Mar – May 2020
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Adama is feeling very elated when I call. It was just yesterday (17/02/2020) that years of hard work and perseverance were crowned as she was called to the bar. Becoming a lawyer has been an ambition since childhood.
Born and raised in Freetown her father is a military officer and her mother a business woman. She hails from the Yalunka ethnic group who originate from the northern province of the country in a place called Kabala. She cites key characteristics of the Yalunka as being peace loving and business minded.
It is no secret that Sierra Leone experienced a tragic civil war for just over a decade. Adama was a child during this period and was largely insulated from its effects as she grew up in army barracks due to her father’s service. These days she says nobody wants to talk about war or that period of the country’s history.
While this leaves a gap for youngsters about the experiences of their elders during this period, perhaps that is no bad thing.
Like many countries formed through colonisation Sierra Leone is comprised of a number of ethnic groups/ peoples whose fortunes differ depending on a range of variables. As countries mature and different peoples within them interact this can lead to greater social cohesion/ homogeneity, the emergence of a national culture and a stronger sense of national identity.
As far as Sierra Leone is concerned Adama feels social cohesion is a work in progress. Having said that, given she comes from a small ethnic group and lives in the capital, most of her friends are from other parts of the country. She is thankful she gets to grow and learn about/ live with different cultures and peoples that make up the tapestry of her country.
In terms of governance, she feels there are certain things the government has spearheaded or created the right environment for which she finds commendable; the road network has improved dramatically, tourism is vibrant, the entertainment industry is being supported more and wellness is becoming a big thing.
Having said this, she does not feel all is rosy. Adama feels the standard of education needs to be improved. However, she does feel the government is moving in the right direction on this. She is not happy with the health system and feels it needs a complete overhaul. As a diabetic the system has continually let her down and left her feeling extremely disappointed.
While earlier she touched on the benefits of living in the Capital and how interacting with Sierra Leoneans with different cultures from around the country has enriched her as a person, she does feel far more needs to be done to harness ethnic diversity and inclusivity.
It’s one thing for a country to embrace diversity organically, it’s quite another for governments to adopt policies that lead to harnessing the diversity of their populace more effectively.
We turn our attention to her line of work. As previously mentioned she is now a qualified lawyer. She recounts how the ambition to become a lawyer came about. As a child her friend’s mother was a clerk. One day her friend was asked to take some papers to court and she asked Adama if she would like to accompany her.
At court Adama witnessed a lawyer arguing a case. Adama was enthralled by how articulate and assured she was. Having delivered the papers her friend said it was time to return home but Adama decided to stay to watch the case unfold and said she would see her friend later.
Here she was, a young girl watching a professional who had clearly made an impression going about their work. At the end of the session Adama began to clap. This annoyed the Judge and she was removed from court. She tried to find the lawyer who had so enthralled her as she wanted to exchange words. Sadly she was unable to find her.
This experience ignited the flame that led to her achieving a childhood ambition. Along the way personal experiences have also reinforced her determination to stay the course and qualify.
Earlier it was touched on that Adama suffers from sickle cell anaemia. She is thankful that her parents have the resources to ensure she receives a better quality of care. Having experienced the shortcomings of the public health system she became concerned for her compatriots who might not be able to access the level of care she can.
This led to her establishing a group called ‘Sickle Cell Warriors’. The group does not receive any funding. Its current remit is to raise awareness about the condition such as through social media and conducting school visits to engage with pupils directly.
In time Adama intends to set up a foundation through which she would like to do more. Thankfully her line of work is well remunerated. In time she plans to save up enough funds so that she can get the foundation up and running. If she is also able to receive funding from elsewhere that would be great but if not she is planning to carry on regardless.
We are thankful that Africa has people with big hearts and willpower like Adama who are doing their bit to lighten the load.