Sierra Leone’s tourism potential boosted by an international documentary film

Mohamed Faray Kargbo: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 November 2019:

It is not often that documentary films about destinations are done. So when one is done with professionalism, it needs to be shown to the whole world not least the travel industry.

It was a sight-to-behold at the Vue Cinema in London’s Leicester Square when the film on Sierra Leone was screened.

Through the lenses of “Oh The People You Meet” (OTPYM) the project highlights wildlife conservation in Sierra Leone’s Tacugama Chimpazee Santuary.

Viewers were thrilled to see the lavished beauty of this small West African Nation. The stretch of pristine beaches throughout the Freetown Peninsula and the interior.

The film documents the journey of Michaela Guzy through the touristic treasures of Sierra Leone. From the ecolodges of Tacugama to the white beaches of River No 2, the film invites the viewer to enjoy the scenic views of Africa’s newest upcoming destination.

Viewers watched in awe as the narrator takes them through a 360 view of everything Sierra Leonean.  Whether it’s her culture, nature or creatures, the film unleashes the tantalizing view of some of the finest places in Sierra Leone.

During a Panel Discussion at the World Travel Market (WTM) London 2019, the topic: Shifting Perceptions Through Wildlife, Film and Forward-Thinking Policy the spotlight shifted to Sierra Leone and for once the panellist gave the audience every reason to visit Sierra Leone.

The film which made it as a finalist in the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York could be the next big thing to return tourists to Sierra Leone. The Country’s Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is desperate to make her country the best tourism destination in Africa.

Since her appointment some 18 months ago, Memunatu Pratt has been working round the clock to relaunch the country’s tourism industry. Through a combination of wildlife, film, and a forward-thinking policy agenda, the country’s battered image is slowing transforming.

The Western Chimpanzee which has been declared the National Animal of Sierra Leone was featured predominantly throughout the film. On September 5th, 2019, Sierra Leone announced more than 150 countries will receive Visa-on Arrival, a landmark policy change. The country recently presented a budget which removes all aviation tax charges.

Michaela Guzy and her team received a standing ovation on completion of the screening. Rosemarie Baryoh’s (Rozzay) performance sealed the night as she got the audience yearning for more.

This film will undoubtedly change the perception of Sierra Leone. It will put the country on a high pedestal  and transform the negative image that has shattered this beautiful nation for too long.

Here is a snippet of the movie: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2443180459027908

About the author

Mohamed Faray Kargbo is the head of Joint Communications and Media at the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Sierra Leone.

7 Comments

  1. The best Tourism Minister in the history of our nation?(lmao) You mean,people who have declared the West African Chimpanzee, also known as the Western Chimpanzee as the national animal of Sierra Leone? (lol) How on earth does someone,anyone become so delusional,and incompetent to come to such a poorly advised conclusion,and boldly declare a Chimpanzee with fragmented populations in Sierra Leone, that is in no danger of extinction whatsoever,as the national animal of a country known throughout the world,as the Lion Mountains? How?

    Goodness gracious! An ordinary chimpanzee that is running wild and free, with populations in their countless thousands,in the Ivory Coast,and Guinea, is now designated as the national anima of Sierra Leone,that can boast of having only a handful of them? How did this happen?The Best Tourism minister ever huh? Ha ha ha ha…only a crawling caterpillar dressed in colorful green will utter such a delusional thing.(lol) Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. Patricia, thanks for the clarification of the “elderly white lady” . It was well explained and I believe that’s the reason why they used Leonardo Decaprio as the main actor in the Blood Diamond movie about Sierra Leone just to get the attention of the western world about the blood diamonds that was funding the Civil War in our region.

    I hope this movie will help to attract more Nature and Animal Lovers to Sierra Leone especially rich elderly and retired tourists that have all the time and money to burn, which will help create more jobs for our youths. I hope the government will also boost the security for the protection of tourists against scammers and thieves. Let’s continue to pray for Professor Memunatu Pratt who is the BEST Tourism Minister in the history of our nation.

