Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sierra Leone’s First Comprehensive Smartphone App launched

Sierra Leone Smartphone App
Houston Texas USA: April 20, 2014: - Songhai Technologies Inc a tech start up company based in Texas USA last week released Sierra Leone’s first comprehensive smartphone app to serve Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.

The App unlike other types of country apps that are mostly one dimensional provides a touch and go service and convenience for a myriad of resources and links to everything Sierra Leone and beyond.

The founder of Songhai Technologies and developer of the App Mr. Leslie Koroma of Texas USA, a US Citizen born in Sierra Leone is an 18 veteran of the tech industry starting out with his tenure at the former tech giant COMPAQ Computer Corporation which is now a part of Hewlett Packard Corporation. He is also the founder and CEO of African Sports Media Network, the first African media to deploy a digital online magazine to serve Africans around the world in African Sports Monthly Magazine. He also runs a daily Pan African sports news site called African Sports TV where you can get your daily dose of sports news from the motherland and beyond.
Mr. Leslie Koroma

Mr. Koroma’s rationale in the makeup of the App is to create a one stop shop center for a variety of needs for Sierra Leones, thereby reducing the need to download multiple apps on a persons phone and clearing a lot of space for other uses. The app has a link for the most comprehensive aggregation of news for Sierra Leone, Africa and beyond that are updated daily, as well as educational tools for students in the country and beyond. It also has an up to date weather link for visitors as well as Sierra Leoneans at home to keep an eye on the weather, courtesy of Accuweather.com. You can also find a variety of entertainment link from Nollywood to Bollywood movies and beyond.

Songhai Technologies will be releasing other Apps for other African nations as well as other regions of the world of the same makeup but with a twist and flavor for each nation as defined in the Sierra Leone App.

Songhai Technologies is currently in talks with potential partners to include an application that will allow users of the app to make free and or cheap phone calls from within the app to Sierra Leone.
Slated for release next will be the Nigeria app which is in the last phase of production and testing.
You can download the Sierra Leone App by visiting www.saloneapp.com or www.songhaitech.com

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sierra Leone's New Sensational Artist Ready to Storm San Jose

A rising African musical star in USA, Stofresh Magona of Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Arizona will launch her brand new single single "Bless me" in San Jose, California on Saturday April 26th in commemoration of Sierra Leone's 53rd Independence anniversary and she is set to take the African musical scene with a loud bang!

The beautiful and talented musician with a voice of pure gold hails from the small West African country of Sierra Leone, a country with a growing musical influence in African circles in USA, with the increased popularity of artists like Emmerson, Shady Baby, Kao Denero, K-Man, LAJ, Heyden Adama, the enduring Steady Bongo, Bobby, to name but a few.

Stofresh's style is a delightful fusion of afro-caribbean beats, hip-hop, dance and new age rhythm smoothly delivered in a soulful and powerful voice that will keep your feet moving all day long.

Born "Isatta Magona," Stofresh was marked out for her musical talent at the tender age of 4 when her outstanding performances at her Church and local school landed her appearances on television in the small Sahelian country of Gambia, a country with strong musical roots. Stofresh moved to USA at the age of 15, completed high school and acquired an Associate Degree in Public Relations, A BS in Business Management and is currently working on an MBA while raising her family. Music was however in her blood and in spite of her academic success, she was never able to put the microphone or her dancing shoes down.

The rich American hip-hop, soul, and R&B music scene has become a major influence on her work, as she has successfully combined elements of the different genres to deliver a bold, new, fresh and infectious sound.

The musician is involved in charitable organizations, youth and women's empowerment and community development.  This gifted combination of talent and brains is ready to take San Jose by Storm next Saturday, and all are invited. You can taste a sample of her music by following the link below.https://soundcloud.com/stofresh-magona/bless-me-jingle-master

Sierra Leone Political Updates: Koroma's Third Term Agenda (The Politics of Bread and Butter)

Kabs Kanu 
Sierra Leone's Minister plenipotentiary to the United Nations, the ailing Reverend Leroy Kabbs Kanu, a college mate of the country's President Ernest Bai Koroma who abandoned Sierra Leone for Liberia as soon as he graduated from college in the 70s and later settled in New Jersey, USA, working as a teacher and an aspiring reverend, wants Sierra Leoneans to overturn the Presidential term limits in the country's constitution to give his friend and benefactor a third term.

