By Sullay Adekullay, London, UK.
The ruthless spate of persecution of journalists during the reign of the now democratically deposed SLPP government forced me to resolve that for the life of me, I will never engage in full blown journalism again.
Most Sierra Leoneans will recall how the SLPP coined the devilish phrase ‘junta journalists’ to eliminate their media critics in the aftermath of the AFRC coup d’etat of 1997. Other dissenting professionals were similarly labelled and this prefix (junta) became a death warrant for all those that stayed behind during the imbroglio and were preaching the sermon of a peaceful resolution to the political madness that engulfed our impoverished West Africa nation at the time. In my desperate bid to save dear life, I was forced to leave the shores of Sierra Leone in search of a safe haven that eventually brought me to the United Kingdom.
I will not like to go into the details of my ordeal, but the ongoing serialised memoirs of the Presidential Press Secretary, Sheka Tarawalie speak volumes of the ordeals of the entire ‘Torch Light’ newspaper team in the period under review. The persecution was such that international human rights organizations described journalists in Sierra Leone as the most endangered species on planet earth. I wonder if Sylvia Blyden could draw parallels to this period to her recent rant against the APC regime for interrupting a TV programme she participated in on SLBC TV.
Anyway, that is not the crux of this piece; it is rather about the dramatic return I am making to the field of journalism, one that I will describe as my second stint with journalism. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw the Editor-in-chief/proprietor of the ‘Expo Times’ newspaper approached me about appointing me as the London based editor of the now revamped online news outlet. I responded by saying that I needed space and time to think about this venture. After careful thought on his ambition and what I believed is an opportunity to complete my unfinished business with journalism, I gave him my seal of approval.
The resurgence of the ‘Expo Times’ could not be much better, especially at time when the current regime’s display of unfettered freedom to all forms of media practice in the country, will avail me the opportunity to participate in the political debates that are crucial in redefining the future of our nation. Some of the topical issues at the moment range from: the effectiveness of the anti-corruption drive, the flagrant display of wealth by government ministers, the economic implications of the African Minerals agreement with the government, and the neutrality of Christiana Thorpe, activities of political parties, to name but a few. Readers, please stay tuned.