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Archive for February, 2014

HOW FREETOWN EXPUNGES THE GHOSTS OF ITS PAST, PART 2

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

 

 Titus Boye-Thompson, Strategic Media & Development Communications Unit

 The first part of this article waded through the historical ties between the Temnes and the Creoles, two sets of peoples whose destiny was intertwined even before the slave trade was declared over. It is the case that the Temnes were cordial and accommodating enough to have provided land for the settlement of slaves from England, the first group labeled the Free Poor came to these shores after escaping destitution in the streets of London. They were accompanied by prostitutes and loose white women who were felt to have been without hope in English society presumably after having consorted with free white men in London.

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Moving on to the present day or more particularly, more recent times, the relationship between the myriad peoples who eventually settled in Freetown and called this place home makes for much more interesting sociological study in terms of the establishment of society and the manifestation of cultures and mores. The sum total of the various altercations, admixtures, marriages and inter-marriages, gambling, wine, women and song has culminated in what is present day Freetown. This notwithstanding the case that some now infer a dichotomy between the Freetown that has grown from that process of assimilation to the Freetown we now experience. Freetown is undoubtedly a city largely subjected to rapid growth due to internal displacement and urban migration during the long drawn civil war. To subscribe to this dichotomy is fallacious for the simple reason that the exigencies of war impose on every nation the necessity to adjust. When a kin flees carnage, how easily can it be for you to restrict his sojourn in a safe haven to a matter of time or space? Hence the problem that Freetown now face is a problem of maladjustment and unpreparedness more so than one of diversity or segregation. There is therefore no reason to subject anyone living in this city to discrimination or exclusion on the basis that they do not belong here.

 

The dynamism of Freetown’s individual communities presupposes a fractured space, conjoined by self sustained existences in communities of interest rather than one characterized by a centrally shared vision or sense of belonging. There are unique experiences from Fourah Bay to Bombay, Kror Jimmy to King Jimmy and from Berry Street to Mary Street. These experiences though disparate yet were characterized by certain commonalities of a uniquely Freetown vibe. The disparate nature of these communities were superintended on the educational system as pupils came from all backgrounds to meet at school or college. It is that socialization that enhances the inter-mix of cultures and domestic arrangements and tend to solidify the uniquely Freetown experience. The fact that one who engages in soft drugs like cannabis or imbibes the local brew of totapak at the time may equally be a senior prefect shows the extent of pluralism and meritocracy within an education system that was largely sanguine when it comes to relating educational attainment with poverty. So it is that places like Kror Jimmy could produce a Professor in sociology, Kairaba city a chemist cum poet and Kanikay an Oxford Don. The context here is the pluralism of cultures and traditions that allowed for progress even in the face of poverty and a building of a society where social class or caste were denied in the face of that genuine desire to belong and be part of it all. Those who attained high grades in school did so notwithstanding the effects of poverty that surrounded neither them nor the multitudes of bad influences to which they were exposed. Poverty and need were not a disparaging factor because the city of Freetown had an ingrained support structure that saw its peoples relying on each other and a code of superintendency or hierarchical structure that cascaded from one cadre to another. The Creoles were integral to that cascading of aspirations, as they encouraged the families of other tribes and cultures to see education as the pathway out of poverty. They were forceful in the education of the people of Freetown and some of whom they took into their households as domestic help but still enlist them into formal education.

 

There is a more peculiar relationship amongst Freetown’s communities especially in relation to the favored choice for Mayor. Freetown is the only seat of elected office where the Creoles have a right to ascendancy or otherwise, a more effective claim to determine the person who occupies that seat. The decision to opt for or promote a Creole for Mayor is one that has found favor within the political parties. It is clear that the creoles have no claim to be elected to political office nowhere else but Freetown. To deny that right to ascendancy in Freetown would be unjust. This is not to say that the Creoles would be unsupportive of a Mayor who is anything but a Creole but it would be difficult to retain the Creole support for that political party that is seen to effectively deny them the right to govern Freetown. The existence therefore of a Creole Mayor is not an accident but a deliberate strategy to retain the sense of belonging and to exercise that pluralism that accords for equal opportunities for all sections of the communities in Sierra Leone to p[lay their role in governance. Take the Creole Mayor out of the equation and they have no meaningful claim to representation and their influence in the political life of Freetown becomes adversely diminished.

