By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a touching ceremony held at the BSK Cultural Center in Hillcrest, Virginia, the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, bestowed the inaugural SLAJ Presidential Award upon (Rev.) David Buakei Vandy, an esteemed compatriot known for his remarkable career spanning over 17 years as the Host/Producer of Voice of America’s (VOA) beloved musical program, African Beat.
The event, which took place on the evening of Friday, October 6, 2023, gathered a diverse group of SLAJ Diaspora members at the Iverson Mall’s Suite 1000. President Nasralla took the opportunity to reminisce about David’s significant contributions to broadcasting, theater, arts, and entertainment in Sierra Leone during the 1990s and beyond, highlighting his outstanding work at VOA.
“David Vandy was a household name in broadcasting, theater, arts, and entertainment in Sierra Leone before he traveled to live and work in the US. Since he joined VOA about 17 years ago, he has had an extraordinary journalism career presenting Africa Beat and promoting African music to the world. He is a very good example of what we call a professional journalist, and he has been a true Ambassador of Sierra Leone,” President Nasralla stated proudly.
Moreover, President Nasralla emphasized David’s contributions beyond journalism, particularly his support for the Sierra Leonean community in the United States. “Beyond journalism, I have heard heartwarming stories about David and the Sierra Leonean community here. Despite his busy schedule, he always makes time for his compatriots, including those visiting, and also supports our Embassy here to organize and bring Sierra Leoneans together. This award is also in recognition of the selfless and leadership role he is playing to unite his compatriots living and working in the US. You deserve this recognition, and I am truly happy that this is happening while you are at the peak of your career. I hope this award will further motivate you to continue the good work and may it inspire others to emulate your good example,” President Nasralla added.
Receiving the award, David expressed his surprise and delight, stating, “The SLAJ President summoned this meeting to discuss how we could organize ourselves into a SLAJ Diaspora group to bring us together as professionals and to support SLAJ and media development back home; I never knew I was going to be awarded anything. This is a shock to me, and I must say a pleasant surprise. I have received many awards, but this one coming from SLAJ is unique. This is special. This is huge. I don’t really know what to say right now.”
David assured the SLAJ President, his colleagues, and the Sierra Leone community that he would continue to be a professional and a pillar of support. This marks the first award presented by the SLAJ President to a deserving Sierra Leonean.
About (Rev.) David Buakei Vandy
(Rev.) David Buakei Vandy is an International Multimedia Journalist currently with the Voice of America in Washington, DC, a role he has held since 2006. He is best known as the Host/Producer of Voice of America’s musical program, African Beat.
David Vandy is a native of Sierra Leone, West Africa, and received his education at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, and Logos University, USA. Beyond his journalism career, he is a professional stage and film actor and director. In 1990, David joined the first FM Radio Station in Sierra Leone, Atlantic Broadcasting Cooperation (ABC FM 94), and later worked with the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBC) Radio and TV. He also served as a Commercial Manager, Producer, and Anchor with Radio Democracy FM 98.1 from 1998 to 2000.
In November 2000, he joined the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and served as Programs Coordinator, News Reader and Producer for Radio UNAMSIL. In 2002, he was appointed as General Manager of Skyy Radio 106.6 FM in Freetown.
David Buakei Vandy is also the Founder and Director of the first all-Sierra Leonean Theatre Company, Sierra Theatre Production, in the United States. He has written, produced and directed plays performed at prestigious venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Smithsonian Museum for African American Arts and Culture, Lee Center for Performing Arts in Alexandria, VA, and New York. Additionally, he is the Founder and Chairman of the VANDY CHRISTIAN NETWORK (VCN), an Online Christian Radio and Television platform.
Among the numerous awards he has received for his service to the community, David was honored in 2022 with the African Community Achievement Award in Hollywood, California, the African Community Service Award in Alexandria, VA, and the prestigious Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award and The President’s Volunteer Service Awards Medal by President Joseph R. Biden in September 2022.
The SLAJ Presidential Award now stands as a testament to David Buakei Vandy’s extraordinary contributions to journalism, culture, and community-building.