Sierra Leone has oftentimes been known for all the bad reasons in international media. If it’s not about the eleven years’ civil war, it can be about how Ebola ravaged her in 2014 or the numerous natural disasters like mudslide, flooding not to talk of the endemic poverty and pervasive corruption.
Little do people care to know that the country is a hidden paradise on earth with astonishing beauty. It has a wonderful geographical landscape with some of the most breathtaking islands and mountains one could find.
The city of Freetown is known to be home to liberated slaves from Europe and America. It is also known to be a place of tolerance and diversity with its people at the centre of their camaraderie Oh, I almost forgot the unimaginable beaches across the coast peninsular of Freetown!
Apart from her breathtaking landscape and beautiful beaches that make up the country’s unique ecosystem, there are outstanding personalities in the international arena that trace their root to the tiny West African country of many years of the legacy of slavery.
Here is a list of some of the most popular celebrities in the world with a trace of their roots back to Sierra Leone. Some of the names will surprise you as we walk you through.
- Idrissa Akuna Elba: Once being named as Essence’s annual Sexiest Man of the Year in 2013. In 2018, he was named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. He has starred in several Hollywood films: Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, Sometimes in April in 2005, Daddy’s Little Girls in 2007, Beast of No Nation, Long Walk to Freedom, Fast & Furious, among many others. He has been nominated for multiple awards across his career, including four times for the Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor. He is not only known for his fame in filmography but he is regarded as a renowned DJ under the name DJ Big Driis. Can you guess who is our first personality on the list?
Idrissa Akuna Elba, popularly known as Idris Elba across the globe far and wide, is an English Actor, Rapper, Producer, Songwriter and a DJ. He was born in London on the 6th September 1972 to a Sierra Leonean father and a Ghanaian mother. Idris has been married three times now with two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. Surprisingly, Idris is a proud supporter of Arsenal football club in London.
In December 2019 Idris Elba made his first sensational visit to his father’s land, Sierra Leone, he told the BBC: “I’m no stranger to Africa: I’ve been to Africa, I’ve made films in Africa, I’ve championed Africa, … But Sierra Leone, it’s a very different feeling because it’s my parent’s home.” Elba was awarded a Sierra Leonean citizenship, which he described as “the biggest honour I could get from my country.”
- Micheal Kannet Williams: Born 22 November 1966 in New York. He is an African American actor that has played several roles in numerous films such as I Think I Love My Wife, Law and Order, The Night Of, to name a few. According to DNA studies, he has traced his roots back to the Mende tribe in Sierra Leone.
- Chadwick Aaron Boseman: Has been featured in one of the most sold black superhero films in the present era, Chadwick Aaron Boseman, or easily identified as the Black Panther in the Wakandan movie. According to DNA testing, it has indicated that his father came from the Krio and Limba people of Sierra Leone.
The actor is born on November 29, 1976, and raised in South Carolina and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. He has starred in blockbusters such as Gods of Egypt, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame to name but a few.
- Born as Neneh Mariann Karlsson, widely known as Neneh Cherry, is a Swedish songwriter, rapper, a DJ and a broadcaster. She was born on 10 March 1964 in Stockholm. She is born to a Sierra Leonean musician father, Amadou Jah, but decided to take her stepfather’s surname.
Cherry, started her solo career in 1982. She is well known in Europe and in the U.S. entertainment industry with over four albums into her name.
- Isaiah Washington is another excellent personality who has traced his roots to the Mende and Temne people of Sierra Leone through DNA testing. He first visited Sierra Leone in 2006 and was the first African American to be granted citizenship based on DNA.
Isaiah, born on 3 August 1963 in Houston, Texas, is an American actor and a former U.S. Air Force soldier. His father was murdered at the age of 13. He has been a leading actor in a lot of Hollywood movies: Romeo Must Die in the early 2000 and most notable The 100 television series.
- Cory Booker is an African-American politician, attorney, author and the first African American Senator from New Jersey in the States. He was born on Sierra Leone Independence Day, 27 April 1969 in Washington, DC. Mr Booker has traced his ancestry roots from Sierra Leone, where he was the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in the 2020 United States presidential election.
By Mohamed Gandoh Jalloh