Almamy Suluku (1820 – 1906) was a powerful Limba ruler from Sierra Leone who maintained his independence as long as possible through brilliant political strategy.
Almamy Suluku was born in 1820 in Kamabai, Biriwa country, in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. He was the son of Sankailay, a great Limba chief of the Biriwa country, with its capital of Bumban. As a young man, Suluku became the war captain; and under his military leadership, Biriwa became one of the largest kingdoms in Sierra Leone. When his father died, Suluku replaced him as the chief of Biriwa.
But Suluku was not satisfied with territory alone, and he set out to make his kingdom wealthy as well. He fostered the trade in gold, ivory, hides, and foodstuffs that passed through Bumban on the way to Freetown; and he gave effective police protection to the traders in his realm. His progressive rule impressed the British administration in
Freetown, which sent him annual gifts throughout the 1880s. When Samori Toure’s Mandinka forces occupied Biriwa in 1884, Suluku pretended to co-operate with the Mandinka, while sending urgent messages to the British in Freetown warning of a disruption in trade. The British accepted Suluku’s arguments, persuading the Mandinka to leave Biriwa country. Thus, while other Sierra Leonean kings suffered costly defeats in futile military resistance, Suluku managed to have his way through political strategy alone.