Cocorioko Publisher gets another big award for journalism excellence

A very thrilled  Publisher of Sierra Leone ‘s biggest and most widely read newspaper ( COCORIOKO ), Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu ,  has expressed thanks to all those who nominated him and to  the 50th Anniversary Diaspora Committee and the Sierra Leone Embassy to  the United States for the Leadership Award that he will be receiving on Saturday May 28, 2011 during the grand Diaspora Banquet and Awards Night in Washington DC.  A press release from the Committee and Embassy this morning named 17 people and organizations who will be given awards that night. According to the press statement sent to media houses throughout the diaspora and Sierra Leone, the Rev. Leeroy W. Kabs-Kanu will receive the  ”Sierra Leone@50 Diaspora Leadership Award for  his leading role in keeping the Sierra Leone community in North America and other parts of the world informed about day-to-day events in Sierra Leone through the electronic media, particularly through his online newspaper ‘Cocorioko’ ” . This is the 4th  career -defining award Mr. Kabs-Kanu has received during almost 40 years of journalism practice.

Kabs-Kanu immediately dedicated the award to the hardworking members of COCORIOKO who toil day and night to make the online newspaper one of the most reputable, sourced , likeable, reliable and comprehensive news portals on Sierra Leone. He said that those working with him are giving off their best, working sacrificially under difficult and trying conditions to make sure that Sierra Leone is perceived in a positive light in the international world. The Publisher also dedicated the award to members of the newspaper who are no longer with Cocorioko , but whose contributions are equally highly appreciated.

The  Leadership Award comes three years after the COCORIOKO  Publisher scooped another major and very important award from the prestigious and intellectuals-packed National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America ( NOSLINA ) –The Sierra Leonean equivalence of the OSCAR’S –again for journalism excellence. The NOSLINA Award was a defining moment for the Cocorioko Newspaper. The award itself came two years after the New York Chapter of Sierra Leone’s oldest political party , the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) gave the Publisher an Award for the same reason that the 50th Anniversary Committee provided —Keeping the world authoritatively informed about events in Sierra Leone. It was another award that the Publisher valued , because the SLPP was in power in Sierra Leone at the time and COCORIOKO was very critical of the leadership of ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah . “We must have really done a great job for the SLPP  to overlook all our criticisms and give us that award. I also credit the party’s New York Chapter and its President Mr. Mohamed Tunis for being democratic “, the Publisher said at the time.


However, the SLPP was not the first governmental institution to give the Publisher an award , though he had been criticising them persistently. The first award the Publisher received in 1974 came from the Fourah Bay College Students Union Government , then headed by the late political and democratic icon, Mr. Kemoh Sulimani Sr ,whose administration received a brutal treatment on CHUKS PRESS  from the Publisher who was then a leading student journalist. The FBC Students Union Governments in those days gave  annual awards to students who were contributing substantially to the political, social, cultural and academic upliftment of the campus .Mr. Kabs-Kanu was stunned when his name was announced as one of the recepients of the Students Union  awards that year because he was merciless with the government in the students press . It went to prove that despite his failings, the late Kemoh Sulimani was a paragon of democratic values, the kind of man that would have been a gem to Sierra Leone’s turbulent politics if he had been alive  .  A college mate of Sulimani’s , Mr. Ernest Koroma, is Sierra Leone’s President today and he too is following an impeccable democratic path.  Both men epitomise the enduring values of democracy , credit to the FBC 1970s Brigade. The late Sulimani’s  son, the Rev. Kemoh Sulimani jr , who had not been born then, is today a valuable member of COCORIOKO, reaching millions of readers all over the world with his incisive and brilliant articles. Sierra Leone newspapers and other media across the world publish his articles.

COCORIOKO wants all those who nominated the paper’s publisher and those on the Committee who endorsed the nomination to know that the award is very much appreciated in a thankless world and a thankless and dog-eat-dog profession. “We shall always cherish the award and it will serve as a motivating force to prod us to do even better for our beloved nation and mankind, ”  the Publisher said this morning after learning about the award.

The other 16 honoured are :

Mr. Donald K. Stephens, President and Founder, Mercy Ships – Sierra Leone@50 Diamond Award for humanitarian endeavors: In recognition of his contribution to the development of Sierra Leone, particularly in the area of health.

