Salone News

AJA Returns to Sierra Leone

5 May 2007 at 08:11 | 417 views

The UNDP Spokesperson on War and Poverty for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, AJA(photo) arrives in Freetown on Monday, 7 May for a one week visit to Sierra Leone.

AJA, a Barbadian poet, musician and humanitarian activist returns to Sierra Leone to work with youth, artist and musician groups in the country. During his visit, he will host creative workshops with the National Association of Sierra Leone Artists (NASLA) and the National Union of Sierra Leone Students of Fourah Bay College. He will visit senior officials of the Government of Sierra Leone and representatives of the United Nations.

On Tuesday, 8 May AJA will present television equipment to the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), at a handing-over ceremony at their headquarters in Freetown.

Afterward he will travel to Bo, Makeni and Kenema where he will meet and conduct working sessions with student groups in the districts.

On his return to Freetown, the artist will make a guest appearance at the official launch of songs on the Findings and Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC Songs) at the National Stadium. The launch takes place at 5pm on 12 May. Admission is free and the event will have in attendance members of government, the diplomatic corps and political parties, civil society organisations, educational and religious institutions, and the general public.

AJA’s Biography
Adisa Jelani Andwele (AJA) is one of the leading exponents of performance poetry in the Caribbean. He fuses poetry with music, from jazz to various Caribbean rhythms, to create a unique sound. In the process he has taken the non-mainstream art form of rhythm poetry from Barbados to the international stage. He performs at prominent international jazz, world music and literary festivals.

From his emergence as a poet AJA has been focusing on many of the world’s problems such as war, peace and the abuse of women and children. This persistence was rewarded in 2003 when he was made a UNDP Spokesperson on Peace and Poverty Eradication for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

Today AJA is not only recognized as one of Barbados’ and the Caribbean’s prominent artistes, but also as a humanitarian. He is a HIV/AIDS champion for the HIV-AIDS Commission of Barbados. In addition, last October he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Caribbean Conservation Association.

In 2003 AJA launched the International Foundation for Peace and Poverty Eradication (ifppe). Through ifppe, he has embarked upon an international campaign against war and poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The first phase of this campaign saw AJA visiting war-torn and poverty-stricken communities across the world to document and photograph the atrocities so that he could return to the Caribbean and raise awareness of the problems as well as generate aid for the people living in these areas. The campaign began in Brazil and concluded in Israel and Palestine. It also took him to Haiti, Jamaica, South Africa and Sierra Leone.

The visit to Sierra Leone in particular had a massive effect on AJA and his work. AJA first went to Sierra Leone two years after the civil war ended and what he saw had such an impact on him and he was motivated to immediately help the people of this country which had been ravaged by war.

AJA visited amputee camps in Freetown where he was horrified to learn that during the war cutting off the limbs of villagers was used as the principal form of intimidation. AJA also visited a refugee settlement in Waterloo and the slum area of Kroobay in Freetown which, along with the amputee camps, motivated him into action.

The forthcoming visit to Sierra Leone will be AJA’s second trip to the country.

For more information on AJA, visit the websites below: