Barry Alexander King






Recently I went back to a place I hadn’t set foot in since I was a child. I had two missions; one was to shoot a video and the other was to visit the places I remember as a child.  

Back in the early 1970’s my dad got a job with a mining company in West Africa Sierra Leone Selection Trust (SLST) and the job involved uprooting the family and moving from the UK to a small diamond mining community in east Sierra Leone in a place called Yengema (Kono District). Later this area became better known due to a well-known Hollywood movie “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

Back then the community in Yengema was a beautiful oasis with a lovely gold course, ex-pats clubs with pools and excellent housing facilities. My dad had a great job looking after heavy duty mining equipment, my mum would take care of the expats club snack bar and my sister and I only had school until 12.00 so we were able to go swimming in the pool all afternoon. Our elder brother would join us at vacations from his boarding school in the UK and during the 4 years we spent there we had some wonderful times and still have very fond memories of the place.

We left Sierra Leone after 4 years as our dad got a new posting and after that the community thrived until the early 1990’s when civil wars broke out between the rebels (RUF/AFRC), partly sponsored by Liberia’s notorious Dictator Charles Taylor and government forces. The economy deteriorated and numerous leadership changes plunged the country into social & political chaos. During the next 10 years the country was plundered and destroyed by waring groups and the once thriving country was decimated. It didn’t help that later the outbreak of Ebola also didn’t help to stabilize the country.

After more than a decade of civil war and social unrest peace finally came in 2002 to the country but thousands died and many more were forced to flee to neighboring Guinea.

The whole infrastructure of the country was destroyed and basically the country had to start from scratch. Schools, housing, hospitals were no burnt down and the people returning from refugee exile found little left of their properties.

My late mum, myself and my sister had often talked about going back to visit but sadly our mother wasn’t really healthy enough to travel back and sadly passed away in March 2019. We had often spoken about going back and we would sometimes talk about the people there who no longer had a future and how sad it was to see the country go downhill.

Having written the song “Yengema” for my current album, which is based on my childhood there and the following civil wars I wanted to return to Sierra Leone and shoot a video and visit some of the places I could remember. In June 2019 I finally fulfilled the dream and flew from Frankfurt via Brussels to Freetown, was picked up at the airport and driven to Yengema. I had already made arrangements to help with filming and thanks to my cameraman Mr. Abel Fallah, who happened to be a respected local councilor/teacher I was also granted the honour of visiting the local school, Yengema Secondary School.

A few years previous I had met online a student from the school who was asking for support to help his schooling. To be honest at first I was very cautious as I was very aware of scamming but he turned out to be an honest young guy so I explained the importance of getting a good education and told him trying to “escape” to Europe was not a good idea because without education and a degree he would have no chance of integrating and be socially accepted.  

Anyway I was able to shoot a great video for the song which included the kids participating, see some old places (which were sadly no longer recognizable) and get a feeling about what needs to be done to get the school and people back on their feet. I am a firm believer in helping people to help themselves and my friend Abel had exactly the same opinion. He encourages his students to be disciplined and realize the importance of hard work and determination.

I was able to start the ball rolling and get the first funding for the school and my first student Tamba Sarkodie. If you would like to help our cause please feel free to donate at: Barry Alexander King, Postbank, IBAN. DE11370100500395511504, BIC. PBNKDEFF

The Funds go directly to the school/student allocations and there is no channeling to middle men or third parties.