Featured Person
Historic People
FREE People Finder Service
Home » People » Featured Person

Featured Person:
February 13,  2010 - Dr Sylvester Nicol

A Doctor Returns Home: Sylvester Nicol

Sierra Leone's health system has suffered from decades of corruption and the destruction wrought by a long civil war. The few functioning hospitals are under-staffed and short on medical supplies and equipment. Now a new medical center provides high quality services all under one roof. In this edition of Making a Difference we introduce you to Dr. Sylvester Nicol.

Freetown, Sierra Leone's bustling capital city, sits on the slopes of mountains that slide steeply into the Atlantic Ocean. During ten years of civil war, Sierra Leone's institutions crumbled from widespread corruption and the mass exodus of the country's  professional class. None more so than the health sector. Today a population of 6 million relies on the services of just 77 doctors.
Many Sierra Leoneans in the country's diaspora are now considering coming back.
One of the few to make the leap is Dr. Sylvester Nicol.  He moved home in 2008 after living abroad for 14 years.
He left behind a successful medical practice in the United States to establish a unique facility in Freetown.

"The concept was to have as many services under one roof as possible," Dr. Nicol explained. "This is a common concept elsewhere, but in Freetown usually after you see a physician you might have to go elsewhere for a lab test, then somewhere else to get an x-ray."

Dr. Nicol built and manages the medical center which offers out-patient, laboratory and x-ray services, a pharmacy and more sophisticated services such as ultrasounds and specialized lab work. The center also has an intensive care ward. "What I love about my job is the fact that people can get better and, if you do it well, quickly. It is very very rewarding," he said.

Dr. Nicol believes that a strong private sector is key to social development in his country. He believes his medical practice will convince others in the diaspora to move back home and rebuild their country.

"I think it is an incentive for people to come back especially the middle class folks who are the ones who drive the economy. They need and they are used to a certain type of healthcare," he said.

Sukai Alghali moved back to Freetown from London two years ago. She has trouble with high blood pressure but says the other health facilities in Freetown are not up to standard.  "The center is a God-send. I think for the doctor to leave America to come here, you know, it must be - he must have the love of the country," she said.

Although consultations cost only $15, many Sierra Leoneans cannot afford the  services at the medical center. But Dr. Nicol treats everyone who comes his way and tries to balance his business between those who can and those who cannot pay.

"In Africa you have to have services for people who cannot pay the 50,000 leones [$15]. Just as a medical person, you treat people who come through your door and you worry about being paid later," Dr. Nicol said.

It's not easy to operate such a center in Sierra Leone. Clinics here must cope with regular power cuts, a lack of trained medical personnel and drug shortages.
"It was a huge challenge," Dr. Nicol stated. "But like any significant thing that you do, it has to be challenging for it to be rewarding."  Dr. Nicol has no regrets and no plans to move back to the United States.

(courtesy: VOA news.com)

Featured Person:
May 18,  2009 - Johnny Smythe, OBE

Pilot Officer John Henry Smythe (1915-1996)
John Henry Smythe was born in Sierra Leone. He served with the Sierra Leone Defence Corps before volunteering for the RAF as a navigator. On the night of 18th November 1943 he was the navigator aboard a Short Stirling III heavy bomber of No 623 Squadron, one of 395 aircraft dispatched to attack the German city of Mannheim. The aircraft was crippled by anti-aircraft fire, and the crew was forced to parachute from the stricken aircraft. They were captured and spent the next 18 months in a prisoner of war camp. After the war Smythe stayed in the RAF until 1951 and in 1978 he received an OBE. He died in 1996 in Thame, Oxfordshire.

Johnny Smythe did not have to go to war.He was one of 55,000 people from Africa who volunteered to help Britain stop Hitler’s Germany. After Johnny’s plane was shot down over Germany, he spent 18 months in a Prisoner of War camp. He remembered what happened after the Russian Army liberated his camp. ‘They took me to a town near the camp and
I watched as they looted. A pretty German woman was crying because they had taken all her valuables. I wanted to help her but the Russians wouldn’t listen. I had hated the Germans and wanted to kill them all, but something changed inside me when I saw
her tears and the hopelessness on her face.’

Johnny was a Royal Air Force navigator who helped pilots flying planes like these Lancaster bombers stay on course during bombing raids. He was shot down over Germany on his 28th mission. Johnny volunteered to join the RAF because he hated Hitler for his racism. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics but Hitler refused to shake his hand because he was African American. When he was captured, Johhny remembers; ‘The Germans couldn’t believe their eyes.
I’m sure that’s what saved me from being shot immediately. To see a black man – and an officer at that – was more than they could come to terms with. They just stood there gazing.’

Looking down on a Lancaster Bomber attack,Hamburg, 1943 ‘We were flying at 16,000 feet when the fighters came out of nowhere. They raked the fuselage and there were flames everywhere. Then the searchlights caught us. I was hit by shrapnel.
Pieces came from underneath, piercing my abdomen, going through my side. Another came through my seat and into my groin. I heard the pilot ordering us to bail out! We had some rough ones before but this seemed to be the end. I have tried to forget that night for 50 years.’ Stalag Luft I was a prisoner of war camp for almost 9,000 Allied airmen. Johnny helped other
prisoners try to escape but did not try to break out himself. He said, ‘I don’t think a six-foot-five black man would’ve got very far in Pomerania.’ Today there is a memorial at Stalag Luft I. In 2001, veterans and their families from America, Britain, Germany and Russia met at the camp in the spirit of reconciliation.

1915 Born in Freetown capitalof Sierra Leone.1940 Arrives in UK as RAF volunteer
1941 First mission    1943 On 28th mission over Germany, Smythe’s plane gets shot down
1943–1945 Stalag Luft I. POW camp. After the war, worked at Colonial Office
1948 travelled with Empire Windrush to bring 500 West Indian ex-servicemen and workers to UK
1950 Passed law exams; 1951 Married fiancée from Grenada. Sailed back to Freetown;
1961 Solicitor General of Sierra Leone. 1963 Lecture tour of the eastern United States
1978 Receives OBE –Order of the British Empire. 1993 Moved back to England
with his wife and 5 children; 1996 Died in Thame, Oxfordshire

(Courtesy Imperial War Museum)

Featured Person:
May 4,  2009 - Elise Tan Roberts

Upcoming: Elise Tan Roberts Is A Child Genius 
Two-year-old Elise Tan is the youngest member to ever be inducted into Mensa, a society for geniuses. With an IQ of 156, Elise Tan is an exceptional child. Mensa normally tests children over ten years old but Elise was made an exception based on a standardized test

Elise, who was born  in London in December 2006 and has heritage in England, Malaysia, China, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, uttered her first word at just five months and took her first steps at eight-and-a-half months. Today Elise can name 35 capital cities, identify the three types of triangle, spell her name aloud, read the words “Mommy” and “Daddy” and recite the alphabet.
Elise’s mom says she noticed her toddler’s intelligence early on.
“She just says things and you have no idea where she got it from. I don’t set out to teach her loads of stuff, she just enjoys learning and picks things up. She’s always on the go, she never stops.”
Elise’s father adds, “We don’t want to make her have to dumb down and stop learning just to fit in. But she’s still my baby. I just want her to be happy and enjoy herself.”
Although members of her family have included doctors and lawyers, none is a member of the high IQ society.
Prof Freeman said the child’s memory was her great gift.
“I was extremely impressed she was able to reel off the capital cities of about 20 countries and state, without hesitation, the phonetic alphabet.
“She has an exceptional memory which doubtless has been, and will continue to be, the source of excellent learning and progress in the educational system. “She is more than very bright and capable - she is gifted.”
Mensa has about 24,000 members in the UK and Ireland - about 900 of whom are aged under 18.
As well as Carol Vorderman, whose IQ is 154, other famous members include Sir Jimmy Savile, DJ and TV presenter and inventor Sir Clive Sinclair. 

