Sierra Leone’s seminal podcast Make Sierra Leone Famous has launched its second season to coincide with Independence Day. The 15-part second series features Sierra Leonean creatives and entrepreneurs overcoming challenges and beating the odds. They are artists, filmmakers, musicians, chefs, writers, storytellers, and designers leading Sierra Leone’s orange economy both at home and from the diaspora.
The first two episodes with the title “How Usifu Jalloh Became Sierra Leone’s Cowfoot Prince Part 1 & 2” is a coming-of-age story about a man afraid of the culture that comes natural to him.
For 25 years Jalloh was ashamed to accept his calling as a performing cultural artist and a Sierra Leonean storyteller.
“My initial experience as a Sierra Leonean young boy growing up was a process of actually denying myself and that is the craziest irony of living in Africa,” he said.
He tried to be a lawyer like his colonial Prince Walean education told him to be—find a respectable job like an Englishman. He wanted to be known for anything else but for African drumming and singing.
“The day I accepted that I am a storyteller, that was the day the whole world revolves around me, and suddenly every single use of storytelling appeared to me, you put me among doctors I will tell you a story about healing, you put me among environmentalists I will tell you stories about the environment, put among architects I will tell you a story about architects and maintaining the environment, put me everywhere I will tell you a story.”
In this conversation with Vickie Remoe, Jalloh shares lessons for all creatives and insights on how Sierra Leoneans can use culture to change the nation’s approach to development.
On Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone’s most celebrated educational institution Jalloh questions the mission of the university.
“The purpose of Fourah Bay College was not to build a nation of Sierra Leone, it was to provide servants for the colonial administration, so they had to put something in place in order to retune our mindsets to serve the colonial system directly or indirectly. Where was Athens when Sierra Leone made the nomoli dated 19 thousand years ago, we had a civilization here in West Africa when Athens was nowhere to be seen, and how could we be calling ourselves Athens of West Africa and that is part of the negating of who we are no wonder we struggle so much.”
A radio broadcast of the #MakeSierraLeoneFamous goes out Wednesdays at 11:00am GMT on Radio Democracy 98.1 to reach listeners across the country who don’t have access to the internet. Online the podcast is available on Itunes, Spotify, Audiomack, Anchor, and Google Podcast.
The podcast is made possible thanks to support from brand partners like the US-based air freight company DotBleu which ships packages to Sierra Leone from Washington DC; the DollHouse Boutique a household name for American fashion with stores in Baltimore and Los Angeles, and the Asmaa James Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports girls and women to improve their livelihoods.