 

Having , made the claim or even the case that the Mayor of Freetown should invariably be a Creole does not excuse any Creole to aspire to that role, unless that Creole has something to give to this city to make it a better place to live, work and learn. The choice for Freetown’s Mayor is under much tighter scrutiny and under a greater burden to perform because of the necessity to maintain the Creole dominance of that position. It is clear that once it becomes apparent that the Creoles would have nothing to give, then their right to ascendancy in Freetown is jeopardized.

 

The present choice for Mayor is the result of an open and transparent process. The APC party unleashed a selection process that was clearly unique, introducing the concept of an electoral college with representatives from rank and file of the party. Franklyn Bode Gibson came out victorious in that process to the chagrin to others like Theo Nicol who worked hardest to woo and cultivate the support of the masses. Those candidates who scored less than four votes exhibited a clear demonstration of their lack of support and recognition in the party and hence had no claim to ascendancy as Mayor for Freetown. To support the Mayor after such an exercise is a respectable position to take and would be quite opposed to a stance of undermining the Mayor and his administration at any given opportunity.

 

In the event, Freetown managed to have moved on from a settlement of re-captives and freed slaves to that of a multi-cultural society. The challenge has always been to integrate its peoples into a cohesive community of equals and in some respect, this city has done well to address that challenge. The governance of this city now has to take cognizance of the rightful claims of those who founded this place and have made it wha5 it is in this modern age. The talk of separation or differentiation amongst its peoples are lost in that argument to secure the position of city father to the preserve of the Creoles who have undoubtedly enforced theirs as the dominant culture. Freetown’s ghosts have been expunged by the passing of time. Its identity more rounded by intermarriage and cohabitation and its cultures molded by an acceptance of its diversity. The Creoles have been influential in the trade and commerce of this city with families known and established as merchants and tradesmen. The Bombas Palmer, Coffee Nicol, Ashwood, Akinwumi, and Malama Thomas families of old have given way to other communities of traders such as the Koromas and Kamaras of Temne Bata. Nonetheless, there still remain fourth and fifth generations of Creoles of lesser names who continue to hold on to their stalls and shops across the City. The need to de-congest Abacha Street does not affect only one tribe but all those who occupy that thoroughfare. This is not an instance of tribalism and to portray it as such is wicked. This is a vision to drag Freetown to the modern era, a modern city and a place well prepared to engage in Sierra Leone’s prosperity as the capital city.

UN Secretary Gen. Ban Ki-Moon visits Sierra Leone on March 4

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

 

UN SECRETARY GENERAL MEETS WITH SPANISH PRESIDENTPRESS RELEASE

THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS HEREBY INFORMED THAT AT THE INVITATION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE, THE UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON WILL VISIT SIERRA LEONE FROM 4TH – 6TH MARCH 2014. THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL WILL ATTEND A CEREMONY TO CLOSE THE UNITED NATIONS INTEGRATED PEACEBUILDING OFFICE IN SIERRA LEONE (UNIPSIL) AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS OF SUCCESSIVE UN PEACE OPERATIONS, AND MARK THE TRANSITION TO A DEVELOPMENT FOCUSED UNITED NATIONS PRESENCE. PURSUANT TO UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2097, UNIPSIL WILL BE CLOSING ON 31ST MARCH 2014.

DURING HIS SECOND OFFICIAL VISIT TO SIERRA LEONE, SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON WILL MEET WITH PRESIDENT DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA, THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION DR. SAMURA KAMARA, THE DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY, REPRESENTATIVES OF POLITICAL PARTIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND OTHER NATIONAL STAKEHOLDERS AS WELL AS THE UN FAMILY IN THE COUNTRY.