(Courtesy Times Online)

Featured Person:
January 27, 2008 - Michaela DePrince

In the Wings: Michaela DePrince

Most ballerinas can trace their passion for dance back to a single early memory: a love-at-first-sight moment inspired by music, pink tulle, or satin slippers—perhaps in a theater, maybe in a dance studio. For Michaela DePrince, the introduction to ballet was a remarkable coincidence in the midst of devastation. Just twelve years old, Michaela has already made an extraordinary journey, replete with tragedy, hope, interventions of fate, and sweat-earned triumph. One wonders what could possibly happen next.
Michaela was born in Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa that the United Nations has declared to be the “least livable” nation in the world.  Her parents were killed in its civil war.  Michaela was living in an orphanage when she caught her first glimpse of a ballerina. A gust of wind blew a European magazine to the gates of the building, and in it Michaela found a portrait of a ballet dancer.  She tore out the picture, and then gave the rest of the magazine to other children.  When an American woman adopted her months later, Michaela spoke no English, but she showed the woman the picture (which she had been wearing under her clothes all along) and made it clear that this was what she wanted to do.  Shortly after coming to America, her new mother bought a DVD of the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker, fueling Michaela’s fascination with ballet.  Soon she took her first dance classes at the Rock School in Philadelphia.   

From the start, Michaela proved to be a natural, strong enough to begin pointework at the early age of 7. Her mother bought Gaynor Mindens for her first pair of pointe shoes, because she wanted to make sure Michaela would have an “orthopedically sound shoe.”  After briefly trying other pointe shoes, Michaela “realized Gaynor Mindens were the best shoes for me,” and she’s been loving them ever since.  She also notes that she’s never had a ballet injury, something she credits partly to the quality of her shoes.   

After starting pointe, Michaela shot through the levels at the Rock School and also at former Pennsylvania Ballet principal Dalia Hay’s school in New Jersey.  By age 10, she was taking classes in the professional training division—a program designed for high school students. Shortly afterwards, Michaela and her family moved to Vermont, and soon found the New England Ballet Conservatory.  Michaela started taking private lessons with Vanina Wilson, six days a week.  She continued to study there dancing 4-5 hours a day, in addition to being a full time middle school student (she totes her homework around with her to finish during her breaks).  Over the years, her busy schedule has also included tap, ballroom, salsa, Graham and other modern techniques, yoga, and competitive swimming!

This past summer, Michaela came to New York for the Dance Theater of Harlem summer intensive, where she caught the eye of founding director and legendary Balanchine dancer Arthur Mitchell.  He even coached her privately on the solos she was preparing for the Youth America Grand Prix, right before the New York City finals.  Michaela admits she was nervous about working with him at first, but that the session improved her performance.  

Michaela continues to work with Mr. Mitchell and others at Dance Theater of Harlem, commuting from Vermont when she has the opportunity.  Her plans for this year’s Youth America Grand Prix are ambitious: she is tackling Aurora’s Rose Adagio variation from The Sleeping Beauty, as well as the Firebird’s variation.  Michaela chose these very different dances to highlight her versatility.  She’s aware that many audiences expect strength but not delicacy from black dancers, and wants to challenge this assumption with softness in Aurora’s variation.  For the Firebird, Michaela is working on sharpness and characterization.  She is enjoying her research: studying the way other dancers have transformed themselves into bird ballerinas.

Most recently, Michaela has started rehearsing adult roles with Albany’s Berkshire Ballet, and is very excited to start performing and touring with a professional company.  Looking to the future, Michaela says she wants to be a star.  She admires those black ballerinas who have made a mark, like the recently retired Houston Ballet principal Lauren Anderson, and Endalyn Taylor of DTH and the film Center Stage.  Michaela lists an assortment of classical and contemporary dance companies she would like to dance with in the future, from San Francisco Ballet to Dwight Rhoden’s Complexions.  Mainly, though, Michaela emphasizes that she wants to show that “black people like me can become famous, too… things can happen.”  

By Mary Hodges

(Courtesy Gaynor Miden Online Newsletter. Photo of Michaela by Danny Weiss. Courtesy of New England Ballet Conservatory.)  

Featured Person:
September 22, 2007 - Dr. Christiana Thorpe

Dr. Christiana Thorpe: An Appreciation

For over a month now, during which time Sierra Leone successfully conducted its most historically significant national elections after its decade-long brutal civil war, the individual who represented the face and vision of the country during the entire electioneering process is the Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Dr. Christiana Thorpe. 

Throughout the process, she exuded confidence, assurance, decisiveness and purpose to guide a country on electoral tenterhooks emanating primarily, but not wholly, from tribal, ethnic, regional and ideological affiliations to its first transparent elections. Her sparkling, if not infectious, smile was disarming, ebullient, exuberant, with a touch of willed innocence, but at the same time stern, firm and pragmatic. 

In her daily press briefings, either to report the progressive tally of the election results or to provide other NEC-related information, she rarely referred to herself or the deliberations of NEC in the first person singular pronoun; rather, she mostly spoke as "we," a language choice that was deliberate as its was inclusive; perhaps it reveals her style of leadership, her view of democracy, and her vision of the nation. Speaking as "we" obviously discards the egotistic ("I") voice, the hallmark of political rhetoric, positing instead a vision of leadership that acknowledges a communal ethos. In doing so, she was also saying that the elections were not about individuals but about the nation. She, therefore, was speaking on behalf of all Sierra Leoneans. 

When President Kabbah, in his television address on September 12, admonished Sierra Leoneans to remain calm as the votes from the presidential run-off elections of September 8 were being counted, he did so by also reassuring us that NEC "Officials were trustworthy", and that he had "confidence in the integrity of that body." Perhaps the person who captured that trustworthiness and integrity the most is Dr. Thorpe whose unpretentiousness and conscientiousness galvanized the nation and captivated the attention of international observers. She demonstrated a reassuring calm in the midst of a contentious election; she provided neutrality amid the deep ideological divide of party politics; she remained coherent in her interpretation and communication of murky election laws and procedures; she was dutifully aggressive in her defense of the people's right to free and fair elections and the place of the laws to guarantee just that. 

She took her job with an enormous sense of responsibility and accountability, and brought into it a profound respect for the rule of law and the culture of trust and honesty. She emerged from the process a powerful administrator and a vibrant leader who used the levers of government for its own good and for the service of the people. By so doing, she has transformed our election system, radically altering it from a rig-prone apparatus to a model of accountability and transparency. We just have to wait and see if this will take root in our democracy. 

Not surprisingly, praises for Dr. Thorpe, from Sierra Leoneans who were looking for tamper- and violence-free elections, and International observes who witnessed and monitored and subsequently affirmed a free, fair, and peaceful election carried out with integrity and transparency, have been superlative, and deservedly so. She made the country proud; she provided a different script from the normal narratives about elections in Africa. For Sierra Leoneans in the country, and for those in the Diaspora as well, her conduct of the elections provides a ray of hopeful light in a country that for many, many years now has made peace with darkness. How we capitalize on this ray of hopeful light now that the elections are over lies mainly in the hands of the new administration. 

But what Dr. Thorpe symbolized during this pivotal moment in our national journey towards democratization is something deeper and profound -a craving and yearning for: a leadership that is dispassionate, patriotic and compassionate; a sense of national direction that is as forward-looking as it is goals-oriented; a commitment to the rule of law and the principles of justice that are executed impartially; a frankness that is direct but at the same time purposefully tolerant and patient; an avowed devotion to the policies rather than the politics of our election laws and practices; a defensive but modestly overwhelming desire to make our democracy work in the interest of the people. She did not allow the rancorous and divisive politics within the country, or the dissents or disagreements within NEC, to sway and divert her from the huge national responsibilities that were on her shoulders. In fact her will and action to maintain the independence of NEC remained unflagging; she did not underestimate any complaint or challenge of electoral malpractice and shenanigans, real or imagined. Most important of all, she did mot succumb to the temptations of bribery and corruption. In all this, Dr. Thorpe torpedoed a political culture that valorized and perpetuated corruption as the shameful benchmark of our national identity. 

In doing so, she managed with panache the fears and anxieties, panic and paranoia, doubts and obsessions, mistrusts and suspicions, dreams and visions, aspirations and wishes, and hesitations and determinations of Sierra Leoneans. She, therefore, became the projection screen for our multiple wishes, wishful thinking, and fantasies. 

