Historical Fiction

Vitabu’s Fantasy History

Fantasy History is a series by Vitabu Books that features “excerpts from a book on Sierra Leonean women councilors, mayors, cabinet ministers, and political candidates”. The first of this series covers the life of Constance Horton Cummings-John, a pioneering politician from Sierra Leonean history. Constance came from an influential family and was an activist for education while she lived in London. She would go on to become the first woman to ever serve as the Mayor of Freetown.

Historians say that it was inevitable that Constance should be interested in politics, since her family was so much involved in the community and business. Her father, John Warner M. Horton, was city treasurer of Freetown, while her mother was a concert pianist who played Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Chopin.

By the 1920s, West African music was more and more expressions of colonial disparagement and subversion. The Lagos-born palm-wine style had related genres in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. This urban style was frequently played in bars to accompany drinking (hence the name, which is derived from the alcoholic palm wine beverage). The first stars of palm-wine had emerged by the 1920s, the most famous of whom was Babatunde King. By the early 1930s, British record labels such as His Master’s Voice had started to record palm-wine, and more celebrities emerged, including Ojoge Daniel, Tunde Nightingale and Speedy Araba.

Read more about the life of Constance Horton Cummings-John and her family here.