Joseph Kaifala

PODCAST: The Extraordinary Journey of a Child Survivor of the Civil War in Sierra Leone to Law School in America


Joseph Kaifala was just a child when civil war broke out in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The war came to his town in 1989 and as a seven-year-old was imprisoned with his father. They were eventually released and Joseph and his family spent much of the next decade on the run from a brutal civil war that seemed to follow them everywhere.

Kaifala recently published a memoir of these experiences titled Adamalui: A Survivor’s Journey from Civil Wars in Africa to Life in America. He is also the subject of a documentary film titled Retracing Jeneba: The Story of a Witness, which is poised to debut at film festivals.

Joseph Kaifala is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow and the story of how he went from that prison in Liberia to this prestigious fellowship, and then onto law school in the United States is truly extraordinary.

We kick off discussing an NGO he started long with another Humanity in Action Senior Fellow Liat Krawczyk called The Jeneba Project. This is an organization dedicated to providing high quality education for children in Sierra Leone. Liat Krawczyk is also the co-director and co-executive producer of the documentary film, along with Anthony Mancilla.

This is a very powerful episode. We discuss Joseph’s unique personal journey and have digressions about the causes and effects of the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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