She also emerged as a faithful and dependable leader, and defender, of the people's right. That is, she never wavered in her commitment to the ethos and practice of democracy to cater to the supreme and sacrosanct will of the people. And nothing speaks more to this fact than this point in her final statement: "The people of Sierra Leone deserve to exercise their rights in an atmosphere of freedom, fairness and transparency. This is what NEC strived to provide and will continue to strive for in the future-nothing less will be tolerated." Say what you may about her; have your reservations and cynicisms about her because of your politics; however, the one fundamental and memorable thing she achieved was to make the will and voice of the people speak. Dr. Thorpe's assertion about the peoples' right to freedom, fairness, and transparency should not be limited to elections only; rather her observation signals what we must expect from our governments, including the newly elected one. 

Dr. Thorpe will remain an iconic figure in our discourse on, and practice of, democracy in Sierra Leone. Representing far more than a face or a chair to an election process, she symbolizes the possibilities of what women in Sierra Leone can and will do if given the space and wherewithal to contribute to our national development. Dr. Thorpe performed her job as Chairperson of NEC not because she is a woman, but because she is a Sierra Leonean committed to a functional democracy. However, the fact that she is a woman should not be ancillary to the way we judge the tremendous work she has done for the country. Gender is a sub (or core) text in how we evaluate her. 

As a matter of fact, her gender should be foregrounded for the reasons that she has demonstrated what women can do when given the opportunity; she has also pointed to, albeit indirectly, the serious gender problems we have in Sierra Leone where, on the whole, women have limited opportunities. Gender imbalances are still evident in: (a) the way we value the education of boys over girls; (b) the patriarchal and traditional mores that shortchange and stifle the capabilities and potential of women and (c) our lackadaisical and anemic approach to institute, and practice, laws that promote gender equity. Dr. Thorpe has exemplified the necessity of making available more opportunities for women in meaningful leadership roles. Her performance is an emphatic entry into that domain of male preserve of decision-making. Her decisiveness in accomplishing this national obligation marks a symbolic ceremony of arrival for Sierra Leonean women. We now must translate the symbol to the actual ceremony of empowering our women by creating leadership opportunities and spaces they can comfortably and legitimately occupy. 

But Dr. Christiana Thorpe represents for Sierra Leoneans something else, a metaphor of sorts; her performance as chief of NEC is a metaphor of the type of leadership we want: a pragmatic and productive leadership that takes the country out of its paralyzing doldrums. Her firmness, discipline, dedication, fairness, decisiveness, result-orientedness, dispassionateness, honesty, tolerance and patience are leadership qualities we need, more than ever, at this particular moment in our history. These qualities will transform for the better this country that is allergic to its own possibilities and potential. But above all, her very subtle lesson that a leader should speak and act as "we" provides a leadership model that is progressive, inclusive, consensus-driven, and reassuringly fresh. 

 By Patrick Bernard,Lancaster, PA,USA.

Featured Person:
September 10, 2006 - Clarence Roy-Macaulay 

Clarence Roy-Macaulay : Receives Associated Press (ap) Gramling Spirit Award 

Four months after President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah nominated and appointed Veteran Journalist Clarence Roy-Macaulay to be an "Officer of the Order of the Rokel" in recognition of his "exemplary dedication and contribution to the Nation in the Field of Journalism", according to the National Award citation, news came in from the headquarters of the Associated Press (AP) in New York, U.S.A.on Monday August 28, 2006 from the President of the AP International News Agency (founded in 1848) Tom Curley that Mr. Roy-Macaulay has won this year's AP Oscar - GRAMLING SPIRIT AWARD. 

According to the citation the prestigious AP International Award is in recognition of Clarence Roy-Macaulay's "dedication to the AP Mission, exceptional and enthusiastic service to all AP staff members, subscribers and/or clients." The recommendation letter accompanying the nomination for "excellence and distinguished service " from the AP West Africa Bureau Chief in Dakar, Senegal, Todd Pitman to the panel of judges who sat together at AP headquarters in New York, USA in July, 2006, to read through the submitted samples of the nominees work and letters and pick the winners, stated "AP always know they are well covered and represented in Sierra Leone and will get the news story before our competitors. 

That is not an easy task and Clarence Roy-Macaulay has always come through." The President of Associated Press News Agency Mr. Tom Curley has invited Mr. Roy-Macaulay to New York for the Award Winning Dinner Ceremony on October 25, 2006. 

Clarence Roy-Macaulay was recruited from London in 1966 after he obtained his professional Diploma in Journalism from the Polytechnic School of Journalism at Regent Street, London in July, 1965 and appointed substantive News Editor, acting as Editor of the Government owned Sierra Leone Daily Mail. 

He became the first Public Relations & Students Placement Officer when Njala University College was established as one of the constituent colleges of the University of Sierra Leone. 

He joined the Government Information Service (GIS) on May 19, 1969 as Information Officer and was posted to Bonn, West Germany in August, 1969, as the first Press and Information Attaché in the newly established Embassy of Sierra Leone, covering the then five European Common Market countries, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. 

When Sierra Leone became a Republic on April 19, 1971, he was recalled home in October, 1971, to assume the office of first Press Officer in the Office of the President. 

He later served as Press and Information Attaché in Sierra Leone's Embassy in Moscow. 

At the GIS then down at Wallace Johnson Street, Clarence Roy-Macaulay served as Head of the News Room which was responsible for production of the daily news bulletin broadcast by the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS). 

He rose through the ranks to become Controller of News & Current Affairs, SLBS, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, and voluntarily retired on pension from Government Service in April, 1989. 

From January, 1981 to early 1982, he assumed "overall control and supervision" of the budding Sierra Leone News Agency Division in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting On retirement he contributed to the NEW CITIZEN newspaper then at Hannah Benka-Coker Street, as a Senior Correspondent specialising in reporting Parliamentary debates and other important national events. He was also a contributor to the former UNITY NOW newspaper. 

When UNOMSIL was established in 1997 under the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ambassador Francis Okello, Mr. Roy-Macaulay became the first Public Relations Officer of the UN Civilian Mission. 

He has been a Writer for the Associated Press for several years, covering the rebel war in Liberia from Monrovia for the Associated Press for a period, and the ten-year rebel war in Sierra Leone, sensitizing the international community about the armed civilian conflict in Sierra Leone until peace was finally achieved. 

(Concord Times, Freetown) 

Featured Person:
June 11, 2006 - Osman Sankoh

Osman Sankoh: Appointed Deputy Executive Director INDEPTH (International Network of field sites with continuous Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in developing countries).

Dr. Osman Sankoh will now continue his work at the INDEPTH Network Secretariat in Accra as the Network’s Deputy Executive Director after his promotion to the position on 1st June 2006.
INDEPTH Network currently consists of 37 demographic surveillance system (DSS) sites which continuously evaluate populations and their health at the household level in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and Oceania.

Professor Fred Binka, Executive Director of INDEPTH, said that appointing Dr. Sankoh was a confirmation of the confidence he and the Board have in Dr. Sankoh and a recognition of Dr. Sankoh's invaluable contribution to the successful development of the Network over the last four years. "Osman is hardworking. He is full of initiatives; a great and dependable team member," said Professor Binka.

"Having worked as unofficial deputy for several years with Fred Binka, a name associated internationally with good work, unflinching commitment to purpose and a strong will to deliver excellent products from a South-based organisation, I feel greatly humbled by this appointment and do accept the position with humility, as I am aware of the great challenge it brings along," said Dr. Sankoh. "I will continue to work effectively in our small team to provide the requisite support to the Executive Director and to the other important organs of the Network - the Board, the Scientific Advisory Committee, our revered Site Leaders and their great teams."

"Osman’s appointment as Deputy Executive Director is timely and well-deserved” said Professor Stephen Tollman of the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chair of the INDEPTH Board of Trustees. "The Board is particularly pleased to endorse this appointment, and we keenly look forward to building on our already tried and tested relationship with Osman. He will, I know, lead with distinction as INDEPTH works to realize its great potential.”

Osman became the Communications and External Relations Manager of the INDEPTH Network in mid 2002 following the formal constitution of INDEPTH in February that year. Before that, he was a consultant to INDEPTH and worked closely with the Boston Consulting Group to develop the first INDEPTH Strategic Plan 2002-2004. Dr. Sankoh was the lead editor of the Network's first major publication which achieved exceptional publicity and international attention to INDEPTH - Population and Health in Developing Countries, published by IDRC, Canada in 2002.

