Sierra Leone: from a bitter past to a bright future?  A pre-concert panel discussion

The Carolan Room, National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Wednesday 23rd January 2013.

The first of our Africa debates brought together a great array of specialists from varying backgrounds.  These included former RTE journalist Dr Walt Kilroy, Sophie Magennis who is Head of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees office in Ireland, Academic and Sierra Leone specialist Dr Timothy Reeves, Regional director for Concern World Wide Brid Kennedy, and Sierra Leonean national and chair of the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership Kai Matturi.

The event was designed to give background and context to the performance later that evening by the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars.

Dr Walt Kilroy

Dr Kilroys’s talk focused on the methods by which ex-combatants are returned into society in the aftermath of conflict.  Processes of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) have become commonplace as a post-conflict reconstruction mechanism, however to what degree do ex-combatants gain ownership of the process?



Sophie Magennis

Sophie Magennis

Ms Magennis focused on some of the key responsibilities of the UNHCR.  Giving a background to refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP’s) situation which occurred during the Sierra Leone conflict she spoke of some of the lessons learned and how they can be applied to other refugee situations around the world.



Dr Tim Reeves

Dr Timothy Reeves

Dr Reeves talk focused on the effects of the 2005 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) which was drawn up by the Sierra Leone government and endorsed by the IMF and World Bank.  Specifically his study focussed on whether the effects on the incomes of families in Northern Sierra Leone forced them to engage in cross border shadow economies with Guinea and Liberia.



Brid Kennedy

Brid Kennedy

Ms Kennedy spoke of Concern World Wide work in Sierra Leone which has been ongoing since 1996 and where she undertook her first visit during the war in the late 90’s.  Concern focuses its work in Freetown and in the Northern Province area of Tonkolili.




Kai Matturi

Kai Matturi

Mr Matturi spoke about the work of the Sierra Leone Partnership, his own reflections as a Sierra Leoneon living in Ireland, and of some of the key priorities for Sierra Leones future.



We are very grateful to all the panel discussants and the members of the audience who made an interesting and memorable event.  Our thanks also to the Waltons World Masters Series for allowing this event to take place and to the staff of the National Concert Hall for their assistance.

Special thanks to Jake MacManus of Cusp Media for his time making these Podcasts and to Giorgia Pistoia for her photography.

For more information about Africa Debates feel free to contact us.


Questions & Answers session at Sierra Leone from a bitter past to a bright future?

Questions & Answers session at Sierra Leone from a bitter past to a bright future? Photos by Giorgia Pistoia.





Burkina Faso

The Upright Man – Thomas Sankara: 26th Anniversary.

Thomas Sankara

In 1983 Thomas Sankara at the age of 32 deposed the dictator of Upper Volta, West Africa.  One of his first acts was to change the name of the country to Burkina Faso ‘The land of the Upright People’.  In the following four years of his rule he attempted to implement some of post-independence Africa’s most radical reform measures, including the emancipation of women, self-sufficiency programs.  Sankara shunned the riches of power and continued as a vocal critic of neo-colonialism until his assassination on the 15thOctober 1987.

Tuesday 15th October                         7 – 9pm

Cornucopia, 19-20 Wicklow St, Dublin 2

This event is part of international celebrations taking place including events in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, The USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Togo.


Film Screening:       Thomas Sankara – The Upright Man.

Panel and Q & A’s:  Mbemba Jabbi  (The Africa Centre, Dublin) and Lassane Ouedraogo.

Music performance:Performance of traditional music from Burkina Faso and West Africa.