To say that the peoples of the three West African states of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are undergoing trauma would be understatement. This is particularly so as these states are presently battling the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that was first detected and confirmed in Guinea and then spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia with the attendant deaths of innocent and unsuspecting people.
Indeed, the Ebola Virus Disease (EBV) reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the deadliest in the history of epidemics, has claimed the lives of a record cumulative fatality two hundred and fourteen (214) Ebola confirmed deaths, five hundred and ninety-one (591) confirmed Ebola cases and one hundred and sixty-one (161) survivors as of August 5, this year in the case of Sierra Leone.
So far, Governments have poured in millions of dollars with the international community complementing with experts and financial resources to mitigate and eventually eradicate the scourge of Ebola. So far, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government remain the only country that has pronounced the most stringent measures that include the deployment of the military and the police to cordon the epicentres of the virus and quarantine household of confirmed cases of Ebola.
However, the fight against the EVD continues to be as challenging as ever, with particularly various hypotheses and theories being proffered by some distracting mainstream media and other social commentators that Ebola remains a myth, and that, in the case of sierra Leone, it was all a ploy by the Government to scale down populations in hitherto opposition strongholds with the intention of providing political advantage to the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party come the 2017/18 elections. The coincidence of census slated for later this year did help the situation either.
In neutralising this ill-fated theory, Government had to support all the ten political parties, including the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), to visit the south and eastern parts of the country to “sensitize” the public on Ebola. Then, one sort of civil society or the other took the cue and embarked on massive sensitization campaigns against the dread.
The myth and confusion were no novelty to Sierra Leone. For instance, when Ebola broke out in Uganda in the early 2000s, the myth that the wearing of banana leaves on the left wrist and the appeasement of the gods because of their unhappiness with mother earth would spare one of the scourges punctuated communities around Gulu.
The highpoint of the controversy in the current fight against Ebola in West Africa is the rather hypothetical question repeatedly posed by social media commentators of what bio war researchers from Western countries are doing in Ebola-prone countries West Africa?
This article is therefore not so much to examine neither the pro-active measures the respective governments have put in place in the fight against EVD nor to scold the ignorant populations about their initial denial that Ebola is a myth.
Instead, it intends to underscore the trauma that families and the countries are dealing with on a daily basis. One can only imagine the grief that comes with bereavement not the least wherein one is denied the cultural right to give a loved one a befitting funeral rite that passed on from the Ebola virus.
In situations like this, there is no gainsaying that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
an exceptionally stressful event like that of Ebola is prevalent among the people. It is especially traumatising for children who have lost their parents to Ebola and then rejected by their communities amidst the attendant stigmatization.
This is where one calls for child protection issues and therapeutic counselling to be incorporated as part of a holistic approach in whatever strategies devised with Governments and the international community in the fight against Ebola.
Like the trauma that Sierra Leone witnessed during and following the end of the civil war, interventions should not just focus on supporting individuals, families and communities regain a sense of control and safety, but should be taught skills that would make them more tolerable in their management of anger and rage, or how to grieve loss of loved ones.
There is a compelling need for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to scale up trauma counselling during and after the Ebola outbreak. This is so badly needed because following the death of Sierra Leone’s only virologist and lead-fighter against Ebola, Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan (from Ebola) a fortnight ago, my voluntary dedicated line to provide free trauma counselling continues to be inundated with calls almost round the clock from doctors, nurses and frontline health workers who have one form of anxiety or the other.
And this is where I doff my hat to WHO and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone for establishing a 117 hotline that continues to provide not just a medical response to Ebola, but therapeutic counselling to front line health workers, children and their families in ongoing efforts to address the psychological trauma that comes with the Ebola outbreak in the sub-region.
This is crucial since therapy has clinically proven to be very helpful and effective in the treatment of PTSD, as healing will often occur with those directly affected retelling of the trauma during and after the disease would have been mitigated and brought under safer controls.
Author, Abdulai Bayraytay is a trauma and an Immediate Support Counsellor. He holds double master’s degrees in Social Work (with specialization in child protection), and Political Science from University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada respectively.
2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul
The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th IPRA conference in Turkey, at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th IPRA conference in Istanbul to serve a second term of two years.
In Sierra Leone, the notion of corporate social responsibility has always been associated with the private sector. No wonder some people see the active involvement of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) in corporate social activities as strange, and many have opined that a tax collecting body should not be engaged in corporate social responsibility activities.
However, the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on corporate image is immense, even for tax collecting bodies. The perception that tax collectors are monsters vigorously bent on collecting people's earnings with no care for the environment or the vulnerable in the community they operate is evolving. Indeed, many revenue authorities in Africa are today socially responsible.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in an article in its website argues that "the nature of Revenue Collectors' mandate makes them the hill of the nation such that whatever they do is mirrored and echoed by many".
