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Making The Team in Sierra Leone

2011 July 6

The cast and crew of The Team Sierra Leone take a break in between takes. (Margot Isman)

By Margot Isman

Here in Freetown, shooting has just wrapped up for the new TV series The Team Sierra Leone. It’s a 10 part series that explores issues of corruption, gender equality and political polarization through a fictional football team, which has to learn to overcome their differences and work together in order to score goals and win. The production process has involved a group  of mostly first time actors learning the ropes of making a TV show—and reflecting on the issues facing their country eleven years after the end of the war.


I visited the cast and crew on one of their last shooting days on a makeshift football field in Freetown. Even during bursts of heavy rain (the rainy season is ramping up here), everyone was enthusiastic about the experience. The trailer had just started running on national TV and they were beginning to be recognized on the street by strangers! Magdalene Adu Duwai plays Salay Pele on The Team Sierra Leone. Her character is the only female on the team, and one of the main illustrations of gender issues on the show is the team’s reaction when she is named captain. I asked her how her family was handling her newfound stardom, and she said “My dad was so happy he started calling me ‘Captain!’”


In addition to creating good TV, the fact that the show is being made entirely by local talent is in itself a capacity building tool. Every member of the cast and crew I talked to told me that they had learned professional skills from working on The Team, everything from how to operate a camera to how to get along with coworkers from different regions and backgrounds. Their pride in their product is evident in the care they take with their work. Having seen some of the footage, it is also well deserved!


The cast and crew are especially excited to begin a national conversation around some of the most pressing issues facing Sierra Leone today. I asked Theresa Amui, a scriptwriter, what effect The Team would have on its viewers. She said “I am hoping and praying for people to put aside their love for party and love their country first. The country is where they belong to, not the party.” Muwahaid G. Kamara, who plays Vuvuzela Man, the team’s most ardent supporter, told me that he hopes watching The Team will bring up “the issue of how to accept one another. We are showing the community how people must respect other people’s views.”


Their enthusiasm for the process and the issues is infectious. It’s clear that once the show begins airing, it will become a conversation starter around the country. With the first episode set to air in just a few weeks, it’s a busy time to be a part of the team promoting The Team!



Margot Isman is an international intern in Sierra Leone. She is currently working toward a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. You can check out photos and video of the production process and “like” The Team Sierra Leone on its Facebook page.


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