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STATE HOUSE 25TH FEBRUARY, 2014
FREETOWN

 

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Ambassador Sorie pays working visit to Antwerp World Diamond Centre

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

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Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the EU, Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie, on Monda, February 24 paid a working visit to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the biggest diamond centre in the world.
The Ambassador and entourage was taken on a conducted tour of the centre’s laboratories where rough diamonds are polished; the Import and Export departments; the Expertise room, and taken through the entire processes on how diamonds are received world over, processed and ready for export to final destinations, likewise the issuance of Kimberly Process certificates.
During the guided tour, it was revealed that the AWDC based in Belgium’s second city, Antwerp, is the world’s biggest and most important centre for diamond trade.”Approximately, 84% (Eighty Four percent) of the total world production of rough diamonds is being traded in Antwerp, as is an estimated 50% (Fifty percent) of all polished diamonds worldwide”, stated Mark Van Bockstael, AWDC’s Chief Officer Business Intelligence.
Mr. Van Bockstael further revealed that diamonds represent approximately 5% (Five percent) of Belgian exports and 15% (Fifteen percent) of all Belgian exports outside the EU.
“Each year, 28,000 (Twenty Eight Thousand) Kimberly Process certificates are issued in Antwerp, which represents half of all the KP certificates issued worldwide. In 2012, the diamond sector generated an added value of USD 930Billion (Nine Hundred and Thirty Billion United States Dollars) and the sector accounts for a total of 6000 (Six Thousand) direct jobs and 26,000 (Twenty Six Thousand) indirect jobs”, he revealed.
Antwerp, according to Karla Basselier, Senior Manager and Head of Public Affairs, is home to over 1,700 (One Thousand Seven Hundred) registered diamond firms including rough diamond producers and dealers, manufacturers , polished diamond wholesalers and some 2000 (Two Thousand) diamond and jewelry related businesses.
Ambassador Sorie expressed appreciation for the tour and informed that His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma would like to take the opportunity to visit the centre in April when he is scheduled to attend the EU/Africa summit in Brussels, an offer the AWDC management gladly accepted and volunteered to mobilize the top executives of the business community in Belgium to meet with the Sierra Leone Head of State.
Ambassador Sorie further informed them on the establishment of the National Minerals Agency (NMA), which he stressed offers guide and technical assistance on the mining sector to potential and genuine investors in Sierra Leone. He appealed to all genuine investors in the diamond industry interested in Sierra Leone diamonds to go through the NMA, which he emphasized is staffed by experts and avoid using the back door which usually ended up with the buyer buying fake diamonds.
The Ambassador and entourage also paid a brief courtesy call on the offices of one of Sierra Leone’s renowned diamond magnates, Alie Mackie.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Information Attachè,
Sierra Leone Embassy,

President Koroma Attends Centenary Celebrations in Nigeria

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

February 26, 2014

Ernest1 (1) OLD

 

By State House Communications Unit :

His Excellency President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma will leave the shores of Freetown this afternoon for Nigeria to attend the Centenary celebration activities which were flagged off by H.E. Dr Ebele Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in February this year, and will climax in the Grand Finale to be held in Abuja from 27th – 28th February, 2014.

Whilst in Abuja, President Koroma and entourage will attend the International Conference on Human Security, Peace and Development: Agenda to the 21st Century and the Centenary Anniversary Live Concert: Multimedia Show and Fireworks on 27th February, and the Centenary Awards Night on 28th February respectively.

The Grand Finale of the commemorative events is to mark the Centenary of the amalgamation in 1914 of the then Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria.

The President and entourage are expected to return to Freetown on Saturday 1st March.

APC -USA congratulates President Ernest Koroma

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

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President Koroma Has Done It Again!!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

By Alhaji Jalloh

Sierra Leone’s President, His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is confirmed to receive the African President of the year 2013 Award and participate as Special Guest of Honour during the 6th International Summit on African Leadership slated to hold on February 27, 2014 at The St Regis, Washington D.C, U.S.A, in an event organized by the African Leadership magazine.

