Michael Carter – Awoko, Freetown, Sierra Leone

“I’m interning this summer at Awoko, an English-language newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Check us out at http://www.awoko.org./)

I am packing all of my bags tonight with much apprehension. I am leaving tomorrow having never traveled before. No one is coming with me, I go alone. I’m not sure what I will see, or what I will do, but I am certain I made the right decision to go. I look in the mirror often with weary eyes. I see uncertainty. I am fighting all of this as I leave. Thank you to everyone who has helped me or given me kind words. I hope to make you proud.

I’m glad that so many can have a window into my experience here. Keep those comments rolling!
I’ve been really struggling to get the interviews for my final IPS piece because the rains put a total lock-down on the city (drenching my poor shoes for the upteenth time) and due to the fact that the parliamentary results aren’t all out yet, which my interviews are entirely dependent on. So it didn’t help that I was sent out with the sports reporter, a really cool guy named Bernard, to meet some footballers and the coach for the national boxing team of Sierra Leone. The football guys were a bunch of jolly gents, especially a guy known as Sweet-K who promised to get me a Leone Stars football (soccer for you Americans) jersey.
The boxing coach was a lanky dusty fellow named Ali Bangura and it was difficult to snag a conversation out of him, but his lack of teeth told the story. Bangura, a fighter in the 60s and 70s, was understandably upset because the government, just before the All Africa Games, notified he and his boxers that there was no funding for them to travel. Imagine training rigorously for months only to not compete. Bernard had previously warned me that it would be ill advised to spar with any of the fighters who would take out their anger on me. Recover from the flu, I took his advice.
But Bangura asked me to hit the bag and then gave me a brief workout, having me hit his hands.
“Mike, if you train two months with me, you’ll box perfectly,” he said. So I’ll have to think about coming back and undergoing intensive training so as to represent Sierra Leone in the next All Africa Games.
Well, I’ve got just a few days left to do a hell of a lot. I hope everyone is doing well and that’s all from Freetown.”