The Monuments and Relics Commission (MRC) was established in 1948 following the passing by Parliament of the Monuments and Relics Ordinance in 1946. The mandate of the Commission, spelt out in the Public Ordinance No. 12 of 1946, is to provide for ‘the preservation of Ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of archaeological, ethnographical, historical or other scientific interest’. The Commission was set up as a semi-autonomous corporate body, with its members appointed by the government.
In 1962 this Ordinance was upgraded into an Act, and in 1967 a very important amendment of this Act gave the power to the Monuments and Relics Commission to ‘acquire, maintain and administer the Sierra Leone Museum founded by the Sierra Leone Society’.
The Commission has the responsibility of ensuring the preservation, protection and promotion of Sierra Leone’s cultural heritage assets. This is achieved by identifying important aspects of our heritage and culture that can be preserved, shared, enjoyed and studied by present and future generations.
The Commission, acting on the powers granted to it by the Ordinance, declared eighteen (18) monuments, relics and historical objects as Proclaimed Assets. These include Bunce Island, St. John’s Maroon Church, St. Charles’ Regent, the Gateway to the King’s Yard, the De Ruyter Stone, the Old Wharf Steps (commonly called Portuguese steps), old Fourah Bay College building, the Firing Point and Four Guns at Dublin, Banana Island as well as Two old Tombstones at Dublin Banana Island, etc.
These early efforts were led by Dr. M.C.F. Easmon, a Sierra Leonean medical doctor with a passion for history and culture; who was the first Chairman of the Monuments and Relics Commission. Following the demise of Dr. Easmon however, successive Commissions were faced with a multitude of challenges that made them unable to effectively care for the monuments and relics under their remit. This led to the gradual deterioration of these assets, and the rebel war further wreaked havoc on our monuments and relics.
The MRC was reconstituted in March 2014 and tasked with the responsibility of transforming the Monuments and Relics Commission (MRC) into a premier government agency – a modern enterprise that can represent the best of Sierra Leone’s cultural heritage while advancing its potential for tourism. Towards this end, the MRC, in collaboration with its line ministry – the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs – have designed a set of fundamental reforms to make the MRC more efficient, effective and business-like than ever before. The principles behind these reforms reflect the objectives of Pillar one of the Government’s Agenda for Prosperity which is geared towards transforming the Sierra Leonean economy into a more diversified one.