ELLA KOBLO GULAMA (1921-) PARAMOUNT CHIEF AND NATIONAL POLITICIAN

The introduction of party politics in Sierra Leone ushered in the active participation of women in national affairs. Although their number was small, the few that ventured into politics became very prominent. One such notable woman has been Ex-Paramount Chief Madam Ella Koblo Gulama.

Madam Ella, as she is fondly called, succeeded her late illustrious father, Julius Gulama, as Paramount Chief of Kaiyamba Chiefdom, Moyamba District, in 1953. Thereafter, she became actively involved in national politics with the support and encouragement of Sir Milton Margai and Sir Albert Margai. She became a member of the Moyamba District Council and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1957 — the first ever woman member of that august body. She was re-elected to parliament in May, 1962 and appointed the first woman cabinet minister.

She became a close ally of both Sir Milton and Sir Albert. But it was essentially during the brief period of Sir Albert’s premiership that she gained a reputation as one of the most powerful members of the government.

This pioneer of women’s liberation in modern Sierra Leone politics went into temporary political limbo after Sir Albert’s fall from power, before bouncing back as an APC stalwart and leader of the Moyamba District APC Women’s Organisation in the early 1970s.

Born in 1921 at Moyamba, Ella was educated at the Harford School for Girls, and the Women Teacher’s College, then at Wilberforce. Although she ruled a predominantly Mende chiefdom, Ella Koblo married a powerful Temne paramount chief from the north of Sierra Leone, Ex-Paramount Chief Bai Koblo Pathbana, in 1946. This association may have contributed to the process of national integration.

All who get to know Madam Ella Koblo Gulama for even a brief period are fascinated by her charm, engaging presence and public spiritedness. She is undoubtedly one of the most colourful and resourceful women national figures who have contributed to the political development of Sierra Leone.