The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.
The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.
Dr. David Tam-Baryoh: A New Broom in Sierra Leone Politics
Dr. David Tam-Baryoh is a household name in Sierra Leone, mostly because of his“Good Governance” popular radio programme called monologue. In fact the programme has become sopopular that most people prefer to call the presenter “Mr. Monologue”. Recently Mr. Monologue said in two or three of his programmes that he would be going intopolitics. It looked like a joke the first time he said it. But after saying it over threeor four times it is no longer a joke.
So Dr. David Tam-Baryoh is going into politics in 2018. Those who are very closeto him will tell you that this is a fact. The Doctor has made up his mind. Afterdiscussing and editing serious national issues on newspaper pages and on the airwaves for almost twenty five years, hehas decided that he cannot achieve much for the people behind the microphone and the pen. He now wants toengage into something that will make a direct impact on the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
And the Doctor thinks politics is the best way to do this, if we look at politics as“the authoritative allocation of scarce resources within a nation state.” He wants tobe part of the allocation of Sierra Leone’s scarce resources.
Precious Minerals, Public Trust and Government’s Openness
By late 2001, the Anti Corruption Commission arrested then Sierra Leone's transport and communications minister, together with his wife, “for involvement in illegal diamond mining” in Kenema district. Large quantum of illicit diamonds had been found in their possession, according to a BBC report at the time.
With some diamonds said to have been smuggled out of the country by the minister, the incident happened at a time when the rebel war was raging and the key perpetrators- the RUF were also seriously involved in illicit mining and smuggling. The minister was later jailed in 2003 for two years for illegal possession of diamonds.
Amongst other factors, Sierra Leone’s civil war was fuelled mainly by diamond, specifically “conflict diamonds”- those diamonds that originated from territories controlled by rebel forces (UN definition).
The Legal Aid Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution on Tuesday, 7 March 2017 resolved a long standing dispute in respect of a property on Newcastle Street, in Kissy, Freetown between one Mr. Solomon Samba Mansaray and his seventy-seven year old elder sister Madam Marian Kamara who is in the country on holiday from the United States of America.
The two who had not been on speaking terms were reconciled. Both promised to work together in the interest of peace in the family. In this vein, Madam Marian Kamara agreed to cancel a U$ 400 debt owed by Mr. Mansaray.
While the tension between the two had been lingering several years,Mr. Mansaray decided to report the matter to the Board in Freetown when he got information that Madam Marian Kamara was planning to sell theproperty. The owner of the property who is the sister of both parties had died over a decade ago without leaving a will.
The Legal Aid Board office in Freetown was stretched to the limit following the storming of the office by desperate students ofthe Njala University seeking the intervention of the Board to secure the release of their colleagues who had been arrested and held in police cells around the city.
On a normal weekday, you would expect at least forty people crammed in the Freetown office to seek the services of the Board. The situation on Thursday, March 23 was characterized by mild chaos as too many students wanted to visit the office to provide updates on students arrested by the police.
The team of Legal Aid Board staff comprising Bankole Morgan and Anthony Karim Kamara negotiated the release of five of the six students detained at the Central Police Station. One was not released because of an alleged inflammatory statement to bring the city on its knees.
U.S. Africa Command Launches a 33-Nation Maritime Exercise: Sierra Leone Maritime “Full Speed Ahead”
During March 23-31, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) issponsoring “Obangame Express”, an in-port Command Post exerciseand at-sea maritime exercise designed to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.The exercise includes 33 partner nations, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The exercise is designed to improve cooperation andinformation sharing, and to refine tactics, techniques and procedures among participating nations.
The “Obangame Express”exercise will be based on realistic modern-day scenarios such as piracy, illegal fishing and hijacking. During the exercise,Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) will be challenged to recognize illicit acts and share trackinginformation with other MOCs throughout the region.
The winner of the Pride of Australia Award, Ansumana Usman Koroma popularly known as AUK has called on all Sierra Leoneans within and outside Sierra Leone to support and fully participate in both the ongoing voter registration that has started March 20 to end April 19 2017 and the forthcoming nationwide civil registration process slated April 24 to June 11 2017.
AUK who is a Political and Policy Analyst working in Australia said the mass registration of every citizen is a very important process in the development agenda of the country. He therefore appealed to all Sierra Leoneans to put politics aside and understand that the process would help government consolidate citizens’ data and enhance effective service delivery and improve monitoring of government programmes and policies.
He stressed that the national civil registration authority is created to promote a greater sense of nationalism and common identity.