Why I left my
Â· 2003-2004 Diploma in Media Studies, Institute of
Commercial Management, London
Â· 1996-1998 Diploma in Journalism, New School of
Journalism, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Â· 1990-1993 Diploma in House Keeping, Hotel and
Tourism Training Center, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Â· Senior reporter, Champion Newspaper 19992-95
Â· Staff writer, Pathfinder newspaper, 1995-96
Â· Staff writer, For Di People 1996-97
Â· Managing editor, African Champion 1997-2003
My country, Sierra Leone,
was the first beneficiary of Western education in the West
Coast of Africa. But the early educational system did not
cater for one of the worldâ€™s finest professions -
journalism. It was not even mentioned in curriculum of the
oldest British West African University, Fourah Bay. There
were no journalism courses in any sub-Saharan African
schools and tertiary educational institutions.
I grew up in a mixed religious environment of Muslims and
Christians, and this opened my eyes through early encounter
with foreign newspapers and magazines that were brought home
by the missionaries. It was from them I developed an
aptitude for reading and writing stories, which I showed
everybody for correction.
During my secondary school days, I started writing poems and
articles for which I received commendation from the school
authorities and my fatherâ€™s friends.
When I enrolled at the Hotel Tourism Training Center to
study for my diploma in Hotel Management in 1990, I joined
the band of writers of the university and ultimately bagged
the â€˜most objective journalistâ€™ award.
However, my first stint on a national newspaper was when I
reached the intermediate year, in 1992. It was the same year
that the military took power from the civilian government.
The coup became very popular. Everybody, including fellow
students was jubilant and keen to grant legitimacy to the
new regime of copyists. The coup leader, Captain Valentine
Strasser, was given all sorts of high fallutinâ€™ titles
like The Saviour, The Redeemer, Our Liberator.
During this period I wrote an article headlined CAPTAIN
STRASSER IS NOT OUR REDEEMER. In it, I stated clearly that
it was too early for people to bestow the new head of state
with grandiose titles when our poor politically, economic,
social and even religious conditions in which we were found,
had not yet been improved. We still suffered the same poor
conditions that made people to hate the civilian government
and support the coup.
A senior student who first read through the piece advised me
to send it to one of the local newspapers for nationwide
publication. It was published but the impact of that article
in the early days of the coup was immense. It did not go
down well with the military guys. I went in hiding for days
because a band of them, headed by their Public Relations
Officer (PRO), came looking for me on the campus.
I started journalism as a cub reporter and became proprietor
before I left Sierra Leone in 2003.
It is a fact that every African journalist who practices
strictly according to the tenets of the journalism
profession will always be a danger to the government of his
It is pathetic that though democracy and journalism are two
sides of the same coin for any nationâ€™s development,
African despotic leaders in particular seem to ignore the
fact and try to muzzle press freedom in order to conceal
their dirty rule. Any journalist that attempts to expose
their criminality will face their wrath.
My country, Sierra Leone, is no exception of press hater. In
fact, according to the last statistics conducted by the
French based Reporters Without Borders, in 1991-2003, Sierra
Leone has the highest number of recordeced cases of press
suppression and journalists killed because of their
uncompromising stance on bad governance.
Reasons for running from my country to the diaspora are many
but the most important is because I have faced too much
persecution by agents of the current government of Dr.
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. They threatened to assassinate me
because of my tough stance against issues such as the
suppression of press freedom, which is not good for the
people of my country.
My trouble with the government started in 2002, when I
exposed a controversial deal between Presidentâ€™s son Ahmed
Kabbah and Yugoslavia consul Adonis Aboud. After my story
was published, hell break on me as government agents see me
as a rebel trying to demonise the regime. According to
government agents, exposing the Presidentâ€™s son was
tantamount to bringing the Presidentâ€™s name into
disrepute, so I should be punished for that. I was arrested
and jailed for weeks without being charged. The pressure
exerted on me by the government agents was reduced because
of the timely intervention of Reporters Without Borders and