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Phileas Jusu

Bruce Baikie

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Communicator, United Methodist Communications 

 Phileas Jusu is a Sierra Leonean. 

He studied literature (major) and linguistics (minor) at Njala University College in southern Sierra Leone, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and several certificates in journalism. 

He started his writing career in 1996 when his college shut down indefinitely because of rebel invasion of the campus. At the time, he worked as a reporter for a local tabloid called Pathfinder. He was due to graduate that year but spent two more years in school because of the rebel war. Rebels invaded his college in late 1994, and a military coup happened in Sierra Leone in 1997. The coup that created an alliance between soldiers and rebels was a protraction of the war that actually started in 1991 (referenced above). The inflammatory marriage between soldiers and rebels brought the rebels into Freetown, the capital, and anarchy descended upon every normal way of life. His university again closed down, while lecturers and many others who had the opportunity fled the country. He stayed because, practically speaking, he did not have many options. 

In those crisis years, he says, we normally reported about the war, the economy, politics and the support of the international community in resolving the problems in Sierra Leone. His main interest was honing his writing skills. He was not in it for making a living – though even those who wanted to make money could not because the economy was down and business owners had fled the country. 

Upon graduation in 1998, he taught English and literature at St Joseph’s Secondary School in central Freetown for three years, while still writing for another local newspaper (Salone Times) and teaching at St. Joseph’s. He left teaching in 2001 to become a full-time writer for Salone Times, graduating from reporter to senior writer and, eventually, deputy managing editor. The war was still raging, and few training opportunities existed for cub journalists who showed enviable appetite for writing; most of the skills, he says, they learned on the job. 

He left briefly in 2002 to work for the National Committee for Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration as a referral and counseling officer. His responsibilities included organizing ex-combatants and creating learning opportunities for them so they could go back into their communities and be useful with their new skills. They trained carpenters, masons and drivers and encouraged child combatants to return to school. 

Phileas returned to his job as senior writer at Salone Times in 2014 after NCDDR closed in 2013, and was promoted to deputy managing editor. 

Phileas received the offer to work as a communicator at the Sierra Leone Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in mid-2005. United Methodist Communications was reactivating the communications ministry in 14 episcopal areas in Africa, and Sierra Leone was among the number. There were no communications office and personnel. He was chosen, and traveled to Zimbabwe in June for the first UMCom-sponsored African communicators’ workshop at Africa University. 

With those skills learned from the UMCom partnership, he has worked with the denomination’s health-supporting agencies like the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Imagine No Malaria and written several articles in support of their work and health-promotion partnerships in Sierra Leone. 

Phileas has a family of five: Jennifer, his wife; two sons and a daughter.