By KABS KANU :
Sierra Leone is going places in online journalism. More interesting newspapers have emerged over the past months and COCORIOKO , the newspaper living by the belief and dictim that “THE MORE NEWSPAPERS , THE MERRIER” , is delighted to bring readers the urls of these news outlets. We are glad that our country is impressively forging ahead in Journalism , manifested by the many news outlets that readers have to log in to when the surf the internet .This has led to the glorious situation where a lot of information about Sierra Leone now exists on the internet. For readers to value the emergence of these new newspapers, it is worthwhile to provide a brief history of Sierra Leone’s online journalism. We hope those entering the noble profession now will take note and learn how much the veterans sacrificed and suffered to plant the seeds of our country’s journalism online .
The architect of our online journalism is former peace corps volunteer , Mr. Peter Andersen, also of the Special Court of Sierra Leone , who set up the SIERRA LEONE WEB around 1996 . That was at a time when the only newspaper available to news-starved Sierra Leoneans in the United States and the diaspora was the print PROGRESS Newspaper , published by the Late Fode Kande. Peter Andersen came into the scene at a most crucial time when war had spread all over Sierra Leone and our citizens were itching for news about the safety and security of their relatives , friends, neighbours and associates. His objective and comprehensive news reports about the war and the traumatic 1997 AFRC military coup could not have come at a better time.
About that same time, Mr. Claude Meama-Kajue set up the LEONENET FORUM, which also served as a valuable source of information and analyses on Sierra Leone affairs. The Sierra Leone Information Service ( SLIS ) also did a great job when they set up their forum and news service, which also supplied vital information about the war back home. Soon , names like Sylvia Blyden ( INIP ) , Kabs Kanu, Toegondoe Sagba, Dr. Pratt , Allieu Iscandari, Oswald Hanciles, Morris Ceesay (Now best known as Foday Morris ) , Mankota, Uncle Boisy, Old Man Javombo, King Loggy, Jepehlondo , Sogbui, etc. appeared big time on the internet on the discussion forums. Kabs Kanu, Sylvia Blyden, Allieu Iscandari, Dr. Pratt , Morris Ceesay ,Mankota, Uncle Boisy provided vitriolic attacks on the SLPP for its bad governance and human rights abuses on the SLIS and NUP Forums while people like Toegondo Sagba , Pa.Javombo, Marda Tarvehgutu, Sogbui, Knice and others faithfully supported the SLPP.
The first online newspaper was established by Dr. Ibrahim Seaga-Shaw in 1998 . EXPO TIMES became the platform for reliable news and robust commentaries , with leading Sierra Leonean journalists like Kabs Kanu and Gibril Gbanabome Koroma hooking up with Shaw to provide the then ruling ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) Government of ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah a hell of a time. Shaw, Kanu and Gbanabome incurred the wrath of SLPP supporters online and received all kinds of threats and verbal abuses for their no-nonsense analyses of the failures of the SLPP Government. Gbanabome previously worked on the print edition of the paper in Freetown , together with Sheka Tarawallie , who had his own newspaper, THE TORCHLIGHT , before they were driven out of the country by the SLPP Government. During that time, Kabs Kanu worked for the WEST AFRICAN JOURNAL, which was then edited by Joseph Kappia of California. EXPO TIMES stepped on the toes of many SLPP government officials and their supporters . To this day, some SLPP fanatics in the Leonenet and FOIS forums still bear bitter grudges for these men–and forumites like Allieu Iscandari, Morris Ceesay , King Loggy– for the manner they stripped bare the facade of the SLPP. The second online newspaper then emerged in 2002 , called SIERRA HERALD and edited by former SLBS and BBC News presenter , Victor Sylver.
When Seaga-Shaw went to college to study for his PH.D and Expo Times began to lose its fire , Kabs Kanu rekindled the flames by reviving his old newspaper, COCORIOKO , which he had used to fight corrupt students council governments and the archaic college administration at Fourah Bay College in the mid-1970s. FBC’s famous Cocorioko newspaper came back to life , this time on the internet , in 2002 and became an instant hit, maintaining pressure on the corrupt SLPP Government with blistering attacks . With a dedicated journalist like Sylvester Suaray as its Freetown correspondent , the paper became the most widely read Sierra Leonean news outlet online. Suaray introduced Tamba Borbor, who in turn brought in Joseph Kamanda, who along with Osman Koroma , Chernor Ojuku Sesay , Olu Faulkner , Joseph Sherman and Jacob Sax-Conteh , all toiled hard to establish COCORIOKO as the people’s newspaper.
AWOKO came online in 2003 , followed by AWARENESS TIMES in 2004 and then the PATRIOTIC VANGUARD ( Edited by another intellect from the dying Expo Times –Gibril Gbanabome Koroma ) in 2005. STANDARD TIMES followed in 2006. Then began the mushrooming of newspapers .
The new newspapers that have graced the Sierra Leone online journalism scene are :
* The Critique Echo Newspaper : http://critiqueecho.com/
* Freetown Daily News : http://www.freetowndailynews.com/
* The New Daily Nation : http://thenewdailynation.com/
*The Sierra Leone Telegraph : http://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/
* Sierra Update : http://www.sierraupdate.co.uk/index.php
The famed EXPO TIMES , edited by Dr. Seaga Shaw , is also back . We will conduct an exclusive interview with him later this week .
The paper can be accessed at : http://www.expotimesonline.net/