Arnond Mishkin of Mishkins Associates in New York who was a Vice President of the Boston Consulting Group said: “Osman Sankoh has been one of the leaders in the initial success of INDEPTH. His promotion is both a tribute to him and his work personally as well as a testimony to how INDEPTH has become a permanent institution that will provide invaluable information to public heath and medical authorities for the future.”

"I am delighted by Osman’s appointment and have no doubt that his competencies will contribute to taking the network to new heights. I wish him and his team the best as they enter a new phase in INDEPTH’s development and look forward to continued collaboration," commented Dr. Cheikh Mbacke, a former Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation which was among the few funding agencies that took the risk to provide the first core funding to INDEPTH.

Dr. Nguyen T. K. Chuc, site leader of the Filabavi DSS site in Vietnam - a founding INDEPTH member site - expressed delight about Dr. Sankoh's appointment and said she was strongly convinced that he would use his demonstrated competence to continue to make INDEPTH stronger.

Osman was born in 1962 in the little village of Warima in Northern Sierra Leone. He attended the Njala University College (now Njala University), University of Sierra Leone where he graduated in 1987 with a First Class Bachelor degree in mathematics with distinctions in both teaching practice and education project. He was awarded the University of Sierra Leone Prize for Academic Excellence. After service to his country as a Research/Teaching Assistant in the Department of Mathematics at Njala University, he pursued further studies in Applied Statistics at the University of Dortmund in Germany where in 1996 - during his doctoral programme - he was awarded the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Prize for Academic Excellence and Exceptional Social Engagements by a Foreign Student; a prize which cut across all nationalities. At the University of Dortmund he worked as a research assistant in the Chair of Statistical Methods in Genetics and Ecology in the Department of Statistics and also in the Institute for Economic and Social Statistics.

Dr Sankoh is by training a biostatistician, epidemiologist, environmental researcher, and an excellent communicator. His research covers statistical methods in environmental and ecological research; demographic surveillance systems in the developing world; environmental impact assessment and management; and geographical information systems. 

Osman worked for three years as a scientist in the Department of Tropical Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Heidelberg Medical School in Germany. During that time, he collaborated with the Nouna Health Research Centre in Burkina Faso and spent several research periods in Nouna. He has also acted as a consultant on population and health issues to the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, and the University of Pennsylvania in the US. 

Osman’s publications have appeared in a range of international journals. His work on epidemiology and biostatistics has been published in Tropical Medicine and International Health and the International Journal of Epidemiology. Papers on environmental impact assessment and management that he has authored or co-authored have appeared in the African Journal of Environmental Assessment and Management, the Journal of Environmental Management, and Environmental Impact Assessment Review. His work on creative writing includes Hybrid Eyes - An African in Europe and Beautiful Colours both of which he first wrote and published in German.

(Courtesy INDEPTH website)

Featured Person:
May 16, 2006 - Sarian Bouma

Sarian Bouma: Spotlighted Again

Welfare to Millionaire  author is honored as one of Maryland s Top 100 
(Landover, MD (March 2006) 

Sarian Bouma, the CEO of Capitol Hill Building Maintenance, Inc., was selected as one of Maryland s Top 100 women for 2006. Chosen from more than 400 nominations, Ms. Bouma was honored for demonstrating excellence in her professional career as an entrepreneur, volunteer, and mentor. 
Sarian Bouma has been a successful business woman in Maryland for more than 18 years. Ms. Bouma, who was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, from humble beginnings is now the CEO of a multimillion-dollar firm. But her success did not come without hurdles or obstacles. Faced with few opportunities and no funds, she had to live at a women s homeless shelter with her son, under the welfare system. Determined to escape the system, Mrs. Bouma dedicated herself to learning through the training programs it offered. After years of a progressively successful banking career, she went on to start her own business. Despite numerous challenges along the way, all of her efforts paid off. Today, Mrs. Bouma is an award-winning public figure and self-made millionaire whose story has been told in O magazine and numerous other media outlets. Her compelling life story has been captured in her autobiography, Welfare to Millionaire: Heart of a Winner , with U.S. Senator Bob Dole and former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening each contributing a foreword. 
The criteria for selection to Maryland s Top 100 Women were based not only on excellent professional experience, but also for demonstrating sincere dedication to volunteerism and mentorship. (To learn more about this program, please visit www.top100women.com.) Mrs. Bouma uses her success to make a difference in the lives of others. She has given a significant amount of money to charities, especially organizations such as the House of Ruth and Providence Health Foundation, which helped her in her time of need. When her native Sierra Leone was experiencing a gruesome civil war, Mrs. Bouma adopted two children who were victims of the war. Mrs. Bouma is an advocate for mentorship: She hires employees from diverse backgrounds; she has encouraged employees who were once homeless to purchase homes; fostered employees who were high school dropouts to pursue a college education; and trained employees who were former welfare recipients to be top managers in her corporation. In addition, she also steps out on a limb and hires young aspiring entrepreneurs to handle many of her critical business needs. 
Sarian Bouma posses the heart of winner, she has come up from the bottom to become one of Maryland Top 100 Women. In the process, she has pulled others up with her, as she prepares the younger generation to be ready when she passes the baton. 
About the Author 
Mrs. Bouma is the CEO of Capitol Hill Building Maintenance, Inc., a multimillion-dollar corporation serving government and corporate clients primarily in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area. She is married, with six children. 

BOOK. Welfare To Millionaire: Heart of a Winner 
by Sarian Bouma 

Featured Person:
February 18, 2006 - Miatta Dabo

Miatta Dabo: An act to watch

Miatta Dabo is on top of her game and a woman to watch.  She may not think so but she is a rising star.  Miatta is an attorney (commercial litigator) with one of the top 100 law firms in Baltimore Maryland. She is also a certified public accountant, has a Masters in International Finance, is a writer, a mentor, a human rights activist (with Amnesty International, Children International, Plan International to name a few); she travels around the country educating judges on the atrocities of war, especially in her native land of Sierra Leone West Africa.  She also plans to pursue a PH.D in human rights law and one-day serve as ambassador for her beloved Sa Lone. She has recently added entrepreneur and jewelry designing to her list as she has just opened up her Boutique MIX.  At 30, Miatta is just starting out in accomplishing her big dreams. 

In December 2005, she was listed as one of the top 20 singles in Baltimore magazine. She also worked as a runway fashion model at the Autumn 2003 New York fashion week as one of the models. 

To those who know her, she is the phenomenal AFRICAN woman; smart, savvy, sophisticated, and stylish. She believes that very soon she'll have her own empire.  Her quiet and resilient determination has been an inspiration to her family, friends, and colleagues. 

Most young women would love to read her story. She is a mentor and tutor to young people and always works hard for causes she believes in.  She is an inspiration and a role model. Miatta is an example of a strong smart intelligent young woman who doesn't let life’s obstacles hold her down. 

(By Khadie)

Featured Person:
January 14, 2006 - Kandeh Yumkella

Kandeh Yumkella: Confirmed as Director-General of UNIDO for Four Years

The 11th session of the UNIDO General Conference took place in Vienna from Monday, 28 November to Friday, 2 December 2005, confirming Mr. Kandeh Yumkella as Director-General of UNIDO. The four-year term of the new Director-General formally began on 8 December. The acceptance speech of Director-General Yumkella is available here for viewing or downloading. 

Mr. Yumkella became the candidate for Director-General after his landslide victory in the election conducted by Industrial Development Board in June 2005. He is the first African to hold this position since UNIDO became a specialized agency in 1985. A national of Sierra Leone, he holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois. Subsequently he occupied several academic and research positions in the United States and in 1994 was appointed Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises of Sierra Leone. He joined UNIDO in 1996 as a Special Advisor to Director-General Mauricio Maria y Campos. Later he took up the post of Director of the Africa and Least Developed Countries Regional Bureau. In 2000 he was appointed as UNIDO Representative and Director of the Organization’s first Regional Industrial Development Centre in Nigeria, a position he held until 2003 when he became Senior Advisor to the outgoing Director-General, Carlos Magariños. 

