Few weeks after Sierra Leone’s President Julius announced his new cabinet which included appointing Miss Salima Mornorma Bah, as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Communication, Technology, and Innovation. I was curious to know what her new plans will be, most especially in the area of Technology. Over the years, few of us have spent years sharing positive stories about our country, showing the beauty and resilient of our young people, telling the world that Sierra Leone is not just about the war, blood diamond, corruption, and injustice, it is also about the young innovators, farmers, hard-working men and women. our focus has been showcasing this incredible work in our today’s world of social media (Technology). The reality over the years little or no attention has been given to us by Government.
Sierra Leone: Today, we checked Google, the world most renowned search engine to see how we are performing, we were inspired to note that Face2Africa, Pulse Ghana, Vanguard News, Operanews, Nairaland, Face of Malawi, and over 50 other international news outlets have referenced our sources on their publications (all Sierra Leonean stories). This is what keep inspiring us at Salone Messenger – to tell positive and inspiring Sierra Leonean and African stories.
The media is a vital tool in shaping and influencing people’s perception and interpretation of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leoneans, and our stories. When one opens Google and tries to search ‘Sierra Leone,’ what you would mostly find are stories relating to poverty, war, and diseases, politics, which also reinforces other negative stereotypes. For some strange reason, Sierra Leone is known by many not for its beautiful landscape and beaches; amazing culture and tradition;, wonderful people; and great hospitality; but for its 11-year-old bloody civil war, the deadly Ebola virus disease that claimed the lives of hundreds of Sierra Leoneans and left hundreds of children orphaned, the harrowing and excruciating mudslide that occurred in 2017 and killed over 300 people in, and, of course, corruption, politics of vengeance and many distorting stories.This negative narrative, we believe, has been at the centre of Sierra Leone’s international spotlight, and it is unfair to this beautiful country called Sierra Leone people.
As said by Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” For this reason, Salone Messenger was established in a bid to change the course of our stories and how they are told negatively. As young and passionate storytellers who have spent years and still counting in rebranding our stories from negative to positive, we believe there is much more we can do to change the dark image of our country through storytelling. Since 2018, we have relentlessly and effortlessly written over 300 inspiring and positive Sierra Leonean stories by promoting and showcasing the bright and positive side of Sierra Leone and its people. These stories have positively impacted the lives of those young and vibrant Sierra Leoneans whom we have profiled and promoted on our platform for almost FREE! Their stories are being read by thousands of people not just in Sierra Leone but the whole of Africa and perhaps the world at large. Our website has over one hundred thousand visitors from over 100+ countries, most from the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, etc. These aforementioned countries are the hub for investors whom may likely be inspired by the stories we published and maybe would one day make a move to invest in one of our profiled change-maker.
While we understand that past and present governments have been giving little or no attention to storytellers like us who are going through the length and breadth to spotlight Sierra Leone in a positive tone and manner, we also do understand that it has become a normal routine for governments in Sierra Leone to spend more time to draw negative social media political trends which have no positive impacts in rebranding Sierra Leone for the good, thus laying the ladder for the negative stories about Sierra Leone to climb higher on search engines than the positive stories.
We have allowed misinformation to thrive in Sierra Leone because we fail to give the required opportunities to those who are working day and night, relentlessly, to make sure there are good stories to read about Sierra Leone. Storytellers like Salone Messenger, The African Dream, Issadin K and a handful of other young Sierra Leoneans who are changing the narrative should be empowered and given the necessary resources (not just money) to make Sierra Leone famous not for the bad reasons but for the good reasons. Countries like Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are exuberantly benefiting from the digital media space. This year, Facebook introduced new features that will grant Kenyans and content creators in general, an opportunity to earn more money. Sierra Leone was left out again! Why? Because we thread more on unnecessary banters, trollings, and negative stories when we have tons of good stories to push and tell to the world. When other African countries are being granted monetization opportunities by Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, Sierra Leone is always left out.
Our persistent political tantrums and banters on Facebook and other social media platforms are a reason for the government’s failure to empower positive storytellers. When we allow so much negativity to grow, the good side becomes buried. The solution to mend our broken hearts and strengthen our broken relationships as a United and better Sierra Leone, is positive storytelling. Stories have ways to make and destroy a certain race, tribe, region, and nation. The way we tell our stories, good or bad, will come back to haunt us. If we promote positive stories, peace and nation building is achievable; vice versa.
We want to implore this responsibility on the Government of Sierra Leone, International and Local Organizations to empower these individuals and organisations who are changing the narrative to be able to do more. When individuals and institutions like us are empowered, we will create opportunities for many young people and businesses who need storytelling to grow, and empower many young people to become positive storytellers like us instead of threading on negative stories that have destroyed the good image of our country. It is our belief that too much good overcomes the bad. Now more than ever, they should also consider people like us who without the needed resources continue to tell positive stories of young change-makers with the hope that we bridge the gap, grow their business and create networking for them. We don’t have to be of the same tribe, political parties, or come from the same region. At the end of the day, it is Sierra Leone and not Abu, Sorie, or Musa.
In the next couple of days, we will focus on giving alternatives on what government and oppositions and institutions should do to build a better and United Sierra Leone.