor Doherty and the Christian Clergy were unable to force the Muslims to convert to Christianity. Tension between the two groups increased rapidly which resulted in violence. There was continued repression and persecution on the Muslim community in Freetown. In or about the year 1839, the mosque at Foulah Town was burnt down.

The Christian Missionaries also petitioned Governor Doherty to expel the Muslims from the colony. Governor Doherty agreed but before the expulsion could take effect, Governor Doherty retired from active service and the Muslims were relieved of the expulsion.

The Muslims were allowed to carry on their religious exercises with less molestation. In 1882, the mosque at Foulah Town was rebuilt as a permanent structure. Many sacrificed were made while funds were solicited from Nigeria and other places.

To mark the 100th Year Anniversary, 1992, the mosque was renovated and during the week there was feasting and reading of the Holy Quran.

First Imam of Foulah Town

A liberated Nigerian landed in the colony of Sierra Leone in the 1830s. He took up residence in Grassfield in the east of Freetown. He was converted to Islam and named Amara by Sheikh Musa Ojay.

He studied diligently under Sheik Ojay and gained considerable knowledge of Islamic Theology, Sharia, and other aspects of the religion. He was attracted to the Muslim community of Foulah Town and later took residence there.

In 1875, Alpha Amara was selected to be the First Imam of Foulah Town. He was a strong supporter of English Education for Muslim children. He joined the non-Muslim Aku to form the Creole Association in 1889. He was one of those Liberated Akus who in 1891, opposed the Municipality Ordinance and made a move to revive the Aku kinship. He died in June 1898.

Education in Foulah Town

During the formative years of the Foulah Town community, only Islam was being taught to the children in houses by few “Alphas” who had time and space to render those services. These Elekewe or Madrasssas is still in existence today.

With the arrival of Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden, then professor of Arts and Languages at the Liberian College and with the collaboration of Alpha Mohamed Sanusi a civil servant, they were able to establish a Mohammedan School in Foulah Town on the 7th of August 1899. The Governor, Major Nathan performed the opening ceremony.

In 1997, a Non Governmental Organisation “Plan International” rebuilt the school into a modern brick building. Today, Foulah Town can boast of another Primary School, A Junior Secondary School and three Preparatory schools.

The Foulah Town Jamaat owns the Amaria Primary and the Amaria Junior Secondary School. The Jamaat also took the welfare of some pupils who attend these schools.

The Jamaat has made gradual progress during its two hundred years of existence.  It is involved in the religious and social activities of the community and has also contributed towards the development of the country.

Courtesy: FPU North America


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