JOHN KAREFA-SMART (1915 – 2010) LEADING POLITICIAN AND INTELLECTUAL

John Karefa-Smart was born at Rotifunk, Bumpe Chiefdom in what is now Moyamba District. He is one of Sierra Leone’s most articulate politicians.

He was educated at the E.U.B. Primary School, Rotifunk, the Albert Academy, and then Fourah Bay College. Later, he went to Otterbein College in the United States and McGill University in Canada. In the course of this academic activity, he acquired the degrees of B.A., M.Sc., C.M., D.T.M. He worked in various parts of the world, and was Regional Medical Officer for the West Africa Region of the World Health Organisation.

Dr. John Karefa-Smart entered politics in 1957. He was a foundation member of the Sierra Leone Organisation Society, which later became the S.L.P.P. He was active in the constitutional committees that eventually led to Sierra Leone’s independence in 1961. In 1957, he was appointed Minister of Lands, Mines and Labour with special responsibilities for Defence. After the 1962 elections, Dr. John Karefa-Smart was appointed Minister of External Affairs, a position which he used to foster the good image of the young nation. It was in his term of office as Minister of External Affairs that Sierra Leone established diplomatic relations with several countries.

Dr. John Karefa-Smart is known in Sierra Leone as a politician rather than as a medical doctor — which is actually his profession. This was because he devoted most of his time to the nationalist struggle. He will be remembered for the intellectual vigour which he introduced into the politics of Sierra Leone.