Q&A: Sorious Samura
LONDON, England (CNN) -- In "Living with Illegals," award-winning journalist Sorious Samura makes an epic journey to Britain as an illegal immigrant. CNN spoke to Samura about his life and work. The following is a transcript of the interview:
Q. Your work must have an immense emotional effect on you. Have you ever come to the point where you feel that you just won't get over it?
A. Sometime the stories I do feel like peeling layers of my very past, sometimes it's so emotionally draining that you almost want to walk away from the story but as a journalist the practical desire to get the whole picture gets the better of your feelings. Only once I have felt very close to walking away and that was in 'Living with Hunger'. That was the first and last time I swore at some members of my crew.
Q. I would think that the research for films such as "Cry Freetown" and "Return to Freetown" would cause you to lose your faith in humanity. Does it? If so, what restores it?
A. Yes I have seen people at their worst but in most of the people I meet I also see the good. As long as I keep seeing that I will never loose my faith in humanity.
Q. After living in such extreme conditions with immigrants and illegals, do you find it difficult to enjoy luxury now?
A. Emotionally I get fully engaged with my stories. The characters I meet become my friends, my heroes. Some of the young men I spent Christmas with in the bush while making "Living With Illegals" were almost like my family. It is therefore difficult even in private to forget about their sufferings and switch to the sweet bits of life
Q. Why do you keep doing what you are doing? Does the drive come from the knowledge that so much is happening and no one can imagine it?
A. I have a friend and director, Ron McCullagh who not only cares but has an astonishing effect on people, a small group of people at Insight News TV who have real goodness in them. They have helped me to see the world differently, to see the world is like an anthill and together we have been carefully opening apartments of this whole anthill trying to understand how it all came together, they are really my source of inspiration.
Q. How long will keep doing what you are doing?
A. In most parts in the West the truth stands mostly naked but in Africa our politicians and businessmen prefer we cover it all up in corrupt clothing. Some of my white journalist colleagues, in trying to be politically correct, have not helped ordinary Africans either. For now I have the advantage to keep asking very challenging questions about Africa and we seem to have very few Africans who have that platform so while hoping to find more African voices I know I can't take my foot off the gas just yet.
Q. What is the most extraordinary situation you have experienced on your investigations?
A. I have found myself in front of the barrel of the gun in Somalia, knives held around my throat in a prison cell in Liberia, sleeping in middle of nowhere with people smugglers in France but of all these I will never forget "Living with Hunger" in Ethiopia and the extraordinary love the Alamnui family showed me, when they were all happy to sacrifice the little food they had in order for me to have the energy to tell their story.
Q. Are there some aspects of the investigation that you keep back from you documentaries because perhaps the viewers may not be able to handle seeing everything?
A. Working in the West's media I have learnt to negotiate between the message and the medium and also in as much how you would want to shock your audience from their comfort zones with some of the graphic images you film you still want to make sure you engage the viewers. In "Cry Freetown" we made very strong decisions to leave out some of the most horrible images that would have perhaps seen some viewers switch their screens off.
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