A very historic event happened in New Jersey last Saturday September 24, 2011. The President of Sierra Leone, Dr.Ernest Bai Koroma, actually came to Franklin Township, Somerset, New Jersey –Home to many thousands of Sierra Leoneans , some of the most flourishing Sierra Leone organizations, churches and mosques in the United States of America and the hundreds of future leaders of Sierra Leone- the Students in the schools and colleges in the township , not to forget the excellent Sierra Leonean nurses, pharmacists, professors, teachers, clinical technicians, nursing aides, mechanics, social workers, Christian preachers and muslim imams etc. who all live and work in Somerset County where they are contributing their quota to the socio-economic and political development of the Great United States of America . Somerset, New Jersey is also home to the Cocorioko newspaper, which marked the historic day by producing its first print edition .
PRESIDENT KOROMA AND THE FIRST LADY ARRIVING IN NEW JERSEY
The Publisher of this newspaper, who once taught at one of the school systems in the County, once wrote an article that at times during lunch, the corridors of the school he taught sounded like a school in Sierra Leone ,with the local language, Krio, heard being spoken by students all over the place . There were also American kids talking in class about loving Sierra Leonean foods like fufu and bitter leaf, cassava leaf and potato leaf ,which they had been encouraged by their Sierra Leonean classmates to eat and love. One of the white female students called Kaetlin even bragged that she had learned how to prepare rice and cassava leaf for herself and how she loved to consume it .This is how special Somerset County, New Jersey , is to Sierra Leone and how special Sierra Leone is to Somerset County, New Jersey .
PRESIDENT KOROMA AND FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP MAYOR BRIAN LEVINE SHAKING HANDS AT THE WELCOMING CEREMONY
Additionally, this year, the Sierra Leone 50th Anniversary Committee of New Jersey successfully had the Township declare April 27 Sierra Leone’s Day in Somerset . On that day, the green,white and blue flag of Sierra Leone fluttered in the air at major streets in the township , and stayed there for two weeks during the Jubilee celebrations. April 27 every year will be Sierra Leone Day at Somerset, New Jersey. For this, we extend our thanks and appreciation both to the Sierra Leoneans who facilitated it and the Mayor and township officials who approved it.
On Saturday September 24, Sierra Leone’s side of Franklin Township had another feather added to her cap when President Ernest Koroma visited. It was a huge and significant day , one that should remain fresh in the minds of all Sierra Leoneans and one that will stand the test in the sands of time. Because of the hectic and very busy time involved in scheduling and ensuring that the visit ended in success, many of the organizers and facilitators missed savouring one of the most auspicious and historic moments ever in the history of Sierra Leonean habitation of Franklin, Somerset, New Jersey. But it was one moment we dare not fail to amplify. For the very first time ever, Sierra Leoneans in Franklin Township , Somerset, New Jersey , received a visitation from the progressive and transformational President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma , who had visited the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University in Somerset in 2008 . And significantly too, for the very first time and perhaps the only time it may ever happen in our lifetime, Franklin, Somerset County, New Jersey, was host also to the First Lady of the Republic, Madam Sia Koroma , a total of 10 Sierra Leonean Ambassadors , 5 ministers and many government officials who accompanied the President.
We want to thank the organizers and facilitators of the visit . In order that we give the glory to all Sierra Leoneans and nobody complains about being left out , this is one time we will refuse to name names . Certain people have already disgusted us with complaints upon complaints and we don’t want them to destroy the good intentions behind this article.–which is to thank President Koroma for visiting Franklin Township. If we start mentioning names, we will be opening the door to their unending and tiresome complaints . We just want to give the credit to Sierra Leoneans. Period. The individuals who worked to make the visit possible have already been named and praised in other articles in Cocorioko. They did a marvellous and immaculate job to bring and host the President and such a massive number of dignitaries.
We also want to thank President Ernest Koroma for visiting us in New Jersey.The visit was a demonstration of the willingness and commitment of the President to reach out meaningfully to his Sierra Leonean people wherever they may be found , the very people whose cause he has been fighting doggedly since he was voted into office in 2007. As we said the other day, this was one time there should be no complaints from any Sierra Leonean whatsoever about unlimited access to the President.Those Sierra Leoneans who wanted to connect with or hang out with the President really had their wish. President Koroma was gracious to meet with everyone of them. No wonder “Ernesto”, as he is fondly called, is the Man of the People, The People’s President and the most people-oriented President we have ever had in Sierra Leone.The day Sierra Leoneans who think we praise President Koroma too much produce a former President who has ever accomplished all the accolades of this President , including possessing his charm, humility, love for people and easy accessibility, we will shut up forever. We know we will not shut up because they will produce none ! ! ! This is the truth , nothing but the truth and the whole truth as even President Koroma’s detractors will admit.
We hope this day will remain special not only to all Sierra Leoneans in New Jersey, but the hundreds more from states as far afield as California, Texas, Georgia, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Virginia, etc and even countries out of the U.S , like Canada , who came to New Jersey not only to meet the President but be part of history. We all showed the world that we love our President, and for that we should be proud.
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