Last week, Sierra Leone’s parliament voted to repeal the country’s 55-year-old libel law, which criminalised the publication of information that was deemed defamatory or seditious, and which had been used by successive governments to target and imprison media practitioners and silence dissenting views. But not everyone is convinced it was in the best interest of media freedom.
Adikali Kamara is a 36-year-old student nurse working in the government hospital in Kenema, a sprawling town on the fringe of the Sierra Leone’s Gola tropical rain forest.
Only 38 women - of a total of 586 candidates - will contest parliamentary seats in Sierra Leone’s November elections, and the blame for this can be laid squarely on the shoulders of the current group of female lawmakers, according to Barbara Bangura, the director of the women’s organisation Grassroots Empowerment for Self Reliance.
In Sierra Leone’s highly patriarchal society, where institutionalised gender inequalities are exacerbated by discriminatory customs, one group is singing its way towards changing this.
He was all over the place during the 2008 local council election campaign, but no one's seen the councillor since he won his seat, says Freetown journalist Ismael Bakarr. "He just disappeared."
The re-establishment of local councils in Sierra Leone in 2004 was intended to give people a greater voice in their government, reversing long years of marginalisation for rural districts in particular. But nearly seven years later, it has still not been fully implemented. A local NGO, Campaign for the Voiceless, is working to strengthen the performance of this most accessible tier of government.
On Apr. 5, the United Nations Children's Fund will launch a report on teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone. Teenage pregnancies account for 40 percent of maternal deaths in the country, and the report comes as public health authorities recalibrate strategy to address a problem that endangers both mothers and children.
Lucky for Osman Conteh that one of his aunts disagreed with the family consensus that he had been stricken by an evil spirit. She insisted the twitching, incoherently babbling child be taken to the hospital rather than a witch doctor.
"I think I am successful now," says Fanta Jabbah. "I am able to take care of my three children and support my husband; now I have a say in my household."
Marie Musa, 37, is devastated. After the mother of four gave premature birth, her baby boy died a few hours later – because the hospital did not have enough incubators to rescue the infant.
A woman took position alongside male soldiers at the graveside of a fallen colleague. She positioned her AK47 on her shoulder, and on command fired into the grey sky with the others.
Posseh Sesay will never be able to bear children again following a tragic birthing experience at the hands of her village traditional birth attendant (TBA).
A woman alone: Josephine Bangali fetches water from the well to set to boil over a wood fire so she can sterilise her instruments.
Lying forgotten in the bush somewhere is a sign declaring "Ogoo Farm is an open defecation-free community."
Sierra Leone has become a place of torment for journalists practicing their profession.
The World Social Forum held in Nairobi in 2007 inspired Sierra Leonean activists to organise themselves to demand things like housing, health care and greater accountability from their government. That inspiration was not sustained.
A war is raging in the eastern part of the country, once the centre stage for battles during the 10-year civil war and the place where "blood diamonds" were once mined. But this time the war is not for diamonds, but about whether a woman has the right to stand for paramount chief in the local chieftaincy election.
Journalists in Sierra Leone can still be arrested and jailed for writing material considered "libel" regardless if what they published is true or not.
Nothing has ever sparked a debate on the state of governance in the country like the song released by one of Sierra Leone’s most popular artists, Emerson Bockarie.
They call her "Marie Nerica", after a new breed of rice.
When in power, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) promised that thanks to its pursuit of a pro-agriculture agenda, no Sierra Leonean would go to bed hungry by 2007. But the appointed date came and the people were still hungry. Unfortunately for the SLPP, it was an election year.