Skip to content
27 April 2019 / leggypeggy

Meet Bai Bureh—a West African warrior and hero

Bai Bureh, Sierra Leone rebel

Bai Bureh, the Hut Tax rebel

We learned the story of Bai Bureh at Sierra Leone’s National Museum in Freetown. As a chief in the northern part of the country, he earned a reputation for stubborn resistance against British colonial rule. It’s not surprising.

When he trained as a warrior, Bai Bureh was given the nickname Kebalai—one who never tires of war. He was considered a great ruler and military strategist with supernatural powers. Throughout the 1860s and 70s, he won many battles against neighbouring tribal leaders.

Sierra Leone drum

Perhaps this drum was used as a call to arms

His biggest fight began when the British ordered that a ‘hut tax’ be collected from every Sierra Leonean household. Bai Bureh was furious that a foreigner asked him to pay tax on his land in his own country. His refusal to pay caused the British to issue a warrant for his arrest. In 1898, Bai Bureh led a guerrilla revolt that became known at the Hut Tax War. Although his men held the advantage for some time, Bai Bureh was eventually captured and sent into exile. He returned in 1905 and reinstated himself as chief of Kasseh.

You have to love his style and attitude.

P.S. All pics were taken in Sierra Leone’s National Museum in Freetown. The main pic features Bai Bureh. The other two are of his possessions or those of his followers. Stay tuned for a post on more museum items.

Sierra Leone weapons

I think these were weapons


Leave a Comment
  1. gerard oosterman / Apr 27 2019 1:45 pm

    A hut tax? Is that a bit like negative gearing? I love the weapons. They look a bit phallic. I suppose most weapons are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 27 2019 5:37 pm

      I wish I could remember the description of the weapons.


  2. fragglerocking / Apr 27 2019 7:31 pm

    Nothing changes, we have a bedroom tax on our own people now. He sounds like a great character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 30 2019 8:37 pm

      Innovation is a catchword for the tax offices of the world. Amazing though how many big corporations get away with paying no tax.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. derrickjknight / Apr 27 2019 8:16 pm

    Good for him – bad for us

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Curt Mekemson / Apr 28 2019 8:16 am

    One of the objections tribal Liberians had to roads was that they made it much easier to collect hut taxes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. beetleypete / Apr 29 2019 8:11 pm

    Colonial Britain needed brave enemies like him to prick our conscience. Shame it took so long for us to let go of so much of the world.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Phil Huston / Apr 30 2019 7:08 am

    Sounds a lot like Apache leader Geronimo. Feared to be supernatural, superior strategist. People who are in tune with the land are the last people you really want to go toe to toe with. Which what irks me about big game hunters. Go out there barehanded and kick a tiger’s ass, tell me how it went on a level playing field, right? We should all have let the indigenous people be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 1 2019 10:10 am

    What a character and what a wonderful leader for his people. Some colonizing government comes to his country and demands a hut tax and Bai Bureh says, “No way.” Good for him!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pvcann / May 2 2019 11:36 pm

    I love resistors – something about healthy living away from subservient or sheep-like obeisiance.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jeanleesworld / May 19 2019 9:50 pm

    An amazing man to celebrate, and even after exile he didn’t give up! I love bits of history like these. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Masks and costumes highlight at Sierra Leone museum | Where to next?
  2. Masks and costumes are highlights at Sierra Leone museum – Interests Weekly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: