Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 343–366 | Cite as

The competing ontologies of belonging: race, class, citizenship, and Sierra Leone’s “Lebanese Question”

  • I. P. X. Malki


Late in the summer of 2010, Nasser Ayoub, a popular Sierra Leonean entertainer, philanthropist, and owner of Freetown’s Hotel Africanus, began a public campaign to urge President Ernest Bai Koroma to amend the country’s citizenship laws.1 Ayoub was born in Koidu-Sefadu, capital of Kono district, to a “Lebanese”-descended family. He described himself as a “third generation Sierra Leonean” whose father and grandfather had also been born in that diamond-rich town in the country’s Eastern Province.2 A celebrity singer, Ayoub granted interviews to newspapers, commented in online forums, and otherwise engaged his media savvy to convey his message to the public. Ayoub complained that “the only crime” he had committed to deserve “not getting my full citizenship right” was having the wrong “skin colour.”3He reminded Sierra Leoneans that individuals like him, descended from Middle Eastern immigrants, could not hold public office and faced “discrimination in every sphere – sports,...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. P. X. Malki
    • 1
  1. 1.City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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