We had the good fortune of connecting with Estella Bangura and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Estella, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Sierra Leone is the country of my birth and where I lived until my early teens before emigrating to the United States. Its story is poignantly captured in the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond” starring Academy Award Winner Leonardo DiCaprio and Academy Award Nominee Djimon Hounsou, in which the West African nation was depicted in a cataclysmic social, political and economic mesh and mosaic that cast its people in an existential struggle for survival against considerable and disproportionate odds. The epic cinematic event was projected against the backdrop of Sierra Leone’s civil war that raged through the 1990s, where two men, a white South African mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a black Mende fisherman (Djimon Hounsou), became united in the calamitous pursuit of a rare gem that had the power to transform the lives of so many. With the help of an American journalist (Jennifer Connelly), the men embarked on a dangerous endeavor through rebel-held territories in pursuit of this objective.
The “Blood Diamond” screenplay and narrative holds significance for me because it lavishly portrays the struggles, flaws, pain, potentials, and possibilities of the peoples of my ancestral home. A country rich in raw materials and wealth, Sierra Leone is well known for its vast natural reserves of diamond, rutile, bauxite, gold, iron ore, limonite, platinum, chromite, coltan, tantalite, columbite and zircon, as well as promising petroleum resources. In the 1990s, the 11-year civil war funded with revenue from the minerals sector (in particular, the “Blood Diamonds”) engulfed the country, resulting in widespread killing, slaughter and the destruction and emasculation of the nation’s infrastructure; totally decimating the Sierra Leone economy and severely denting the hopes of generations, including those unborn.
Diamond is a carbon formation created when carbon atoms are subjected to extremely high pressure and heat, causing them to bond together and develop their crystalline texture and constitution. It is because of the extreme conditions under which diamonds are made that they are such a hard and durable object. They have the potential to shine and sparkle (i.e., they ‘play’ with the surrounding ambient light to create their beauty and allure) when the correct processes and approaches are applied towards their cutting and polishing. I have found that this is a metaphor for the sufferings, pain, resilience, and glowing potentials of the Sierra Leone peoples. It has certainly been the metaphor that describes my own life and the evolution of my faith and brand as a Minister of the Gospel, author, Christian communicator and leader.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Mine has been the most unlikely of journeys and a winding path that brought me to face, confront and accept my destiny in a convergence with unexpected and unanticipated challenges. After the initial struggles of my faith and a terrific confluence of challenges that threatened to inundate me, my ordination as a Pastor in February, 2019, happened without incident. From that point, I have continued to expand the width and depth of my outreach and messaging within a vast and ever-expanding network of constituents and respondents with both physical events and online events (which have predominated during the pandemic). I have been able to, quite naturally, bring the buoyant template of personal experiences –and the mental and spiritual moldings and effects –from my nativity (being a Sierra Leonean, with the natural handicaps, qualities, and potentials like the “Blood Diamond”) –to bring these to bear upon my ministry outreach and messaging with considerable impact and empirical effects.
There is a quality of invincibility (which I carry as a Sierra Leonean) that is infused into my ministry outreach and messaging and is evident in my second but-yet-to-be-formally-released book “Beauty for Ashes”. This quality and messaging seek ambitiously to refresh, rebuild, and rehabilitate the frameworks of peoples’ consciousness with the raw materials, nuts and bolts of the great, precious, and tangible promises that I believe God has made available for us in Christ (which is the teaching of the Scriptures). Promises (i.e., nuts, bolts, screws, prefabbed components etc.) that we can appropriate and utilize to refurbish, revamp, and overhaul the entire length, breadth and width of our mental constructs, our social mobility constructs, our socio-spiritual orbits and constructs and our familial constructs. All these engines of spiritual and mental reorganization and reorientation I have been able to employ and leverage organically because of where I am from and the background experiences from the country of my birth and nativity that have both directly and indirectly molded me and become a catalyst for my own spiritual and mental growth and development. I have seen a growth spurt in the network of respondents in my outreach and messaging campaigns and programs within the past year particularly, with respondents and contacts reaching out and engaging me from across the globe in the hundreds and tens of hundreds, wanting to be a part of the Gospel conversation inherent in my ministration and messaging, or just wanting prayer and counseling –or to be enriched in other ways.
In my book “Beauty for Ashes”, I draw heavily from the spirit and intent of the Scriptures where the record shows the sophistication of physical structures erected in the Old Testament tabernacle that Moses built to guide their worship as the Israelites traveled from Egypt to Canaan; and the temple Solomon built to replace Moses’ temporary structure when they had been planted in their own land. These physical structures represented the virtualized moral and spiritual constructs –in terms of the individual and corporate mentality and faith –that would remake and re-engineer them into a successful and vibrant people in the image of God’s plan and purposes for them. In the New Testament Scriptures, the Apostles drew upon these lessons from the Old Testament to encode New Testament doctrine and Scripture in their own writings and teaching, which clearly demonstrate that the ancient physical structures of antiquity were only a dry run or mock-up of the real structures of the New Testament era which are virtual; i.e. these are constructs we are to erect in our minds, in our hearts and in the spiritual orbit and cosmogony of our lives. These are the constructs my ministry is advancing and building in peoples lives by a wide-ranging campaign through events, social media, my books and other communications and interactions. It also reflects the elasticity that my life, ministry and brand are experiencing: a dimensional shift opening new doors of opportunity to empower people from all descriptions to reach for their fullest potentials, regardless the challenges and setbacks they have faced in life. Again, following the pattern and symbolism of the Sierra Leone “Blood Diamond.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are several interesting places to explore in the DFW metroplex. Just to name a few, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden will be top on the list for its spectacular garden design and breathtaking landscape of plants, flowers and trees. Next on the list is the Gaylord Texan Resort water park, which offers a variety of activities to fill one’s day. Another place of interest is the Reunion Arena. It is a nice place for dinner with an added bonus: the rotating ball gives a panoramic view of Dallas. It is quite a sight to see! Sambuca 360 is another great place to dine and relax while listening to live music. And lastly, I will have my friend experience an engaging time of Sunday worship at my church.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Sending a shoutout to all the folks everywhere throughout these United States and all over the world who have struggled through the pandemic, lost loved ones, endured pain and hardship and temptation and still get up in the morning and hope and believe for a better day, because that day will surely come. The Bible says, “weeping will endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.