Koidu Town (or Sefadu) is the capital and largest city of the diamond-rich Kono District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. The population of Koidu Town is 124,662[1] based on the 2015 Sierra Leone national census. Koidu Town is the fifth largest city in Sierra Leone by population, after Freetown, Kenema, Bo and Makeni. Koidu Town is a major urban, business, commercial and diamond trade center. Koidu Town lies approximately 280 miles east of Freetown, and about 60 miles north of Kenema.

Koidu Town
Main street in Koidutown in the 1980s
Main street in Koidutown in the 1980s
Koidu Town is located in Sierra Leone
Koidu Town
Koidu Town
Coordinates: 8°38′38″N 10°58′18″W / 8.6439°N 10.9717°W / 8.6439; -10.9717
Country Sierra Leone
ProvinceEastern Province
DistrictKono District
 • TypeCity Council
 • MayorKomba Sam(C4C)[1]
 • Governing BodyKoidu–New Sembehun City Council
 (2015 census)
 • Total124,662 [2]
Time zoneUTC±0 (GMT)

Two of the world’s ten largest and most famous rough diamonds were found in the Woyie River that flows through Koidu Town.[2]

The city is officially known as Koidu City. The mayor of Koidu City and members of the Koidu-New Sembehun city council are directly elected every four years by the residents of Koidu. The current mayor of Koidu Town is Komba Sam of the Coalition 4 Change political party[3] Archived 2018-08-01 at the Wayback Machine. Komba Sam was narrowly elected mayor of Koidu Town with 49.5% of the votes in the 2018 Koidu Mayoral election over his closest rival of the Sierra Leone People's Party [4] Archived 2018-08-01 at the Wayback Machine. Politically, Kodu Town is not a stronghold of any political party, as the city is home to a significantly large support of both the Sierra Leone People's Party and the All People's Congress.

Koidu is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities in Sierra Leone. The city is inhabited by significant numbers of many of Sierra Leone's ethnic groups, with no single ethnic group forming a majority. The Krio language is by far the most widely spoken language in Koidu Town and is the primary language of communication in the city. Koidu Town is the hometown of Sierra Leone's vice president Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Sierra Leone's First Lady Fatima Bio and Sierra Leone's former vice president Samuel Sam-Sumana; as all three of them were born and raised in the city.

History edit

In 1995 the government of Sierra Leone signed an agreement with the South African company Branch Energy Limited, a subsidiary of Executive Outcomes (EO), a business that supplied mercenaries to governments across Africa. The agreement, negotiated under the Mines and Minerals Act of 1994, was scheduled to last 25 years. Under it Sierra Leone’s military government gave the concession to operate the Koidu diamond mine to the firm in payment for helping to suppress the Revolutionary United Front rebels in the area during the country’s civil war.[3] They had been using the diamonds to buy weapons and ammunition from Guinea, Liberia, and the Sierra Leone army.[4] The government of Sierra Leone retained a 60% ownership stake in the Koidu mine.[5]

The Sierra Leone Civil War ended in 2002. Records leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca show that the family foundation of Beny Steinmetz family paid $1.2 million for half of the mining license issued by the national government for the Koidu mine. In 2003 the government transferred rights, duties, and responsibilities from Branch Energy to Koidu Holdings, a company owned by Octea of the BSGR Resources group, for $28 million.[6] .

2007 and 2012 protests edit

The 2007 Koidutown-Sefadu protest was an action by 400 protesters in Koidu-Sefadu which was aimed at the local diamond mine which the residents claimed had lowered local living conditions and environmental conditions in the area. The result of the protest was a clampdown by Sierra Leonean police, who shot two protesters.[7][8] Two more protesters were shot in 2012, one of them a 12-year-old boy.[8]

