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Dr. Francis Ishmael Sesay

Country: Sierra Leone

Director of Academic Studies, UNIMTECH University

Francis Ishmael Sesay is the Academic Affairs Director at the University of Management and Technology, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He is a philanthropist, humanitarian and an entrepreneur.

Francis holds a PhD in Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenical Studies from the Saint Thomas Aquinas University (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy. His published thesis focused on the role of African Traditional Religion in interfaith dialogue in West Africa, a case study of Sierra Leone. He also holds a master’s degree in Intercultural Competence and Social Integration from the Catholic University of Milan (Universita Del Sacro Cuore di Milano). His thesis was focused on the participation of West African migrants in the public spaces of Milan; with a case study of Giambellino and Cologno Monzese in the Milan outskirts. He also studied Arabic and Islam at the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islam, both in Dar Comboni Cairo, Egypt, and in Rome, Italy.

Prior to his furthering studies in interfaith dialogue, Francis worked with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Makeni in Sierra Leone. He helped form sub-commissions at parish levels with each sub-commission's executive consisting of all religious heads in the locality. The focus was purely of the Dialogue of Life and Human Capacity development.

In Milan, he collaborated with the Archdiocese of Milan under the supervision of Professor Paolo Branco of La Cattolica University and had the special task of following the two Sufi brotherhoods of the Murid and Layene Orders from Senegal West Africa – predominantly found in Sesto San Giovanni in Milan.

Because of interreligious tensions in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea, Francis is working to set up a Centre for Interreligious Encounter in Makeni, a predominantly Muslim region in Sierra Leone. The aim of the Centre is to bring religious leaders and their followers together in bringing about peace, co-existence, understanding and respect for their difference to foster peace in the region. He is also a strong activist in discouraging West African youths to venture on deadly voyages to Europe through the Sahara dessert.