According to Reverend Kabs Kanu's simplistic view of Sierra Leone democracy, a country he has not stepped foot in for over 30 years, there is a constitutional review process in place in the country, and since President Koroma has done such a very good job of beautifying the country, the focus of the review should be to remove the two-term limit from the constitution, allowing his friend and international employer Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma another third term and ensuring that while he Kabs Kanu continues to stay in America, he is able to get some more years away from the classroom, living in USA as a diplomat and getting fatter at the Sierra Leone taxpayers expense.
Balogun Koroma

 Reverend Kabs Kanu, who came to the attention of Sierra Leoneans when he set up the Cocorioko forum that was to later become the All Peoples Congress (APC) online propaganda outlet Cocorioko dedicated to glorifying Ernest Koroma and his appointees, has a very simple argument. If the people of Sierra Leone think that President koroma deserves a third term, then so let it be. In the opinion of the international diplomat Kabs Kanu, President Ernest Bai Koroma had brought so much socioeconomic and political development and he has so much to offer to the nation. By the reverend's logic, a democratic government is a government of the people, for the people and by the people and if it is the will of the people of the All Peoples Congress for the President to go for a third term, the go ahead, change the constitution. "After all," the political reverend argues, "President Koroma has delivered and the nation stands to gain much more benefits with him at the rein.

What the Reverend Kabs Kanu does not say is that if President Koroma is given a third term, such a blatant display of sycophancy assures him again of a steady paycheck from Sierra Leone, enabling him to live a comfortable lifestyle in the USA for 5 more years, while the Sierra Leone people continue to wallow in their current state of misery and destitution.

While the people of Sierra Leone are waiting for an agenda for prosperity that has only delivered prosperity to those who are close to President Ernest Bai Koroma, he deserves a third term, so that Kabs Kanu will continue to eat prime stake.
Juju Horn Blyden

To be fair to the ailing Reverend, Kabs Kanu is not the first person to call for a third term for President Koroma. After the election of last year, Leonard Balogun Koroma, who was earlier dismissed as Minister in the Vice President's office and was later brought back to lead the 2012 campaign after convincing the President of his continued personal loyalty, flouted the idea of a possible third term in a radio interview. The Sierra Leone people, many of who sacrificed their lives to reject political tyranny and reestablish the current democratic system of governance the country is benefiting from today were quick to take to the media to voice their rejection of letting anybody serve as President again for more than two terms, fearing a return to the one party APC kleptocracy of Siaka Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh that transformed Sierra Leone from a middle class African country into the poorest country on the face of the earth, in the presence of enormous mineral and agricultural wealth. Though State House at the time released a press statement rejecting the idea of a third term, emphatically stating that the President was a democrat and was committed to the country's current constitutional term limits, in a sinister move, Balogun Koroma was promoted to the aviation and transportation ministry and put in charge of future national APC campaigns. This was very significant, as Sierra Leone is a country in which action speaks way louder than words.

Forward to the present. Just a few weeks ago, Robin Fallay, a former ardent critic of President Koroma who defected to APC on the verge of losing the SLPP symbol for constituency 7 which covers Njaluahun chiefdom in the Kailahun district in 2012, also publicly called for a third term for President Koroma. In 2012 Robin Fallay was arrested in Segbwema and locked in jail in Kenema, accused of trying to register underage students in his constituency. His public humiliation raised tempers in the opposition SLPP, but he was on the verge of losing his constituency as the youths had turned against him. Facing determined prosecution from the APC which made his case a high profile one, he defected to APC to save his skin and was immediately given an APC symbol to contest in the same constituency, a manifestation of the craziness of Sierra Leone politics and the reversal in democratic gains that were made under the era of Late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba. Fallay was trounced on the APC ticket by his former campaign person.
APC New Boy Fallay

It is quietly rumored that Robin Fallay badly wants to replace William Juana Smith as the Resident Minister of the eastern region and taking from Balogun Koroma's play book, he is currently making these public pronouncements to convince the President of his loyalty and continue to protect his current position as a rising star in the current APC. Currently on social media, which is the hub of Sierra Leone political discourse involving those in the country and the diaspora, there are all sort of strange names popping up, all calling for an extension of President Koroma's tenure.

What is however credible about the current call for extension is that Reverend Kabs Kanu is very close to President Koroma and being a very strategic and occasionally devious person, there is no way he will make such a call if the rumors of political manipulations by the APC to pressurize the constitutional review committee to modify the term limit provision in the constitution is not true. Just a month or so ago, a prominent member of the constitutional review committee under Justice Cowan, a close friend of the President, resigned, citing too much government interference in the process.

