Newspapers in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has a very small newspaper distribution (4 newspaper excl. Per
1,000 residents, 2000). Freedom of the press is limited, and newspapers must be
licensed by the government. The dominant daily newspaper is the government-owned
Daily Mail (founded in 1931; about 10,000 copies).
Radio and television are state and organized in the Sierra Leone
Broadcasting Service (SLBS), founded in 1934. The radio broadcasts mainly
in English and four local languages; TV has been broadcast in one channel since
1963. There are 259 radio and 13 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).
The ritual dances are an important element of
the Sierra Leonean culture. Each folk group has their
own dances and costumes. The music that accompanies the
dances is performed on stringed instruments, wooden
xylophones and drums.
In the popular music, a style called palm wine music,
or maringa, was developed during the 20th century,
performed on guitar and so called because the audience
and musicians used to drink palm wine. The music is
closely related to the West Indian calypso. The most
popular artists of the last decades have been influenced
by Congolese dance music, Western funk, soul and hip
hop. One of the most prominent musicians was Ahmed Janka
Nabay who passed away in 2018.
Latest population statistics of Sierra Leone, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Sierra Leone also has rich traditions in the visual
arts, especially sculptures and masks, the latter used
in the ritual dances. Figures in carved ivory are
preserved from at least the 16th century. A center for
stone and ivory sculptures was the island of Sherbro and
the coastal land adjacent to it.
The storytelling is a lively and widespread tradition
in Sierra Leone, and there are people who manage to feed
on telling stories. Among ordinary writers, some have
gained further fame, including Syl Cheney-Coker who
wrote The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar. In 2010,
Olufemi Terry was awarded an African Literature Prize,
the Cain Prize. Terry was born in Sierra Leone but now
lives in Cape Town. The script he was awarded,
Stickfighting Days, is about a boy growing up on a dump.
In the book The Devil that Danced on the Water,
Aminatta Forna, a Scottish-Sierra-Leonean writer, tells
of her family's history (her father, who was previously
finance minister, was executed in the 1970s after
criticizing then-leader Siaka Stevens). Forna has
subsequently written several novels that take place in
Sierra Leone. For Sierra Leone public policy, please
Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the
Constitution, but in practice it is rubbed to the brim
by hard-to-interpret rules and political interference.
For example, the journalist trying to portray the
widespread corruption risks being accused of slander. In
2005, an uncomfortable journalist was beaten to death by
the authorities without anyone being held accountable
for it. The activities of the media are also regulated
by a parliamentary appointed, formally independent,
media commission, whose impartiality is, however, often
questioned because it is financially dependent on the
Although the government keeps the media under strong
watch and reporters are often exposed to political
pressure, conditions have improved during the 2000s.
This is reflected in the Press Freedom Index published
by the organization Reporters Without Borders each year,
with Sierra Leone steadily climbing upwards, from place
121 of just over 170 countries in 2007 to number 61 in
the index for 2013; in 2015, however, the country had
dropped to 79.
Today, dozens of newspapers are published in the
capital Freetown, most privately owned and critical of
the government, often sensational and with poor fact
checking. The editions are in most cases low. Among the
biggest newspapers are For di People (in crisis),
Awareness Times (which claims to be the largest
newspaper in the country), Awoko, Standard Times and
Concord Times. Few newspapers have some readers outside
the metropolitan area.
The State Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC)
broadcasts in English, crisis, mende, temne and limba as
well as once a week in French. SLBC also has TV
broadcasts, though with limited coverage. There are many
private radio stations and also a private TV channel,
ABC. The radio is considered to provide more reliable
information than the newspapers and is the medium that
reaches out to most people.
The Internet has limited distribution, but access is
constantly increasing since wireless connection was
introduced in 2008. In 2014, there were approximately
92,000 Internet users in the country. There were also
4.8 million mobile subscribers and three mobile
FACTS - MASS MEDIA
Percentage of the population using the
9 percent (2017)
Number of mobile subscriptions per 100
New corruption cases
The head of the central tax authority, his wife and three others are charged
with 57 cases of corruption. The tax chief is suspended for 16 months while the
investigation is ongoing. (All are later acquitted in court for lack of
evidence, which is seen as a setback for the Anti-Corruption Commission).
Penalties are lifted
The UN Security Council abolishes the last sanctions against Sierra Leone, an
arms embargo and a travel ban for rebels.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) makes the first payment of a $ 45
million three-year loan. The money will be used to strengthen the financial
system and partly to expand the country's infrastructure.
Free care is introduced
The government announces a program for free health care for pregnant and
lactating women and children under the age of five.
Punished for corruption
Two senior officials at the Ministry of Defense are sentenced to prison and
fined for corruption and abuse of power.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Afsatu Kabba, is dismissed
for corruption. She was one of the two female ministers in the government. (In
October, she is found guilty of embezzlement of public funds and sentenced to $
100,000 in fines or 15 years in prison).
Ministers risk dismissal
President Ernest Bai Koroma educates the government and the country's higher
officials and threatens many with resignation unless high-level corruption