This year marks the 110th anniversary of the Hut Tax War fought by Sierra Leonean hero Bai Bureh, which started in February 1898 and ended when Bai Bureh surrendered on November 11, 1898.
The chairman of the Monuments and Relics Commission, Charlie James Hughes, yesterday explained to Awoko about the commemoration of the 110th anniversary since the end of the hut tax war.
He explained the hut tax war took place barely a couple of years after the declaration of the protectorate and in many ways people did not recognize the colonial Government in the early years of the protectorate declaration, as many were coerced into signing the protectorate declaration.
“When the hut tax war was imposed, that was the time many of the chiefs came to realize that, in fact, the whole arrangement about signing the document for the protectorate coming under British rule was something like a farce or they were fooled,” Mr. Hughes said.
Mr. Hughes also said the war took place on a vast area of land but whenever it was mentioned, people thought of Bai Bureh, as the largest fighting actually took place in Mende and Sherbro land.
“Once the hut tax war was crushed, all forms of resistance to colonial rule evaporated and also it was from that point that the British consolidated their grip all over the country,” he explained
He mentioned a number of ways of keeping the memories of Bai Bureh alive by naming a street in Freetown, a hall at Fourah Bay College, and also the hall at Port Loko after him.
“As chairman of the Monuments and Relics Commission, we are going to think of other ways of remembering him and the hut tax war and how to keep our memories (fresh) of such great events,” he said.
Mr Hughes further said the hut tax war changed certain things in the country as any form of resistance to colonial rule after the war was broken and also before the war the creoles were serving as middle men in trade, but when the war broke out, their influence and stay in the protectorates reduced.
He described Bai Bureh’s fight not as a personal one but a fight for all his kinsmen to pay for the houses they built with their own sweat.
“Anybody who fights against such,” he said, “is a great man.” He however said his commission was going to re-energise the history of Bai Bureh, its heritage and also, as part of the commemoration, visits will be made to key historical sites in Port Loko. By Ishmael Bayoh