Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/24/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Identity crisis in Sierra Leona as people are divided between protecting nature and making money.

The people of Sierra Leone are engaged in a bitter debate over how best to manage that country's precious natural resources. At the heart of that debate is contention over the Gola Rainforest, an area believed to be rich in iron ore. Recently, a tribal chief leased the land to a British mining company and now the case has gone to the courts.

The Gola Rainforest is one of the world's most biologically diverse habitats--and it's also rich in iron ore, opportunity, and controversy.

The Gola Rainforest is one of the world's most biologically diverse habitats--and it's also rich in iron ore, opportunity, and controversy.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/24/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Sierra Leone, mining, Sable Mining, national park, Gola rainforest


FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE (Catholic Online) - Next week, the case will appear before a judge in a Sierra Leone court. The accusation is that the chief of the Tonika Chiefdom has illegally leased part of the tribe's lands to the UK-owned Sable Mining Company.

Several mining companies have cast jealous eyes upon the rain forest preserve for its estimated $150 billion worth of iron ore. However, the deposits also happens to be on land that has been designated as  a protected national park.

Alfred Williams, a member of the Tonkia Descendents Association angrily said "the chief is the guardian of the land -- he can't sell it."

The International Monetary Fund has predicted that Sierra Leone's economy will experience one of the fastest growth rates in the world, expanding at a rate of 51.4 percent in 2012 as iron ore exports rise.

The people of Sierra Leone have endured poverty since the arrival of Europeans centuries ago. For many, mining the land is the first, and possibly the only, opportunity for wealth for many people. The people of Sierra Leone want what any other people want, good jobs, decent pay, schools, medicine, and a respectable standard of living. Mining the land is one quick and easy avenue towards those things.

But others warn, that mining the land is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul. Many are furious at the prospect of a foreign mining company destroying the rain forest. They believe that the rain forest and the tribal lands upon which it is situated should be left in their natural state to preserve the land itself, the ecosystem, and the way of life followed by many people for generations.

The country remains divided. Some see the opportunity to enjoy wealth that has eluded them and their ancestors for generations. Others however, see it as short-term gain, and exploitation. People are concerned for themselves, and for their descendents who will have to live with the impact that mining operations have.

Of course, the mining industry denies that harvesting these resources will have a substantial impact on the environment. They have even offered to arrange tours of other mining facilities to demonstrate that mining can be done with minimal impact.

Still, many native peoples are not having any of it.

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma recently declared the 75,000 hectare  rainforest a national park. The region is also considered to be one of the world's top 25 global biodiversity hotspots. On top of these declarations, the government also says the land sale is illegal.

The government insists that even if the land sale were legal, it would not convey mineral rights to the mining company. Any minerals in Sierra Leone belong to the government.

Sable Mining has confirmed through a spokesperson (who was not named) that they do not hold a current mining license for the land. However, business experts say that they would not have leased the land if they did not expect to obtain a mining license at some point in the future.

And so the debate in Sierra Leone rages. Talk shows, news programs, and the papers are filled with arguments on both sides of the issue. Some accuse the chief of attempting to get rich by selling land that does not belong to him, and others defend the action as an opportunity to obtain rapid wealth. And still others say that the land should be preserved and they point out that fortunes can be made on eco tourism and other related activity.

In any case, the debate raging in Sierra Leone is about much more than whether or not a chief made a legal arrangement with the foreign mining company. Rather, it is a debate about the very identity of Sierra Leone itself. Will the people sacrifice their land to gain riches, or will they preserve their land even if it means that for some poverty and hardship may continue to endure? And can the people somehow find a middle path whereby they can preserve Sierra Leone's precious natural resources, and in so doing make the country a better place for all?

 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Africa

Where are they going?: Number of ISIS fighters in Syria heavily drop Watch

Image of ISIS militants rise in Libya.

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The number of ISIS militants swarming Syria and Iraq is believed to have dropped from 19,000 to 25,000 fighters to 20,000 to 31,500, according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest. However, as the number of fighters lower in that area, it is doubling in Libya. ... continue reading


Horrific female genital mutilation continues to haunt over 200 million girls and women around the world Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite efforts from the United Nations to completely outlaw this horrible practice, Female Genital Mutilation continues to affect girls and women all around the world.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the UN Children's agency, 200 million females ... continue reading


Why is the USA dumping Gitmo terrorists in Africa? Ghana Bishops Conference asks tough questions nobody wants to answer Watch

Image of Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Bishop's Conference of Ghana is unhappy that the U.S. government has sent two known terrorists to their country. The bishops have sent a letter asking the government of Ghana to send the terrorists back to where they came from. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) ... continue reading


Boko Haram's horrific massacre leaves a trail of charred children's bodies Watch

Image of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared last year that Nigeria had

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram razed the village of Dalori in northeastern Nigeria this past weekend. Fifty people were killed - some of them children, when the group marched into the village and began shooting indiscriminately. Horrifying photos of charred ... continue reading


Women tricked into sex trafficking ... BY OTHER WOMEN Watch

Image of Women continue to be tricked into becoming victims of the sex trafficking industry (StopEnslavement.org).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Women are often duped by other women into believing there are job opportunities in Dubai. After paying a finder's fee to the "friends" who get them jobs, women travel to Dubai and learn that they were really sold as prostitutes. Their passports and return flight ... continue reading


South Sudan Needs Change NOW: Sudanese leaders must put their nation's interests before their own, bishop says Watch

Image of Sudan has been the scene of nearly continuous civil war since it gained independence in 1956 (Photo by Al Jazeera).

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Bishop Santo Loku Pio Doggale joined his brother prelates from South Sudan and Sudan for a time of rest and prayer in Rome last week, during which they were able to discuss key issues the two countries face, including decades of internal conflict and war. Rome, Italy ... continue reading


Libyan man executed by Islamic State for practicing acupuncture Watch

Image of Libyan Haaji Mohammed says that one of the men is his friend,

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The scene on the video is familiar, but no less horrific. Two men in orange jumpsuits kneel before a black-clad Islamic State executioner and have their heads cut off with a scimitar before a cheering crowd. Libyan Haaji Mohammed says that one of the men is his ... continue reading


Terrorist attacks at Burkina Faso luxury hotel foiled; security forces storm facility Watch

Image of A terrorist siege at a Burkina Faso luxury ended on Saturday after security forces stormed the building.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A terrorist siege at a Burkina Faso luxury ended on Saturday after security forces stormed the building. Twenty-eight people from 18 different nations died in the attack; the 156 people trapped in the hotel during the siege were freed and taken to safety. LOS ... continue reading


The world looks on as people in Africa continue to starve Watch

Image of People are starving to death while the world looks on (AFP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Millions in Ethiopia and South Sudan are victims of both drought and war, leaving most to starve. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ethiopia continues to suffer extreme droughts, doubling the number of people in need of help within a span of only three months, ... continue reading


Islamic State attacks Libyan oil supplies, killing guards, setting tanks on fire Watch

Image of Islamic State militants have launched attacks against Libya's checkpoints near the oil port of Es Sider for the past couple of days.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The rapidly deteriorating conditions in the North African nation of Libya have continued to worsen. Islamic State militants have launched attacks against Libya's checkpoints near the oil port of Es Sider for the past couple of days. A storage tank in the port ... continue reading


All Africa News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 3:4-13
4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, since that was the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
9 How can a young man keep his way spotless? By keeping your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:30-34
30 The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 6th, 2016 Image

St. Paul Miki
February 6: Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. ... Read More