She was a Paramount Chief and politician. In 1957, she became the first elected female member of Parliament in Sierra Leone and all of Sub-Saharan Africa. She was re-elected in 1962. During the government of Sir Milton Margai, she became Sierra Leone and Sub-Saharan Africa’s first female Cabinet Minister.
She represented Sierra Leone abroad and her travels took her all over Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East. In 1957 as a guest of the State Department, she toured the United State for 4 months during which she met with Vice President Richard Nixon.
She was born into one of Sierra Leone’s most powerful families in the town of Moyamba. Her Mother was Lucy Gulama and her father Paramount Chief Julius Gulama we’re both ethnic Mendes. Like his father, Paramount Chief Momoh Gulama, Julius was Paramount Chief of Kaiyamba Chiefdom.
Ella was educated at Harford School for girls in Moyamba, the Women Teachers College, then at Fourah Bay College in Freetown. In 1944, Gulama married the powerful Paramount Chief Bai Koblo Pathbana II of Marampa, Masimera Chiefdom an ethnic Temne.
She was the first woman to be elected to Sierra Leone’s House of Representatives as Paramount Chief Member for Moyamba District. In 1962, she was re-elected and Prime Minister Milton Margai made her a Cabinet Minister. She was the first woman to hold a Ministerial position in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1960 to 1967, she was President of the Federation of Women’s Organization in Sierra Leone.
In the 1967 elections, Gulama regained her seat and was serving in the Government of Sir Albert Margai. She was the recipient of several awards. From Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for Public Services as Minister without Portfolio and the order of the Rokel Award from President Ahmed Tejan Kabba.
She was described as “a woman of substance” by Ahmed Tejan Kabba who added Madam Ella Koblo-Gulama has lived an exemplary life, as a mother, wife and stateswoman whose fortitude has earned high respect.
Happy 60th Independence my beloved Sierra Leone