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15th August 2018

Advocacy Network Highlights One of Sierra Leone's Fullah Icons Bailor Barrie

By a press release (06/04/18)

The first president of the Fullah Progressive Union was Alhaji Bailor Barrie, one of the most popular Fullahs in the history of Sierra Leone.


The FPU, formed in 1963 but officially founded in 1971 with the famous slogan 'Fortal eh Portal' in the Fullah parlance, remains the greatest achievement of Fullah unity worldwide. Bailor Barrie was the brainchild behind this historic formation. (Photo: Late millionaire Alhaji Mohamed Bailor Barrie).

Bailor Barrie, a Fullah business tycoon never seen in Sierra Leone, was born in 1934 in Koinadugu District northern Sierra Leone but he sadly passed away in 1989 after a gruesome road accident near Kenema Town, east of Sierra Leone.

He was born in the village of Sokrala at the outskirts of Kabala town in the Koinadugu, where his father Alhaji Ba Demba Barrie, a cattle herder and also a fulani chief (Alimamy in the Fula language, Sultan in the Arabic language).

Bailor Barrie did not go too far in western education but he received first class Islamic education from his father and other Fula Islamic scholars in Kabala town.

Reports say Bailor Barrie's western education was shortlived in Kabala as he showed very little interest in school and eventually dropped out before high school graduation. Nonetheless because of his father's commitment to western education, he hired an English teacher in the person of Mr ABM Kamara - who later became a government minister representing Koinadugu District - to tutor his son. But this also failed as young Bailor Barrie had other ideas.

Realising that his son Bailor Barrie was not interested in pursuing western education, his father gave him some cattle to sell to raise some capital to embark on his business career, which turned out to be the most significant steps to national and international stardom for the young Bailor Barrie.

Bailor Barrie made history in the 1970s by becoming the first Sierra Leonean to enter the European Lebanese dominated import and retail of motor vehicles, cars and light vans. He eventually became the sole representative for Daihatsu and Pony vehicles in Sierra Leone.

He also owned and operated the African Air Taxi Commercial Jets (taxi planes) and helicopters. His flights often fly Lebanese Diamond and Gold dealers and government officials to various airports in the country and abroad. From his base in Hastings near Freetown, his commercial jets operated in Lungi and Kabala and Kenema and Yengema and across West Africa.

He was the most successful black diamond dealer in post colonial Sierra Leone. He started his diamond business career as a small time dealer in Koidu, Kono District Sierra Leone. Then later as a licensed digger, middleman and exporter, he had business and properties in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia and in many parts of the world.

He was so popularly successful that a famous quote was attributed to him by the late President Siaka Stevens: "den say Bailor Barrie, you say Davidson Nicol," meaning wealth is better than education. Bailor Barrie's illiteracy in western education did not deter him as his Islamic literacy helped him a lot in his business prowess. Davidson Nicol, on the other hand, was a leading academics, a professor at Fourah Bay College FBC the University of Sierra Leone.

But president Siaka Stevens himself did not know that Bailor Barrie was well educated in Islamic education and he could read and write Arabic fluently. Bailor Barrie proved that western education is not the only type of education that can bring success.

May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Courtesy: The Fulani Advocacy Network Organisation


1958 -1980


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