Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sierra Leone National Anthem on Stamps

Formerly a British colony, this west African nation adopted its national anthem, "High We Exalt Thee, Realm Of The Free", upon independence in 1961. The composer of the music, John Joseph Akar, was the first post independence Director of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) as well as the founder of the Sierra Leone national Dance Troupe, and the lyricist Clifford Nelson Fyle, was a professor at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone.

John Joseph Akar (1927–1975) was a Sierra Leone-an of Lebanese descent entertainer, writer, and diplomat. He served as Sierra Leone-an Ambassador to the United States. Today, he is probably best known for composing the music of the Sierra Leone's National Anthem.

Akar was born in the small town of Rotifunk, Moyamba District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, to an ethnic Sherbro mother and to a Lebanese father. Akar attended the E.U.B. primary school in Rotifunk, and proceeded to Albert Academy secondary school in Freetown. After he completed his secondary education, he moved to the United States to study commercial radio and television. In 1960, Akar became the first non-Creole and the first Sherbro to be appointed Director of Broadcasting of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services (SLBS).

In 1963, Akar founded the National Danced Troop. He used the group to encourage Sierra Leone-ans to be proud of the cultural heritage. In 1964, Akar and the National Dance troop were invited to the United States to perform at New York world fair. They won the best performance of the fair, and was presented with plaque. In late 1964, they performed at the art festival in London. In 1965 they performed at the Negro Arts festival in Dakar, Senegal. In 1966, they went on a four months tour of Europe, including performances in Germany, Sweden and France.

Above, flag, coat of arms and title of the national anthem on postage stamp issued in 2011. Below is the map and score of the anthem.