The Temne people are currently the largest ethnic group in Sierra Leone, at 35% of the total population The Temne are predominantly found in the Northern Province and the Western Area, including the national capital Freetown. The Temne are rice farmers, fishermen, and traders. Temne culture revolves around the paramount chiefs, and the secret societies, especially the men’s Poro society and the women’s Bondo society. The most important Temne rituals focus on the coronation and funerals of paramount chiefs, and the initiation of new secret society members. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Temne were captured and shipped to the Americas as slaves. Today the Temne are mostly Muslim at about 85% of their population; they interweave Islamic beliefs with traditional African practices (syncretism). About 14% of Temne are followers of Christianity. Before British domination, Temne were ruled by a king called the Bai or Obai. In 1898, the Temne fought against British rule, in what is known today as the Hut Tax War of 1898. The Temne people speak Temne, a language in the Mel branch of the Niger–Congo languages. The Temne language, along with the creole Krio, serve as the major trading languages in northern Sierra Leone. As well as being spoken by the Temne people, Temne is spoken by other Sierra Leonean ethnic groups as a regional lingua franca, especially in Northern Sierra Leone; the language is spoken by around 40% of Sierra Leone’s population. Sierra Leone’s national politics centers on the competition between the north, dominated by the Temne and their neighbour and political ally, the Limba; and the southeast, dominated by the Mende, who are a Mande people like the Mandinka, Bamana, and Malenke (of Guinea, Senegal, Mali, etc.). The current president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, is the first Sierra Leonean president from the Temne ethnic group; he receives most of his support from Temne-dominant areas in the north and western regions of Sierra Leone.