Saturday, 25 August 2018 marked another milestone in the country’s entertainment industry as 16 contestants from each of the districts locked horns in a beauty contest at the prestigious Bintumani Conference Centre to clinch the covetous position of Miss Sierra Leone. Impressively, the scene was lively, colourful, serene, full of fun and truly amusing.
The program which was organised by the Miss Sierra Leone Board in line with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and sponsored by different entities including Africell, Pikin Business and Banks was immaculate.
Some of those who graced the occasion included the country’s First Lady, Fatima Bio, the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis and other crème-de-la crème in society.
According to the estimation of many the competition was really competitive and indeed a tough one for the judges especially as all the 16 participants exuded natural beauty and intelligence. Regardless of that there was definitely going to be a winner. The winner who finally emerged was Sarah Laura Tucker from Bonthe District who happens to be a student of the Mass Communications Department at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Emerging as the new Miss Sierra Leone she proudly bagged a brand new car and 12 million Leones.
Sarah now has the onus to represent Sierra Leone as Ambassador to represent the country in future external beauty pageants. Currently, she will serve as a role model in terms of properly comporting herself in a well-mannered way for other young girls to emulate.
Most of those who witnessed the beauty pageant competition passionately argued that Laura really deserved the 1st position as she is not only beautiful but truly demonstrated intelligence as she eloquently expressed herself while responding to questions that were posed to her by the judges. They furthered that the dignified way in which she carried herself, her shape and fitness all contributed to give her an edge over the other contestants.
This year’s Miss Sierra Leone Beauty Contest has been described as one that was well organized as everything went well as scheduled.
The MCs, John Konte of Air Radio and Stella Bangura, formerly of AYV, also lively captivated the audience as they presented the show in a real prime time, fashionable style making the whole contest very interesting and superb.
Mutarla Mohamed Kamara served as Media Coordinator prior to the contest.
A friend of mine, Nicolas Matatu of the International IDEA once told me that “societies that fought civil war are not likely to go into another war after a period of ten (10) years.” I do believe that. So I am firmly of the support that never again will Sierra Leone fight a bloody civil war.
DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER is born from a rich editorial background that will initiate a guideline policy to work on the platform of editorial independence, fairness and credibility which all gear towards upholding both the ethical principles and the legal framework for media regulations in Sierra Leone. By so doing, we are keen to focus on prioritizing several areas in our editorial coverage, which are explained in details below.
- Firstly, key amongst the many issues that will be fostered by DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER will be to uphold an independent and impartial editorial stance that will suppress the already ethno-regional and ethno-political divides which has plunged the Sierra Leonean society. As the name implies, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER will always stand tall to portray the true image of a typical Sierra Leonean media. This is why as a team we have worked assiduously to setup a website (demirrornewspaper.com) so as to cater for our Sierra Leonean audience in and out of the country. We are also working on getting our printed newspaper circulated in all the five (5) regions of the country. We are also setting-up our various social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter to get Sierra Leoneans connected irrespective of region of origin to have an equitable platform to discuss issues revolving the welfare of the country.
- Furthermore, another major policy guideline of DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER is to uphold the sanctity of Fundamental Human Rights of Sierra Leoneans irrespective of tribe, ethnicity, religion and social origins. Human rights, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER believes, are sacred rights which every human being are entitled to basically because they are human beings. They are rights that are God’s given which are protected by our sacred 1991 Constitution and most legal statutes in the country. In our Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution for instance, Chapter 3 detailed all of these rights, with most others found in other parliamentary statutes. During our findings, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER feels that these rights are constantly being infringed upon, but the media has always under-reported issues of human rights. Hardly will we see newspaper frontpages prioritizing human rights reporting. We are seeing the media more focused on political reporting.
As a result, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER is formulating an operational policy guideline to always prioritise human rights journalism, and to equip our staff to always report on human rights issues, irrespective of where they happen, no matter where they take place, and no matter the tribe or social origins of the people who are involved. DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER believes that never again must we sit and watch the Sierra Leonean society violate human rights and say we will not report. DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER believes that it is its policy to report on the sanctity of human rights and to report on the protection of dignity of people inline with our established laws in Sierra Leone.
- In addition, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER is keen on formulating policy guideline to create awareness on the gender laws and laws protecting children in Sierra Leone. Already, the Proprietor and Managing Editor of the newspaper Abdul Malik Bangura, whilst previously serving as editor of one of the newspapers in the country, had been invited to the Africa Union (AU) in Addis Ababa as part of an high-level media platform to discuss “The Role of the Media in Africa’s Development, Women’s Empowerment and its support for Agenda 2063.” He says he believes that attending that particular conference in Addis Ababa in 2017 was never a mistake, but rather a platform to enrich the Sierra Leone female populace on several issues on gender empowerment etc.
DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER therefore believes that there is no way of creating awareness on gender and children’s issues without first of all letting the women know their rights as enshrined in the three (3) gender laws of the country (Devolution of Estate Act; Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act; and the Domestic Violence Act) and the Child Rights Act. By so doing, we are creating a platform of getting together urban and rural women share experience on issues of their welfare. Also, we are going to prioritise the reporting of situations of children involved in rape, sexual penetration, child trafficking etc. DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER will on every edition allocate a full page to report gender and children’s issues throughout the country.
