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A platform for forward thinking around peacebuilding, celebrating voices and views of everyday heroes working to end violent conflict. An initiative of Search for Common Ground. The hilly profile of Freetown, Sierra Leone, is taking shape in the morning twilight as he drives the half-paved road to the radio station. Millions of people in the city are just waking up. He knows they are excited to hear from him today.

I meet him in the parking lot. A few minutes later, he signals the start of his program, Gud Mornin Salone. All across the country, the students getting ready for school, the drivers of poda poda vans packed with commuters, the sellers at streetside markets are tuning in. They listen to his report, uncovering a case of corruption that involved a small political party during the recent elections. He got the party leader to admit to taking money… on record. Once again, Michael Sambola, the greatest investigative journalist in Sierra Leone, has delivered.

Michael was 12 years old when the Civil War finally ended in January At the time, he was living with his grandmother, the only relative still in the country. Hundreds of thousands of them bore the trauma left by the conflict, and a significant minority had even fought as child soldiers. Access to healthcare and education was limited, as was awareness of the rights of young people. Broadly speaking, in the eyes of the public, children in Sierra Leone fell into two categories: In , Search opened its Sierra Leone office.

It was a tremendous success; within a year, Talking Drum Studio had already become a household name, racking up a massive audience nationwide. Nothing like it had ever aired in Sierra Leone. At a time when youth had little to no media presence, Golden Kids turned children into journalists, giving unprecedented power and resonance to young voices. Golden Kids gained a large following, changed the social and cultural norms surrounding young people, and influenced policy at the highest levels.

The show was one of the factors leading to the adoption of the Child Rights Act in —a comprehensive regulation protecting the rights of children in Sierra Leone. The Golden Kids team in Michael is the 5th person from the left. Photo credit: Tara Todras-Whitehill. Michael was an avid Golden Kids listener. Encouraged by his grandmother and uncle, a DJ and radio producer himself, one day he finally mustered the courage to go.

Two weeks later, he was a golden kid , running around Freetown to capture the stories of young people. He started by following experienced journalists and quickly learned the tools of the trade. Within months, he was leading interviews himself, speaking up to the powerful despite his young age. Has the government done X, Y, and Z for children? In his two years as a golden kid , he covered hundreds of stories, learning much more than the profession.

The experience molded his personality, instilling in him the values of integrity, justice, and truth that inform his work today. My values, norms, and tradition—those came from Search. Then, he became an assistant producer with Search — Sierra Leone and worked on the news show Borderline. But, you know how the saying goes. Radio Democracy It was established during the Civil War as a counter-propaganda outlet, gaining nationwide notoriety.

After the end of the conflict, it became the radio station with the largest listenership in Sierra Leone. Gud Mornin Salone , the daily program produced by Michael, is its crown jewel. One story on child brides sparked a nationwide debate on the human rights of children. The marketplace around Leicester Road, Freetown.

Massimiliano Colonna. This groundbreaking reporting has gained Michael recognition from the two most authoritative media institutions in Sierra Leone: He received his first award for political reporting by IMC in , when he was only Michael interviews Valnora Edwin, the Coordinator of Campaign for Good Governance , an important civil society organization based in Freetown. I followed Michael on one such hunt, the investigation behind the corruption story that aired today.

The whole time, he maintains a friendly, unassuming demeanor with the interviewees. However, they know that, through him, they are being held accountable in front of the entire country. The subjects of some of his investigations offered Michael bribes up to 8 million Leones, roughly 1, USD. It changed the image of journalists in Sierra Leone from blackmailers to heroes. You have to be fearless in a way.

To be a successful investigative journalist, Michael must ask tough questions. Sometimes, he must ask those questions of himself. Recently, he won a visa lottery to enter the United States. If he so desires, Michael could move permanently to the other side of the Atlantic and rejoin his father. Last year, he decided to stay in New York for a few months and see how he would like it. His dad was happy to see him. His father asked why. His father was proud but still resisted the idea that Michael should return.

Sierra Leone is not developed right now. But we have to start somewhere. And I want to be a part of that change. Gud Mornin Salone continues to draw a million listeners every day. One of them tunes in from the Bronx, New York City. It will be his first international recognition. He is based in Washington, D. For any questions regarding access to or deletion of your data, please email us at webinfo sfcg. Thank you for your interest. To stay up to date on the latest information from Search For Common Ground, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Donate Subscribe. Want to Do More? Golden Kids reunion taking place at Talking Drum Studio. From left to right: Michael; Mariatou, former radio producer and current Mass Communications student; Aboubakar, stand-up comedian; Fuad, leader of a theater company. He founded one of the 4 radio stations that kept broadcasting during the Civil War. He still hosts his own music program and radio talk show today, at age First Name.

Last Name. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. View our privacy policy here.

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So, to avoid exposing the company, the embattled billionaire allegedly sold his Steinmetz left Diacore, but has kept up his business interests in Sierra Leone diamonds through the British Virgin Islands-based entity Octea.

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The name "Sierra Leone" dates back to , when Portuguese explorer Pedro da Cintra, sailing down the West African coast, saw the tall mountains rising up on what is now the Freetown Peninsula and called them the "Lion Mountains," or " Serra Lyoa. At the same time, a worsening domestic economy, declining infrastructure, and deteriorating health conditions have prevented the country's progress, and have to some extent hindered the development of a strong sense of collective pride or shared national identification, especially in the rural areas outside the capital city. Location and Geography. Sierra Leone is located on the west coast of Africa, north of the equator. With a land area of 27, square miles 71, square kilometers , it is slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina. Sierra Leone is bounded by Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. There are a wide variety of ecological and agricultural zones to which people have adapted. Starting in the west, Sierra Leone has some miles kilometers of coastline, giving it both bountiful marine resources and attractive tourist potential.

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The Mende people also spelled Mendi are one of the two largest ethnic groups in Sierra Leone ; their neighbours, the Temne people , have roughly the same population. The Mende are predominantly found in the Southern Province and the Eastern Province , while the Temne are found primarily in the Northern Province and the Western Area , including the capital city of Freetown. Some of the major cities with significant Mende populations include Bo , Kenema , Kailahun , and Moyamba. The Mende belong to a larger group of Mande peoples who live throughout West Africa. The Mende are mostly farmers and hunters. Alpha Lavalie, a Mende himself, to fight the rebels along with government troops. The forces included five groups drawn from all major ethnic groups in the country: Tamaboros, Hunters, Donso, Kapras, and the Kamajors. Kamajor is a Mende term for hunter; they were not only the dominant warring factions but the most fearful among the CDF militias headed by late Deputy Minister of Defense, Chief Hinga Norman. To date, the Kamajors are honored among the elite groups of men and women who fought to restore democracy in modern Sierra Leone. The secret "Poro" society is for men while "Sande" society for women both of whom initiate the young into adulthood.

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The colony was established by the British , supported by abolitionists , under the Sierra Leone Company as a place for freedmen. The settlers called their new settlement Freetown. Like their Americo-Liberian neighbors and sister ethnic group in Liberia , Creoles have varying degrees of European ancestry due to rape of previously enslaved Africans in America, white women who went with the Black Loyalists, and because some of the settlers were descended from European Americans and other Europeans. As with their Americo-Liberian neighbors, Creole culture is primarily westernized. The only Sierra Leonean ethnic group whose culture is similar in terms of its integration of Western culture are the Sherbro. The Creoles developed close relationships with the British colonial power; they became educated in British institutions and held prominent leadership positions in Sierra Leone under British colonialism. Many have both British first names and surnames.

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