african · Diaspora · Sierra Leone

Thoughts On Moving Back Home

Relocating once is hard enough, having to do it several times over a short period of time isn’t any better.

When I was about 5 years old, we moved to Kenya and lived there for 12 years, later on to Ghana in 2012, and back to Sierra Leone in 2016. Due to my father’s profession, this could have been a lot more frequent.

I was speaking to an acquaintance fairly recently, and he asked me what my thoughts on this subject were – If it were up to me, would I have moved at all, or stayed put?

I wasn’t keen on moving around as it meant I had to start all over again: making new friends, getting to know my new surroundings, language, culture, new school, the list goes on.

However, I am grateful because I feel like I have become more cultured – recently I was even referred to as a ‘third culture kid”. Because of that exposure, I have been able to grow and develop in dynamic and multi-cultural environments.

In any case, I have been observing a few things with Salone youth (both here, and the diaspora) especially on social media. For instance, soon after the devastating flood and mudslide which affected Freetown last week, there were discussions on various social media platforms about ways to help victims, and ways in which the country can move on from this. Take a look at one particular tweet below:

There seems to be a divide with Sierra Leoneans living in the diaspora – some have decided that’s their home now and they would rather stay there, whereas others have the intention of returning to Sierra Leone in the near future.
Why?

Those who want to move back home acknowledge that the country is ours. In order for us to see change, we have to be that change. That starts by using our knowledge and expertise from various fields from wherever we may be living now, and bringing that home. Sierra Leone is our country and is in our hands to build and improve.

Much work has to be done, but how can we improve the country if all we do is condemn it? The issues at hand are rather complex – we know – but change has to come from within. It will certainly not be an easy task, but that does not mean that it is impossible.

I touched on this topic in my first post HERE. We are always complaining about the country, often from a distance, but are not interested in coming back to make the changes we feel are necessary for our country to flourish.

Going back to my family, the plan was not to move back at the time we did – but now that we have, I am content that it was the right thing to do. I am seeing the obstacles that our country faces firsthand, but I am also blessed to see the beauty and all of what Sierra Leone has to offer.

Youth in the country are taking initiative and it is refreshing to see. Projects such as Operation Klin Fritong which involves volunteers cleaning the streets in the city.  Non-Profit Organisations such as Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone. Girl Up is run by a young Sierra Leonean Yasmine Ibrahim. The main goals and objectives are: – Girl Up aims to promote the health, safety, leadership and education of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone through advocacy, community outreach and public speaking workshops. Notably, their main goal is to unlock the potential of the average Sierra Leonean girl and have her know her basic rights. A major goal they’ve accomplished is that 90% of the girls involved in the Girl Up program have become more outspoken and confident, and have also improved their English. Joining Girl Up has also had a positive effect on their class performance and peer interaction.

In addition, I have also teamed up with a friend – Elaine Williams, and the both of us have started a YouTube channel – Young In Freetown. We plan on using that as a platform to not only showcase Sierra Leone in all of her glory, but to also talk about our experiences moving back home (good and bad), our expectations for the country, places to hangout, shining a light on Young Sierra Leoneans doing inspiring things, fun events, just to name a few.

Subscribe and stay tuned for more information.

Featured image by Ronnie’s Photography

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Education · Entrepreneur · Events · Sierra Leone

sheVestor Africa -MeetnGreetSierraLeone- What Went Down

 

The sheVestor Africa Meet and Greet Sierra Leone took place on Friday, June 30th 2017, and was held at the Africell American Corner Bathurst Street in Freetown.

If you have read my previous post, then you will know that the two guest speakers were Christine Sesay  – Founder, Africa’s Moneypreneur and Co-founder, Freetown Business School, and Ariana Oluwole – Founder, Narnia Daycare.

When I was approached to help coordinate this event, I wasn’t familiar with what sheVestor Africa is or what they do. Before I accepted, I did my research to learn more as I believe that when working with other people, agencies, organisations and so on, it is of the upmost importance to share similar goals and beliefs.

sheVestor Africa is a community that empowers young African women with financial knowledge to become financial literates and hone their financial skills in order to be financially empowered. Their mission is to Inspire, Connect, Educate and Equip the community and spur them on to actively hone their financial skills and participate in Africa’s growth story.

What’s better than a young, African woman who is not only financially literate but also financially independent?

The MeetnGreetSierraLeone was a brilliant networking event that gave Sierra Leonean women an opportunity to socialise with other like-minded individuals. We all got the chance to talk about our career goals, hear about other people’s journey and yes, even make some new friends in the process.

I met young women who were either studying in University, in full time employment, another fellow blogger, and a few entrepreneurs. Despite those differences, we all had one thing in common – an interest in building knowledge on finances and financial independence. We all spoke about our experiences, and during the event, we also had the opportunity to define who we thought a financially independent woman was.

There are 5 major points that I took with me from the MeetnGreet:

  1. No man is an island.
    Why struggle to do it all yourself, when you can collaborate?
    Christine Sesay spoke about her dream to open a Business School in Sierra Leone. She had the idea, but needed a network to see her dream become a reality. A collaboration with two other individuals, who shared her passion, came together, all bringing different talents and skills to the table. This led to the creation and development of the Freetown Business School.
  2. Mentors.
    It is important to reach out to people who share your passion and relate to your passion, your career, your future career goals.
    Mrs. Ariana Oluwole explained that if for example, you would like to go into event planning, you cannot approach a musician to be your mentor. There is no correlation. Approach a professional in your field, who is 4-5 steps above the level that you are currently in, and you will flourish.
  3. Re-invent your brand.
    You have to continue to bring originality in all that you do. Furthermore, you need to be re-inventing your brand and constantly staying ahead of the competition, without compromising or reducing your value and who you are.
    You may have a friend who is also an entrepreneur, and you may both have specialty in a similar field. In reality, the both of you are likely to appeal to and cater to two very different target audiences. Work together, bounce ideas off each other, and grow together. *Feel free to read point 1 again*
  4. Be consistent.
    Put simply, your dreams won’t work out, if you don’t work for it.
    Stay focused, work hard. Create reasonable time frames, and following them will not be a struggle.
  5. Create GOALS.
    Set goals for yourself – short, medium and long term. You must be specific, but also idealistic.

I will work hard to incorporate the lessons I learnt from the Meet and Greet, and I will flourish.

Watch this space!

All pictures courtesy of Larry Tucker – Ronnie’s Photography. Check out his official page here https://www.facebook.com/ronsPHGY/

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sheVestor Africa will be hosting various other Meet and Greets in several other African countries. Follow them to see when they’ll be in your city!

Join the community via http://shevestorafrica.org/join-our-community/

Get social with them ! Follow them via :

https://www.facebook.com/sheVestorAfrica/

https://www.instagram.com/shevestor_africa/

https://www.instagram.com/shevestor_africa/

african · Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone – Way Back When …

 

We all tend to know the basics about Sierra Leone. How it was named by Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra – how he went on to name it Serra da Leoa or “Serra Leoa” (Portuguese for Lioness Mountains). Also the fact that it was once referred to as the Athens of West Africa.

But, I also hear stories about Sierra Leone, once upon a time. Once upon a time where there were buses that shuttled to and from villages like Sussex, Hamilton, Baw Baw, to Freetown and back. There were schedules, and these schedules were followed.

I have also heard about a time when Lumley was a residential area. School kids could even use short cuts (mostly on undeveloped land) and walk straight to the beach.

I wanted to see if I could find some pictures of old Sierra Leone, and I found some from the 60s.

Enjoy these throw back pics.

Disclaimer – Pictures are not my own.

 

african · Education · Entrepreneur · Events · Sierra Leone

sheVestor Africa – Meet and Greet – Sierra Leone

 

Young African Women, more specifically those of us in West Africa, seldom have the opportunity to acquire financial literacy skills especially not from women who are thriving in the field of business. These women who are flourishing and surpassing all expectations either by owning their own business, or teaching skills about starting and nurturing a business, learning all the tricks of the trade and so on.

Young Sierra Leonean Women are becoming more empowered and it is thrilling to see women my age, and even older, not only following but actively chasing their dreams and excelling. Young women are drifting away from ‘traditional’ roles and jobs and are becoming entrepreneurs! Wanting to be more independent and being their own boss, some even start a businesses while studying various degrees.

This has to be recognized, and their efforts commended, because they are truly going after what they want.

Education for the female child is of such great importance, and this doesn’t have to stop once you leave University. Financial empowerment is a great form of independence and can be prominently beneficial to those of us who either want to start a business, or have started a business and need some support and guidance, or even if you want to learn and pick up new skills.

Meet and Greets, networking events, and workshops are great opportunities to socialise with, and learn a lot from like-minded individuals and experienced professionals from various fields and backgrounds.

What are you doing on Friday June 30th? Why not start with sheVestor Africa!

 

sheVestor Africa is a community that empowers young African women with financial knowledge to become financial literates and hone their financial skills in order to be financially empowered. Their  mission is to Inspire, Connect, Educate and Equip the community and spur them on to actively hone their financial skills and participate in Africa’s growth story.

 

sheVestor Africa presents #MeetnGreetSierraLeone, a one day  introduction, learning and networking event for young African women who are keen on becoming financially independent and building  a stable financial life.

 

The event will introduce the #sheVestorAfrica  community to Sierra Leonens and create awareness on the importance of financial education in building financially stable young African women.  This must-attend event is free  and will have an expert-led session, a session with entrepreneurs who will share their financial journey among interesting fun activities.

 

Speakers for #MeetnGreetSierraLeone are :

 

  •  Christine Sesay  – Founder, Africa’s Moneypreneur and Co-founder, Freetown Business school.

 

  • Ariana Oluwole – Founder, Narnia Daycare.

 

Date :   30th Jun, 2017

 

Venue :  Africell American Corner, Bathurst street, Freetown.

 

Book a seat now via  : https://goo.gl/forms/zRwZ44U57rlDsPtB2

 

 

Join the community via http://shevestorafrica.org/join-our-community/

Get social with them ! Follow them via  https://www.facebook.com/sheVestorAfrica/https://www.instagram.com/shevestor_africa/https://www.instagram.com/shevestor_africa/

 

 

african · Diaspora · Sierra Leone

I Love My Africa

I am African.

I have never felt shame in saying that.

However, I have come across some African millennials who were either born, or are currently living in the diaspora, and they do not always feel the same.

I tend to hear stories about struggles of growing up in the West, from being called ‘African booty scratcher’ first of all what the heck does that even mean?!

Growing up wasn’t always easy for some of us because of the negative connotations, and the narrow mindedness from the First World.

Being in England for a few years, even at the age of 18 where you would anticipate that people would be a wee bit more educated I would still get asked about malls – if we had any, and if we did, were there any lions that would come in???

FAM!

Anyway… I have lived in Africa for most of my life and I am proud of that. I have gotten the opportunity to experience various cultures, languages and meet some really great people. I find it particularly interesting that yes, we are all Africans, however we speak different languages, eat different food and so on. However, even in those differences, there are a whole lot of similarities. Take for example, a local Kenyan delicacy like Ugali could be compared to Fufu in Sierra Leone, and even Banku in Ghana although, Ugali is a much heavier version.

We all make and wear various versions of Africana from Batik in Mali, to Kitenge in Kenya, Okulapa in Sierra Leone even!

Speaking of Africana, when I was younger growing up in East Africa, I could not stand to wear print or Africana material.

It sounds so bad, but when I was between the ages of 10-16 I legit associated Africana with old women. I always preferred to rock my jeans and top wherever I went, whatever the occasion.
I thought Africana was for old people, and rightfully so could not tell the difference between batik, print, okulapa… None of them! And that did not bother me at all.

Things have changed since then, and I don’t know if it’s an age thing, but my peers and I have definitely switched up. I’ve got a tailor who  I send different designs and pictures to when I want a new outfit. I’m always on Instagram looking for inspirations for fresh new designs to wear.

I also see creativity with Africana material being used as head wraps – which isn’t new, but what we are seeing now is fashion from our African culture with a modern twist.

Nowadays, everywhere you look, you see African inspired themes. From the Dashiki design making it into mainstream fashion, to African music playing in clubs in Bristol. It’s pretty cool to see Africa being embraced, especially in the West. Not only that, but Africans appreciating Africa as a whole as well. Kenyans jamming to Nigerian music, Ugandans living in and loving Sierra Leone. Even with weddings – Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans…when we get married now, there tends to be two ceremonies, one white, and one traditional, with the traditional one incorporating our customs and culture. I think that that’s pretty darn cool.

Ultimately, we have to be proud of our heritage, and our culture. It’s what makes us who we are.

No matter where I may live, Sierra Leone is my home and that will never change.

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african · Funny · Sierra Leone

You Know You’re In Sierra Leone When…


So it’s Thursday, one more sleep before Friday, then THE WEEKEND!

I wanted to post something light and not too serious today.

Have a read, and if you have your own points to add, feel free to do so in the comment section below!

Enjoy!

  • Wifi is pronounced as “weefee”
  • Sam is not only a boy’s name, but also a way of referring to someone. Example – Ay Sam you bin watch da game yesterday?
  • Your name gets shortened whether you like it or not. Vanessa becomes “Van”. Sorry guys but I would appreciate it if you could call me by my actual name as I am not a mode of transportation. Thanks.
  • Wherever you go be it to the salon or an office, you get welcomed with “Anytin?”
  • “False life” is a phrase you hear all too often.
  • Again back to names! If you’re female you’re probably going to be referred to as “baby” or even “sissy oh” on more than one occasion.
  • You will definitely come across dem aunties at parties who start to pack away food into large foil trays to take home, even before everyone else has had a chance to serve.
  • “Tree” is what comes after the number two.
  • The H in Hamilton village tends to be silent.
  • Ordering a drink? Beer perhaps? The choice tends to be between going for “Normal Time” or “More Time”
  • Col res for breakfast is a lifestyle.

I love my Sierra Leone, no place like home!

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Photo Courtesy of Larry Tucker #RonniesPhotography

african · Personal · Sierra Leone

Young West African Driver


For those of us who live in Africa, the legal driving age is 18, but it’s not unheard of to have friends using their parents’ car and taking off at 15/16.

My mum made it clear that no child of her’s will participate in underage driving, and just because I had friends that could drive in year 11 didn’t mean that I should be doing the same. I would have to wait until I was 18.

Well, I am 23 now and only getting the hang of it, despite having a driver’s license from Kenya, Ghana and now – Sierra Leone.

Let me explain.

I turned 18 in January 2012, and started my driving lessons just after my A levels in Kenya. A few months later, I completed said classes, and got my driver’s license. However, less than a month later we had to relocate to Ghana.

The thing is in Kenya, we drive on the left, whereas Ghana, it’s the right. No biggie I thought, I’ll just go through driving school again as a refresher and to gain confidence in driving on the other side of the road.

I didn’t get to do this until 2016! Because I moved to England for Uni a few months after we arrived in Ghana. In any case, I started my lessons in late January and by March I had passed my theory and practical exams. However, by July, we had moved back to Sierra Leone, which is where I am now. Taking my time to get the hang of things.

In Kenya, I had often heard “If you can drive in Kenya, you can drive anywhere”. This is because of one major reason –matatus aka poda podas aka tro tros aka mini vans. They go by different names in different countries, but one thing doesn’t change – they are a nuisance.

Having lived in Sierra Leone for just under a year, I now feel that if you can drive in Sierra Leone, you can drive anywhere. Not only do we have unruly drivers in poda podas, we also have pedestrians walking in the middle of the road (exhibit A Eastern-Kissy Road), okadas/boda bodas (motorbikes), keh kehs, as well as an odd stray dog running across the road from time to time.

I have been driving for a few months now and *TOUCH WOOD* I haven’t had any incidents with either of the above. So, I guess it’s safe to say I’m on my way to being an expert driver… I mean, before you know it, I’ll be driving with one hand, my seat pushed all the way back, cruising the streets of Freetown!

What age did you start to drive and what are some of your driving experiences? Let me know in the comment section below!

Photo Courtesy of Larry Tucker #Ronnie’sPhotography

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