The bond between New Haven and Freetown is alive

The Mayor of New Haven in Connecticut, United States of America (USA) John De Stefano Jr. has indicated that the tie between the two capitals of Freetown and New Haven is still binding.

Mayor John De Stefano Jr, recalled September 17, 1996, when the board of Alderman of New Haven city approved the official city relationship between New Haven in Connecticut and Freetown the capital of Sierra Leone: and said some of the reasons for twinning New Haven and other Sister Cities is not unconnected to promoting an awareness of the cultures and customs of those foreign cities designated by New Haven as sister cities, and vice-versa.

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Photo: r-l:  Pasco Gerald Temple, Deputy Info & Communications Minister Hon. Theo Nicol, Mayor John DeStefano Jr., Consul Mohamed Barrie, Alfred Maarda and Minister Plenipotentiary Rev. Wilfred Leroy Kabbs Kanu

Speaking at a recent meeting organized by Sierra Leone’s Consul in Boston Massachusetts, who is also the Chief Imam – Mohammed Barrie, held in Connecticut, between Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Hon. Theo Nicol, Minister Plenipotentiary Rev. Wilfred Kabbs Kanu, Information Attaché Mr. Pasco Gerald Temple, Boston APC Secretary General Abdul Sesay, and Mayor John De Stefano Jr. and Amistad Chairman Alfred Marda, Mayor John De Stefano Jr  said, it is permissible by the law of Connecticut to establish sister-city relationship with the cities of Afula – Gilboa Israel; Amalfi Italy; Avignon France; Freetown Sierra Leone; Hue Vietnam and Leon Nicaragua and Tetlanohean Mexico that was why New Haven and Freetown were able to twin. The mayor said, this type of organization can only accomplish its mission through person-to-person cultural, educational and artist exchanges.

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FROM LEFT : MESSRS ABDUL SESAY, THEO NICOL, MARADA AND BARRIE

“By far, our best ambassadors have been our students. “Through the student exchange programs, more than 370 New Haven public school students, many of whom, otherwise might not have had the opportunity nor the resources, have been able to study abroad.”

He said New Haven City Council consists of an all-volunteer Board of Directors. The Mayor of New Haven is the Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors and many of the directors represent major business interests in the community.

He recalled 1956, when United States President Eisenhower supported the formation of Sister Cities International and said President Eisenhower’s intention was to involve individuals and organized groups at all levels of society in citizen diplomacy, with the hope that personal relationships, fostered through sister city, county, and state affiliations, would lessen the chance of future world conflicts. He praised Mr. Mohamed Barrie, for contributing in his own way to keeping the relationship alive.

“Through his and other few committed patriots of the West African Country, they were able to work with an Italian Archeologist Alfred Marda who were able to learn that Sierra Leone has a root in Connecticut.”

In the eighties, Mr. Mohamed Barrie pioneered and organized the invitation to Harvard University of the Late President Siaka Stevens to launch an initiative captioned “Africa the next 25 years, what does their Heads of state planned to do to restore the institutions of democracy to their various countries”.

The late President Joseph Saidu Momoh was invited to witness the unveiling of the Amistad statue (Sengbe Pieh) in front of the City Hall of New Haven.

So, last month during his visit to New Haven, the Hon. Deputy Minister and his entourage toured the City Hall, where they saw the huge spitting image of Sengbe Pieh.

l-r Hon Theo Nicol and Kabbs Kanu in front of the statue of Sengbe Pieh

l-r Hon Theo Nicol and Kabbs Kanu in front of the statue of Sengbe Pieh

According to Mr. Barrie the Amistad Committee led by Alfred Marda lobbied the New Haven City Council for the image to be installed in front of the city hall- which was a prison (where captives were kept).

Describing it as a symbolic gesture, he said “Sengbe Pieh’s statue represents symbol of liberty and freedom.

“It now represents the starting and ending points of civil demonstrations, protests and agitations.”

The delegation not only read the inscriptions on the statute in front of the City Hall, but was also able to identify names like Toure, Kabba, Kamara, Davis, Thompson, Livingston, Templeton, Wright, Turner, etc. just to name but a few as part of the Trans-Atlantic Cargo.

The delegation entered the City Hall which used to be the jail house for slaves and captives, and actually saw the works of artistry.

The delegation also visited the Cemetery were some freed men and their former masters lay side by side.

They visited the Museum of New Haven, where the jail key is protected and also saw photos of some of the abolitionists displayed.

The restaurant were the first burger was prepared in the United States was also visited where the photo of the Chef is currently displayed.

At the end of the tour, the Hon. Theo Nicol paid homage to Mayor John De Stefano Jr, Chairman Alfred Marda and his Amistad Committee, and promised to contribute in his own way to help improve the tie.

Of importance is the similar characteristics of the layout of the central Business District in Freetown, where State House, the Central Bank, Commercial Banks, Police Headquarters The Law Courts and other important buildings can be found – so is New Haven with the Mayor’s office and other important buildings.

Consul Mohamed Barrie thanked President Ernest Bai Koroma for appointing him Consul. He also thanked the Hon. Minister and his delegation for the tour and praised Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens for supporting him in the execution of his duties.

The Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Hon. Theo Nicol arrived in the United States last month to sensitize Sierra Leoneans on the policies of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government and stands on some issues.

Before coming to the USA, the Hon. Minister informed Foreign Ministry in Freetown, and on arrival in the United States, he briefed the deputy chief of mission Ambassador I.S Conte and staff on his mission, before proceeding to New York where, after briefing Ambassador Keh Kamara and Ambassador Amadu Koroma, was joined by Minister Plenipotentiary Rev. Wilfred Leroy Kabbs Kanu.

By Pasco Temple & Kabbs Kanu

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