Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/24/2011 (3 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 (3 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Africa

Al Qaeda terrorist group kills seven soldiers in Mali Watch

Image of Al Qaeda terrorists continue to threaten Mali.

By Kaci Racelma (Catholic Online)

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) has claimed responsibility for the July 2 terrorist attack that took the lives of seven soldiers from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma). ALGIERS, ALGERIA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


The Tunisian beach hotel massacre: Was the killer involved with ISIS? Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last Friday, a very tragic event happened at the Imperial Marhaba Beach Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. A 23-year-old man dressed just like any other tourist, passed by the hotel, and shot foreigners with a Kalashnikov rifle, he had hidden under his umbrella. Thirty-nine ... continue reading


Italian priests exorcise Nigerian migrant girls forced into prostitution compelled by voodoo spell Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Italian authorities have given the Catholic priests permission to "exorcise," or do counter-magic to Nigerian migrant girls who have been "under a voodoo spell to work as prostitutes." There are around 25,000 women from Nigeria who have been brought to Italy by ... continue reading


Boko Haram kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls believed to be brainwashed and now fighting for their captors Watch

Image of Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls remain missing more than a year later.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two hundred and nineteen girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, from the boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, are believed to have been brainwashed and now working for the Boko Haram, as reported by Amnesty International. The girls who were taken from their school grounds, a ... continue reading


Terrorist slaughters 37 on Tunisian beach resort of Sousse Watch

Image of Witnesses say the gunman started firing from the beach before moving onto the Imperial Hotel's swimming pool.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-seven people have been killed - and at least another 36 were injured in a terrorist shooting spree in the beachside town of Sousse in Tunisia. At least five people from the United Kingdom are listed as among the dead. The believed gunman in the massacre, ... continue reading


Ugandan witch doctors abducting, killing children for body parts Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a satanic practice once thought consigned to a very, very dark age - but it is increasing in frequency throughout the African nation of Uganda. "Witch doctors" are abducting and killing schoolchildren to use their body parts in malefic rituals. It is ... continue reading


Somali men demoralized, turn to drugs after more women become breadwinners Watch

Image of Many Somali men, usurped from the traditional role of breadwinner in many households, have turned to divorce and substance abuse.

By Katy Migiro, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Men in war-torn Somalia suffer high rates of drug addiction, divorce and mental illness, researchers said, urging donors to do more to support men and strengthen families. NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In Somali culture, men are expected to provide all ... continue reading


Tour guide risks life attempting to save American tourist horrifically killed by lion Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Katherine Chappell, the American tourist attacked and killed by a lion during an African safari tour, was being attacked, the staff of the park hesitated to treat Chappell and the ambulance took a long time to arrive, according to Pierre Potgieter, the tour guide. ... continue reading


Obianuju Ekeocha: The case against Abortion, An Appeal for Mercy from a Nigerian Woman Watch

Image of Abortion is not for us or our children - for it is a violent solution sanitized within the wounded heart of the western world and we just cannot accept it now or ever. - Uju

By Obianuju Ekeocha

In the last few years, we have woken up to the indescribable horror and terror of Boko Haram. And every one of us will agree that their actions and operations are merciless, viscous and violent beyond words. And so we pray for an end to the death and destruction ... continue reading


African governments swindled from tax dollars they need for development Watch

Image of Tax reform would go a long way towards funding new commitments to improve schooling and healthcare in Africa.

By Stella Dawson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Multinational companies deprive African governments of $11 billion in taxes each year, and G7 world leaders should set up a new global body to regulate corporate taxation, Oxfam International said on Monday. WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - By shifting ... continue reading


All Africa News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 28:10-22
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:18-26
18 While he was speaking to them, suddenly one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 6th, 2015 Image

St. Maria Goretti
July 6: Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890; her ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter