I was very taken aback by what I saw in Rwanda, 19 years after the genocide and they had come a long way. I was inspired, because it got me thinking about Sierra Leone prospects. The country is 11 years post-civil war and it got me thinking about, where are we now and where will be in the future?
When you ask a local Westerner about Sierra Leone or Rwanda, the first frame of reference is usually Blood Diamonds, child soldiers, Hotel Rwanda and genocide. Both countries have gone through their share of pain and negative publicity. Visiting Rwanda has opened my eyes and has retaught me to not judge a book by its cover as the cover you’re looking at could be a century out dated.
As mentioned in my first blog, I went to Rwanda to attend The Transform Africa summit. The four-day high level event was held under the theme, “The Future Delivered Today”. The aim was to bring together international participants to set a new agenda for Africa to leapfrog development challenges through the use and uptake of Broadband and related services. Attendees included Seven African Presidents and CEO’s of blue chip firms. The event was held in Serena, which is a chain of 5 star hotels. Apart from the tight security (waiting to get security checked for 2hrs!) the event was well organized, providing great networking opportunities and above all very informative.
On the Wednesday night I was introduced to Annette, who turned out to be a film director. It transpired that she was working on a promo video for Isaiah Washington and the Government of Rwanda. The video is mostly shot around Rwanda showing how far it has developed. Isaiah Washington found out through DNA analysis that his roots traced back to Sierra Leone. In the spring of 2010, Isaiah received his Sierra Leone citizenship and passport. As it goes, he was inspired by Rwanda and wanted to shoot a video encouraging the two countries to learn from each other, bringing in Sierra Leone will tell a good story of two countries which have gone through tragedies, but are now well on the road to prosperity.
Annette had encountered some problems whilst shooting the video as she had all the footage she needed from Rwanda, but had none from Sierra Leone. Identifying a perfect opportunity to showcase my country’s potential I sent her an email straight after our conversation saying:
“Hi Alieu here, from Sierra Leone, grew up in London. I’m going to get you the footage of Sierra Leone you need”.
I had no clue how I was going to do this, she needed it within the next month or so and I planned to be in Sierra Leone in 2014.
I spent most of the next 2 days hanging out with Annette and a few other friends. We decided that what we wanted was excellent quality video footage of Sierra Leone’s key landmarks. The parts of Sierra Leone we are proud of and want the world to see that when we think of these places and pictures we get inspired.
In the video I discussed with Annette the possibility of asking a question to Sierra Leoneans, so that we could get some feedback.
The draft question is as follows:
This is the new Rwanda 20 years after the war….
What achievements do we, as Sierra Leoneans want to celebrate 20 years after the war?
Lets make that decision together…
I was spurred on by Rwanda and I made myself three promises: (1) to get the video footage for a Rwandan film maker of Sierra Leone (my country of birth), (2) to get the Sierra Leonean president to visit Rwanda and (3) to interview HE Paul Kagame and tell the world the amazing work that had taken place in Rwanda.
How I will do this, I have no clue… but I know we can do this! So if you have suggestions, connections or links, please get in contact.