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The tale of Valentine Strasser, Sierra Leone’s youngest president, by Tonye Barcanista

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The tale of Valentine Strasser, Sierra Leone’s youngest president, by Tonye Barcanista

In the annals of history, few narratives captivate the human spirit like tales of rise and fall, of unexpected twists and poignant ironies.

The life of Valentine Strasser, a name etched into Sierra Leone’s past, is a vivid illustration of the unpredictable nature of destiny.

From seizing power through a daring coup at the age of 25 to facing the stark reality of homelessness years later, Strasser’s journey weaves a tapestry of triumphs, losses, and the unexpected turns that life often takes.

At the age of 25, Valentine Strasser seized power through a coup in 1992, becoming Sierra Leone’s President.

However, at 29, his presidency came to an end as he was deposed in a palace coup in 1996.

A year later, at age 30 in 1997, he received sponsorship from the UN to attend the University of Warwick.

Unfortunately, at age 32, he dropped out of school.

In the year 2000, at age 33, he was denied asylum by the UK and was also prevented from entering Gambia.

This left him stateless, forcing him to return to Sierra Leone, where he lived in poverty, surviving on a small pension. He eventually found work as a teacher at an ICT institute, teaching computer skills to youths.

Fast forward to age 52 in 2019, Strasser fell ill and underwent amputation due to peripheral artery disease while in Ghana.

By the time he reached age 55 in 2021, the destitute former president had become homeless. To everyone’s surprise, he returned to Sierra Leone and was gifted a house by the country’s president, Julius Maada Bio — ironically, the same man who had ousted him from power in 1996.

This gift came with a catch, as he was placed under house arrest in his new home.

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