Monday, 17 August 2015


                                BLACK        SOCIAL       HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Sir Ernest Dunstan Morgan : A True Sierra Leonean Pioneer and Philanthropist

Ernest Dunstan Morgan being one of the first to receive a druggist certificate ever issued in Sierra Leone felt a need to serve his country. So he set up a small clinic in Blama in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. He then started trading in Pharmaceuticals and General Merchandise in 1921.

After a successful practice in Blama, E.D. Morgan moved back to Freetown in 1944 where he founded West End Pharmacy.  The company grew to become one of the largest suppliers of pharmaceuticals in West Africa.

He subsequently changed the name to Morgan Pharmacies for which he was the sole proprietor.  "Morgan's" as it was locally and fondly known became a limited company in 1962 with the late Sir Ernest as the principal shareholder. The company established its head office and main store at 64 Siaka Stevens Street (then Westmoreland Street) in Freetown.

The company continued to grow and became one of the largest employers in the private sector in Sierra Leone. The share base was expanded in 1967.  At the height of its expansion Morgan Pharmacies operated stores at nine different locations in Freetown and its environs plus a store in Makeni which he donated to his brother.

True to his pioneering spirit, Sir Ernest through Morgan Pharmacies was one of the first businesses to employ women in key positions in Sierra Leone.

Sir Ernest established himself as sole distributor for major pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Bengues & Co, Ciba Geigy, Parke Davis, Warner Lambert, Avon Cosmetics, to name a few.

Morgan Pharmacies survived intact and grew after Sir Ernest's death in 1979. However through the mid eighties to its suspending operations in this millennium, the company faced a steady decline through erosion of profits by ever increasing operating costs, inflation, lack of foreign currency for the procurement of drugs, admittedly slow and irresponsive management, and the general recession and political malaise that faced this West African nation during its 15 years of civil conflict.

During the era of Morgan Pharmacies, E.D. Morgan continued to practice as a druggist and concurrently ran a successful dispensary (clinic) at 64B Siaka Stevens Street.
A veritable philanthropist, Pa Morgan as he was fondly known donated his services and medicines to heal those less fortunate and unable to afford medical care.  Money was not an object if you were sick and came to Pa Morgan.

His philanthropy was not limited to his medical profession.  E.D. Morgan was influential in founding The Sierra Leone School for the Blind.  He sent its first principal and Head Master to England to study brail and helped to obtain the site and facility for the establishment of the school.  In his usual selflessness, he donated the school and insisted that it be named after the then first Prime Minister the late Sir Milton Margai who also humbly declined.

An avid reader and consumer of global affairs, he was a proponent for education; Sir Ernest believed that sound education opened the door to opportunities and possibilities and provided an enabling environment for success and development.

He quietly provided scholarships for many Sierra Leoneans to study abroad and locally and paid school fees for countless relatives and friends including also education allowances for a few determined students from neighboring countries.  In fact two of his scholars, one from Boys High School and one from Girls High School bear indelible memory of him as they subsequently got married and established a successful family through their common thread with Pa Morgan.

He effectively related to people of all ages, and socio-economic background.  He was renowned for his effortless demonstration of humanity and empathy through his words and at work.

In keeping with his philanthropic view and his belief in education, E.D. Morgan sold at an economical rate - the land and buildings that he owned at Congo Cross to then Mayor Cummings John to establish what was once Roosevelt Memorial School - now called Vine Memorial School.  This site was owned and established by Pa Morgan initially as a low cost housing complex; but when the need arose to create a school for girls in that vicinity, E.D. Morgan was first off the mark and easily convinced to donate the site. In his usual humility, he preferred that the school not be named after him.

As a nominated member of the Legislative Council (the governing body during the Colonial era) of Sierra Leone: E.D. Morgan was a sound orator and proponent for positive change; Changes which led to the evolution and transformation of The Legislative Council into The First Parliament of Sierra Leone; preceding independence.  The likes of Wallace-Johnson were inspired by the intelligent debates put forth by E. D. Morgan.

To make a difference in the city of Freetown, he ran for city council and was named Alderman for his ward. That was the extent of his political experience other than representing Sierra Leone at the International Labour Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva.  The work done at this conference was pioneering for establishing labor standards internationally.

He was an advocate for fairness and justice in the work force and lived this by paying all within his employ a decent wage relative to other standards in Freetown.

Relating to standards, he conducted his life with exemplary integrity and believed in being wholesome and forthright at all times. Sir Ernest Dunstan Morgan always remarked “I have done nothing that I will ever be ashamed of.”  Quietly religious, his favorite hymn was – Through the Love of God our Saviour - All will be well.

E.D. as he was called by his beloved wife belonged to several clubs and organizations of repute in Sierra Leone and in the United Kingdom and was in demand as guest speaker at many functions where he shared his wisdom and intellect. He quietly donated of his time and money in the establishment and support of numerous organizations including (together with the late Sir Emile Luke) being founding member for The Freetown Diner Club, Sierra Leone Rotary Club etc.  During his short stint in the Lodge, he rose to the rank of Free Mason and officiated at all ceremonies.
He was a front page listing for Sierra Leone in the internationally recognized ‘Who’s Who’ almanac of key individuals and personalities of note.

Through all this he preferred on a Sunday afternoon to spend quiet time with his family at his farm on Wilkinson Road.  On these occasions, he was simply Papa.
Papa - the loving father, husband, mentor, motivator, friend, history and story teller, and visionary.

Ernest Dunstan Morgan’s work would not go unnoticed.  He was awarded several accolades including being named Justice of the Peace, called to the Order of The British Empire, named a Member of The British Empire and was subsequently knighted by the Queen in March 1971 as Knight Commander of The British Empire.  He was decorated Doctor of Civil Law Honoris Causa by The University of Sierra Leone and was one of the first recipients of The Order of Sierra Leone on the establishment of The Republic of Sierra Leone.

On the day his knighthood was announced, all the news papers read Good Morning Sir Ernest; E.D. Morgan Sir – that Easter morning.

Sir Ernest Dunstan Morgan Born November 17, 1896 passed on December 9, 1979 buried at King Tom Cemetery December 17, 1979.