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Sierra Leone's Amputee Soccer Team Spotlighted In Documentary

'The Flying Stars' documentary on the Freetown-based amputee soccer team makes its Al Jazeera premiere.


Bornor Kargbo, captain of The Flying Stars. Photo by Johnny Vong. Courtesy of Al Jazeera.

Bornor Kargbo is the captain of The Flying Stars, an amputee soccer team based in Freetown. Like many of his teammates, he lost his leg during Sierra Leone's eleven-year civil war, in which rebels took to amputating limbs as a way to garner fear among citizens.

Kargbo and his Flying Stars are the subject of a 2014 documentary. “When I started training, people would say, ‘Oh, this guy has one leg. How can he play football?’ But I did not listen to anybody,” the soccer player says in the film. Good thing he didn't. Kargbo has gone on to play in three Amputee World Cups in Brazil, Russia and Turkey.

The Flying Stars film, which marks a collaboration between Toronto-based directors Allan Tong and Salone-born Ngardy Conteh George, became the first project to win the Toronto International Film Festival's Telefilm Canada Pitch This competition!. Following this initial success, the film received financial support from the Sundance Documentary Institute, naming the directors Sundance Documentary Fellows.

This Sunday, The Flying Stars will make its Al Jazeera premiere on the network's observational documentary strand, Witness, at 2230GMT, with repeats on September 14th (0930GMT), September 16th (330GMT), September 16th (1630GMT) and September 17th (0530GMT).

The film is also screening in New York City on Saturday, September 12, as part of the 10th annual Harlem International Film Festival at MIST Harlem, where the filmmakers will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. Tickets for this can be purchased here.

Find out more on The Flying Stars by heading to the team's official page. Check out a short teaser for the film below.

Mohamed "Census" Jalloh, midfielder on of The Flying Stars. Photo by Johnny Vong. Courtesy of Al Jazeera.

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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