Muctaru's Blog

I am Muctaru Wurie from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I blog on a variety of subject from my homeland and most of my post feature well researched stories I do.

Posts Tagged ‘attack on sierra leone

We are much better than you think Mninawa Ntloko

with 5 comments

One of the most sickening aspects of journalism is when you see people that you expect much from misusing and degrading the profession. As a sports editor of your average South African newspaper, you expect that person to at least be a professional journalist that carefully observes and do cautious investigation before running to very degrading and flawed conclusion about a whole nation. Mninawa Ntloko is the sport editor for South African BusinessDay newspaper; he was among the Bafana delegation that came to Sierra Leone for last week AFCON. He spent about 36 hours in my country (most of which was spent at night) and yet still he has a whole bunch of conclusions and false perceptions. I don’t want to give credence to one of the most reckless piece of journalistic work I have ever seen so I won’t dilate on most of the bogus claims Mninawa made about my country.

For those of you who might like to look at his piece, here is a brief preview and the link;

Excerpts; {A short drive from Lungi International Airport — if you want to call it that — took us to the banks of the big Sierra Leone river at about 3am. We transferred to a waiting ferry and this thing then negotiated the dark waters in a journey that lasted more than 45 minutes. Another rickety bus picked us up on the other side and took us to Hotel Bintumani, which is situated at the peak of the hills around a suburb — again, if you call it that — called Aberdeen. The receptionist at Hotel Bintumani — which is run by the Chinese — claimed that this was the best and the largest luxury accommodation in Freetown and we were privileged to be guests in the establishment. The shocking condition of the sheets in my room told a very different story and it is anyone’s guess if the linen has been changed recently. Don’t even get me started about the condition of the towels! My word! We only managed to absorb the full horror of our surroundings when the sun came up, and I have got to say the effects of the decade-long civil conflict has ravaged Sierra Leone. Abundant poverty is everywhere and it’s no wonder that most women have no choice but to become prostitutes. Their currency — the Leone — is not worth the paper it’s printed on and our hosts from the Sierra Leone Football Association had to empty the contents of a big bag just to pay for our meals at a local restaurant. The hotel staff spent nearly 30 minutes counting stacks and stacks of money while we looked on in amazement. The Bafana players kept to their rooms and made the best of the situation. We got our first glimpse of the Brookfields National Stadium on Saturday afternoon and it is small wonder that football governing body Fifa has banned the place a few times in the past. Grazing fields in Tsomo Mission are opulent in comparison to the cabbage patch that greeted us.} (http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=123618).

What I will rather like to say is that Mninawa reminds me of what happened before the start of the worldcup in South Africa, there was so much bad press about South Africa in the western media that many people outside Africa thought that the worldcup wasn’t going to take place here. Such was the bad press that Jerome Valcke, Fifa secretary general railed against what he termed the “really bad and sad” reporting in Europe, and in particular Germany and England, which, he said, was skewing perceptions of South Africa and harming ticket sales then. The unique thing was that we Africans outside South Africa took this as a direct attack on us, we rallied and hope for the best outcome, even though most of us could not afford ticket to the worldcup, we supported South Africa as if it was our darling Leone Stars. During the worldcup vuvuzela littered Freetown and the noises it produced was a constant reminder here that Africa was having a unique event in which we affectionately feel a part of despite being far away from the venues. It is sad when you read Mninawa’s article to see how he degraded our country and our women especially, among other demeaning and outrageous accusations he referred to Sierra Leone as a place were “most women have no choice but to become prostitutes”. He basically turned a sport report into a very nasty attack on our country and more so most of the claims he made are incorrect. There is no doubt that Sierra Leone is still recovering after a devastating war, but to portray this kind of exaggerated and negative impression is too bad for the country, I really see some ignorance in the article because like someone mentioned Bintumani is not the best hotel in Sierra Leone, if they choose Bintumani, then it’s their fault because they had an advanced team here three weeks before their arrival. And like Mninawa himself mentioned in all that poverty and depravity, the SLFA managed to pay for their meals and instead of graceful gratitude, he sees it fit to heap criticism on the value of our currency. To add insults to injury, as if Freetown was a quarantined enclave he asserted “The journey itself was preceded by a pill-popping exercise that team doctor Ephraim Nematswerani insisted was absolutely necessary to counter the myriad diseases that we were expected to encounter in Freetown.” Yet still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia warns Americans travelling to South Africa of the high level of risk for vaccine-preventable diseases like measles/mumps/rubella, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Rabies if they are interacting with open communities. There is a red alert for HIV/AIDS and many other diseases too in South Africa – I did all this research not to embarrass the decent and hardworking people of South Africa but to expose the unnecessary attack by Mninawa on my country. Tony Blair, David Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Madeleine Albright, Akon, Ryan Giggs et al have all come here after the war and interacted with open societies but they have not left with a scourge or disease. South Africa has the highest number of HIV/AIDS infected people in the world, the 2007 UNAIDS report estimated that 5,700,000 South Africans had HIV/AIDS, or just under 12% of South Africa’s population of 48 million, prostitution is rife and generally the cause of the huge spread of this pandemic and yet still this journalist ignores that and branded my country’s mostly hardworking career women as relying on prostitution. Most of the critical western visitors that have visited Sierra Leone have in no doubt cited the presence of poverty here (which is rife in South Africa also) but at the same time they have spoken about our unique hospitality, beautiful beaches and fine tropical foods. But for this sports editor called Mninawa, all those are non-existent and instead it is appalling fabrications and hyperbole and our money which is valuable than some of South Africa’s neighbours which captivated his attention most. Some of his other cheap lies included his false claim that the new Sierra Leone Manchester City Fan Club bus that picked them up from the ferry was rickety and shaking apart as they move. For those of you who know that bus, could you believe that? Another is his assertions that travelling to Sierra Leone was so gruelling that it was better they didn’t come with a commercial flight which would have lasted 36 hours, surely everyone who plies that route knows normal flight with stopovers only takes you about 12 hours from Johannesburg to Freetown. The people of South Africa surely needs a more better and professional reporter to give them the true picture of their beloved Bafana Bafana’s exploits in the continent not this Mninawa Ntloko.

Written by Muctaru Wurie

October 18, 2010 at 10:17 pm