Sierra Leone: Two filmmakers detained and fined; film banned

5 April 2016

Sierra Leone tribal war
Police detained filmmakers Sheku Ngaojia and Alpha Sibbie on 8 March 2016 on charges that their latest film ‘Tribal War: Mende vs Temne’ provoked fear and incited ethnic conflict, according to Arterial Network.

The filmmakers pleaded guilty to the charges on 18 March 2016 and opted to pay a 1,000,000 leone fine (approx. USD $200) instead of serving a one-year prison sentence. Further, their film has also been banned.

The film, released on 21 February 2016, is set in pre-colonial Sierra Leone and features violent, machete-filled battles between two tribes, which worsen as a tribal chief warrior’s daughter falls in love with a warrior son from the opposing tribe.

In a press release, the National Commission for Democracy in the country called the filmmakers “insensitive to the negative potential” the film could have, especially in light of the “tribalism, regionalism, stereotyping, the civil war and its aftermath” the country has contended with.

Sierra Leone was ravaged by a brutal civil war from 1991 to 2002 that left 50,000 people dead.


» Arterial Network – 23 March 2016:
Sierra Leone – Filmmakers arrested, film banned

» Youths’ Digest – 27 March 2016:
Court sanction Sierra Leone filmmakers for controversial storyline

» Sewa News Stream – 20 March 2016:
War generation filmmakers scare Sierra Leone’s government with old folk stories

» Awoko – 15 March 2016:
Sierra Leone news: Mende vs Temne, movie producers plead guilty

» Star Africa – 11 March 2016:
Sierra Leone: Two filmmakers detained over tribal incitement

» National Commission for Democracy Sierra Leone – 7 March 2016:
Press Release: NCD joins other state institutions to express dissatisfaction over the negative potential of the film titled ‘Tribal War: Mende vs Temne’

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