- Meanwhile, another major policy guideline of DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER will be to report on issues of planning the environment and the impact of urbanization in our cities across Sierra Leone. Freetown is a very disaster prone city, and illegal mining is hitting hard on the fabric of our provincial communities. The media coverage on the negative impact of people living in disaster prone communities is really low. Hardly will a media outlet cover these issues, unless at the time when we are plunged with mayhem. For example, our media neglected ever covering the negative effects of people living in disaster prone areas, not until after the August 14 2017 mudslide and flooding disaster.
That notwithstanding, we still have many others whose lives are endangered, thus DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER will be prioritizing reporting on how to plan our cities.
- Additionally, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER has also worked on formulating a policy that will create an equal and balance coverage of both the rural and urban communities. Sierra Leone provinces are disadvantaged communities. Our estimate is that more that 98% of registered newspapers in Sierra Leone are in the capital Freetown. This means, the geographical proximity paradigm of Galtung and Ruge is very eminent in our newspaper coverage. Most often, our newspapers try to more focus on reporting of events in Freetown against the provinces.
The lack of coverage of events in the provinces has seen Sierra Leone suffered two major outbreaks. The rebel war in 1991 and the Ebola Outbreak in 2014 which all started in remote Bomaru and Gbondu respectively, in Kailahun District, Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Therefore, DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER has formulated a strategy of getting community people sending news about their communities through our various social media feeds and even in our email to ensure that we create awareness to the relevant authorities of negative and urgent situations across the country.
In conclusion, one of the major policy guideline we will continue to uphold as very sacred is to formulate a working team that will comprise individuals from all regions across Sierra Leone. DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER frowns against discrimination and segregation on the basis of tribe, social origin, ethnicity, religious belief etc. We will always seek to protect the interest of Sierra Leone against the selfish desires of men.
We neither have the money nor the expertise for this ostentatious Lungi Bridge project!
Few months after his governing party was voted out, Former President Ernest Bai Koroma was at the All Peoples Congress (APC) headquarters in Freetown begging for forgiveness from all those he had hurt throughout his ten (10) years in governance as President of Sierra Leone. Indeed, this had been a man who, for obvious reasons, was seen as a demigod to many.
The inaugural cocktail organised by the Office of the Press Secretary—which gave media practitioners the opportunity to dine with the President of Sierra Leone—shows the extent to which our democracy is growing. Never in Sierra Leone's history had there been a programme that included journalists from all reputable media institutions save this cocktail. Journalists from all political and apolitical spectrum graced the one in a lifetime programme.
For some, it was a hazy moment to see the man who, despite their constant bashing, has walked his way to the acme of power regardless of the odds. And for others, it was an opportunity to see a valiantly strong personality who never gave up hope but kept on walking his way to the hall of fame. Whatever the mixed feelings are, it was a moment of celebration—a presidential media harmony.
The media plays a vital role in deepening our young and fragile democracy especially in serving the public's need to know, and this comes from the constitutional mandate to hold government accountable on how it steers the affairs of the state. The media, as third party endorsers, have the moral obligation to checkmate government's excesses and report to those whose wishes and aspirations they have sworn provide and protect—the electorates.
Much has been achieved over the years in fulfilling the media's clear cut mandate to provide an accountability mechanism for the people's representatives, but more needs to be done in order that media institutions do their job in a professionally wise manner to fulfill their watchdog function, not the unnecessary attackdog role of CNN against President Donald Trump which constantly exposes CNN's vulnerability in taking sides instead of presenting issues objectively, but a function that genuinely checks on the excesses of government.
In line with the above mandate, most media institutions in Sierra Leone have been constantly selective in their news writing and reporting processes. President Bio, during his opposition run and even now, was/is constantly hooked by incessant banner headlines ranging from "fake brigadier", traveling impossibilities to the United States of America, Car business in Ghana to Passport scandals. All these unsubstantiated allegations were used as hurdles to deter him from achieving his presidential ambition. Some media institutions were given quotes in the form of "brown envelopes" to frustrate his effort to serve his people. But all those obsolete allegations surrendered to the people's power which is, "Despite all those unimaginable allegations, President Bio is the man of the moment, hence we will entrust him our leadership sceptre."
The inaugural cocktail was a platform to make amends; to signal a new dispensation for the Office of the President and the media; a dispensation that is anchored on the need to work in harmony to make Sierra Leone a better place. President Bio, through his humorous speech, disregarded all the media dissidents against his personality and jolted them to move with the New Direction as it is the only solution for Sierra Leone. The humorous interpositions were actually a device used to create a somewhat reposed atmosphere for effectively normal interaction.
His commitment to repeal the Part 5 of the Public Order Act, strengthen the Independent Media Commission and provide annual subvention for the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) shows the extent to which he can go to help the media perform their responsibilities reasonably well. These commitments are not in any way a gagging apparatus to silence the media, but to achieve international best standards with no political string attached.