Sierra Leone is a small West African country. Torn apart by war from 1991-2002 and again by Ebola from 2014-2016, the country today is working hard to reclaim a hopeful future.
The people are genuinely joyful for every opportunity to improve their circumstances and the lives of their children. Not a moment goes by where visitors don’t see huge smiles, playful natures and faith in a better future.
Throughout the capital of Freetown, construction abounds as the people labor to rebuild a working infrastructure.
In past decades, Sierra Leone has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. It also has the third largest natural harbor in the world: located at Freetown’s famous Queen Elizabeth II Quay.
Sierra Leone became a British Crown Colony in 1896. In 1961, the country gained independence and formed a constitutional republic. English is the official language of government and schools. Krio is spoken widely among Sierra Leoneans of different tribes. The main tribes are Mende, Temne, Limba and Kuranko.
Today it is estimated that 70 percent of six million Sierra Leoneans live in poverty.
Sierra Leoneans who live in villages outside of the main cities seek to hold fast to their traditional culture, including festivals, music, stories and dance.
- The war served as the background for the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
- The documentary movie “Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars” tells the story of a group of refugees who fled to Guinea and created a band to ease the pain of the constant difficulty of living away from home and community after the atrocities of war and mutilation.
- In the documentary “Brownstones to Red Dirt”, kids from Brooklyn, NY housing projects try to change the world when they are paired with Sierra Leonean pen pals orphaned by a civil war.
- PBS produced a special “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” report “Cry Freetown”. Photojournalist Sorious Samura discusses his award-winning documentary and the brutal civil war in his home country of Sierra Leone.
- Jon Stewart interviewed Ishmael Beah Feb. 14, 2007. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
- Beah, Ishmael (2007). A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Beah, Ishmael (2014). Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel. Sarah Crichton Books.
- Bergner, Daniel (2003). In the Land of Magic Soldiers: a Story of White and Black in Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Campbell, Greg (2004). Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones. Boulder: Westview.
- Denov, Myriam S (2010). Child soldiers: Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Dorman, Andrew M (2009). Blair’s Successful War: British Military Intervention in Sierra Leone. Ashgate.
- Mustapha, Marda; Bangura, Joseph J. (2010). Sierra Leone Beyond the Lome Peace Accord. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Mutwol, Julius (2009). Peace Agreements and Civil Wars in Africa: Insurgent Motivations, State Responses, and Third-Party Peacemaking in Liberia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.
- Olonisakin, Funmi (2008). Peacekeeping in Sierra Leone. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
- O–zerdem, Alpaslan (2008). Post-War Recovery: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Sesay, Amadu et al. (2009). Post-War Regimes and State Reconstruction in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.