Showing posts from April, 2014

Take Seven | Fouad Ayoub's Greatest Selfie of all Time & Six Other Portraits

Fouad Ayoub couldn’t be clearer about what he's into. His e-mail handle reads Leonardo Da Vinci.Those are big shoes to fill. And fine art experts would agree, but if  Shakespeare’s “Juliohs Siza” was translated and appropriated into Krio, then so can Leonardo’s smoke technique, dramatic landscapes, and evocative coloring find different strokes.
For decades, talented Sierra Leoneans have opened up world literature.  In the 1920s, '30s and '40s, music composer Nicholas Ballanta set operas in West African villages.During the post-Independence era, playwright Tommy Decker looked to the Bard for inspiration when he wrote a full-length adaptation of the world’s most quoted play.

Now, contemporary artist Fouad Ayoub aka Leonardo Da Vinci is bringing the legacy of one of the world’s greatest painters to a new audience in a way only art can: with a universal appeal crossing cultural boundaries. 
"I started drawing when I was in primary school in Kono. I loved art since I was a…

April 27 | Independence Day

The 27th of April celebrates the adoption of Independence from British colonial rule by Sierra Leone.
High we exalt thee, realm of the free
Great is the love we have for thee;
Firmly united ever we stand, Singing thy praise, O native land.
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry;
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love our Sierra Leone.

One with a faith that wisdom inspires,
One with a zeal that never tires;
Ever we seek to honor thy name,
Ours is the labor, thine the fame.
We pray that no harm on thy children may fall, That blessing and peace may descend on us all;
So may we serve thee ever alone,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.

Knowledge and truth our forefathers spread,
Mighty the nations whom they led;
Mighty they made thee so too may we
Show forth the good that is ever in thee.
We pledge our devotion, our strength and our might,
Thy cause to defend and t stand for thy right,
All that we have be ever thine own

Sierra Leone | Time to Temper our Excessive Tax Waivers

In 2011, Sierra Leone spent more on tax giveaways than on its development priorities, with mining firms the biggest beneficiaries. The following year, the tax exemptions amounted to more than eight times Sierra Leone’s health budget and seven times its education budget. The losses arising from the GST waivers granted to the six mining companies alone (Le 648bn) far exceed all the actual GST revenues collected by the government (Le 410bn).
If tax expenditure continues on its present trend, it is likely that Sierra Leone will lose more than US$240m a year from tax incentives. This is based on an average of US$199m a year of losses from customs duty and GST waivers during 2010-12 and an additional projected revenue loss from corporate income tax averaging US$43.7m a year during 2014-16. The losses to the country are likely to be even greater, amounting to around 10 per cent of GDP.
The above facts are from a recent report: “Losing Out”, based on research by the Budget Advocacy Network (…

Sierra Leone | Mineral Exchange

In 2005, Frank Timiș, a Romanian-Australian businessman, decided to buy 30 percent of the Sierra Leone Diamond Corporation (SLDC). According to someone familiar with the deal, Timiș turned to Tony Baldry, a former law chambers colleague of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, then president of Sierra Leone. At the time, Baldry was chair of the British Parliament's international development committee and had close links with Sierra Leone.
Timiș’s application was assigned to an unnamed officer in Sierra Leone's Ministry of Mineral Resources, who served as gatekeeper to the mining program. By phone, the officer alerted Baldry that the ministry was seeking $2 million and a $500,000 deposit. Baldry responded that if it was okay with the president (Tejan Kabbah), it was fine with him. The ministry’s approach to Timiș reflected a broader strategy.
Back then, the Mines and Minerals Amendment Act of 1994 and the Mines and Mineral Amendment Act of 2003 regulated mining in Sierra Leone. Also in 2003, a…

Help Sierra Leone's Women's Relay Team Win Their Toughest Race

It’s three days to the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but the Sierra Leonean athletes scheduled to take part in the annual track and field competition April 24th – 27th April are still stuck in Freetown.
With little financial support from the government or the national Olympic Committee, it’s been one hurdle after another.

Michaela Kargbo, Rebecca Ansumana, and Agnes Mansaray finally got a visa from the Embassy of the United States in Freetown last week, but they still have to raise enough money to fly out from Lungi. The team hopes to be led by former national sprinter James Davies (Turbo Ben), and will be joined by Matu Davies, a rising star who lives and trains in Nairobi, Kenya.

On the line from Freetown, Dauda Sundufu-Sowa, the secretary general of the Sierra Leone Amateur Athletics Association, told African Sports Monthly’s Leslie Koroma that this is an opportunity for Sierra Leoneans to help.

International meets are great for young athletes, Sundufu-Sowa explained.…

Mami Konneh Lahun | Running for Life

When Mami Konneh Lahun ran the prized London Marathon last week, she raised the profile of Sierra Leone as the nation’s first woman to run in the long-distance event with more than 30,000 people from around the world. No one seems to know when the 24-year-old started running or what she was aiming for when she did. We do know she feels happy when she runs because she’s always in front. She won the 2013 Sierra Leone Marathon. No doubt, it’s in her DNA. It takes stamina and guts to go the distance in a 5000-meter run, 10,000 metres, or a 26.2 mile-course, and build a track record.

Last week, Mami,  an unknown and unrecognized marathon winner from Sierra Leone, stepped on to the world stage and succeeded in crossing the finish line in 2 hours 46 minutes--20th position in the women’s race. Mami competed with the best in class and excelled because she believed in herself. It  takes grit and confidence.
Now her friends and manager, Jo Dunlop, say they fear she is throwing away her chance o…

Sierra Leone | Senior Pension Officials Sacked

Three top Sierra Leonean pension officials, including the Social Security chief, were stripped of their posts late Thursday, April 17, a State House press release said.

The shakedown at the national agency, which is responsible for providing pension benefits for more than a million workers and retirees, comes four months after the Accounts of Sierra Leone reported that "governance, control and asset valuation in NASSIT should be a major concern for parliamentarians and all citizens.”

Thursday’s release said that following a meeting held between President Ernest Bai Koroma, cabinet ministers, and the chairman of the Board of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), the president had decided to effect changes in the top management of the Trust.

“The following officials of NASSIT are relieved of their duties with immediate effect,” the statement said.

“Mr. Samuel Bangura, Director General
Mr. Gibril Saccoh, Deputy Director-General (Membership, Finance, Systems and …

Smoky Kitchens, Life, Love and Trees

Gloria Allen has dreamed of writing a book for decades. She finally achieved that goal when she published Smoke in the Kitchen this spring. 

“It sounds impossible, but it’s surreal to be published here in the United States,” she said.

Back in her native Sierra Leone, where she worked first as an executive secretary in the Office of the President and the vice president’s office before joining one of the ore-rich nation’s mining companies, and then starting her own business, Gloria self-published a guide for secretarial and administrative assistants and pioneered “The Secretary.” The magazine was launched by Laura Lee Peters, a former U.S ambassador to Sierra Leone. 

In the seventeen years since Gloria came to America, she has taken time to hone her writing skills.

“Although I self-published booklets and a magazine in Freetown, Sierra Leone, writing for the American or international audience was a  task,” she said. “When I emigrated to the United States I knew I wanted to write so I d…