Vickie Remoe is a writer, producer and TV host of The Vickie Remoe Show, which she describes as a cross between The Oprah Show and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, with a clear and direct focus on African business and travel.
Remoe is a multidisciplinary creative using modern and traditional media to share the wonders of Sierra Leone with the world. Her aim is to expand Sierra Leone’s presence online — one tweet, video, photo, and story at a time.
We sat down with the TV host to ask her more about how she intends on expanding Sierra Leone’s presence online.
1.) You describe your TV show, The Vickie Remoe Show as a man of the street interview that focuses on human interest stories. Can you tell me more about what that means, and what it entails?
The Vickie Remoe Show is a cross between The Oprah Show and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown; it has lots of great conversations, but those chats happen on location at open-air markets in cities and in rainforests. I want people to hear the stories but I also want them to see and explore Africa so we travel by road mostly to showcase Sierra Leone and the rest of West Africa.
2.) One of your goals or aims is to expand Sierra Leone’s presence online; how are you doing that, and how has it been?
In 2005-2006 when I was in college in America researching Sierra Leone for my coursework, white expatriates or foreign aid workers wrote all the blogs and news about Sierra Leone online. Most people in Sierra Leone did not have access to the internet. Since I couldn’t access Sierra Leoneans online, I started a blog to document my life in the diaspora and to share my thoughts on things that mattered to my community. Switsalone.com is the oldest news blog in Sierra Leone. Beyond the blog, I’ve produced videos, and documentaries, created hashtags, and spearheaded media campaigns. I’ve covered events and actualities and now my #MakeSierraLeoneFamous podcast continues to expand the country’s presence online. I didn’t have the language to describe it then, but I wanted representation and visibility for Sierra Leoneans and I still do.
3.) Social media is a powerful tool that can disseminate information quickly. You have a pretty large following on Twitter, how did you build that following, and how have you found it regularly engaging with people online?
Social media engagement is not rocket science. My approach is the same across all platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I produce content, and I engage in conversation. I focus on things that matter to my community. I enjoy connecting with people online and learning from them. If you like to talk to people, share your ideas, and you’re not afraid to talk to strangers, then engaging people on platforms like Twitter comes naturally.
4.) What are some of the downsides and upsides to social media platforms such as Twitter?
Anyone, anywhere, who has access can put any information online –– that’s democratising citizen participation in global and local discourse, but it’s also a dangerous thing. We’ve seen how people have used social media to spew bigotry, promote disinformation during elections, and bully others. I focus on the positive aspects because primarily engaging with my online community brings me joy and entertainment. When the need arises, I’ve been able to use social media to raise awareness and resources. In June 2020 at the start of the pandemic in Sierra Leone, I used my social media channels to raise $60,000 to provide emergency relief and life-saving medicines to hospitals nationwide.
5.) You are an author of several books, how did you get started as a writer, or what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing poems since I was 12 years old. And over the years, I’ve written thousands of blogs and articles. I write more as a need than a want. I think that’s how it is for most creatives. You don’t know why you do it; you just know there is something you need to express. I’ve written two children’s books; Adama Loves Akara and A Print For Ami. I wrote them to make sure Sierra Leonean culture was accessible to young children learning how to read. My early reader books teach phonemes and word sounds, and African values.
6.) What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I can’t remember a specific time but my grandmother raised me; she wasn’t the one to allow us to speak without sense. You had to choose your words carefully. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become even more impeccable with my word. I write with intentionality. I choose my words very carefully because while we may have the best intentions, the impact of our words can often diverge from what we intend. So before I publish anything, I think about the impact of my words on my audience.
7.) What advice would you give to people who want to host their own show or write a book?
Inspiration is all around you. Embrace your authenticity. Whatever your medium, tell stories about what you know, and if what you know best is yourself, your family, your culture, and your community don’t be afraid to tell those stories. They are all valid!.
8.) How would you describe a media influencer, and would you consider yourself as one?
A media influencer is anyone who has a platform and uses it to campaign or advocate for others. The goal is not to influence but to serve. I try to use my platform to serve Sierra Leoneans.
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