Hamza Koroma: A Sierra Leonean author tackling developmental challenges in his new book ‘Alternative development’

Born on the 29th of July 1992, at Koeyor Village, Gbenseh Chiefdom, Kono District.  Hamza Koroma is a researcher, advocate, Rotaractor, and writer. He recently published the book ‘Alternative development’ that seeks towards analyzing the problems of Sierra Leone and how best the Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Societies, and individuals can work with the message in helping to solve these problems.

Born in Sierra Leone during the long decade civil war, Hamza relocated to The Gambia as a refugee with his family where he furthered his primary, secondary, senior secondary, and part of his university education. Raised in a humble and Islamic home in Serre Kunda, Gambia, to parents both of whom were teachers with five siblings including his twin partner. He grew up learning and practicing Gambia culture. Like many foreigners, Hamza and his family encountered a lot of challenges ranging from discrimination and stigmatization by some Gambians.

In the Gambia, He attended the St. Theresa’s and Pipeline Comprehensive School where he completed his primary education, he later moved to the Ndow’s Junior Secondary School and later Nusrat Senior Secondary School where he completed his junior and Senior Secondary School education. Upon conclusion, he enrolled at the Gambia IPAM institute where he studied Mass communication. He later enrolled at the Fourah Bay College in 2013 where studied Diploma in Peace and Conflict Resolution and currently holds a degree in Political Science.

At Salone Messenger, we had an exclusive interview with him a few months after he published his recent book Alternative development

What inspired you to write the book?

Hamza Answer

‘’My book was highly inspired by my mother and the stories she would tell me every night.

She claims that Sierra Leone is a great country if only we had the right leaders. She will continue by telling us stories of Legends, great warriors, great works of Sierra Leoneans.

When I returned to Sierra Leone Wednesday, August 2013, Sharp 12 with the Gambian Bird. I found out that country was the most beautiful. Seeing the mountains stacked right above melted my heart. I immediately called my father and told him about the Wonderful Hills and mountains. I was amazed seeing everyone speaking “Krio” (Local Language) for the first time. Even though my tongue was Foreign but I still tried to adapt to the tongue; especially the ‘Rrrrr”. Everyone takes notice of my tongue and accent and that made me special. Everyone was willing to listen to me. Everyone was nice.

Another reason that inspired me to write a book Yayah Jammeh’s autocratic rule.

Growing up in an autocratic government was challenging as no one could speak against the government. No one was safe to speak, not even in your living rooms but when I returned to Sierra Leone; I saw how people were deliberating and talking about Politics and this got me thrilled. Even the man with the wheelbarrow knows politics. For the first time, I heard a chat about Politics so loud that the man next to me started explaining about the political system of Sierra Leone and how our leaders have failed us in so many years.

By then; Ernest Bai Koroma was in his second term and the man next to me explained with Vigour and insulted in the end. I was afraid and warned him that he could be arrested for such utterance

But he laughed and said, “Boy, we are in a democracy, here we speak our mind because it was a right that was given to us by our past president Ahmed Tijan Kabba”.

Political discussion continued as I furthered my studies in the Political Science Department, Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone).’’

Tell us about your book (Alternative development)?

Hamza Answer

‘’After what I witnessed in my country, I believe that I can create an impact and transform the thoughts of Sierra Leoneans. Anybody can create an impact, size matters not, “if size mattered, the elephant could have been the king of the jungle.”

My book is a work tailored towards analyzing the problems of Sierra Leone and how best the Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Societies, and individuals can work with the message in helping to solve these problems.

The pathway to success in Sierra Leone is the book designed specially to not only point out the importance of Alternative Development but also to point out holes that need to be refilled in order to ensure the better life for all Sierra Leoneans.

This includes Politics, the type of Educational System, The Role of Youths, Decentralization, The Economy, Entertainment (Music, Movie, and Sports), Tourism, Poor Human Relations, Gender Empowerment, and Corruption.

Issues facing the above sectors would be discussed and solutions will be provided on how to tackle these prevailing problems.

The book has also been described as a comprehensive set of Alternative Development ranging from Politics to Entertainment and other related sectors which has a great role to play in the country but has been ignored for one reason or the other.

Alternative Development and The Pathway to Success in Sierra Leone Volume was made exclusively for Policy Options and Agenda for Future Research.

There is, of course, a huge literature on development, penned from within divergent social theoretical and ideological frameworks. Suffice to say that there are what may be described as, “thin” conceptions of development, and on the other hand “thick” conceptions of development, what is also referred to as Orthodox Development (thin) and Alternative Development (thick).

“Thin” conceptions of development are essentially economics and tend to reduce the idea of development to economic growth and enhanced economic performance as measured by various indicators. Development reduced to economic growth gives rise to goals, policies, institutional arrangements, and actions that focus primarily on promoting growth and reducing obstacles to growth.   

In contrast, “thick” conceptions of development extend beyond a concern with economic growth to embrace issues of a wider economic nature as well as social, cultural, and political issues. At their most extensive, the concern of goals, policies, institutional arrangements, and actions are with structural economic change which widens ownership and eliminates or reduces income inequality, unemployment, and poverty.’’

What else do you do now that the Corona pandemic is on?

Hamza Answer

‘’Well, Currently I’m working on two books “100 things about Sierra Leone and The Unannounced Guest”.

1OO Things you should know about Sierra Leone is exclusively made out of research and it is made not only for educational purposes but to also attract tourists and investors as well in Sierra Leone. The book is composed of both written and oral history that has confirmed to be true by so many related experts in these fields. I spend my time visiting important sites and end up conducting with people in charge of those particular sites.

The book talks about the originality of Sierra Leone and its shocking and breath took information it has stored for so long. Sierra Leone has one of the richest, if not the richest in West Africa; while the colonial masters took advantage of that and our politicians made sure that there was nothing left to write about home.

Sierra Leone has been seen in the international community for so long as a devastated post-war country that battles with series of epidemic and political issues. However, Sierra Leone should not be viewed in such a way because this book is going to expose some of the rich culture and tradition of Sierra Leone which is going to leave you astonished and mind blown. Sierra Leone has been described as the lion mountain, clothed with lovely people that smile all the time irrespective of their plight and problems. It is not a novelty that Sierra Leone has one of the nicest people in the world and the highest Average IQ in Africa as some people would say. Sierra Leoneans are beautiful people with a rich history and this is going to be discussed in this book as we have 100 beautiful discoveries in this book that will blow your mind and bring you to our sweet motherland we call ‘Mama Salone’.

100 things about Sierra Leone will teach you about things teachers have never taught their students at schools, about stories their grandfather has never told them, about trends and facilities that they never thought existed in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is not only blessed with minerals but it is also blessed with a rich history.

Unannounced guests will be talking about Covid-19 with its Horrors.

It will point the light at the current youth violence that is going on in Sierra Leone and the situation of people in their Quarantine homes.’’

What would be your message to students and young people in general?

Hamza Answer

 ‘’My message to young people is always clear. They need to bear the spirit of patriotism. This they’ll do by asking questions and taking the lead in development either by proffering solutions to a given problem or contributing to national development by giving out beautiful and meaningful suggestions on debates and other platforms. Thank you’’

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