Pa Morlai Limba [17?-circa 1815]was a leading Limba warrior who fought wars of expansion in the early 19th century. He was such a formidable opponent that it required an alliance between a Limba and a Temne chief, as well as the help of powerful Fula newcomer, the Bunduka, to prevent his threatened invasion of their territories.

The Bunduka were a group of Fula from Senegal who served as agents for French slavers on Gambia Island in the late 18th century. They traveled through many areas of northern Sierra Leone, and by the beginning of the 19th century their  influence had Magbolnto, and Dabia (all in the port Loko area), and Safroko in Bombali district -areas them inhabited by Temne Loko, and Limba peoples. 

With the disappearance of their French principals in Gambia lsland – apparently because they found it nu-healthy-these slave-dealers decided to remain in Sierra Leone, Where through time their numbers were increased by new arrivals from Senegal.

Local people became apprehensive of the growing influence these strangers had in their territories, especially as the Bunduka began to marry the daughters and close relations of local rulers. But in the event they had to be called upon for assistance. It was at this time that Pa Morlai, who came from the town of Laia, near Port Loko, was engaged in his campaigns of expansion and consolidation. His forces had won notable victories and by 1810 he was close to taking the settlement in and around Sanda Magbolon- to. As Pa Morlai had relations in this area, it is prob- able that his attacks were prompted less by personal ambition than by a desire to dislodge the Fula strangers, reputed to have formidable military skills.

Unable to expel the Bunduka because of the nexus of intermarriage, and faced with the prospect of an imminent invasion, Burema Yarri, the Limba chief of Sanda Magbolonto, and his Temne counterpart, Yenkain Kamara, turned to them for military help. They consented, but exacted a stiff price for their co- operation. In addition to a hundred portions of every trading commodity, they were to receive a whole chiefdom (Mafonda) in perpetuity. Their task, however, was a daunting one, since Mor lai was reputed to be “bullet-proof”, and his forces considerably outnumbered those of his opponents. The Bunduka called upon Chernor Abass, their lead- ing Islamic scholar, to divine the best way to cripple Morlai’s forces. After a period of spiritual withdrawal, it was revealed to Abass that Morlai would only prove vulnerable to golden bullets.

Even so, no Bunduka dared challenge Morial openly. Instead,when reports reached the anti-Morial coalition that the dreaded warrior had gone to arrange an arms deal at Mabanta,in the Bombali district,three Bunduka waylaid him in a cowardly fashion at the smithy, where the first golden bullet felled him. A comrade-in-arms rose in his defense only to be cut down by a blow from a Bunduka’s sword.

Suleiman Bundu,one of the attackers,decapitated Morlai and,were wrapping the head in a bundle of sheets,quickly made for Gbinti at the mouth of the Melacourie River where there were significant concentrations of Fula.There he presented the head to the chiefs of coalition.

Recent Comments

No comments to show.
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No feed found.

Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to create a feed.

Working Hours

8:00Am–4:00Pm, Monday Until 8:00

Office Location

Campus of CSIR Airport Residential Area, Accra-Ghana

The Encyclopaedia Africana Project. Is an AU Flagship Project with the mission to produce and publish peer reviewed articles devoted mainly to Africa and its people.