Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sierra Leone Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest of Sierra Leone's cities.


Freetown was named for the four hundred former slaves sent here from London in 1787.


Bo is a town said to be named for its generosity, and that is going to take a little explanation. When an elephant was killed near where the town is now found, many came from the surrounding area for their share. Hunters spent days cutting and carving and sharing out, doing so with the words bo-lor which, in the Mende tongue, means 'this is yours'. The term latterly also came to be translated as 'this is Bo'.


Waterloo was founded in 1819 as a settlement for liberated Africans and named after the recent battle in Belgium where Napoleon lost.


Port Loko gets its name from the Loko people, although this indigenous group refer to themselves as Landogo.


Kabala in both Limba and Fula languages meaning 'at Bala's place'.


Lunsar began as Ro-Sar which, in the local Temne language, means 'where stones are found'. This refers to the iron ore mining beginning in the colonnial era, this when the name became Lunsar.


Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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