By Matthew Kanu
Residents of Makeni City in Northern Sierra Leone have expressed optimism over the newly established Centre for Sierra Leone Studies. A trader in Makeni Andrew Kamara said most citizens don’t know the history of Sierra Leone. I personally believe that such a centre will bridge the knowledge gap existing within our society” he said.
Like Andrew, Mariatu Bangura is a teacher of the Saint Francis Secondary School in Makeni. She like most residents of Makeni believed that establishing a Centre for Sierra Leone Studies is a step in the right direction. “I personally believe that this will enable us to move from darkness to light” she noted . She further emphasized that an enlighten society is a society that is well informed, transparent and accountable.
Many students here at the university of Makeni hold the view that the establishment of the centre will enhance or make available more learning material to them. Mass Communication final year student Cecelia Karimu said this will make learning easier. She also reiterated that the centre will promote the right to access information and good governance .
According to the Sierra Leone 2015 housing and population census the population of Sierra Leone is over seven million. The majority of this population lives in rural Sierra Leone. A larger population of rural Sierra Leone is uninformed. Chapter 3 subsection 2 of the1991 Sierra Leone Constitution indicate that : (1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, freedom from interference with his correspondence, freedom to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions, and academic freedom in institutions of learning:
Provided that no person other than the Government or any person or body authorised by the President shall own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for any purpose whatsoever.
(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in the contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision. Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Right stipulated that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek receive and impart information and ideas though any media and regardless of frontiers.
Speaking in an interview the University of Makeni Vice Chancellor Reverend Father Professor Joe Turay said the centre will be a resource useful not only for students but for Sierra Leoneans and non Sierra Leonean citizens across the globe . He emphasized that the centre will be a research laboratory for various academic disciplines and will be professionally administered. ”In order to commence this ambitious project, we will use all the modern digital tools available to us. We will begin by building both an anthology of materials available in all academic disciplines and providing a detailed bibliography of work stored elsewhere and currently being researched and where this may be viewed and incorporated into the work of scholars studying and writing on all aspects of Sierra Leone” he mentioned. He further opined that a further source of information will be the respected ‘Journal of Sierra Leone Studies’, which will be based at The Centre and subsequent editions will include both peer-reviewed academic papers and other items of interest and use to those wanting to study and know more about Sierra Leone. ”If anyone has documents, photographs or other items that will be of use to scholars and would like to donate them to us, please send them to the Centre, where they will allow us to build the non-digital section of the materials available to all wanting to study and further their interest in Sierra Leone” he pleaded. Sierra Leone history is widely respected across Africa and beyond. With the establishment of this centre the country’s historical profile will be respected.