By Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu :
The TRIBECA Cinema Hall in New York was jampacked to capacity last night as Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary Planning Committee from Freetown unveiled and launched the golden jubilee celebrations program. In what was dubbed a CELEBRITY NIGHT , the Planning Committee used the grand occasion to sell the vision of President Ernest Bai Koroma and the All People’s Congress (APC) Government to the galaxy of distinguished guests, who included American and foreign friends of Sierra Leone, as the country prepares for perhaps the biggest national jamboree to be staged by the West African nation since Independence in 1961. With a big town meeting planned for Washington DC tomorrow , the Planning Committee is in the U.S. to sensitize , engage and involve diasporan Sierra Leoneans and the country’s foreign friends in the celebrations.
Addressing the big gathering yesterday, the Director of the Diaspora Initiative and also Chairman of the Planning Committee of the 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations, Dr.William Konteh , said that there was a four-fold vision for the celebrations :
- To revive national pride and patriotism by celebrating our unity and diversity.
- To rebrand and showcase Sierra Leone in a positive light
- To continue the process of consolidating peace and development
- To implement a range of legacy projects which would serve as a memorial to the celebration.
The eloquent Chairman said that Sierra Leone wants to use 2011 as the moment when the country is showcased in a positive light to the whole world. The plan, he went on, is to showcase Sierra Leone as a new nation open to investment , business and tourism and as one of the safest places on earth today for doing business.
Propounding on the range of legacy projects to serve as a memorial of the celebration, Dr.Konteh pointed out some of the areas that need urgent attention. He mentioned Lungi International Airport which he said needs to be reconstructed to international standards as the gateway to the nation and the place where visitors to the country receive their first and lasting impression about the country. He also mentioned the country’s road network which needs to be given attention to help the movement of commerce and goods and services as the government seeks to improve the national economy. Sierra Leone, he stated, now looks like a work yard with lots of road development projects going on.
Dr. Konteh spoke about the lofy plans of the APC Government for the socio-economic and political transformation of Sierra Leone but he regretted the fact that the country needs resources to implement its agenda .”We therefore want to appeal to everybody here tonight and anybody who understands the problems of Sierra Leone to help provide the support needed by the country”. The Diaspora Chief als called on all present to use their social networks to pass on his appeal to 50 other people . “You can call it the 50×50 Network” , he joked.
DR. KONTEH ADDRESSING PROGRAM
COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR KWAME YANKSON (RIGHT ) , AMBASSADOR OSMAN KEH KAMARA (CENTRE ) AND ANOTHER GUEST
PRESIDENT OF ORGANIZATION OF SIERRA LEONEANS IN NEW YORK AHMED KAMARA TALKING TO A GUEST
MADAM MILLIE TERRY –THE SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO DR. KONTEH–STANDING WITH GUESTS
AMBASSADOR I.S.CONTEH ( LEFT ), DIRECTOR KONTEH ( THIRD FROM LEFT ) AND GUESTS
MADAM MILLIE TERRY AND MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY KABS KANU
GUESTS RUB SHOULDERS WITH EACH OTHER DURING THE RECEPTION
TWO OF THE GUESTS
MORE OF THE GUESTS
THE BAND PLAYING S DELICIOUS SOUND
ANOTHER PHOTO OF THE GUESTS
FORMER AMBASSADOR SYLVESTER ROWE (LEFT ); AMBASSADOR KAMARA (CENTER) AND MR. BAMI PARKES
Dr. Konteh also said that the showcasing process last night was also being used to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone in a well-structured manner, adding : ”We are now moving from the peacebuilding stage to the development stage .” The nation, he continued , had identified poverty allevation projects and so the Planning Committee has come to the United States to tell Sierra Leoneans and foreign friends about it and to solicit their support. “We will have a big peace march in Sierra Leone and we want everybody here to go there and take part “, he further disclosed . He also said that Sierra Leone is going to have peace monuments to demonstrate to the world that nothing like war will happen there again.
THE COMMITTEE MEANWHILE has appointed Golden Globe and Tony Award winning actor, Mr. Jeffrey Wright to be the PEACE AMBASSADOR . His duties will be to start to bring more people abroad; to help raise funds ; to help rebrand Sierra Leone and to broadcast the 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations far and wide. He has a long and distinguished involvement with Sierra Leone where he has an NGO. He is Chairman of the Taia LLC and Taia Peace Foundation . He delivered a very beautiful and inspiriong statement which we will publish next.
TOMORROW’S TOWN MEETING will be held at the Tacoma Park Community Centre auditorium , 7500 Maple Avenue ,Tacoma Park, Maryland 20912.