What is however notable about these calls for a mandate or term limit extension is that there are deep worries among APC members, especially those close to the president that if he leaves power, their political future is uncertain. In a country where politics is about bread and butter and economic sustenance, many friends, cronies and associates of a President Koroma are genuinely worried that were he to hand over power to another APC person, that individual may also have his own trusted circle different from the president's current inner circle. In a country in which politics is about survival, people like Balogun Koroma, Kabs Kanu, Robin Fallay and many others are not currently willing to risk this uncertainty, hence the clamor for another term.

Just last week I was talking to a very close APC friend of mine and asked him why there were these growing calls for Ernest Koroma to stay. After all, I said, there were people in the APC who were far more intelligent and educated than Ernest Bai Koroma, many of whom had a better understanding of economics than the president, so why the call for him to stay? Why don't people want to bring in a new person, a well vetted person who will at least forego this golden age of sycophancy and stop putting the type of square pegs in round holes that are disgracing the country by violently raping school girls and fighting for men in public. My friend's answer was simple, "The devil you know is better than the angel you don't know"

So let us be very clear. All this talk about the extension of the term limit of the president because he has made roads, is bringing in investors to exploit the country's minerals and Sierra Leone is now even starting to produce 5 gallon plastic containers, is just a lot of hogwash, mere whitewash. The main reason why all these people are clamoring for President Koroma to get a third term is not because they care for the people of Sierra Leone, it is all about self preservation. Kabs Kanu, after years of unhealthy living and growing fat is not very well, he needs his position to afford his expensive medications. The people of Sierra Leone be damned, how many times has Kabs gone to Sierra Leone in the last 37 years?

The current crop of APC politicians are getting scared of news names like Mohamed Mansaray, Anti-Corruption boss Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Almamy Petito Koroma, and Dr. Kelfala Marah, as they don't know if these fellows will be amenable to the type of shameless sycophancy that has almost derailed President Koroma's second term agenda. Even if some of these new names were to emerge as potential leaders, there is no guarantee that their future appointments will be based on the sycophancy and nepotism that has been the hallmark of Koroma's presidency.

So most of the President's blue eyed boys are not only scared of an opposition takeover with people like Maada Bio, John Benjamin, Kandeh Yumkella, Alpha Timbo or Andrew Keili ruling Sierra Leone, they are afraid of what some of their own APC colleagues will do if they get power. At least in Ernest Koroma they have a pliable leader who they know is easily swayed by gossip, rumor and self serving praise. The prospect of a Sam Sumana Presidency is almost diarrhea inducing for people like Sylvia Blyden and Balogun, hence the calls for an EBK second term.

But what these monofocal individuals are failing to realize is that it was this same type of self serving politics that brought about the last civil war in Sierra Leone. I know that people like Kabs Kanu never witnessed the war in Sierra Leone, and so he may be forgiven for caring only about the affordability of his medications. However, some of these morons were in Sierra Leone throughout the war and saw what devastation and backwardness the same tactics that are now being advocated brought upon the country. Many people who are not close to the Koroma power machine now feel alienated, marginalized and reduced to the status of second class citizens in their own land and to think that they will just sit idly by and while allowing  the architects of the country's ruin to continue to tighten their control over everything is a fool's agenda.

President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah could have used the excuse of ending the war and restoring economic and social order to try and extend his presidency. But democrat that he was, he saw that it would be a reversal of all that he had fought so arduously for. To now have a situation in which the country goes back to the past, extend the presidential term and manipulate a referendum to ensure that it is constitutionally provided, for will only be a recipe for chaos. As the President and his men continue to fund ways to bastardize the political process in Sierra Leone, the eyes of the world will be in them, like a laser beam. The opposition parties are also being watched to see how they will react to this gross national demonstration of sycophancy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sierra Leone Bags Major Corruption Award Again

Map: Which country pays the most bribes?

One person in four has paid a bribe to a public body in the last year, according to a survey carried out in 95 countries by Transparency International.
The poor record of some African nations on bribery stands out. Sierra Leone has the highest number of respondents admitting to having paid a bribe - 84% - and seven out of nine of the countries with the highest reported bribery rate are in sub-Saharan Africa. See the list below. The countries with the lowest reported bribery rate are Denmark, Finland, Japan and Australia, they all have a bribery rate of 1%.

Population who have paid a bribe



27% world average
Top countries:
1. Sierra Leone 84%
2. Liberia 75%
3. Yemen 74%
4. Kenya 70%
5. Cameroon 62%
5. Libya 62%
5. Mozambique 62%
5. Zimbabwe 62%
9. Uganda 61%
Across 105 nations politicians, judges and the police head the list of those public institutions people see as the most corrupt. In nearly half of those countries surveyed politicians were singled out as appearing the least trustworthy. Religious bodies and businesses had the lowest corruption rating.

