By KABS KANU :
New Jersey rocked again yesterday as thousands of Sierra Leoneans in and out of state converged to celebrate the 52nd Independence Anniversary , with yet another huge parade that brought Franklin Township to a standstill , following by a blockbuster Night Dance that has left the feeling once more whether Sierra Leone has moved to New Jersey . You can trust Cocorioko to provide all the authoritative coverage, juicy titbits , drama, and of course the eye-popping pictorial highlights that have made our newspaper your first port of call when you hit the internet as you confess to us (Thank you so much for your appreciation of our efforts to rebrand our beloved nation ) . We will produce all the stories, pictures and sidebars in a series of articles that will last the whole week as we cannot pack all of them in one article. Impossible. There is so much to report.
SCENE OF CELEBRATION AT THE PARK YESTERDAY
Our first article on yesterday’s sensational celebrations in New Jersey–Now the epicenter of Sierra Leonean politics and events in the United States– is an emotional but instructive directive the Publisher of this newspaper ( KK) was given during the heat of the parade , which we feel obligated to publicize, because it epitomizes what has happened in Sierra Leone during the past five years. As joyful Sierra Leoneans in sundry picturesque green, white and blue garments marched in the hot, blistering sun, chanting euphonious songs and powerful loudspeakers boomed Shady Baby’s delicious music from the floats , while a hunting society masquerade rejoiced in the middle –many celebrants could not help expressing how they felt . “You are President Ernest Koroma’s man in this community : Tell him what you have seen today. Tell him that he has re-ignited our love and patriotism for our country ! ! ! ”
HORDES OF CHILDREN JOINED THEIR PARENTS YESTERDAY TO CELEBRATE SIERRA LEONE DAY IN NEW JERSEY
I have been in the U.S. for a long time and frankly, never before have Sierra Leoneans taken so much interest and love in their nation as it is happening today since 2007. Though there were Sierra Leonean organizations and activities , these were low-key events that did not involve a universal and total national outpouring of love and patriotism for the nation as is happening today. In the past, people have to be reminded that they were Sierra Leoneans. There were no reguar news updates ; Heads of state came here for the UN General Assembly , visits or other meetings but did not connect with Sierra Leoneans here. Nor were Sierra Leoneans keen on meeting them. People had lost interest in their country and nobody cared what happened there . Many people told Americans that they came from the Caribbean .They did not want to be associated with Sierra Leone. Enough of the bad and depressing stories that seemed the only news that seeped out of the country.
DANCING A MENDE FOLK SONG AT THE PARK YESTERDAY
As for our American-born kids , they hardly heard the name SIERRA LEONE mentioned and did not even know how to pronounce it. But one of the most significant observations made yesterday during the parade and picnic at the park by Franklin Township Mayor, Mr. Brian Levine and Councilman , Mr. James Vassanella , who rode on the floats with us , was the excitement and involvement of the kids in the celebrations, alongside their parents and wards. Dressed colorfully in their green, white and blue, they did not only parade with their parents or dance to the enticing Sierra Leonean music but took part in the programs on the stage at the park. Everybody , even the kids, are now proud to be associated with Sierra Leone. Our American kids have suddenly become interested in eating cassava Lif, Fufu and bitter lif and aborbor. They go wild when music by Emerson, Shady Baby , Kao Denero or Mazu Avec Bolt is played . They ask curious questions about their fatherland and they love to go to Sierra Leone events. As for their parents and wards, I have never seen a people so excited now for their country. This is why the message many of them asked me to pass on to my boss, President Koroma, is so significant. Something must have re-ignited their interest and patriotism.After all, we had always loved our country.
AMERICAN-BORN SIERRA LEONEAN KIDS TAKE THE STAGE TO PERFORM
Yes. There has been a revival of interest in Sierra Leone and the celebrants were right to say that President Koroma , in turning the country around, has helped in no small manner to restore the feelings of love and patriotism. The socio-economic and political developments that have taken place in Sierra Leone since President Koroma came to power in 2007 have breathed new hope and optimism in Sierra Leoneans. The number of people seeking visas now to visit Sierra Leone is amazing and they all return with good news that though life is not perfect , Sierra Leone is on the move to higher heights. Let us all in America therefore join hands with President Koroma and help rebrand our country (As I appealed from the podium at the Park yesterday ) and help to stimulate investors and tourists to go to our country. We are all ambassadors of our country and we can contribute our quota even from here by letting the world know that Sierra Leone has conquered her past and is on the road to regaining her old glory. More tourists and more investors mean huge financial injection into the country and more jobs and opportunities for our youths and other citizens.