University of South Carolina

Law school to hold conference on Sierra Leone

Diplomats, legal practitioners and scholars from across the nation will be at the University of South Carolina School of Law April 1 for a conference on rebuilding the West African country of Sierra Leone, which shares a deep connection with the Palmetto State.

Titled “Rebuilding Sierra Leone: Changing Institutions and Culture,” the conference will take place at the School of Law auditorium and is free and open to the public.

Conference organizer Joel Samuels said Sierra Leone, which has a strong connection to the Palmetto State through the coastal Gullah community, has recently emerged from years of civil war and is struggling to rebuild its infrastructure and restore order.

“Sierra Leone has spent the past eight years slowly rebuilding a state and society shattered by war,” said Samuels, a professor in USC’s law school. “Nearly half of its population was displaced during the civil war that ended in 2002. Most of those who were displaced remain unsettled and the country has struggled to develop the basic mechanisms for an ordered state and civil society.”

Conference participants, all of whom have worked or studied in Sierra Leone, will discuss issues that have hindered its development and examine ways to rebuild the state.

Speakers will include June Carter Perry, former U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone and scholar-in-residence at Howard University; Jim Hodes, an attorney with the Cochran Law Firm in Atlanta and a former prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone; and Herb Frazier of Charleston, a former journalist and author of “Behind God’s Back,” a manuscript about the connection between the Gullah culture and Sierra Leone. Frazier is public relations and marketing manager at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston.

For a complete schedule, visit

Two additional public events are planned in connection with the conference:

Tuesday, March 29 -- “War Don Don,” an award-winning documentary about Sierra Leone’s civil war and its aftermath, will be shown at 6 p.m. in Room135 of the law school. The film recently came out on DVD after showing on HBO for an extended period.

Wednesday, March 30 -- The documentary, “Family Across the Sea,” about the connections between South Carolina’s Gullah culture and the people of Sierra Leone, will be shown at 6 p.m. in Room 135 of the law school. Producer Tim Carrier of Columbia will talk briefly about making the film.

For more information, contact Joel Samuels at 803-777-8295 or

'Rebuilding Sierra Leone'

  • What: Conference on rebuilding the west African nation
  • Who: Speakers include June Carter Perry, former U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone; Jim Hodes, former prosecutor with Special Court for Sierra Leone; journalist/author Herb Frazier;
  • When: April 1
  • Where: School of Law auditorium

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 03/22/11 @ 4:15 PM | Updated: 03/22/11 @ 4:17 PM | Permalink