The General Conference was opened by Federal President of Austria, Mr. Heinz Fischer. In his opening remarks, President Fischer welcomed the presence of Prime Minister of Haiti, Mr. Gerard Latortue and Prime Minister of Tanzania, Mr. Frederick T. Sumaye. Prime Minister Sumaye is one of UNIDO's Goodwill Ambassadors. During the Conference, Enrique V. Iglesias, Ibero-American Secretary General, and former President of the Inter-American Development Bank, was designated Honorary Goodwill Ambassador of UNIDO in recognition of his achievements in international development. 

According to the protocol of such occasions, the confirmation of the new Director-General took place at the closing ceremony (on December 2). President of the Republic of Rwanda and Vice-President of the African Union, Mr. Paul Kagame, and Sierra Leone's Minister of Trade and Industry, Kadi Sesay, were among the high-level participants who congratulated Director-General Yumkella. President Kagame pledged the region’s full support for Director-General Yumkella. The Conference also paid tribute to outgoing Director-General, Carlos Magariños, adopting a resolution in which the notable achievements of his eight years in office were recognized. 

Other decisions and resolutions of the General Conference included a strategic long-term vision statement; the medium-term programme framework 2006-2009; the programme and budgets for the biennium 2006-2007; and the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement with the United Nations Development Programme. The Conference decided to extend the current appointment of Mr. Shauket Fakie, the Auditor General of South Africa as the External Auditor of UNIDO for a period of two years. The General Conference also elected representatives to the Industrial Development Board and the Programme and Budget Committee. All documentation relating to the 11th session of the UNIDO General Conference is at www.unido.org/gc11. 

The plenary session of the Conference included an Industrial Development Forum entitled: Industrial development, trade and poverty alleviation through South-South Cooperation. A number of related interactive "side events" also took place, on the following topics: Promotion of trade through industrial capacity-building; Cooperation in technology transfer; Trade-capacity building - The UNIDO-WTO joint programme and joint pilot projects and the Cotton Initiative, Productivity in developing countries: Trends and policies; Trade-capacity building - the UEMOA experience; Activities in the field of Multilateral Environmental Agreements; and Business Partnership Programme - A joint FICCI, DIPP and UNIDO project in India.

Discuss Yumkella's acceptance speech

(By Jeannine Orlowski, UNIDO)

Featured Person:
January 4, 2006 - Monty Jones

Monty Jones: World Food Prize Laureate

Born in Sierra Leone, Monty Jones began his career in 1975 with the West Africa Rice Development Agency (WARDA) in its Mangrove Swamp Rice Research Project in Rokupr in his home country. WARDA is one of the 16 international research centers sponsored by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) of the World Bank.

Following a variety of assignments, in 1991 Dr. Jones was appointed Head of the Upland Rice Breeding Program at WARDA, then located in Côte d’Ivoire. It was in this position that he made his exceptional breakthrough achievement in combining Asian and African rice varieties to develop a new rice, uniquely suited to poor African rice farmers.

Working closely with colleagues at WARDA and the CGIAR system, through sheer personal tenacity, Monty Jones succeeded where all others before him had failed. He discovered the genetic process by which a “New Rice for Africa” (NERICA) could be created, producing plants with higher yields, shorter growing cycles, and more protein than either of its parents.

With the ability to resist weeds, survive droughts and thrive on poor soils gained from its African parent, and the trait of higher productivity from its Asian ancestor, NERICA is a crop capable of increasing farmers’ harvests by up to 50 percent.

This work has led to the rapid development of more than 3000 NERICA lines. Dr. Jones and WARDA, under the leadership of its Director General Kanayo F. Nwanze, have worked on multiple levels to ensure the widest possible use of this new improved rice. Using gender sensitive approaches, they have brought together farmers, scientists, extension workers, NGOs, and governments to create a “community based seed system” whereby local farmers can choose which NERICA variety best fits with their local needs. As demonstrated in the pilot projects undertaken in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo, NERICA has the potential to benefit 20 million rice farmers (many of whom are women) and 240 million consumers in West Africa alone. NERICA also has the potential to spread throughout Africa and to other parts of the world. 

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria, Mallam Adamu Bello, praised Dr. Jones for the development of drought tolerant, pest resistant, high protein NERICA. He noted NERICA’s high acceptance by Nigerian farmers, which has resulted in a 30 percent expansion of upland rice cultivation in the sub-humid Guinea Savanna Zone of the country. 

“Dr. Jones’s achievement in overcoming sterility barriers and the successful introgression of adaptation and tolerance genes from African rices into the high-yielding rices of Asia will have a major impact on rice production not only in Africa, but also in Asia and Latin America,” said CGIAR official Emil Q. Javier. 

Dr. Jones and WARDA’s efforts in developing and spreading this new agricultural technology is all the more remarkable in that it has taken place during a politically volatile period, with work being done and significant progress being made in some countries afflicted with violence, such as Guinea, whose rice imports were reduced 50 percent in just several years as a result of the adoption of NERICA.

“In many ways, Monty Jones’s vision and tireless efforts represent a model for future generations of African scientists,” commented Gordon Conway, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, in a letter of support. “His ability to combine cutting edge science with on-farm work have yielded significant benefits for the many poor rice farmers in Africa that were by-passed by the Green Revolution.”

Dr. Jones is a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone and received both his M.Sc. in Plant Genetic Resources (1979) and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology (1983) from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. In 2002, he was appointed the Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), based in Ghana.

Courtesy: The World Food Prize Foundation
666 Grand Ave / Suite 1700 / Des Moines, Iowa 50309 USA 

Featured Person:
January 3, 2006 - Mohamed Kallon

Many happy returns to Asia for Kallon

An AFC Champions League winner’s medal for tournament top scorer Mohamed Kallon ensured it was a happy return to Asia for the Al Ittihad striker who is playing for a club in the continent for the first time since leaving Lebanon’s Al Tadamon for Inter Milan in 1996.

“It’s nice to come back to Asia and since I arrived here I have tried to perform well and it is really nice to be the top scorer of the competition,” Kallon told FootballAsia.com after helping Al Ittihad to a 4-2 victory over Al Ain on Saturday, which saw the Jeddah giants keep hold of their AFC Champions League title with a 5-3 aggregate win.

“However, the most important thing for me is that we won the title and we are still the Asian champions.”

The Sierra Leone international, who owns a club in his homeland called FC Kallon, opened the scoring less than three minutes into the second leg with a sweetly struck free-kick, his sixth goal in as many matches.

Although it was teammates Mohammed Noor, Joseph Desire Job and Ahmed Dokhi that added to the Al Ittihad tally, the fact that Al Ain’s Subait Khater, the only other player left with a realistic chance of finishing the tournament’s ACL top scorer, failed to add to his five ACL goals meant that Kallon’s goal was enough to see him emerge as the master marksman.

“Scoring the goal was very good for me especially that it was the first goal for the team in the match and it helped us a lot,” remarked Kallon, who scored both goals in Al Ittihad’s semi-final second leg defeat of Busan I’Park four days before he celebrated his 26th birthday.

“I thank all my teammates for their support and it (being the top scorer) wouldn’t have been possible without them. I want to thank also all the Ittihad fans for their excellent support for me and for the whole team.

“It was a very tough game but we won the cup and we are all very happy. I’ll never forget what happened today because this is the first time for me to win an Asian championship and it was great to play in the AFC Champions League.”

Kallon signed for the six-time Saudi champions at the end of July on-loan from French outfit Monaco.

After first coming to prominence playing for Al Tadamon in Lebanon, Kallon moved to Inter Milan in 1996 although he couldn’t command a regular first team place and was loaned out to Bologna, Genoa, Calgiari, Reggina and Vicenza before returning to Inter in the 2001/02 season. 

Kallon stayed with the Nerazzurri until July 2004 when he joined Monaco and scored 11 times 27 games before returning to the Middle East and the chance to shine on the AFC Champions League stage and now, thanks to Al Ittihad’s victory the FIFA Club World Championship, which takes place in Japan in December.

“It has been a great time for me here especially with the AFC Champions League and winning it was so important for me personally because we’ll play in the FIFA World Club championship.

“Playing at such a level is something new for me because the whole competition is new. I never played there before and that makes a big difference for me.” 

