Hafsatu Kamara is a Sierra Leonean sprinter born on the 7th of December 1991 in Alexandra, Virginia, United States of America. Her parents, Sahid Kamara and Mariama Turay were born in Sierra Leone. Her parents moved to the United States to have a better live for themselves and their kids. Her father has nine children, which Hafsatu is the fifth child. Hafsatu Kamara and her siblings were sent to Sierra Leone at a very young age to their grandmother to raise them. But when the civil war broke out in Sierra Leone, the United States evacuated its citizens, including Hafsatu Kamara. She returned to the United States in 1995. Hafsatu Kamara never dream of becoming an athlete. Growing up, she always told people she wants to be a kids doctor/pediatrician. “I love kids. Even as a kid, I love kids. I just wanted to care for the children.” She started running track and field in high school, even though she never took it seriously or something that she would do in college. An opportunity came to her when she got a scholarship in sports. In college, she got the inspiration and passion to be an athlete. Her passion for sport, fitness and wellness led her to major in Exercise Science. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science.
Hafsatu Kamara has represented Sierra Leone in six (6) international competitions despite having the privilege to represent the United States of America. In 2014, she made her first International appearance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. She competed in the 100-meter and 200-meter race which she ended up in 32nd and 30th position each within a time frame of 12.14 seconds and 25.12 seconds each. Her second International appearance was in 2015 at the World Championships in Beijing, China. She came 45th in the 100-meter race with a time record of 12.3 seconds. Hafsatu Kamara competed in three International competitions in 2016. Her first, she competed at the African Championships in Durban, South Africa in the 200-meter race and came 25th with a time record of 24.99. Her second, she competed at the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 100-meter race. She ended up in 59th position with a time record of 12.22 seconds. Her third competition in 2016 was at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Ghana. She took the 29th and 26th position in the 100-meter and 200-meter with a time record of 12.00 and 24.50 seconds. In 2018, Hafsatu Kamara represented Sierra Leone at the African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria. She participated in the 100 and 200-meter race, ended up in 16th and 17th position with a time record of 12.03 and 25.01 seconds.
When asked by Salone Messenger about representing Sierra Leone at the international stage and how does that make her feel, she said: “I feel very proud. Very proud. Because I am fortunate to know where I come from. Being in the United States I realized some people don’t know their lineage. It can be hard to identify with one’s true self because of that reason. So I’m fortunate to know that. When it comes to represent and being asked who am I representing, I say Sierra Leone. I say that with a proud chest. Because not often is Sierra Leone placed in a map of positivity. Any chance I have to shine a light on Sierra Leone, I do that. I want everyone else to do so as well, and to encourage the youth that you don’t have to look far outside your home or your community to find pride in yourself, to feel accomplished. You, as a Sierra Leonean should feel accomplished enough, should be prideful enough, to want to do more for yourself. I feel proud representing Sierra Leone.”
Financial support has been a problem for Sierra Leonean athletes home and abroad. Hafsatu Kamara told Salone Messenger that as an athlete, financial troubles is not just a one-person fault or organizations, it’s a situation that affects the whole country. She added that athletes may have their financial troubles, but then the country also have doctors, nurses, business people, teachers, parents etc. that are going through financial troubles as well. She continued by saying: “As a Sierra Leonean athlete, you cannot have to find a way to get by, in a sense that even the regular citizen doesn’t have what they necessarily need. So I tried to find different ways to support myself and the Sierra Leone Olympic Association and the Athletics Federation through connections.” Hafsatu Kamara said there has been an improvement in the Sierra Leone Olympic Association and she’s happy seeing such improvement and hope to see Sierra Leoneans working collectively as she believes it’s not just about the ministry of sport.
When asked by Salone Messenger in an online WhatsApp interview about her greatest achievement, Hafsatu Kamara told Salone Messengers: “My greatest achievement is competing at the Rio Olympics and making it through the next round. Graduating with a Bachelors in Science is also one of my greatest achievements – it was mainly for my parents as a thank you.” Hafsatu continued by saying: “Another achievement is being in a position to inspire. I have vput myself in a position where I can reach more people.”
Being very far away from home, Sierra Leone, Hafsatu Kamara follows a few social media platforms and websites in Sierra Leone to keep her updated. Salone Messenger asked her about the social media platforms and websites she normally check on to read Sierra Leone, she said: “For day-to-day Sierra Leone news, of course, Salone Messenger. Salone Messenger constantly have information about stories in Sierra Leone. I tend to also look at Vickie Remoe’s blog. I followed her on Instagram and Facebook, and also listen to her podcast The Make Salone Famous Show. I also look at Do am 4 Salone social media platforms. I also paid attention to Athletics Sports Monthly.”
The story of Hafsatu Kamara shows us the value of patriotism and nationalism, and why we should always put our country’s national flag first before anything else. Sincerity in patriotism and nationalism is the only antidote to tribalism, a virus that has higher tendency to divide a united nation. Despite she having the privilege to represent the United States of America, she chose Sierra Leone – her motherland.