SORIE IBRAHIM KOROMA (1930-) POLITICAL ORGANISER AND TACTICIAN

Sorie Ibrahim Koroma was born in Port Loko, Maforki Chiefdom, Port Loko District, in 1930. On of Sierra Leone’s most vibrant political figures, S.I. Koroma was also involved in the labour movement of the 1950s. He blazed the trail for the implementation of the self-help idea which was an important aspect of rural development during the 1970s.

Educated at the Government Model School, Freetown, and at the Bo Government School, Mr. Koroma worked in the co-operative department from 1951 to 1958 and took a course during that time at the Co-operative College, Ibadan, Nigeria. In 1958, he resigned from government and went into private business while also becoming the first secretary-general of the Sierra Leone Motor Transport Union.

He was one of the founder members of the A.P.C., formed in 1960, and became the party’s first National Propaganda and Organising Secretary. In this role, Mr. Koroma did his best to educate the people about their political rights, and won astounding success in bringing the A.P.C. to the people and increasing the popularity of the party. In 1962, S.I. Koroma was elected to parliament as M.P. for Freetown Central I Constituency.

In 1967, he was returned to parliament for the same constituency. Following the return to civilian rule in 1968, he became Minister of Trade and Industry in Siaka Stevens’ first cabinet. In a cabinet reshuffle in 1969, he was appointed Minister of Agriculture and National Resources. On the attainment of republican status in 1971, S.I. Koroma became Vice-President and Prime Minister, and in another cabinet reshuffle in 1975 he was made Vice-President and Minister of Finance. Following the 1978 one party referendum, he was appointed First Vice-President, a position he held until his retirement from politics in 1986.

Popularly known as “S.I.,” Mr. Koroma epitomised the hard-working, disciplined and relentless leader who was willing to lead his forces against any foe. He led the A.P.C. in many skirmishes during the early days then the party had to fight for its very survival. As the second-in-command in the party hierarchy, many people believe that his faithfulness and his untiring dedication to the defence of the A.P.C. at all costs sustained the party up to his retirement. For this relentless defence, he earned himself many enemies.

Mr. Koroma was for a long time the number two man of the party, but bowed out of the race for succession to Siaka Stevens when it became clear that Major-General Momoh had the support of the rank and file of the party as well as of the general populace. Mr. Koroma continues to be a high-ranking member of the ruling A.P.C. party, but has retired from government to devote his time and attention to the management of his oil palm plantation near his home town of Port Loko.