Stories written by Mohamed Fofanah
Mohamed Tiamieu Fofanah is a freelance journalist. He contributed articles on politics and national affairs to Awoko newspaper and several magazines in Sierra Leone. Mohamed lives in Freetown, Sierra Leone. | Web

Sierra Leone – Why Everyone is Not Celebrating the New Media Law

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.

Defying the Ebola Odds in Sierra Leone

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.

Sierra Leone – Women Shoot Themselves in the Foot in Elections

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.

SIERRA LEONE: Promise of More Space for Women in Decision-making

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.

Sierra Leoneans want to see local govt take an active role on services like providing water. Credit:  Anna Jeffreys/IRIN

SIERRA LEONE: Growing Pains for Local Councils

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."

Outside the Freetown City Council office. Credit:  Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

SIERRA LEONE: Renewed Commitment to Local Government

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.

This young woman from Makeni dropped out of school when she had her first child at 16. Credit:  Anna Jeffreys/IRIN

Sierra Leone Facing Facts of Teenage Pregnancy

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.

SIERRA LEONE: (Misused) Key to Malaria Prevention

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.

Weeding a demonstration rice plot at Lumley. Credit:  Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

Chinese Aid Bringing Smiles to Sierra Leone Farmers

"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."

Maternity ward in Port Loko: government resources are stretched thin by its ambitious plans to offer free care to pregnant women and infants. Credit:  Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

SIERRA LEONE: Unfulfilled Promise of Free Maternal Health Care for Mothers

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.

Women soldiers on parade in Freetown. Credit:  Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

A Place for Women in Sierra Leone’s Military

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.

Health workers at govt health clinic in Rokupa, Sierra Leone: free care for women and children has initially had some unexpected effects. Credit:  Teun Vouten/UNFPA

SIERRA LEONE: Defining New Role for Traditional Birth Attendants

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).

At a government hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone. Credit:  Nancy Palus/IRIN

SIERRA LEONE: Bold Plan for Maternal Health

A woman alone: Josephine Bangali fetches water from the well to set to boil over a wood fire so she can sterilise her instruments.

SIERRA LEONE: Plan For Sanitation Rests with Community

Lying forgotten in the bush somewhere is a sign declaring "Ogoo Farm is an open defecation-free community."

Secretary-general of the SLAJ, Mustapha Sesay, says the association will fight against the intimidation of the press. Credit: Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

RIGHTS-SIERRA LEONE: Journalists Under Attack

Sierra Leone has become a place of torment for journalists practicing their profession.

Abu Brima says the social movement in Sierra Leone was never sustained. Credit: Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Sierra Leone Sees Opportunity to Rise Up

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.

 Elizabeth Kumba Simbiwa Sorgboh Torto has declared herself available for the position of paramount chief in the Nimiyama chiefdom.  Credit: Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

SIERRA LEONE: Woman Breaking Traditional Walls in Chieftaincy Elections

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.

Secretary-general of the SLAJ, Mustapha Sesay, says his organisation is disappointed with the court

SIERRA LEONE: Mixed Reactions to Libel Laws Ruling

Journalists in Sierra Leone can still be arrested and jailed for writing material considered "libel" regardless if what they published is true or not.

President Ernest Bai Koroma's administration has been heavily criticised. Credit: Mohamed Fofanah/IPS

CORRUPTION-SIERRA LEONE: Song Sparks Governance Debate

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.

Farming rice in Sierra Leone Credit:  Marc Rachou/Wikicommons

SIERRA LEONE: New Dawn for Small Farmers?

They call her "Marie Nerica", after a new breed of rice.

Sierra Leone

SIERRA LEONE: New Agriculture Plan Sprouts

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.

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