Ernest1President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in a special letter to the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the African Leadership Magazine, Dr. Ken Giami, on 6th February, 2014, expressed thanks and appreciation to the editors of the magazine for finding him worthy of receiving the prestigious award. The President further noted that the award is a confirmation of the transformative leadership which has been the cardinal focus of his administration and assured that the recognition would spur him to even greater accomplishments. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has dedicated the award to fellow Sierra Leoneans who have reposed great confidence and trust in his administration. The President promised to justify the confidence Sierra Leoneans have reposed in him.

The award means that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone will join a distinguished list of past recipients of the African Leadership Magazine President of the Year Award, including Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. President James Michel of Seychelles, ex- Ghanaian President, John Kuffour and late President Dr. John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana. Other past recipients of African Leadership Magazine Awards include H.E, Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria; H.E, Xavier Luc Duval, Vice Premier of Mauritius; Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank; Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdullahi, Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service; Dr. Mo Ibrahim of Mo Ibrahim Foundation among others.

This latest award to His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as African President of the Year 2013 is a clear manifestation of his recognition at global level for the transformative leadership which has been the backbone of his administration since he acceded to power in September 2007. The President has also been recognized by several international organizations for the exemplary leadership he has provided for Sierra Leone, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) among others. These are all partners to the development strides his administration has made under the Agenda for Change and now Agenda for Prosperity which have transformed every facet of society.

It would be recalled that sometime last year; President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was invited by President Barrack Obama of America, alongside three other African Leaders to White House in Washington D.C. to help promote good governance and democracy in Africa. They were recognized as emerging democracies in Africa with penchant to promote the tenets of democracy in their respective countries, including Sierra Leone, where six national elections have been successfully conducted between 1996 and 2012. Under the dynamic leadership of President Koroma, many development projects have been successfully implemented and many more are in the pipeline. For example, road infrastructure is felt in almost every corner of Sierra Leone, including areas that were ignored by previous regimes, such as the Kenema/Koindu road in the heartland of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The first phase of the Kenema/Koindu road will soon be completed while the second phase will also commence this year to give the people of Kailahun District a new lease of life. This district has long been deprived of development despite being one of the most agriculturally viable areas in the country. Kailahun District is the largest producer of Cacao but because of bad roads, unscrupulous produce buyers smuggle their produce to neigbouring Liberia or Guinea, thereby; depriving Sierra Leone of much needed revenue. But the Koroma administration believes that with the completion of the Kenema/Koindu road, such nefarious practice will stop through effective monitoring of border crossings.

Forget about what detractors say about President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s administration, they criticize negatively as if things are not working because of frustrations and disappointments. But the fact remains that all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans do recognize and appreciate the wonderful performance of their President. Even donors and our development partners do shower praises on the good leadership President Koroma is providing for his people on a daily basis. Very recently, the Country Manager of World Bank in Sierra Leone, Francis Ato Brown, was impressed and satisfied with the different projects the Bank is implementing with its partners in the country especially those relating to agriculture which he noted is very important for the country’s economic development.  He made the remarks after the World Bank and its partners: West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAPP), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) and a cross-section of journalists jointly toured different projects sites in Kambia, Lunsar and Kono respectively.

The remarks made by the Country Manager of World Bank is a clear manifestation of government’s commitment to taking agriculture to higher height in order to achieve economic development; one that would lift the status of the rural poor. Though Sierra Leone has not achieved self-sufficiency at this moment, yet there are indications that it would happen in the not-too-distant future given the fact that many agricultural projects have been successfully implemented across the country.

Many other sectors such the energy sector, health, education, human rights, democracy and good governance, and economic governance have improved tremendously under the indefatigable leadership of Sierra Leone’s Chief Executive. His commitment, honesty and sincerity of purpose have therefore earned him great recognition across the globe. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s latest Award therefore comes as no surprise to most Sierra Leoneans who have reposed faith in him for working the work instead of talking the talk. “Sierra Leone’s President, His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma selection as the African President of the year 2013 Award did not come out of the vacuum. Rather, it’s the fruit of his diligence and remarkable performance,” a Sierra Leonean at the King Saud University here in Riyadh wrote on his face book page last night. The questions begging for answers are: Who can deny that fact? And will the critics learn any lesson from the latest award President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has bagged?

