Freedom of Expression - Our Rights and Responsibilities

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As we continue to move the discourse on media information literacy, I will today attempt to discuss the issues surrounding freedom of expression, its indispensability in a democracy and its attendant responsibilities.

The good news for all is that ECOWAS member states (Sierra Leone included) have constitutional guarantees on Freedom of Expression. Furthermore, ECOWAS countries have also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and Article 13 affirms the right to democratic participation.  To a large extent, these measures have contributed to the vibrancy and growth of democracy in Sierra Leone and across the sub-region.

As a Journalist, I always espouse Freedom of expression as my fundamental human right. The ability to express our opinions and speak freely is essential to bringing about change in society, allowing a society such as ours to develop and progress. 

Lest we forget Freetonians - the Rains are here!

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Over the weekend, we witnessed the first heavy rainfall in the year. The weather forecast was so bad that the Mayor of Freetown was compelled to raise an alert and an emergency call line was introduced.

As I drive through downtown Freetown, meandering through Krootown road, via Kroo-bay to Connaught Hospital, images of the Kroo-bay victims during the last rains stared at me.  The big question is: Were any lessons learnt? The Kroo-bay community is still intact. Plans for relocation have not materialised year after year and it appears business continues as normal when the season rolls over.

Reopening faith centers: Adhere to keep our places of worship safe and open

The Bio Administration has granted permission to places of worship to open their doors effective yesterday, 13th of July 2020.

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While the burden of the COVID-19 fell evenly across Sierra Leone, faith groups were forced to punctuate their practice as part of the COVID-19 preventive measure.  But at a time of widespread anxiety about 'The now and The future', this announcement was a welcome opportunity to seek comfort and consolation in sacred spaces around the country.

Analysts are of the opinion that the government was persuaded that if the public is ready to re-engage in economic recovery by lifting district lockdowns and the 'lumas' in full bloom then people of faith ought to be allowed to enter places of worship.  I must admit this signified a strong positive sign of a listening President following multiple consultations with the Inter-Religious Council, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Health officials, NACOVERC officials, experts, and other stakeholders. The Presidential no objection proposal drafted by the inter-religious council covered infection prevention protocols, capacity management, social distancing, and social mobilisation amongst others. 

COVID-19 Pandemic Likely to Result in Lasting Changes to schooling

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Ah at last, the school bells are ringing albeit for pupils prepping for national exams. But the feeling is good! It is a 'back to school' season like no other as we begin to reopen our school gates following weeks of enforced closures.

Schools closed for all students in Sierra Leone on March 31st and partly reopened on July 1st for students taking NPSE, BECE and WASSE. Other classes remain closed. The school closures are likely to have worsened educational inequalities, jeopardizing Sierra Leone's attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4, and all of us as citizens and parents have a duty to ensure that a temporary break in schooling does not become a permanent one for our vulnerable educational system.

Amidst the misinformation, we're here to separate facts from fiction

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I'll be honest; it's been a bad year for facts. Sierra Leone like the rest of the world has continued to see a massive amount of misinformation about the corona virus pandemic and the overall state governance.

I am very sure discourses around 'den say' are happening right now in your backyards, the 'Ataya bases', 'kekehs', 'poda podas' and the list goes on and most probably on your  television and radio and of course social media. We definitely are in the midst of an 'infodemic.’

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