Government edit

Koidu town is one of Sierra Leone's six municipalities and is governed by a directly elected city council, headed by a mayor, in whom executive authority is vested. The mayor is responsible for the general management of the city. The mayor is elected directly by the residents of Koidutown every four years in a municipal elections. The current mayor of Koidu Town is Saa Emerson Lamina of the ruling All Peoples Congress party APC. He was suspended by the national government in 2016, following the release of the Panama Papers and publication of an article quoting him complaining about the diamond mine's operation and failure to pay taxes.[8] The City Council then elected Aiah Bartholomew Baima Komba Acting Mayor of Koidu.[9]

Under Lamina the city had also filed suit in 2015 against Koidu’s parent company Octea Limited, claiming that the company owed $684,000 in unpaid property taxes. In April 2016 Justice Bintu Alhadi of the High Court of Sierra Leone ruled that Octea and Koidu Limited were separate entities and that Octea technically did not own the mine, so had no duty to pay its property tax.[8]

Lamina says the suspension was intended to silence him and that he continues to act as mayor because he believes the national government has no authority to remove him from office[8] A 32-page Ministry of Finance and Economic Development audit blamed the finance and procurement officers of the Council for the relatively minor issues, according to Politico.[10]

Ethnicity edit

Koidu town is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Sierra Leone. Even though the city is home of the Kono people, members of all the country's other ethnic groups and most of the foreign diamond workers in the Kono District reside in the city.

Health edit

Koidu Government Hospital
Infant care at the hospital

American aid workers helped rebuild the Koidu Government Hospital, which has improved the previously alarming health situation in the town. Various other aid organizations, including the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR and its partners, have helped drill wells, re-build clinics and schools and regenerate livelihoods in the area, as part of a programme to support the reintegration of Sierra Leoneans who returned after living for several years as refugees in neighbouring countries.

Cultural edit

Media edit

The local radio station in Koidu Town is the Eastern Radio 96.5. The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) TV, and radio are on the air in the city. The BBC World Service, CNN International, and several other international stations are also on the air in the city on satellite.

Sport edit

Sierra Leone National Premier League club, the Diamond Stars is based in Koidu. The club represents the Kono District.

Like the rest of Sierra Leone, football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Koidu Town. The Sierra Leonean professional football club known as the Diamond Stars of Kono, which is based in Koidu Town, represents the city and the entire Kono District in the Sierra Leone National Premier League. The Diamond Stars Football Club is overwhelmingly popular in Kono District and is one of the biggest football clubs in Sierra Leone. The Diamond Stars are the champions of the 2012 Sierra Leone National Premier League season, and the first club outside Freetown to ever won the Premier League.[11]

Education edit

Notable Secondary Schools in Koidutown edit

Notable people from Koidu town edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Sierra Leone: Provinces, Districts, Major Cities & Urban Localities - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information".
  2. ^ Koidu Holdings. "Diamonds of Sierra Leone". Archived from the original on 2017-03-02. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  3. ^ Khadija Sharife; Silas Gbandia (April 4, 2016). "Panama Papers: Flaws in Sierra Leone's diamond trade". Times Live. Times Media Group.
  4. ^ Abdullah, Ibrahim (2004). Between Democracy and Terror: The Sierra Leone Civil War. Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.
  5. ^ Thomas K. Adams (1999). "The New Mercenaries and the Privatization of Conflict". Parameters Summer 1999. pp. 103–16. Archived from the original on 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  6. ^ "Beny Steinmetz to invest in Sierra Leone diamond mine". JCK Magazine. April 8, 2004.
  7. ^ News | Africa - Reuters.com Archived 2007-06-21 at archive.today
  8. ^ a b c d e Silas Gbandia; Cooper Inveen; Will Fitzgibbon; Khadija Sharife; Michael Hudson. "Community fights back against dubious diamond mine". #PanamaPapers: How The Elite Hide Their Wealth. ANCIR. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  9. ^ Abdul Malik Bangura (March 3, 2016). "New Acting Mayor for Koidu City Council". Freetown: Awareness Times.
  10. ^ Septimus Senessie. "Koidu Ag. Mayor clashes with CSOs". Kono: Politico SL News. Archived from the original on 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  11. ^ Sierra Leone: Diamond Stars Win Salone Premier League Title