The Friends of Sierra Leone (FOSL) – Sierra Leone @ 50 Humanitarian Award: In recognition of Friends of Sierra Leone’s instrumental role in rendering humanitarian and development assistance particularly in the provision of artificial limbs and other medical care for amputees who came to the United States at the height of the war as well as funding agricultural and education projects in Sierra Leone over the years.

Friends of Sierra Leone is also known for its advocacy role on behalf of Sierra Leone to United States policy makers, particularly towards obtaining the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over ten thousand Sierra Leoneans that came to the United States of America as refugees during the rebel war and not least, the eventual return of the Peace Corps volunteers.

Mrs. Bernadette B. Kamara-Bangura, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sierra Leone Relief Development Outreach (SLRDO) – Sierra Leone@50 Humanitarian Award: In recognition of her dedicated commitment to meeting the needs of Sierra Leoneans back home particularly in the area of health care service.

Rev. Leeroy W. Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the United Nations New York – Sierra Leone@50 Diaspora Leadership Award: For his leading role in keeping the Sierra Leone community in North America and other parts of the world informed about day-to-day events in Sierra Leone through the electronic media, particularly through his online newspaper “Cocorioko”.

Mr. Richard Schroeder, President and Chief Executive Officer, First Step Economic Opportunity Zone Inc – Sierra Leone@50 Economic Development Award: His organization, First Step Economic Opportunity, has established a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Sierra Leone which will attract labor-intensive globally competitive enterprises to the country.

Mr. Madieu Williams, Founder, Madieu Williams Foundation – Sierra Leone@50 Award for sports: In recognition of the role his sportsmanship has played in projecting a positive image of Sierra Leone in the United States of America.

Mr. Idris Elba – Sierra Leone@50 Entertainment Award: In recognition of his role in the field of entertainment.

Mr. David B. Vandy and the Sierra Theatre Production – Sierra Leone@50 Culture Award: In recognition of his efforts in keeping alive the culture of Sierra Leone through performing arts that portray Sierra Leone culture.

Professor Richmond Stanley Garrick, Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ – Sierra Leone@50 Culture Award: For his role in promoting the culture of Sierra Leone in the United States of America through his artistic work, particularly in the area of Fine Art.

Sierra Leone Council of Representative (SALCORE) – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: In recognition of its role in coordinating the activities of Sierra Leone community organizations.

Sierra Leone Clubs of Columbus, Ohio (SLOCO) – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: For coordinating the efforts of Sierra Leoneans in Ohio State, particularly in the Columbus metropolis.

Union of Sierra Leone Organizations in New York (USLO) – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: For coordinating the activities of Sierra Leone Community organizations in New York State.

Mrs. Patricia Omo Thorpe- Finney and the Save Sierra Leone Foundation – Sierra Leone@50 Community Empowerment Award: For her hard work in the Sierra Leone community and beyond. Due to her strong commitment in empowering community groups and individuals, her organization, the Save Sierra Leone Foundation, has participated in fund raising activities of Sierra Leone community groups in the United States of America

Sierra Leone Community Association (SLCA) Ottawa, Canada – Sierra Leone@50 Education Award: For contributing to the development of Sierra Leone, particularly in the educational sector. Since its establishment in May 2007, the Sierra Leone Community Association (SLCA) has been very supportive to some elementary school pupils in Sierra Leone. 

Rev. Canon Julius Grey-Coker, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church , Maryland -Sierra Leone @50 Long Term Achievement Award: In recognition of his service to Sierra Leone as journalist, broadcaster and TV newscaster in the early days of Independence and his outstanding services to the Sierra Leone Community in the United States of America, particularly in the field of religion.

Ms. Janet Baindu Lagah-Bona, Founder, Children Empowerment Foundation – Sierra Leone @50 Leaders of Tomorrow Award: For her selfless service to the Sierra Leone community and beyond. Through her organization “The Children Empowerment Foundation”, she has donated school materials and toys to other children in her community. Through her initiative and instrumentality, she got a proclamation from President Obama which declared November 20 as National Child’s Day in America.

Dr. Susan Shepler, Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University- Certificate of Recognition: For her active support to the Sierra Leone community in the Washington, D.C. metropolis particularly in facilitating the hosting of Sierra Leone country events at the American University.

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