All roads lead to Maryland today as Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations in the United States reach the climax with the grand Jubilee Banquet and Awards Night at the Martin Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt, Maryland, 20770 at 9:00 pm. It is a massive ceremony that will be attended by a galaxy of distinguished personalities including some of the nation’s ambassadors assigned here and different countries, VIPs in the Sierra Leonean community , celebrities and nationals in the Continental USA from all walks of life. The event is being staged by the Jubilee Committee set up by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the U.S, H.E . Mr. Bockarie Kortu Stevens and the Embassy itself.
It will be a fitting finale to what has been a memorable 50th Anniversary celebrations in America with the Sierra Leone Embassy among those that staged the best and the most thrilling programs and Ambassador Bockarie Stevens and staff , including the Deputy Ambassador H.E. I.M .Conteh, Head of Chancery Mr. Sheku Misali and First Secretary Mr. Saspo Conteh , deserve a pat on the back . Their brilliant and creative ability to galvanize Sierra Leoneans from across a broad spectrum of political parties, regions and organizations is absolutely praiseworthy. It has been a wholly Sierra Leonean affair as it was in other states like New Jersey and New York.
FROM RIGHT : AMBASSADOR STEVENS, DEPUTY AMBASSADOR CONTEH AND HOC MISALI
Among the highlights of the night will be guest Performances by Sierra Leone’s Talent, Shabaka, Janet Laggah-Bona, Salone Jr, Gilleh, Sierra Theatre Productions, Manzu Avec C-Bolt, and Cameroon’s Josephine Atanga. Of course, there will be dancing, an open bar and food is expected to be abundant. It will be another night to remember and Cocorioko will be there to bring you all the news and big-occasion flashes.
The main feature of the night will be awards that will be made to Sierra Leoneans and organizations for distinguished service to the community. The following are the honoured recipients of the Awards:
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.
In photo : Some of the brains of USLO : From left–The President Mr. Ahmed Kargbo; Ms. Zainabu Sesay-Harrel and Mr. Sentu Johnson of the Sierra Big Apple .
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.