By Nick McCormack and Mohammed Hallal; AFC Champions League, Nov 6, 2005

Featured Person:
Dec 31, 2005 - B.J.Tucker

B. J. Tucker: Native of Sierra Leone finds place in 49ers' secondary

For much of this year, injuries have left the San Francisco 49ers searching high and low for players in their secondary. 
So it is somehow fitting that as the 49ers prepare to wrap up the season, they have in their secondary a player whose far-flung saga makes the stories of the other off-the-street pickups sound mundane by comparison. 

Born in Sierra Leone, B.J. Tucker was sent by his parents at age 10 to live in Seattle with an aunt and uncle as that West African nation and former British Colony fell into a decade-long civil war fought in part by children, at an ultimate cost of an estimated 50,000 lives. 

In the United States, Tucker switched from soccer to football. He eventually played cornerback at Wisconsin, was drafted by Dallas in the sixth round in 2003, and bounced around the NFL without appearing in a game until early this season, when he was signed to the 49ers' practice squad. 

Sunday afternoon, when the host 49ers (3-12) complete their season against the Houston Texans (2-13), the 25-year-old Tucker will play in his sixth NFL game. He might even make his first start. 

"My situation has been pretty fortunate," said Tucker, who is in the United States as a permanent resident. 

Tucker's parents, who are divorced, follow his career from afar and are not exactly hard-core football fans. His father, a chemistry professor, moved to Milwaukee in 1997. Tucker's mother, Joan Scott, lives in war-torn Liberia, near Sierra Leone, where she works for the United Nations assisting refugees. 

"It's always a concern, but we speak weekly or every two weeks, so I know that she's safe," Tucker said of his mother, who he has seen only once since he left Sierra Leone in 1991. 

While Tucker was moving to the United States, war broke out in Sierra Leone. 

"I was young," said Tucker, whose given name is Baigeh Joe. "I didn't know anything about it." 

His first exposure to football came playing in the backyard with his cousins. But he shied away from the sport for a while because he was small, and at 5-foot-10, 188 pounds, he has hardly developed into a the stereotypical NFL behemoth. 

Tucker received his most extensive playing time to date during last week's victory at St. Louis, as the result of injuries to cornerbacks Derrick Johnson and Bruce Thornton. He was burned for a 40-yard touchdown by Torry Holt, but otherwise performed solidly. 

Johnson and Thornton are expected to miss Sunday's game, which means more work for Tucker. Early this week, coach Mike Nolan said Tucker would start. Friday, though, Nolan said the start might go to Mike Adams, with Tucker coming in on passing downs. 

Though Tucker would like to start, the opportunity simply to play in the NFL after two years trying to find a foothold is satisfying in its own right. 

"It's just exciting to play," Tucker said. "I'm just glad they gave me a shot to go out there on the field, whether it be special teams or on defense." 

By Roger Phillips

Featured Person: 
Nov 23, 2005 - Isha Sesay

Isha Sesay: Broadcasting 'Princess' Comes to CNN

Isha Sesay joined the team of CNN International anchors based at the network’s global headquarters in Atlanta in November 2005, from the UK broadcaster ITN where she anchored ITV1’s ‘Early Morning News’ programme; as well as for the UK’s most-watched breakfast programme, ‘GMTV’. 

Isha spent much of her childhood in Sierra Leone after moving there when she was seven.

She returned to England at 16 to study for her A-levels and had dreams of going to drama school to become an actress. However, after pressure from her mother and teachers, she agreed to go to university, where she studied English at Trinity College, Cambridge. 

After completing her degree Isha worked as a researcher on Kilroy before moving to Glasgow to work on some shows for BBC Scotland.

Following a spell working in radio Isha got her break as a presenter and presented a variety of programmes for the BBC, CNN, and TWI before joining Sky in March 2002.

After four months working with the production team, learning to edit, write scripts and voice packages, Isha moved in front of the camera and is now a regular presenter.

To date the high points of Isha's career have been interviewing Ellen McArthur and travelling from Bolton to London with Arsene Wenger and members of the Arsenal team after a match at the Reebok Stadium for Kanu's heart foundation.

Isha remains true to her childhood dreams and still has ambitions to star in a Hollywood movie and, of course, to pick up a best actress Oscar!

Isha's Working day at Sky

Could you introduce yourself and what you do here at Sky?

My name is Isha Sesay and I am a morning presenter on "Good Morning Sports Fans" for Sky Sports News.

What is a normal working day like for you?

A normal working day starts at around half three when I wake up. I leave my house at about four o'clock and I am at work at about ten past four. My first job is then to go through the morning newspapers to see what is making the back pages and to see what our big stories will be. 

I have a chat with the production team to have a sense of where we are going with our show that morning. There will be loads of stories in the papers but we choose our lead. You have to know what is happening and what you need to be prepared for, what stories may unfold during the day. 

Once all that is done I have to go through the script that the production team have been working on for about an hour before I get in. They get in really, really early. Then it is off to make up at about five o'clock. Then I rush back into the studio and take my position on set and then we go live to the nation at 6 o'clock.

All news presenters articulate in a certain way, how do you learn that?

I have never had voice training, it is just the way I speak. Every news presenter here and news presenters in general have their own speech pattern and their own intonation. I think it is just more a reflection of your personality than something that you can inherently learn from other people.

How does one get a job like yours?

Sky Sports News run screen tests every six weeks looking for presenters - any budding presenters out there with an interest in sport. All you have to do is write in and send a tape of yourself and if they feel that you have got something that you are interested in whatever that may be, it might not be the biggest sports knowledge, it may be your look or your manner or your personality, and you will get called in for a screen test. That is what happened with me. I came in for one of those random screen tests and it went from there.

How much do you have to know about sports?

I think it is a balance. We have people here who are incredibly knowledgeable about sports. In my case, I am very knowledgeable about football and I have an interest in all other sports but it is more about the passion. You have to be passionate about sports. If you don't know everything that there is to know about sports right now that shouldn't put you off. If you are passionate, as long as you can get that across, that is what we are looking for here at Sky Sports News.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

That is always a difficult question, where to go next, because I am very happy at Sky Sports News. Doing the breakfast show is great because we are live all the time, that buzz is incredible. You are reacting to different stories, you are reacting to everything that is happening around you and it will be hard to get that feeling elsewhere so I haven't really thought about it. For now I am really happy here.

What kind of training did you do?

To get in to television as a whole I went to university and read English literature and after university I wrote off to lots of production companies asking for work experience. I got work experience at Kilroy, the morning chat show, and I worked there for ten months. From there I worked behind the scenes in television for about two and a half years before I got my first break in TV. I was asked by someone if I was interested in trying out for the role of a roving reporter on a show. It wasn't the case of who I knew, I was just lucky and I had been working hard and making it known that it was something that I wanted to do.

What is the best thing about your job?

Doing live television is fantastic, it is hard to beat that thrill. We also get to meet so many interesting people. I met Michael Watson the boxer a couple of weeks ago, and that was incredible. It was a life changing moment to me, someone with such grace and who has been through so much. Meeting such a variety of people and working on live TV, that is a huge plus.

And the worst aspects..?

Getting up at half three in the morning. I have been doing this now for about a year and a half and it doesn't get any better. I still groan in the morning.

What makes you good at your job?

I'd like to think that my passion and my dedication to my job is what makes me good. I work very hard at it and I make sure that I keep on top of what is happening around me. I think you need that, you need to be hard working and passionate and I think that the viewers will pick up on that. You have to have a sense of fun, you have to enjoy what you are doing. I think that the viewers respond to that.

What is the most valuable advice that you have been given?

The most valuable piece of advice that I have ever been given was by the head of Sky Sports, my top boss, he said: be prepared or be prepared to fail. It is very simple and that is a motto that Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United has. It has served me very well.

What is a nightmare scenario that can happen on live TV?

Nightmare situation is when you are turning to camera to start reading the story and the autocue goes down and you have a hard copy of your script but it is in the wrong place. The story that you are supposed to be doing isn't even there and you are grappling to find your place and to somehow act calm when in fact all pandemonium is breaking loose around you.

What is auto cue and how do you use it?

Auto cue carries our script and we have a camera that we look at and the words that we are saying are scrolling up the screen. That is how we sound so articulate and poised, it is all on the screen. We try to read it without making our eyes roll too much.

