John Yoni Yusif Fofanah is the founder and CEO of Alfsatu Farms and a student at the Sierra Leone Law School. Born in the early 90s in Yoni chiefdom, Tonkolili district, Northern Sierra Leone, he is a holder of a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Linguistics and a Bachelor of Laws with honours both from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.
Seeking refuge in Freetown during the war, John Yoni started primary schooling at the UMC Primary School, Ginger Hall and later sat the NPSE at the SLMB Primary School in Mile 91. Relocated to Freetown, he did his JSS 1 and 2 at the Prince of Wales School, Kingdom. Owing to some family issues, he had to sit the BECE at the Ansarul Junior Secondary School in Mile 91 and thereafter sat the WASSCE at the Yonibana Senior Secondary School in Yonibana.
In Yoni, he is popularly known for his community activism; working to create change and helping his community come together to solve social problems. Started in 2012 with connecting indigenes around the globe to home on a common platform getting updates of community happenings and proffering a collective solution, to helping advocate for scholarships for students in his community around colleges in the country. And in 2019, he founded the Yoni Excellence Awards Board to seek out and highlight the excellence and incredible achievements of individuals, groups, and businesses that create a sense of pride, unity and motivation through their role-modelling to the wider Yoni community. And the Award ceremony showcases celebrates and honours Yoni’s best in all works of life.
Growing up as a schoolboy in both rural and urban settings, he has got a mixed experience and taste of what education truly looks like in both settings. And such also prepared him to always be in an open engagement with people beyond class, ethnicity, politics and the rest.
John Yoni shared his inspiring story with us at Salone Messenger
Sallu Kamuskay: You are currently working on farming, what prompted you to go into farming?
John Yoni “Following the death of both my mother and father in 2020, I was deeply saddened because they were yet to start benefiting from the fruit of my education they paid for before their demise and thought of keeping their memories alive and how they could benefit from my labour even in death prompted my venture into farming with reference to a Hadith in the Holy Quran that states, “No Muslim plants or sows something, so that a bird, a man or an animal can eat from it, without there being a benefit for him”. I name the farm ‘ALFSATU’ after my parents. A blend of my father’s first name ‘Alfred’ and my mother’s ‘Isatu’. And as my very first farming experience, I started with a thousand heaps garden farm of fresh pepper, cucumber and maize in my father’s village – Robathsant in the Northern province of Sierra Leone.”
Sallu Kamuskay: Growing up, did you think of doing farming?
“Sincerely, I did not have such a specific thought of doing farming whilst growing up. But being born in a business-oriented family, I have always had the thought of doing business. And truly, I am enjoying the farm work now as if I had long been prepared for it.
What has been your greatest inspiration going into farming and why?
“Knowing I am doing the work for and on behalf of my parents has been my greatest inspiration going into farming.
The reason being, there is virtue in growing food. And as I reiterated earlier, Islam recommends farming as one of the righteous ways of serving humanity with an abundance of blessings in return. And surely so, my parents will have an abundance of the share of those blessings.
And consequentially, major proceeds from the produce of the farming will be channelled to a charitable cause through the ‘ALFSATU CHARITY FOUNDATION’ I will be registering very soon.now, we are in the land preparation for our second plantation season. And the proceeds from our first plantation season were reserved as seedlings for this next plantation. And going forward, major proceeds will now go into charity.”