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Educated but disabled: the sad story of employment discrimination against Sorie Martin Kamara

The story of Sorie Martin Kamara, the technology trained amputated and war victim Sierra Leonean youth who faces unemployment discrimination.

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone- Sierra Leone, like several African countries, faces under-development and human development challenges.  The most serious of these is high unemployment and the lack of easy access to capital for families and individuals who want to engage in entrepreneurship or innovative project activities for self-sufficiency and self-employment ventures.

Since taking office through a democratic process, President Maada Julius Bio and his newly elected government of Sierra Leone is prioritizing a number of policy agendas to minimize the impact of the country’s social difficulties by facilitating a business-friendly environment and advancing a culture of peace, transparency, accountability and the rule of law.  But the process is not fast enough to mitigate the pressing unemployment and income-earning struggles that many women and young people, especially disabled youth, experience every day despite having the needed education and skills.

Sorie Martin Kamara is a disabled young man and a victim of decade-long Sierra Leone’s civil conflict, which started from 1992 to 1999.

The lack of employment and the ability to earn and make a decent living is affecting Sorie financially and psychologically such that the trauma has become unbearable. In Sorie’s case, it is not he is not educated or lack technical skills, his problem is employment discrimination based on his disability.

In spite of his life’s challenges imposed by disability, Sorie graduated from the country’s prestigious Njala University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree (BSc) with high honors in Business and Information Technology and obtained distinctive results of Second Class First Division (21).   He also has a Higher Diploma in Data Processing and Information Technology. Everywhere he applies for a job and for which he is qualified, employers in Sierra Leone, including international non-governmental organizations such as various United Nations agencies and a host of relief and development organizations as well as multinational companies, do not acknowledge his application nonetheless give the benefit of an interview.

Sorie was born on the 1st January 1990, at the Jui Police OSD Barracks to parents the late Alimamy Kamara and Aminata Mansaray.  He was amputated at the age of 9 at the Jui Police OSD Barracks in the Eastern part of Freetown (i.e., January 6th, 1999) during Sierra Leone’s civil war.  His parents and a few relatives were assassinated.

After the assassination of his parents, he was wandering the streets as an amputated orphan until he encountered a Catholic priest, the Rev. Fr. Maurizio Boa of the Saint Josephite Fathers congregation who immediately started supporting him.

Father Boa and the Saint Josephite Fathers took placed Sorie in their orphanage home for war-affected and poverty-stricken children called “Murialdo” situated at a Low-cost Housing facility in Kissy, Freetown. Sorie stayed at the orphanage home for eight years and also began his education as well from primary to high school.

After completing high school, Sorie, and successfully passing the West African Examination Council’s regional exams (WAEC) for high school graduates, Sorie left the orphanage and began a new life since the policy of the orphanage home required orphans who complete high school and reach a certain age to leave.  With nowhere to turn, or go, life became unbearable for the Sorie who still had hope and determination not to let his disability to limit his future and goal for education.

In the midst of hardship, Sorie found a way to gain admission to Njala University, where he completed his undergraduate education and is looking forward to pursuing a graduate degree in information technology and eventually seeking gainful employment or working for himself.

Sorie is looking for help in obtaining employment or working for himself.  He also would be glad should a scholarship comes his way to pursue his dreams of higher education.

Sorie’s story is exceptional and heartbreaking, but his situation with respect to unemployment, poverty, employment discrimination based perceived factors, and the lack of access to capital to start his own business is not unique.  The lack of private-sector jobs, especially youth and women unemployment, are serious challenges in Sierra Leone and almost all sub-Sahara African countries.

In consultative and project partnership and collaboration with Caritas Freetown, Grain Coast Capital, a Virginia-based social enterprise venture capital and private equity firm, are establishing an intervention strategy to provide self-employment opportunities for Sorie and a host of other unemployed youth in Sierra Leone and other parts of sub-Sahara Africa. 

Grain Coast Capital, Inc. is a social enterprise venture capital and private equity firm that invests with a goal to create jobs and wealth as well as improve living standards for unemployed and under-employed individuals and families; generate revenue for investors, and facilitate economic growth and opportunities for communities challenged by poverty, under-development and fragile human development.  The firm works with investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, farmers, entertainers, and others. To learn more, visit https://graincoastcapital.com/.

Caritas Freetown of Sierra Leone is one of the 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies of Rome-based Caritas International, working across the world.  Under the auspice of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown, Caritas Freetown provides development and relief support to underserved communities, disadvantaged families, and individuals and partners with institutions and individuals to support workforce development, primary healthcare and self-sufficiency projects, education and social services for children and women. 

Meanwhile, anyone, family, or organization with interest in learning more about Sorie, his story, and goals, he can be directly contacted at on the following numbers in Sierra Leone +23277237345/ +23234013336/ +23277400947 or through Caritas Freetown Executive Director, the Reverend Father Peter Konteh.

According to Sorie, his goals are to either obtain meaningful employment, start a small business, or obtain a scholarship to study abroad and pursue a graduate degree in management and Information Systems.

Zuma’s bid to appeal the judgment to put him on trial rebuffed by South African court

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – A South African court on Friday dismissed the application of former disgraced South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma for leave to appeal the court’s earlier judgment to put him on trial.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court in KwaZulu-Natal Province said Zuma’s bid to appeal the court’s judgment at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had been dismissed.

The court ruled in October that Zuma and co-accused Thales, a French arms company, should stand trial on corruption and fraud charges.

Zuma and Thales launched their appeal bid with the hopes that the SCA might come to a different judgment and that Zuma may eventually be granted a permanent stay of prosecution.

With Friday’s ruling, the corruption trial will likely proceed in 2020.

Zuma’s legal team argues that the former president will be prejudiced if the case proceeds and that there has been political interference in the case.

The court has denied the allegations.

Zuma faces charges of corruption, money-laundering, and racketeering linked to a multi-billion-rand arms deal with Thales in the late 1990s, which Zuma has denied.

The prosecution alleges that Zuma took advantage of his position in the government to help businessman Schabir Shaik in his commercial dealings.

Shaik was convicted in 2008 to 15 years in prison for his involvement in facilitating a bribe for Zuma from Thales in exchange for political protection during the investigation into the arms deal.

Corruption charges against Zuma were dropped in the early 2000s and paved the way for Zuma to become president in 2009.

In March last year, the National Prosecuting Authority reinstated the corruption charges against Zuma.

Also, on Friday, the opposition Democratic Alliance welcomed the court ruling, saying it said: “reaffirms our belief that Jacob Zuma should eventually have to face his day in court.”

“We look forward to seeing this matter moving towards a conclusion,” the party said

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.

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