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 ‘sierra leone

Travelogue: From Freetown to Dar es Salaam

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The centre of Dar es Salaam

The journey to witness the Airtel Rising Star / Manchester United football clinic in Tanzania was long; it took us almost twelve hours in a flight that saw us stopping over in Accra and Nairobi, but it was one that I truly enjoyed. Even though we kept waiting for almost two hours at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi to get a flight to our final destination; I savoured every moment of it as I kept surveying the striking savannah landscape that contrast with my mountainous and usually forested backdrop in Freetown.

This trip to East Africa was always set to be an interesting and insightful one, on crossing the Freetown River on our speedboat we bumped into one of Sierra Leone most famous guest of recent years, Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal who was visiting Freetown for the first time. In her company was her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Princess Royal, who is the second child and only daughter of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visit means so much to Sierra Leonean. The visit showed that our country has moved forward and such visit is an indication of the progress we have made in attaining peace and post war development. As both boats crossed path, Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal and her husband waved to us with smiles.

We reached Ghana around 20:00 GMT, and although and there’s no doubt that Ghana is a country moving forward. Even from the skies you can see that the gold coast had come a long way and a Ghanaian who joined us on his way to Australia gave me an indication of why Ghana has been soliciting the attention of many across Africa and beyond. Democracy, he told me his country is on a march towards people’s power since after years of dictatorship and military rule, “We are clearly moving forward and I have a strong belief that in five years time we will overtake Botswana as the emblem of democracy in Africa.” I agree, Ghana have decriminalised libel, there’s a freedom of information act, opposition knows that they can get to power if it’s the people’s will, a free and open society, et al, above all else this has brought stability and growth in a country once ranked as one of the least developed in the continent.

The flight to Nairobi was the longest of the journeys but yet still I could hardly sleep and upon reaching the Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Kenya is a country that impresses me too, take a look at Kenya Airways, it’s an example of an African business working, they have some shortcomings but overall they impress me and the scale of their operations  across Africa is unimaginable and they are undoubtedly an African success story. Kenya is a country that cannot boast of the many resources that has been a curse to countries like mine – but notwithstanding this they are functioning and the country just bewitch you. It pains me that Al-Shabab want to create problems to the hub of East Africa, I hope they do not succeed because that will have unforeseen consequences. The immediate eye catcher are the duty free stores, but when the exterior became conspicuous – the landscape gives you a fine view of Nairobi.

My biggest disappointment on this trip came when the pilot on flight KQ 481 heading for Dar es Salaam showed us Mount Kilimanjaro, the view is one of the best natural scene I had ever seen, the camera wasn’t with me and I failed to capture a view that was so fascinating. Now I am in Tanzania and like the others it’s a country that impresses me to. I’ll be here for the coming days so expect more from my travelogue diary, stay tuned.

Written by Muctaru Wurie

October 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Lovely Kenema, Sierra Leone Eastern Hub

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I am currently in the bustling eastern town of Kenema, Sierra Leone and fortunately for me though I was on a different mission – my visit coincided with the arrival in town of SLPP presidential aspirant Julius Maada Bio in Kenema a day after he was reportedly injured in Bo as a result of political violence. Elections 2012 promises to be an interesting elections but I hate it when anything turns to violence in our country. We have gone through many things and I do not think we can stomach more negative news for this country. The people of Kenema, Bo, Makeni, Kambia, Kono et al are all lovely folks. We really do not need to turn to violence to express our political stance, remember this is the land that we all love.

A guest house in Kenema

Kenema Hangha Road from Capitol Hotel view

Kenema Hangha Road from Capitol Hotel view

Local residents of Kenema go about their business whilst others go to rally

Local residents of Kenema go about their business whilst others go to rally

Kenema motor park

Kenema motor park

Another Positive Image For Sierra Leone

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The first thing that came to my mind when I heard on BBC news that a Sierra Leonean cab driver in New York city found a bag containing $100,000 worth of jewellery, photographs and cash in the back seat of his taxi, tracked down the passenger who left it and gave it back, I said wow, for a long time I haven’t heard such a good news for my country in the western media. This appealing account of a modest immigrant’s frankness was aired and featured in many western news outlets. But in Sierra Leone, many are still unaware of the pride the 42 years Zubiru Jalloh has brought to his beloved homeland: to me he is something of a national hero, who has done his own path to portray the good image of Sierra Leone around the world.

Since he handed over the bag of valuables, Mr. Jalloh has been the centre of attention, from the news media onslaught to the phone calls from friends and family to his newfound fame among the community of cabdrivers, who constantly tease him that he was a fool to return the loot. According to US press reports, a couple who recognized him the day after the story broke gave him $20 for a $7 fare. A mechanic who repaired his taxi knocked $20 off his bill.

To many who visit our country, this will not be a surprise for them, but to millions out there who have never set foot here – this will go a long way to tell who the average Sierra Leonean is. To my surprise, the local Sierra Leonean media has largely missed this story. I think they should pick on this and use it to portray the truly kind and generally loving and candid spirit Sierra Leoneans have for strangers and foreigners. In a truly frank way, this is a story that will make you proud to be a Sierra Leonean. At a time the country is trying to rebrand and let people know that Sierra Leone is ready for business and tourism, I think the APC led government should pick on this as a marketing tool and celebrate this great and candid act.

Written by Muctaru Wurie

February 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Despite The ‘Poverty’, My Sierra Leone Is Still Generous

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For those of you who do not know much about my small beloved country, we are officially known as the Republic of Sierra Leone, located in West Africa. Bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. We have an estimated population of 6.5 million and we are according to the UNDP annual Human Development Index ( http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_SLE.html ) one of the poorest countries in the world. Truth is there is scarcity of material wealth here, but this country has never been short of basic human wealth. We have never been struck with drought; you can cultivate crops anywhere in Sierra Leone. We have abundance in marine resources, our mineral resources I need not mention because they have already made headlines several times in the international press. But above all else, the most important wealth my country has is it friendly and generous people who are always willing to help even if it cost them their last savings or food. Which they will most times give away even without thinking whether they will be able to have another in the next hour.

For a long time now visitors that have been coming to Sierra Leone from afar had been consistently saying how generous we are as a people; I remembered sometime ago a French researcher, Natacha Lemasle once told me on a visit to Sierra Leone about her admiration of people here to give out and help even though they have little or nothing at times.

Not even the decade long brutal civil war could take away that long held tradition from my country which like the United States was a melting pot for people from different nationalities. Now that long held belief is now official, according to a new ranking from Gallup’s World Giving Index; http://www.cafonline.org/pdf/0882A_WorldGivingReport_Interactive_070910.pdf

The index is based on surveys and other research on 153 different countries, which together constitute about 95 percent of the world’s population. The survey asks in part about charitable behaviours, including donations, volunteering habits and taking time to help strangers.

Based on this index, Sierra Leone is on top on the African continent and worldwide we are ranked eleven. Interesting, how comes a country termed by economists as one of the poorest of the poor come out so generous? The answer is; Gallup’s analysis of the data found that giving money is more strongly correlated with happiness than with a nation’s gross domestic product or opulence.

It is easy to see the reasons for this here in Sierra Leone, the country still has a largely extended family system in which in most cases a single person (bread bearer) takes pride in providing for many family members who are either unemployed or unable to provide for themselves. The country have a very large unemployment rate but yet still many people still manage to eke a living from others who are sometimes not even family members. They can be neighbours, friends and members of the same tribal or religious creed. This is not all, the most inspiring characteristics of Sierra Leoneans is that they just cannot stand by and see a stranger strand – whether that guest needs direction to find a location or protection, Sierra Leoneans are more willing to help. More so, a thirsty stranger can be willingly offered cold water here and an hungry one might be offered the last meal in the house even if that means the children going hungry. It is a distinguishing attribute that is conspicuous in the majority of Sierra Leoneans, Muslims or Christians, Mendes or Temnes.

The top 20 most generous are:

1. Australia

1. New Zealand

3. Ireland

3. Canada

5. Switzerland

5. United States

7. Netherlands

8. Britain

8. Sri Lanka

10 Austria

11. Lao People’s Democratic Republic

11. Sierra Leone

13. Malta

14. Iceland

14. Turkmenistan

16. Guyana

16. Qatar

18. Hong Kong

19. Germany

20. Denmark

Written by Muctaru Wurie

September 14, 2010 at 10:01 pm