Which public body is seen as the most corrupt?

Source: Transparency International, Global Corruption Barometer, 2013
Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer gathered data from 95 countries on bribery. For a small number of them, including Brazil and Russia, data on particular questions has been excluded because of concerns about validity and reliability. For the question on corrupt institutions 105 countries were covered.
The margin of error for each country is 3%. The typical sample size is 1,000 people. Four countries - Cyprus, Luxembourg, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands - have a sample size of 500 people and a margin of error of 4%.

Guinea Ebola Survivor-Culled from VOA

FIrst Ebola Survivors Return to Family, Stigma Remains

Reuters
Rose Komono poses for a picture at a health clinic after overcoming the Ebola virus, in Gueckedou, Guinea, April 3, 2014.
Rose Komono poses for a picture at a health clinic after overcoming the Ebola virus, in Gueckedou, Guinea, April 3, 2014.
Hiccups, say doctors in this remote corner of Guinea, are the final tell-tale sign of infection by the Ebola virus that has killed more than 100 people since an outbreak began this year. Then come profuse bleeding, circulatory shock and death.
But for Rose Komano, the hiccups never came. On Saturday, the 18-year-old mother of three became the first victim to have beaten the disease in the region of Gueckedou, epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in this impoverished West African nation.
In total, 98 people are thought to have died from the disease in Guinea and 10 more in neighboring Liberia, according to aid workers and government officials.
A market town of 220,000 people near the Liberia and Sierra Leone borders, Gueckedou's makeshift clinic is on the front line of Guinea's battle to contain its first outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever, normally found in Central Africa.
Medecins sans FrontiEeres [MSF] - also known as Doctors Without Borders - a medical charity working to contain the virus, has set up two tin-roofed tents in the courtyard of the local health center. One is for suspected Ebola cases and the other is for confirmed cases.
Now, to the delight of the overworked medical staff, they are building a third tent - for survivors.
“When I first saw the medical staff around me in yellow and black, I was scared. I thought I was going to die,” said Komano, who buried her mother and grandmother days earlier after they died from the disease.
“I didn't believe I would recover my health again. I was scared that I would orphan my children - like my mother did me - but now I can hold them in my arms again,” she said.
Eight people have now recovered from the Ebola virus, according to medical tests. The virulent Zaire strain of the disease in Guinea has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.
Lucky genes and intensive medical care helped Komano become one of the handful to escape death. Other patients were cleared to go home from the Donko hospital in Conakry last week in what the World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed “Lazarus” cases - after the Biblical figure restored to life by Jesus.
Komano's 12-year-old niece and her sister also are recovering as the levels of virus in their blood fall.
But for this family, living in a remote part of Guinea where traditional beliefs are held in high regard, the real battle may have only just begun.
Chocolate, Nescafe and raw onions
In past outbreaks, the sick were abandoned by their families or just dropped off at the isolation wards. If you survived, nobody would talk to you or touch you, said Ella Watson-Stryker, in charge of health promotion for MSF in Gueckedou.
“Ebola disease transmission is not understood at a biological level in remote villages across Africa where people believe in witchcraft and traditional medicine,” she said.
“It's sad because people really do want some sort of magic potion or cure but unfortunately all we can tell them to do is wash their hands,” Watson-Stryker said.
SMS messages circulating in the country claimed that a Guinean medical researcher in Senegal has found the cure for Ebola - hot chocolate, Nescafe, milk, sugar and raw onions taken once a day for three days. In nearby Macenta, an angry mob attacked an MSF clinic, accusing the organization of bringing the deadly virus to their town, forcing it to shut down.
The MSF team has been helping to educate people on how the disease spreads and how it can be prevented. The team is starting to reintegrate patients who have survived the virus.
“We try to make sure that everyone understands once someone is no longer sick, they really cannot continue to spread the disease,” said Watson-Stryker, noting fewer people were asking their staff about witchcraft than at the start of the outbreak.
For Komano, the initial signs are good. When she returns to her village, her family and friends cheer loudly and come out to hug her, a considerable leap of faith in a country where many people are now too afraid to shake hands.
“I feel much better and I'm ready to go home. There's laundry to be done and I need to clean the house,” she said.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP

Windows XP
My first Operating system
I am a technophile and unashamedly so. Technology has simplified human life so much that sometimes I am amazed at people who still hold on to the old ways of doing things, blissfully oblivious of just how easy life has become, especially in the first world, due to the astonishing progression in technological innovation. By leaps and bounds I can say.