Zero-Tolerance for Anti-FGM Campaigns in Africa?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

FUAMBISIAAHMADU

 

The International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, a day sponsored by the UN was first observed on February 6, 2003 to create awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and to promote its eradication.  Though, the United Nations and other international organizations characterize FGM as nothing more than child abuse, supporters of female genital surgeries reject the “term mutilation” and see anti-FGM campaigns as an affront to their basic human rights to equality, dignity and self determination.

Fuambai Sia Ahmadu is a Sierra Leonean medical anthropologist based in Washington, DC who describes herself as a third wave feminist activist.  I caught up with Dr. Ahmadu recently to share her thoughts and perspectives on the observation of International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, the re-launch of her SIA Magazine and African Woman Are Free to Choose (AWA-FC).

This is a transcript of some of what she said during the interview.

This is the anniversary of our first interview last year on Feb 6th, International Zero-Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation Day.  The interview in Newstime Africa online publication, received widespread attention almost overnight.  Clearly, some people are listening.  What have you been doing since?

Dennis, it is good that people are listening.  Especially on a day like today when it appears we have capitulated to the definition of African women’s bodies as “mutilated”.  As descendants of Africans with our history of enslavement, imperialism and colonialism, we have to be very careful when we are shamed into forgetting or denigrating our culture, our past, and our traditions.  By labeling circumcised African women as “mutilated” and “oppressed” and our cultures as “barbaric” – some feminists even say “sadomasochistic” – the financiers of anti-FGM campaigns who are largely white, educated, middle-class or wealthy women and men continue to define for us who we can and cannot be as African women, how we can or cannot feel, what we can or cannot do, and what we can or cannot appreciate about our histories, our bodies and our own sexual organs.

Our interview was published just after my appearance on SBS-TV, Insight Program, in Australia.  The show was appropriately called, “Breaking the Taboo”.  This was perhaps the first time that western audiences got to hear a more balanced view of African female genital surgeries.  It was the first time I “came out” so to speak in a public way to engage with others about my own experience and my support of what we call Bondo in Sierra Leone.  I spent the first half of the year giving talks at universities, academic seminars and conferences.  It is amazing how receptive normal, reasonable and liberal thinking people are when they hear my story and the perspective of millions of African women and girls who continue to celebrate what we call female circumcision.

The second half of the year I spent quietly, writing and editing several manuscripts for publication this year.  I have worked with other women to re-launch SiA Magazine and African Women Are Free to Choose (AWA-FC).  SiA Magazine began in 2009 as a light, Afropolitan women’s fashion, entertainment quarterly aimed mainly at Sierra Leonean women in the diaspora.  But the new magazine is more serious, African third wave feminism for circumcised women who support their tradition.   AWA-FC is a budding grassroots global movement I co-founded to raise awareness among circumcised African girls and women about the denigrating psychosexual impact of anti-FGM campaigns and blatant infringements on our basic human rights and constitutional rights in the countries in which we reside.  My close female relatives joke that I am not a feminist but a Bondo activist.  Indeed, for me Bondo is and has always been radical, grassroots African feminist activism – long before western women awakened to a consciousness of their own oppression.

You have mentioned quite a few things here that I’m sure people want to know more about – especially many westerners or even other Africans who are from ethnic groups that do not practice female genital modifications.  Many of us are familiar with your work and your open support for female circumcision and want to be as objective as possible in understanding and representing your views.  What is Bondo exactly?

Well first, Bondo refers to the various traditional women’s associations (many use the misnomer “secret societies”) in Sierra Leone that manage female initiation, which includes but cannot be reduced to customary female genital surgeries.  Bondo also refers to the entire process of this transition to womanhood, the powerful masquerade owned by the women, as well as the physical operation itself.  The parallel for males is Poro.  Poro is responsible for traditional male initiation and also includes men’s masquerades and customary male genital surgeries or male circumcision.  Female and male circumcision are considered complementary and interdependent.  Part of the task of SiA Magazine and AWA-FC is to begin the necessary weeding out or sifting through those external meanings that have been imported, imposed and incorporated into the traditional meanings – not just by western feminists and anti-FGM activists over the last 40 years but by the harbingers of Abrahamic religions (that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

So, why the name SiA Magazine?  I know it’s your name as well but is there another reason why you decided on the name SiA?

