From the Editor’s Keyboard

London Mining Should be Commended

By  | 30 July 2013 at 03:29 | 1315 views

I was pleasantly surprised recently when I received a call early in the morning at my base in Vancouver, Canada. On the other end was a representative of London Mining Company, the company that is mining iron ore in Lunsar, northern Sierra Leone.

The representative, a lady, who was calling from London, United Kingdom, said she wanted to send me a response on a recent open letter to London Mining from Lunsar descendants. We had published that letter a couple of weeks ago. Please send it, I said, and she did, almost immediately. She was ready!

I was stunned. That was the first time a company in Sierra Leone was sending us a reaction on something we had published about them since 2005 when we started publishing online.

This shows the following about London Mining:

1. They do read the papers, both online and in print. In Freetown and elsewhere. They therefore understand the importance of online journalism, which is fast replacing print journalism. London Mining is right here in the 21st century with us while most companies in Sierra Leone are still wallowing in the 20th century.This is a modern company with top-notch and sophisticated executives.

2. They are confident and assertive over their accomplishments so far in Sierra Leone and are more than prepared to let the world know about those accomplishments. The open letter was therefore a golden opportunity for them to tell us who they are, what they have done for the people of Lunsar and what they plan to do. They have a solid business plan. They have nothing to hide.

I hope other companies doing business in Sierra Leone would copy London Mining’s fine example and let the world know what they are doing in the interest of transparency and accountability and respect for the people of Sierra Leone. The Chinese and some Europeans tend to be very secretive about their activities in Africa; I hope they change that attitude and step into the 21st century like London Mining.

Finally, I would like to commend the Lunsar descendants that had initiated this dialogue in the interest of their people in particular and Sierra Leone in general. I hope other descendants from other parts of Sierra Leone would learn from this and write their own open letters to companies doing business in their communities when and if necessary.

Chinese-Only Canteen?

Writing about the Chinese above reminds me of what a friend who had visited Sierra Leone not long ago told me. He said some Chinese investors in the Bumbuna area have created a village of their own, fenced with barbed wire and a canteen where no Sierra Leonean is allowed to eat or drink. That their village is fully electrified while the surrounding Sierra Leonean villages including Bumbuna town itself are in total darkness. I would like the government to look into this immediately and stop this blatant racism. The Chinese and other foreigners should not be allowed to import or practise racism in our country. The Paramount Chief of the area, who, incidentally, was my classmate at the Albert Acdemy (he was then known as Bockarie Koroma but now has a traditional chieftaincy title) should also immediately act on this together with the Member of Parliament of the area. What a shame.

Message for Foreign Minister Samura Kamara

I would like to call on Foreign Minister Samura Kamara to do everything in his power to establish a High Commission here in Canada because Sierra Leoneans here have been suffering for too long without adequate representation while countries poorer than Sierra Leone like Niger have embassies both in Washington and Ottawa. Ghana and Nigeria both have an embassy in Washington and a High Commission in Ottawa.

We urgently need a High Commission here, Mr. Minister; consuls are not the answer because we have not heard of any consul meeting with Sierra Leoneans here. Never. Many Sierra Leoneans face problems here, especially young Sierra Leoneans and there is nobody to speak for them, nowhere they could go to complain or seek redress.

Let the establishment of a High Commission here be one of your legacies as Foreign Minister with the blessing of President Ernest Koroma, who has never visited Canada even though Toronto, the largest city in Canada is just a stone’s throw from New York where the President frequently comes for UN meetings.

If we have a High Commissioner here, he or she would be able to urge the president to visit Canada, one of the few G8 countries he has never visited. Sierra Leone has a lot to gain from Canada, one of the richest countries in the world. Please do something about this problem, Mr. Minister. Ambassador Bockarie Stevens is overstretched, just covering the United States takes most of his time and resources. Please consider this urgent appeal and act accordingly, Mr. Minister.