By KABS KANU :
After a very successful one-day visit to New Jersey where he was overwhelmed by the depth and intensity of love he received from Sierra Leoneans and officials of Franklin Township in Somerset County at the weekend , President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday Sunday September 25 stormed Boston, Massachussetts where he was again given a memorable welcome by Sierra Leoneans residents.
The President, accompanied by the First Lady, Madam Sia Nyama Koroma and his delegation to the UN General Assembly was on a State Visit to Boston as guest of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick. The Sierra Leonean Community in Massachusetts mobilized to welcome President Koroma at the Boston Marriot Copley hotel, 110 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116 , followed by a Presidential Reception starting at 5:30 pm prompt.
According to the President of the All People’s Congress ( APC ) Boston Chapter and Vice-Chairman of the APC-NA, Mr. Sallieu Conteh, “The ceremony at the Boston Marriot Copley was put together by members of the Sierra Leone Community, the Society for the Advancement of Sierra Leoneans in Massachusetts (SASLAMA, Inc.), APC New England/Boston Chapters, SLPP, PMDC, Muslim and Christian Organizations in Massachusetts, Tegloma of New England and Individual efforts.” The event was sponsored by the Akar Auto Inc, the Amistad Committee of New Haven, Connecticut and the 7 Hills Foundation.
The Master of Ceremony for the occasion was Mr.Francis Thomas jr. Mr. Mohamed Barrie, Chairman of SASLAMA, Inc.), made the welcome remarks followed by remarks by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States , Mr. Bockarie Kortu Stevens . Also making remarks were Senator David Magnani, friend of Sierra Leone and the Chairman of the AMISTAD Committee of New Haven, Connecticut, Mr. Alfred Merder. Greetings to the President and his delegation were provided by Mr. William Hawkins , King Lion of the Lions Organization ; former U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Mr. Tom Hull and Dr. David Jordan of 7 Hills Foundation Project in Bo. A presentation to the First Lady was made by Ms. Geneva Anthony-Barwoh while the Rev. Albert Senessie gave a brief history and the aims and aspirations of SASLAMA, Inc.). The SASLAMA Organization provides immigration assistance ,funeral benevolence , Life Insurance, educational service assistance , job placement and legal referrals to Sierra Leoneans.
The President and his delegation were then introduced by the Minister of Presidential and Public Affairs, Hon. Alpha Kanu after which President Koroma captivated his audience as usual with an authoritative, inspiring and instructive speech. President Koroma , after extending thanks and appreciation to the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachussetts , organizations and Sierra Leoneans for the great welcome accorded him, gave a comprehensive report about events back home.
President Koroma informed the crowd that his government has created an enabling environment in Sierra Leone for business and investment and said that Sierra Leone now ranks 4th as the easiest country to do business. He spoke about the revival of mining activities and the abundant opportunities now existing in the country’s extractive industries. He called on all Sierra Leoneans to come together and form cooperatives whereby they can go back and take over and run the government corporations that are up for privatization, e.g The Ports Authority, Rokel Bank,SIERRATEL etc. He urged Sierra Leoneans to demonstrate more commitment and patriotism towards their nation. He said that elections time should be the only time for politics when Sierra Leoneans have to elect their leaders but that once the elections are over everybody should join hands to help the government develop the country.
President Koroma assured the crowd that the recent political disturbances in Kono and Bo were being fully investigated by Government and the full force of the law will be brought on anybody found culpable , regardless of their positions.
President Koroma acknowledged the fact that many Sierra Leoneans have come to the U.S. and acquired education and skills that would be useful in Sierra Leone. He called on them to come together to form cohesive groups so that they can return home and transfer their education and skills to their country and realize the dream of a Sierra Leone that provides donor support to other countries instead of being a perpetual receiver.
A question-and-answer period then followed during which President Koroma also provided answers to questions of national interest from the audience.
The vote of thanks was given by Mr. Abdul Sesay.
TODAY, President Koroma will be presented to the State Senate and he will be guest of the Governor of the State of Massachussetts . Also, the Boston/New England combined APC Chapters will present President Koroma a plaque in appreciation of his hard work and commitment to progress in Sierra Leone.