Fellow citizens of Freetown :
Today marks the 222nd Anniversary of the founding of this our great city. The history of Freetown is well known as a safe haven for former slaves and a welcoming place for those who suffered persecution and degradation of their lives through bondage. Those who founded the Freetown Company were men and women of great turpitude and inner strength and it is welcoming to note that the vision they shared for Africans to live together in unity still pose a great challenge to us all.
The end of Slavery was the beginning for Freetown and no greater cause had been fought since then. The inhuman treatment of slavery lasted well into the ensuing years of freedom and some might even argue that the mentality of oppression continues in the psyche of the African up till this time.
Freetown however has moved on from such humble beginnings and today ranks amongst the most loved destinations in Africa. The founding of this city was a beacon of hope for the black poor in England and also a safe haven for those captured on the high seas on their way to foreign destinations to endure bondage and hardship. The dispersal of the African across the world created the central focus for their repatriation once the inhuman nature of the slave trade was abolished. The destination of Freetown and the naming of this city embody the aspiration for freedom that can only be guaranteed by self determination.
Freetown was procured from its owners and since that time, a partnership was formed and that union continues till this day. The Creoles who came and settled here did not see themselves as a separate tribe but as a colorful array of peoples from different cultures and traditions but marred by the same of similar experience of being captured and separated from their motherland.
The relationship amongst the people who came to settle here therefore became one of learning to be accommodating and accepting of each other. In time, the way of life enjoined by these peoples became fused into one identifiable culture and hence the birth of a people who share commonality of tradition. That the Creoles shared the two main religions was also significant and that attribute goes a long way in fostering acceptance and religious tolerance. Freetown has therefore grown to be a tolerant city, a mixed bag of cultures and a metropolitan environment accommodating peoples from all parts of the country and even beyond.
The Challenge that faces this city are numerous but the most crucial of them is the result of its rapid growth in population which took place as a consequence of the war which engulfed Sierra Leone. The internally displaced moved to Freetown where invariably the war was much better managed and controlled prior to ceasefire and peace negotiations.
Freetown is therefore left to deal with those who came to its shores once again, seeking shelter and refuge. Such a challenge is not lost on the Freetown City Council, the statutory agency responsible for managing this city, keeping it clean and maintaining essential services. The City Council takes on this challenge believing that its duty is to support and enhance the welfare of those who happen to be here. The City Council wishes to convey to the city’s citizens that it welcomes those who are here and would continue to do so for as long as deem fit to remain. The challenge to provide for all the needs of this city is not insurmountable and so we welcome the support of Government in being receptive to the issues that crop up from time to time.
As Mayor of this city, I am proud to lend my voice to this celebration of the founding of this city. I believe that the issues raised by overcrowding and environmental degradation can be managed better by more and targeted resources to cope with the rapidity of this city’s growth. That the management of this city’s waste is improving thanks to the cordial and functioning working relationship between the City Council and the private contractor undertaking that service. The contracts have been signed for the building of a new City Hall with financial support from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the King Jimmy Wharf development into a modern mall and business space has recently been advertised for Public Private Partnership and many more projects in the community sector such as Water And Sanitation Hygiene projects, community recreational facilities and sports development are all progressing. His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma recently approved emergency funds for the building of a modern market space at Sewa Grounds so that some of our street traders can move into that site. Alongside these developments, the City Council plans to improve on the effectiveness and administration of its bye laws to combat congestion, waste and lawlessness.
Finally, let me say that the marking of this anniversary of Freetown should focus our attention on how we wish this city to be in the coming years. What type of city we get will largely depend on the sacrifices we make now. The issues of waste, indiscipline and congestion remain a concern for the future prospects for this city. The management of our open spaces are crucial in maintaining environmental balance. Just last week, the Deputy Mayor launched a Declaration for women inspiring change in this city. This declaration are statements of purpose, seeking equality for women as partners in development. We hope that the new city we build for the future should hold true to such noble principles of equality of opportunity, care and compassion for the less privileged and good education for the children who are the foundations of that future. As Mayor of this great City, I implore you to be patient with the pace of change but be rest assured that the change will happen and it will; be a change for the good.
I thank you for listening