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Showing posts from January, 2014

Tapping Sierra Leone's Proven assets

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Sometime in the middle of 2013, an independent expert appointed by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council spent six days in Sierra Leone at the invitation of the government.  During the visit, which ran from June 30 to July 5, the UN expert met with government officials and agencies, as well as representatives of religious or belief communities and civil society organizations.

At the end of the 6-day visit, perhaps one of the most memorable reports to come out of Sierra Leone was shared by German philosopher, historian and Catholic theologian, Heiner Bielefeldt.

“What I have experienced here by far exceeds expectation,” Bielefeldt told reporters in Freetown as the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief wrapped up his visit.

“All interlocutors agree that religious communities, in particular Muslims and Christians, live peacefully and harmoniously side-by-side,” he said.  Bielefeldt added that while ethnic, regional and other differences –real or imagined– becam…

"The Patrimonial Office"

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As debate over cash at a State House summit mounts amid unrelenting criticism, transparency is proving to be one of the main challenges.

On Thursday, January 23, 2014, Awareness Times reported Sierra Leone government and State House officials contacted the newspaper to say they were not aware President Koroma paid out 20,000 American dollars (Le 88Million) at the summit with ten party leaders.

The Awareness Times report comes more than two weeks after the political scandal broke revolving around the payment by the Koroma administration of US$20,000 to political leaders, including Somano Kapen, chairman and secretary general of the Sierra Leone People's Party; Charles F. Margai of the People's Movement for Democratic Change; Peace and Liberation Party leader, Kandeh Baba Conteh, and Mohamed Bangura of the United Democratic Movement.

Information and Communication Minister Alhaji Alpha Kanu, Sierra Leone's official spokesman, reportedly told Awareness Times Thursday that th…

What Really Happened at State House?

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It's almost a year since Sierra Leone's Political Parties Registration Commission met with representatives of all 10 registered political parties to set the stage for better organized presidential and parliamentary elections in 2017.

This week, Justice Tola Thompson, chair of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), presented the PPRC's 2012-2013 report to President Koroma at State House.

"The report is very much timely," said State House aide Jarrah Kawusu-Konteh on Facebook. "It is being presented at a time when the president is about to have a working lunch with leaders of all political parties in the country."

At the lunch, a State House press release said the president thanked the leaders of the political parties for coming and especially for their response to issues of national concern like law and order and management of the country's resources. The president is said to have noted that he has no intention to be "machiavell…

Sierra Leone | Our Iron Ore, Gold and Diamonds for the Greater Good

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Everyone in Sierra Leone is a paper millionaire. Just like the Norwegians, who we're told are sitting on the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund.

Norway's Government Pension Fund Global, or sovereign wealth fund, reportedly ballooned due to high oil and gas prices. Money in the fund is equivalent to about $165,000 per person as of today.

In 2012, Presdent Koroma's campaign manifesto said he aimed to impose "optimal taxation on mineral assets" to boost state revenues, and set up a sovereign wealth fund to manage a portion of the proceeds.

Sierra Leone produces iron ore, gold and diamonds. Companies that operate in the country include iron ore producers African Minerals and London Mining, gold miner Amara Mining Plc, and diamond miner Koidu Holdings.

A state-owned investment fund would invest in real and financial assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, precious metals, or invest globally funded by revenues from commodity exports or from foreign-exchange…

There should be a Memorial…

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There should be a Memorial…A poem by Dennis Bright

There should be a memorial…
To all the fambul dem that we crushed and rushed
Through the narrow gates of painful, shameful Death
To all the boys whose temple we violated with brown-brown
To keep them on the drill of the machine gun or the butcher’s knife

We should have a memorial…
At the place where limbs were harvested, virginity ripped
Bets won by opening up the woman’s womb, boy or girl?

We should lift a memorial…
To the inferno of the Treasury and
The home of the elderly woman roasted indoors
As the bandana heads rocked with heinous laughter

Hell must be remembered
Like when the stampeding village folk left behind
A lonely, hungry baby
Scrounging for life
And he settles for a bite of a live grenade

Let us make a memorial
To that time when our beauty and innocence
Were swept away by the bloody floods of Shame
To that time when we knew that The Thing lived in us
And we were not proud
Of that time,
Time when no answers were found for…

Sierra Leone | Is Abacha Street Taking Advantage Of Hesitant State House?

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A State House observer said Saturday the Koroma administration is worried about enforcement of the deal to move the Abacha Street traders. There's skepticism here, said Adama Conteh, who describes herself as a strong supporter of the president and the All Peoples Congress (APC) party.

Conteh said although she was pleased that a deal was reached last year, she is now worried about enforcing the agreement. She also said  follow through was her greatest concern and that the Abacha traders see this as their window of opportunity to delay the move to Victoria Park planned more than a year ago.

Titus Boye-Thompson, a media consultant, reports that the move has been postponed several times. He said the traders were supposed to have moved in Oct. 2013 but the move was delayed after a deal was struck by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Usu Boie Kamara.

The protesting market women, who carried placards Friday, marched to the law courts, State House and the Youyi Building, which houses m…

Sierra Leone | Help Replace the Books

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Mount Bintumani and Loma Mountains National Park Sierra Leone are asking for the return of two visitors books taken from Mt. Bintumani's peak. The people of the Loma mountains regard these books as part of their heritage, the appeal said on the National Park website, set up by the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the Sierra Leone Government.

"If you have them, or know where they are, please contact Hadijatu Jallow at Sierra Leone's Environmental Protection Agency or email info@mountbintumani.com. A reward is being offered.

Mt Bintumani is found midway between Kabala and Koindu in the east among the ranges of the Loma Mountains. At 1,945 meters (6,381 ft), it's the highest mountain in West Africa.

Sewa News Opinion Page

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Emmerson Bockarie’s "Kokobeh"By Lans Gberie
Published January 2, 2014

An artist’s impact may not always be measured by the amount of outrage his/her creation generates, but it is a good sign when it provokes. Emmerson Bockarie, Sierra Leone’s most important artist, will fit well in the category of national bard. By this I mean that his music—didactic, in a free flowing conversational style, calm and beautifully enunciated—embodies most completely the yearnings and neurosis of his fellow citizens. Bockarie’s most recent offering, released just about Christmas, is entitled “Kokobeh.”

The Krio word derives from the Twi (a Ghanaian language) for leprosy, an exquisitely appropriate image for the corruption and putrefaction that the artist so witheringly derides. Sierra Leoneans have come to expect such commentary from their most popular poet and singer, and the squalid wells of misgovernment and graft in the country continue to fire his imagination.

When he released “Borbor Bell…

Sierra Leone | The President's New Year Message

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Fellow Sierra Leoneans,

This is the season of goodwill; the season for resolutions, and the season for leaving behind old habits that hinders growth. It is the season for continuing with and embracing habits that move us forward with grace, with success, with positive changes in our lives, our communities and our nation.

Let us then, not only wish relatives, friends and acquaintances goodwill, let us scale-up our season’s greetings into goodwill for this land that we love. Let us make 2014 a year of goodwill for this nation, goodwill for our economic growth, goodwill for our fight against corruption, goodwill for the enforcement of law and order, goodwill for better health and learning outcomes all over the nation, goodwill for the rebranding of the nation and good will for more jobs, especially for the youths of this country.

But let it also be known that goodwill is not only about wishing it; it is also about taking actions that show that we have goodwill. Let us therefore make res…