Sherbro people

The Sherbro people are a native people of Sierra Leone, who speak the Sherbro language; they make up 1.9% of Sierra Leone's population or 134,606. The Sherbro are found primarily in their homeland in Bonthe District, where they make up 40% of the population, in coastal areas of Moyamba District, and in the Western Area of Sierra Leone, particularly in Freetown. During pre-colonial days, the Sherbro were one of the most dominant ethnic group in Sierra Leone, but in the early 21st century, the Sherbro comprise a small minority in the nation. The Sherbro speak their own language, called Sherbro language.

Sherbro people
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Sierra Leone (Bonthe District and the Western Area)
Related ethnic groups
Krio, Gola

The Sherbro are divided into two main groups: the Sherbro in Southeastern Sierra Leone, and the Sherbro in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. The Sherbro in Southeastern Sierra Leone, which is home to most of the Sherbro population of Sierra Leone, are a close ally of their neighbor the Mande people, and most Sherbro in Southeastern Sierra Leone speak the Mande language and they have integrated large amounts of the Mande tradition along with their native Sherbro tradition. However, the Sherbro in the Western Area (in and around Freetown) are traditionally allies of the Krio people; and Sherbro in the Western Area in Sierra Leone have also integrated large amounts of Krio tradition. Unlike most Sherbro in Southeastern Sierra Leone, most Sherbro in the Western Area of Sierra Leone do not speak The Mande language. Politically the vast majority of Sherbro support the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP). The current president of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio is an ethnic Sherbro.

The Sherbro are primarily fisherman and traders. They have a rich culture and have integrated some western culture and ideals. Their culture is unlike that of all other ethnic groups in Sierra Leone. The ethnic group in the nation whose culture is similar (in terms of embrace of Western culture) are the Krio people, descended largely from African Americans (known as Black Loyalists), who had been freed from slavery by the British during the American Revolutionary War, resettled in Nova Scotia, and then chose to go to Freetown in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. after the American Revolutionary War. The Sherbro and the Krio are close allies; they have intermarried since early colonial settlements in the 1790s.

The Sherbro have been an indigenous people in the territory now known as Sierra Leone. In the 18th century, they began to get involved in the slave trade and became more powerful than the European slave traders. They began to employ the Mende people to work for them to find slaves to meet the growing demand. In the 1920s, the Sherbro people were still being ruled by their own chiefs.


The Sherbro were one of many indigenous peoples living in the territory of Sierra Leone before the colonial era. The first interaction with Europeans came during the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers, settlers, and traders came to the area.

The English followed soon after and, in the 1620s, they had a number of agents trading and purchasing items in the Sherbro Country. The Sherbro intermarried with them. Like the later Krio, who developed in Sierra Leone after the colony was established, the Sherbro have a more westernized culture than that of other indigenous ethnic groups there.[citation needed] From the beginning of the settlement of liberated slaves in Sierra Leone, the ancestors of the Krio generally intermarried with their allies the Sherbro.

Relationship with the KriosEdit

Many Sherbro assimilate as Krio, as they share the Christian faith and Western names.

Notable SherbroEdit


See alsoEdit

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


  1. ^ "Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census National Analytical Report" (PDF). Statistics Sierra Leone. Retrieved 28 March 2020.


  • Adam Jones (1983). History in Africa, Vol. 10, pp. 151–162.