Adapted from RFTF.Sky.com

Featured Person: 
Nov 18, 2005 - Sarian Bouma 

Sarian Bouma: Award winning business woman

Twenty-five years ago, Sarian Bouma arrived in the United States to create a better life for her family in Sierra Leone. But after a year of marriage, she found herself divorced, pregnant and out on her own. She found solace in a woman's shelter and went on welfare so that she could feed her son. However, she never allowed her status as a recent immigrant and unemployed single parent keep her from accomplishing her personal goals. After working at a variety of odd jobs, she landed a position as a bank loan officer in Washington, D.C.

During this time, she was encouraged by her customers and future husband to start her own business. After attending a series of seminars on business ownership, Bouma decided to become the owner of a franchise commercial cleaning firm. She was attracted to the opportunity because it didn't require much start-up capital and she would be able to build clientele quickly.

"If you have a big name, they [contractors] feel that you can deliver," says Bouma. She named her business ServiceMaster of Capitol Hill Inc., as a reminder of the place in Washington where she one day wanted to do business. Over the next five years, she proved her capability as an entrepreneur, procuring lucrative custodial contracts with government and commercial agencies.

In 1993, she decided to become an independent contractor and established Capitol Hill Building Maintenance Inc. in Lexington Park, Maryland, with the help of the Small Business Administration and a $25,000 loan from the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority. Providing full-service janitorial services to offices, warehouses and medical suites in the metro Washington, D.C., and Norfolk, Virginia, areas, Capitol Hill Building Maintenance has 13 clients and grossed $3.4 million last year. It is also recognized as one of the fastest-growing small janitorial firms in the Washington, D.C., area.

Despite her success in business--Bouma has contracts with such federal agencies as the Department of Navy, has won awards and grossed millions of dollars--she feels that her greatest accomplishment has been helping the 200 people she employs. Besides giving them jobs, she has instilled in them the desire for an education, home ownership and entrepreneurship.

"I am in the battlefield and I cannot lose," says Bouma. "I must fulfill the needs of my customers and my employees."

By Femi Lewis, Black Enterprise 

Featured Person: 
 Oct 24, 2005 - Mamusu Thoronka

Mamusu Thoronka (Lest we forget their misery)

During Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war, rebels developed the horrific tactic of chopping off the hands or legs of civilians as a way of sowing terror in the population. Mamusu Thoronka, 41, was one of the many thousands of people affected. 
Four years after the end of the war, she explains how she is trying to support her family, without any help from the government.

The rebels cut off my hand on 22 January 1999 in the capital, Freetown. I heard the rebels were coming and tried to hide in a building but they caught me. They put my left hand on a table and chopped it off with a machete. I begged for mercy and asked them to think of God. They told me to point to God with my right hand and they tried to chop that off, too. They tried three times but could not cut it off. But I cannot use three fingers on my right hand.

The rebels said I should get another hand from [President Ahmad Tejan] Kabbah. They said he had lots of spare hands. I was in agony - I thought I would die. I went to hospital but all the doctors had run away. 
The city was full of corpses. My left hand was hanging on by the skin and started to rot. After a week, I saw a doctor, who treated my wounds.

School fees

Since then, my husband has grown distant from me - I am sure he has taken another wife without telling me. 
I think he's worried about what our six children would say to him. I try to support the children by buying goods such as this palm oil in the countryside and selling it in Freetown. But I cannot afford all of their school fees - already the two oldest have dropped out because their fees are too expensive.

Rebel threats
I also keep a few chickens. We normally eat them ourselves but we sell them if we need money quickly. 
Once, one of the rebels came to our village near Freetown and said he would finish us off. 
They say they will kill us amputees because if the government no longer sees us, they will stop talking about the rebel atrocities. 
If that provocation does not stop, I am worried there could be another war.

Cross-border trade
As well as palm oil, I also sell vegetables and beans. With that money, I buy things such as clothes, salt and household goods which are more expensive up-country than in Freetown. It is difficult to carry all these goods, so I ask other people to help me. 
I would like to go to Guinea, where some goods are cheaper than here. Maybe the customs officials would take pity on me and not charge me too much duty. 

Children's future

I am not too interested in punishing those who cut my hand off but I want my children to be taken care of. 
The former rebel fighters are being well looked after, with skills training and free education for their children. 
The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission said we amputees should get a pension but we have seen nothing, although a Norwegian charity built this house for me and my family.

I cannot cook on my own any more, so I have to get one of the children to help me, while I tell them what to do. 
This is my daughter, Bonki. Sometimes when my children get into an argument at school, people say to them: "Your mother is a half-person." It is really upsetting. We amputees are really discriminated against in Sierra Leone. 


Every 22 January, I get sad when I remember the attack, until friends come round to take my mind off it. 
I work with the War Affected Amputees Association - this is the group's president, Lamin Jusu-Jarka, who had both his hands chopped off. He had his artificial limbs fitted in the US. Sometimes, I travel with him around the country meeting other amputees and trying to campaign for our rights. 

Interview and photos by Joseph Winter (adapted from news.bbc.co.uk)

Featured Person: 
 Oct 22, 2005 - Delia Jarrett-Macauley

Delia Jarrett-Macauley (DMS, Ph.D., FRSA)
Is an acomplished writer, academic and broadcaster with a career spanning over 20 years. Her impressive body of work is held in high regard both nationally and internationally.

Delia has published three books, the most recent being Moses, Citizen and Me, which is her first novel.


A multi-disciplinary scholar in history, literature and cultural politics, Delia has devised, taught and examined a range of courses at the Universities of Kent, London and Middlesex. Delia began her university teaching career in 1989 by running the first black women’s studies courses on the MA in Women’s Studies at the University of Kent; she later published an anthology based on that programme of work. She also devised and led the Arts Management Programme at Birkbeck College, London.

Delia has trained teachers at Goldsmith’s College, London and has contributed to many professional development courses for teachers and facilitators in Europe at a range of academic institutions, including the Amsterdam Summer University and (in association with the European Cultural Foundation) the King Baudouin Foundation (Brussels) and the European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centres. 

Delia has contributed to a number of academic publications as author and board member including Feminist Review, Women’s History Review, Journal of Gender Studies and Gender and History. 


Delia has worked on a number of broadcasting projects for BBC Radio, including devising and presenting 'The Una Marson Story' and 'Black Women Writers in 1930s England' on Radio 3 and 4 respectively. She has also contributed to Woman’s Hour and Open Book on Radio 4, the Radio 3 website on Ideas and Culture and the 2004 BBC Music Live Festival. Delia voiced 'Warrior Marks', Alice Walker's documentary film on female circumcision shown on UK television.

BBC Radio 4 has commissioned Delia to present 'Sierra Leone: My imaginary homeland' in 2006.


Since the mid-1980s, Delia has worked extensively in the cultural sector, including a period as Director of the Independent Theatre Council, and later as a consultant to Arts Council England. She also managed the pan-African dance summer school and co-ordinated educational projects for African Players. In the 1990s she was joint director of the National Theatre’s project, Transmission, which focused on arts and social change in Europe. 

Delia has more than twenty years experience of leading change management projects across all sectors, providing guidance for senior managers and human resource specialists. Her diverse client list includes Sainsbury’s Supermarkets, Shell (UK), NSPCC and local government agencies. 

Award for Sierra Leone war novel 

A novel about a child soldier in Sierra Leone has won the prestigious Orwell prize for political writing. 
Delia Jarrett-Macauley, a British writer whose parents are from Sierra Leone, was honoured for her novel, Moses, Citizen and Me. 
It is the first novel to win the award since the award started 16 years ago. 
Ms Jarrett-Macauley wrote the book after hearing a report about a boy soldier who had been recruited to kill his grandparents during the civil war. 
She said she wanted to focus on the emotional ways in which the child soldiers respond to their situation. 
One of the judges, Bernard Crick, said the book was appealing because of the way it dealt with the most extreme political problems of violence in a very balanced and humane way. 
Some 50,000 people were killed and many more maimed and raped in the decade-long civil war which ended in 2002. 
The conflict was marked by the frequent hacking off of limbs, ears and lips of civilians. 