  3. Mr Kaloko, having read your comment, I decided to watch the snippet of the documentary/video. It started off with the sight and sound of the waves on one of our beaches and then the lovely voice of the First Lady Mrs Fatima Bio speaking. This was followed by the vice president Juldeh speaking and the minister of Tourism Mrs Memunatu Pratt. Then at some point the ‘elderly white lady’ came on. Other people were featured as well.

    I realised that the elderly white lady is Jane Goodall, the world renowned expert on chimpanzees. She has been credited with documenting that chimpanzees have personalities as well (like humans). I remember seeing a photo many years ago of her sitting in a forest in East Africa amongst chimpanzees or was it orangutans??? That image was powerful. She has received many honours and awards for her work with chimpanzees.

    Pa, dis nor to feke feke ooman o!! In my opinion, we should be proud that she has managed to visit Sierra Leone in her twilight years to say hi to OUR chimpanzees. It is good for tourism as well and could encourage tourists to start thinking about visiting our country Sierra Leone.

    • I appreciate you taking your time, presumably out of your busy schedule to respond to my questions Patricia. And yes, I also noticed that there were other people and different angles taken that make up the snippet; however, I couldn’t help to notice the conspicuous presence of the elderly white lady, which at the time of watching the snippet, I did not know who she was, nor were there enough of anything that could’ve given context as to why she was being highlighted in the way that she was. I suppose I ought to thank you for giving it the context it needed for a better understanding.

      “Dis nor to feke feke ooman o!!” Well, I reckon that my white Jesus analogy isn’t as far fetched as I initially thought it was after all. Just Jesting.

  4. Sierra Leone had a healthy tourism before the war, but since the war it has been struggling. I hope it works out there but tourists may be shocked at the poverty there. Also the government allows forest destruction and the country only has 20 percent of natural forest left. Be careful of thieves and over-friendliness.

  5. Those who wish and aspire to build our people breath-taking, superstructures must first begin by putting, steady, formidable and solid foundations in place. If your wish is to build sand castles that will crumble overnight, then wash your hands and walk away, your work will not stand the test of time.

    On a good day, with all the ideal pieces for enhancing progress firmly secured in their respective places, a documentary would not be a bad idea at all – it will make things better like icing on a cake. But the timing, clearly is wrong! It is again like putting the cart before the horse that pulls it – a known tradition of the SLPP government.(lol) It clearly illustrates the misplaced priorities of the ministry of Tourism, under the direct supervision of an ineffective SLPP government.

    Madam Pratt – first and foremost, a solid foundation built from scratch is what the Tourism sector urgently needs at this time. It all begins with restructuring, through the aid of three types of planning – Operational, Tactical and Strategic, that would act not only as stepping stones, but also as clear pointers towards sustainable progress and the objectives and goals you wish to achieve within a certain period of time.

    Secondly to implement those three types of plans you will need the advice of experts and consultants – men like Mr Williams and others with unmatched skills, readily at their fingertips. Thirdly, careful attention must be given to the enhancement and rehabilitation of historical sites, national monuments, protected areas and game reserves, with direct and special attention being given to skills training, safety and reorientation of Tourism workers. Prepare! Prepare the game reserves, monuments, historical sites, wetlands, conservation areas and National parks. Prepare as though there was a festival or wedding on the way and surely the guests will come… Rising Sun Will Rise Again!

  6. Question: Why is it that the snippet of the documentary seems to focus more on an elderly white lady, as opposed to landmark areas in the country that are fundamental to the topic at hand – tourism. In addition to my question, since snippets of films are essentially outliners of films in whole, is it safe to assume that that is what viewers who haven’t seen the film yet will vastly get when they in fact decide to watch the documentary?

    The snippet reminds me of a reenactment of white Jesus tending portrayal, but only that this time, the one who’s doing the reenactment is an elderly white lady.

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