Ahmed Sahid Nasralla


Summary: Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, popularly known by his pen name “De Monk”, is an award-winning journalist and cartoonist who has worked in Sierra Leone print media for nearly 15 years. He is also the current President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). Nasralla has experienced not only poverty—his family house destroyed in a storm—but also arrests and prosecution for his work.

Profile: For decades, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla has produced a satirical column, “Teacher Lemp Lemp”, which combines creative writing skills with artistic talent. He has also held significant roles in media production and journalism, including having been elected as president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in 2019.

His life hasn’t always been smooth: He dropped out of school, but his parents sent him back after he broke his arm in an accident. Then he was accused of having doctored his application to the Albert Academy Secondary School in Freetown, but when that accusation was found to be false, he was admitted to the school and completed his secondary school education there. Soon after graduation, Nasralla took an interest in writing. His letter to the then-president of Sierra Leone describing the current state of the country was published in the local newspaper.

Nasralla was asked to work for that newspaper, and within a few years, he and a few colleagues left to start their own newspaper, called “New Tempo”. His “Teacher Lemp Lemp” column, using cartoons to mimic daily events, became an integral part of the publication. Nasralla expanded his writing capacity to write fiction that addressed those daily events, specifically to address political injustices that were affecting people’s lives in Sierra Leone.

The cartoons and stories were by nature political, and they often focused on the elite of the country. In 2001, after then-President Kabba extended his stay twice in office by six months before the 2002 general elections, Nasralla published a cartoon portraying the Sierra Leone Constitution as a girl and the President raping her; this, of course, was to highlight the violation of the Constitution. In another incident, Nasralla wrote a piece about a Supreme Court Judge who also served as president of the Sierra Leone Football Association; he claimed it was wrong for someone to take two different salaries from the government. This didn’t go over well with the government, and Nasralla and his editor were summoned to court. The case was eventually dropped, but Nasralla left the newspaper. Several years later, he was accused of defamation by a musician. Nasralla was arraigned in court, detained, and later granted bail followed by paying a fine of $100.

Nasralla denies going after individuals: “In my cartoons,” he says, “I have always told the truth in a mild way by attacking the issues and not personalities.”

Nasralla continues his work. He has championed the repeal of defamation laws in Sierra Leone, spoken up on behalf of those attacked and assaulted, and provided legal representation for journalists who have been attacked for their views. He also campaigned for the repeal of Part Five of the Public Order Act of 1965.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla was the Director/Editor of African Young Voices from November 2011 to May 2014 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer at De Monk Arts and Media Production, a venture he started in 2006. His contributions to journalism and satire have left a lasting impact, making him a prominent figure in Sierra Leone’s media landscape. This has meant working away from home and not being as much of a “family man” as he would like, but he continues to support the common man in Sierra Leone.