Story from BBC NEWS:

Featured Person: 
 Sept 27, 2005 - Rev Eugene Wellington

Food Bank Before Hurricane

Rev Eugene Wellington
Executive Director Director Community Christian Concern Slidell, Louisiana

In the wake of hurricane Katrina, someone inquired in one of the Sierra Leonean online discussion forums whether anyone knew of any Sierra Leonean victim of that phenomenal disaster. Rev Eugene Wellington a Sierra Leonean who now calls Louisiana his new home would most certainly not want me to focus on the complete destruction of their home and property. He just wants to get on with the task of caring for vagrants and the homeless, the work his agency has been occupied with since its inception in 1983. Community Christian Concern (CCC) served over 5000 families in the Slidell area last year. Food, clothing, personal items, and Christian counseling were just a few of the services provided to these families.  Eugene is supported by a volunteer staff and a volunteer board of directors. 

Speaking to me from Slidell where the trauma of the damage assessment has only been compounded by the wrath of hurricane Rita; In Rev Wellington's own words he exclaims:"Everything in that office was lost. Our church with a congregation of about 100 took ten feet of water.  It is a total loss.  None of the buildings had flood insurance, because it has  never been necessary before.  Our home owners insurance nor our commercial insurance will cover the loss. 80% of our congregation members lost their homes and their jobs.  We trust that God is more than able to help us re-build, but for now we could use the help of friends and, churches and organizations.  Staff members including myself have lost our incomes or homes or both.  Food and clothing have been made available by Red Cross and other FEMA agencies.  The greatest needs right now are financial to help us keep at the least a skeleton staff, to help purchase appliances like stoves, freezers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, furniture, etc."

You are encouraged to seize this opportunity in making a donation in cash or kind to help the Wellington Family quickly return to a position of capacity, to continue to provide for the homeless and destitute of Louisiana who are now in double jeopardy. For me, Eugene and family have helped me  put a face and personal point of contact to this sad American tragedy. I have no doubt that this will also be true with many of you. 

You may send your gifts directly to the Wellingtons. Both his church TEAM (The El-Bethel Apostolic Tabernacle) and CCC (Community Christian Concern) are 501c and therefore any contribution made will be tax deductible. The particulars are: 
The El-Bethel Apostolic Ministry
P.O.Box 3104
Slidell, LA 70459
Tel: 985-639-0446, 985-781-8326, 985-960-2169 cell
Bank: JPM Chase 
Gause Blvd.
Slidell, LA 70458
Act. # 626239648
All checks can be made out to TEAM with a designation e.g. The Wellington Family, A Church Family, The Church, or CCC. 

Eugene can be reached at: EWellington458@aol.com

Compiled by Crispin R. Cole

Sept 27, 2005

Featured Person:

     Community leader Mary Musa, 

     Chairperson of Koidu Town Council.
  Photo: Laura Lartigue

Female Chairperson challenges
male-dominated region and
rebuilds after the war

We were taught that although we must take care of our personal needs, as a leader one should always be concerned about the needs of the people we lead and not be completely self-centered."
After the civil war in Sierra Leone was over, Mary Musa returned from exile to Koidu Town in Kono District. She had nowhere to sleep because her house had been burned. She also received devastating news – her husband had been killed during the war. 

Returning to her town under great hardship and becoming a leader in the community had unique challenges. Now serving as Chairperson for the Koidu Town Council, Musa is a rarity – a woman in a position of power in the male-dominated mining region of Kono. Says Musa, "It wasn't easy to become the Chairperson. This position had never been handled by a woman in this district so there were complaints that I should be replaced by a man. Thank God that people stood strong to maintain me.” 

Musa needed training in her new role as chairperson. She wanted to help the community cope with the losses resulting from the war and support them as they rebuild. USAID-sponsored Nation Building training provided Musa and other leaders in the community with knowledge about leadership, public service, accountability, acceptance, and teamwork. 

As the former head teacher of a local school, upon her return to Koidu, she used the classrooms to shelter herself and her five children, along with ten other children whose parents were killed during the war. She was able to mobilize her fellow teachers to make bricks to put up a small housing unit so that the children could move out of the classrooms. 

"After the training," says Musa, "I found out that staying discouraged about my situation wouldn't help – I needed to do something practical about it. We were able to engage our school children, along with our relatives, in helping us. They molded each brick for fifty cents. The lesson that dealt with looking into the needs of other people in the community helped me a great deal.” 

When asked why she decided to take the training, Mary Musa said, "Because I am a leader. When we came back after the war, we had so many problems. We leaders are also under much stress. Undergoing this training has helped me tremendously in carrying out my activities.”

Although she has a rough road ahead as people in Koidu learn to transition back into a peaceful society, the USAID training has allowed her to use her abilities and her patience in solving difficult situations around her for both herself and for other members of the community. "I have now discovered that through my own potential, I can do much to assist my children, myself, and my community." 

(Culled from USAID website)

Sep.12, 2005 SC

Featured Person:

Rev Dr. Donald Kinde
Former Wesleyan Missionary to Sierra Leone - A personal impact

Rev. Donald Kinde, affectionately called Don, and I met after my return from studies in Australia in 1988. When I saw this tough imposing person I was a little bit intimidated. It didn't take me very long to discover that Don was a gentle giant. My acquaintance with him was warranted by me being appointed Assistant National Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leon. Don was the Missions Director, we both lived in the same city Makeni, in the North of the country.

Don is the man who plays by the rules. He was wearing many hats. Senior Pastor Rogbane Church, in Makeni, Director of Missions, Chairman Advanced training committee. The list goes on. How he accomplished all those full time assignments is still a puzzle to me. Suffice it to say that he was not lacking in his accomplishments. He was always thorough and precise.

Don played by the rules. He was time conscious. He delivered whatever he promised. My first encounter with him was on the day of the dedication of the conference center. As the coordinator of the event, I had gone to his church to get benches and chairs. As a former Pastor of the church myself, I knew how to get things done in the church and so I went to the custodian and asked him to open the church and collected the benches and chairs. When I met Don at the center, he asked me whether I was aware that thieves broke into the church and stole some benches and chairs? I was wondering what he meant until it dawned on me that he was alluding to me who took the benches without his permission. He was mad and I was mad. At the end of the ceremony we convened a meeting at the center for the next day. At that meeting we spoke frankly to each other and committed ourselves to communicate and respect each other in the future. Since that time Don and I became close colleagues and friends.

As District Superintendent of the Makeni district, I benefited from the assistance of Don in numerous areas. He asked for help from America to renovate some of our churches, he advanced me loan when I was embarking on an agricultural development for my pastors. Don was always willing to assist. He was liberal in giving to a fault. He gave even what he didn't have. That was the extent of the love and generosity of this man. 

Don was a community man who spoke Krio fluently. He interacted not only with Christians in Makeni but also people of other faiths and denominations. He was respected and revered in the community and his influence extended not only in Makeni but the entire Bombali District as well as Freetown.

Don is a systematic homiletician. His message was concise and redemptive. A consummate missiologist, Don articulated missions strategies with compassion and professionalism. As an academic who was President of the Jui Bible College, Don was not only an erudite scholar but a missionary who contextualized his ministry to suit whatever group or community he worked in. He was a prolific writer that delivered volumes of useful texts from his pen.

Indeed, I interacted with many Missionaries during my tenure with the churches in Sierra Leone, but Donald Kinde stands out eminently as one of the most dedicated, considerate and resourceful missionary that labored in my native land. Time will not erode his contributions to the development of the Wesleyan Church in Sierra Leone and the ecumenical community that he served with integrity and distinction. 

It is because of his distinctive qualities and services that the Wesleyan church of North America recommended to the University of Indianapolis, that the degree of Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) be conferred upon him. "Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before Kings and not mean men".

Rev Don kinde is married to Joan Kinde, who is also an accomplished missionary in Sierra Leone. They have three children, Mark, Larry and Carrie Jo. They spent a total of sixteen years in Sierra Leone. Don and Joan are retiring in Minneapolis. 

Written by Rev. Silas Nicol

Former Assistant Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone 

We will continue presenting "Featured Person" biographies here, celebrating the lives of those we know and love. Please send in your ideas and nominations. We are looking to feature people of notoriety to Sierra Leoneans.
Click here to go to the "Contact Us" page where you can send in nominations for this purpose.
Ad Space:

Advertising Space: