Criminalisation of critical thinking in Sierra Leone

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 October 2016


“Development is a tough process and prosperity does not come on a silver platter. These two things require effective collaboration and perseverance, not layback theoretical prescriptions and half-hearted political grandstanding.” That was President Ernest Koroma speaking at the official launching of the Freetown Containers Terminal Extension Project last week – 14 October 2016.

This was the same President Koroma who said in the course of his nine years in office, that “power is the authority given to you by the people, to improve their lives and develop the country with beneficial expectations.”

The real tragedy of our situation in Sierra Leone today, is the fact that truth has been clobbered into coma; which is why the reality of those who lead us, scam and hustle their way to the top, would have been redefined along the way.

In the light of both contrasting statements above, I guess that we must understand the preacher’s language before decoding his message. I mean, when perceptions become more important than actuality, strange behavioural anomalies usually arise. It causes ‘mistaking the woods for the trees’.

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Condition of Sierra Leone’s road networks after spending hundreds of millions of dollars – A Report by Mamba TV

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 October 2016

kenema hangha road from capitol hotel view
One of Sierra Leone’s longstanding challenges is the deplorable state of the country’s road infrastructure. Successive governments have struggled to address this pressing need with mixed results. (Photo: Kenema – Hangha Road).

Movement across the country, especially during the rainy season becomes treacherous. As motorists risk their vehicles and motorbikes to navigate these roads, it comes with immense costs resulting from needed repair and maintenance of their vehicles.

These costs are in turn passed on to their passengers by way of increase in fare. This results in a fall in supply and increase in prices of basic commodities needed in remote parts of the country. In medical emergencies, getting to lifesaving care in time merely becomes a matter of luck.

Road construction has been promoted as a flagship infrastructural development project for the current government. And evidently, the administration has, over the years embarked on the construction of many roads across the country, and in cities and towns, including Freetown and several district headquarter towns.

While this development has been promoted as a pride and success story by proponents and supporters of the current administration, others have questioned the extent to which the road construction have been regionally balanced as well as the cost effectiveness of the underlying projects.

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Sierra Leone – governance and the political will to fight corruption

John Baimba Sesay – China

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 October 2016

You can stop corruption

We do have challenges as a country, but we have come a long way. One area is the fight against corruption. President Ernest Koroma came in 2007 with the commitment to stepping up the fight against corruption.

His Success in the fight against corruption is measured not only by looking at the tangible gains like the number of cases investigated, prosecuted or convictions secured; but also by looking at the conducive environment created.

He enacted stronger anti corruption laws and gave space to accountability institutions to operate. This is what one would call the political will to fight corruption.

The passing of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 was a game changer in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. Not only did it increase the number of offences from 9 to 34, it also strengthened the Commission’s investigative powers and solidified whistle blowing and witness protection.

The passing of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Amendment Act in 2008, to give prosecutorial powers to the Anti Corruption Commission, eventually ensuring the highest rate of corruption related prosecution and conviction, with billions of Leones recovered from persons convicted or investigated by the State.

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Eye witness account of attempted kidnapping of a child in Sierra Leone for ritual murder

Aruna Turay (Local Journalist in Freetown)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 October 2016

okada riders

While sceptics and doubters, including senior government ministers are questioning the authenticity of the growing reports and gruesome pictures of young children murdered for ritual purposes in Sierra Leone, what is not in dispute are the accounts of many parents that have spoken to the Sierra Leone Telegraph in Freetown, about their fears and anxieties, as the government remained tight-lipped.

This is an eyewitness account of one of Sierra Leone’s most respected journalists – Aruna Turay, about a young girl who escaped abduction and possible murder in the hands of evil men on a motorbike last night:

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Alarming rise in child ritual murder in Sierra Leone as government withholds funding of children’s services

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 October 2016


In the last few days there has been an alarming and sickening increase in the number of reported and unconfirmed cases of young children’s mutilated bodies found in various parts of Sierra Leone. (Photo: Some of the alleged murderers caught with body parts by police).

Pictures of girls and boys as young as 5 years old sent to the Sierra Leone Telegraph and published on social media are too gruesome and disturbing to publish.

Many of the photos show evidence of beheading; removal of the sexual organs, breasts, eyes, ears and bowels of those poor and innocent children. Their hands and feet have also been hacked off.

Reports from Sierra Leone say that these killings are committed for ritual purposes, and what is most bizarre is that politicians are being accused of ordering the killing of innocent young children in order to gain mystic powers that could keep them in political office indefinitely.

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Sierra Leone – When bush is on fire – grasshoppers never wait to say goodbye

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 October 2016


I have just come back from a West African tour, to the increasing discourse about the national economic realities facing Sierra Leone, as our hustlers’ paradise begin to unravel.

That mighty white elephant in the room that some of us had laboured to draw attention to, but for which we were labelled as anti-government; opposition supporters; rabble rousers; attention seekers and even liars, is back with a vengeance.

When the government refused to keep it real and continued to use our resources and international stimulus for immediate personal gratification and glorified half-baked projects, without any positive outcome that would stimulate actual and sustained economic growth, we were accused of rocking the boat, even though most of us were also in the boat and do not know how to swim.

God knows this country needs a clean-up so badly. With the recent announcement of austerity measures, we should be scandalising and raging with indignation – not splitting words, now that the genie has been let out of the bottle and we are being forced to face the stark realities that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist after all.

The whole country is rotten. We’ve got to start the clean-up from somewhere, especially now that the government has thrown its hands up in the air and confessed at last that it is helpless, hopeless and ultimately clueless about ending the prolonged season of famine that has blighted the feast it claimed was on the national economic table.

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British funded access to education is to benefit 200,000 girls in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 October 2016

Education, education, education – many commentators in Africa say is the panacea for ridding Africa of poverty, poor health, squalor, social inequality, and political marginalisation.

And for poorer countries like Sierra Leone, what is obvious is that after decades of massive under-funding and lack of cohesive strategy and poor leadership of the education sector, the country’s current social and economic woes can be attributed to its very low education standards and high level of illiteracy.

But if this assertion is fraught with political bias, what is certain is that poor education standards and outcomes are making Sierra Leone unattractive to investors and employers, that are looking to establish or grow their businesses.

With the increasing number of young children in Sierra Leone becoming ‘street kids’, entering crime and prostitution, as well as used as child labourers, there is concern that poor life’s chances at childhood will continue to push the country’s high level of illiteracy into a vicious cycle of abject poverty and early deaths.

On Tuesday,  the UK Department for International Development (DFID) announced that it will be providing $6.7 million funding through UNICEF, to help about 200,000 girls across Sierra Leone, to improve their chances of  transitioning and completing their secondary school education, where they are most vulnerable.

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