Two people who have had such a significant influence on the modern technological world as we know it are the late Steve Jobs of Apple and Bill Gates of Microsoft. In recent years, Steve Jobs changed how we do almost everything. Honorable mention goes to my friends at Google, though when it comes to operating systems, they are very clever copycats of Apple. Unfortunately their Android phones are now way ahead of the iPhone in many aspects and I am sorry to say that I no longer even want an iPhone.
The Good Old Days

Just imagine the world about 7 years ago when there was no iPhone or Galaxy S4. Imagine a day in the life of a busy mid level manager who traveled to a city to attend a conference just 7 years ago. He gets up to the loud whirring of his alarm clock which he carries around at all times like a religious artifact. He calls the hotel lobby and asks for directions to the nearest Starbucks coffee shop and then grabs a city map and a newspaper, rushing to get a cup of regular coffee, while studying the map intensely for directions to the conference hall. He then pulls out his phone book with all his numbers, thumbs through and calls his boss from the payphone to tell him he is going to be on time. That was seven years ago.

Now imagine the same manager today in the same situation. He wakes up to the most pleasant alarm song he has programmed on his Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with 4G. He browses through the Flipboard app on his phone to get the latest news. He then opens the Pandora app to listen to his customized 80s radio and listens to great music transmitted wirelessly from the phone to his palm sized portable Bluetooth JBL speakers as he jumps into the shower.
JBL-Galaxy

After he's showered and done dressing, he picks up the phone, hits the middle button at the base of the screen and says "Galaxy can you find me the nearest Starbucks?"

The phone replies right away and gives him a choice of several Starbucks in the vicinity of his hotel, while the phone screen shows him the map of the Starbucks locations. He then tells the phone to take him to one and the phone  map becomes a GPS navigational system that he uses in his car while continuing to listen to his 80s music through the car's Bluetooth speakers. He tells the phone to call his manager without touching it, the phone does and he tellsthe manager he will be on time for the conference, while the phone's GPS tells him that he is at Starbucks. He then browses through his online bank account to see whether the check he was promised has been deposited.
Hi Galaxy

This week Microsoft decided that they were no longer going to be providing support for the much beloved Windows XP. To me XP is the best Windows operating system I've used, matched only by Windows 7. It was my first operating system. When I came to America from Sierra Leone, I had never touched a computer, let alone know how to use one. Our education back in my country was basically with a notebook and a pen. The only technology that was available was a scientific calculator which had been extremely useful in confirming the answers to statistics questions on tests and exams. In Sierra Leone, we were prevented from using calculators in exams, and that's the truth! We used sliders.
My First Computer

When I got my first computer, a Dell Dimension 4550, the only thing I knew about computers after a Semester in college, was reading an email. I read my Dell computer manual from cover to cover. I made sure I followed every "do not" advice. Very soon I knew everything about the computer that was in the manual. So I bought a book on Windows XP. It was like my computer bible. By the end of the year, I knew everything a consumer was to know about a computer and became somewhat of a computer repair guy in my Sierra Leone community. I had discovered system restore! Lol.

I remember one day a friend of mine was having some serious problems with his computer and wanted to take it to Best Buy for repairs. Luckily he called me to take a look. I asked him when he had the problem, he said about two weeks ago. I set System Restore for three weeks and it worked like magic. I saved the poor fellow a couple of hundred dollars and I then also became an expert in HP desktops in addition to my Dell. Anytime he had a problem, guess who he called.

Then a great thing happened, YouTube came along and do it yourself people like me found heaven. YouTube is easily the greatest source of human knowledge that has been compiled in one place since the encyclopedia Britannica. There is almost nothing you will want to do for which you will not find a video on YouTube. Last Christmas I impressed a group of friends with some Hispanic food I made and everybody was really floored by my culinary skills. Guess what, I got the recipe and detailed instructions from a YouTube video! Don't tell anybody. Through YouTube videos, I was able to increase the memory on my computer from 250mb to 4gb and my hard drive capacity from 70gb to 500gb and I have never taken a single computer class.
Bye XP

Windows XP was such a great operating system for novices like me that when the hideous Windows Vista replace it, it became the most hated operating system ever, rivaled only by the equally horrible Windows 8, which is truly an operating systems disaster that has made us all tightly embrace our Android phablets. Now that Windows has released office for the iPad, Windows needs to really get its act together, otherwise it risks losing out to Google's Chrome OS and the always reliable Macs.
Bye XP, this African from Sierra Leone will surely miss you, you were a reliable system, teacher and friend!