The name for the initial African women’s lifestyle magazine was Sierra Afrique.  My business partner, also a Sierra Leonean, thought it would be kind of cool to add an “i” in the middle that would stand for “international” but would also signify my name, the name of Sierra Leone’s First Lady and thousands of other women in the country.  Sia is commonly known as the name of the first born girl among the Kono (and some Kissy) in the east of Sierra Leone.  Saa is the name of the first born boy.  So, the name also symbolizes maternal responsibility (and Saa would signify paternal responsibility).  This female/male gender balance and attention to the hierarchical position of the first born represents for me the core of gender roles in many African societies and explains why our feminism differ at times from western feminism – often to the dismay of our transatlantic sisters.

But I found out only two years ago, through what seemed like a bizarre coincidence, that Sia/Saa was also the name of the “firstborn” female/male in Egyptian or Memphite theology.  And here’s the part that really threw me – Sia/Saa was created by the Supreme God from the blood of his/her own circumcision!  This Memphite religion is literally written in stone, the Shabaka Stone, which completes the name of the magazine – SiA and The Shabaka Stone.

The Shabaka Stone predates the writing of Genesis and the Torah and points to a credible origin of the most important symbolic act in Abrahamic religions – circumcision.  Although male circumcision is not a requirement under Christianity, unlike with Judaism and Islam, the symbolism of the blood of circumcision as Christ himself, remains very important.

More important for African descendants Dennis, the creation of the firstborn, Sia/Saa, through the blood of divine circumcision points to a probable origin of both female and male circumcision among Mande peoples, which include the Kono, perhaps hundreds if not thousands of years before the Nubian kings took over all of Egypt.

One thing that western feminists need to understand is that the original ideology that supports these practices among peoples of Mande or Nubian descent is profoundly matriarchal and not patriarchal, in contrast with the Abrahamic traditions.  SiA magazine was created in part to make this hidden knowledge available and accessible to modern day women and men from ethnic groups that practice both female and male circumcision as complementary experiences.

With the global anti-FGM movement showing no signs of backing down in what they say is a war against the “mutilation” of girls and women and against Gender Based Violence in general, what do you really hope to accomplish with this new magazine and the grassroots movement?

SiA Magazine is a reclaiming of this hidden part of our history as Africans.  There is a dirty word that is used to deter educated, liberal, westernized African descendants like you and me from inquiring into our histories and especially questioning the unnerving parallels between western civilization, the Abrahamic faiths and that of the ancient Egyptians or Nubians – “Afrocentrism”.  We don’t want to be labeled Afrocentrics – a term that discredited many fine historians, sociologists and anthropologists in the early 70s and 80s – so, our generation of intellectuals don’t go there.  A few of us may sneak into the Nubian boutique at the local mall, look over our shoulders to make sure no one sees us, lower our heads and walk quickly past the burning incense and mini ornaments of black pharaohs, to the shelves at the back where we can find books by Cheikh Anta Diop, Walter Rodney, Franz Fanon etc.  We read these things in private, shake our heads in private, knowing that we have much too much at stake to really rock the boat of our comfortable modern lives or grand aspirations to Oprah-like success in corporate America.

My hope is that SiA Magazine will help some of us get over ourselves and who we think we are in today’s global economy.  Hello, remember we have a black President in America.   We have a black First Lady holding court in the big White House.  Not only that, the President is of direct African descent.  Like my dad and the dads of many other first generation Americans, Obama’s dad immigrated to the US from Africa.  Like my dad and the dads of other Africans I know, papa Obama came as an African scholar and was enrolled at a prominent university, with the intention – whatever his personal character flaws – of returning to his homeland to develop the country during the early years of African Independence.

We are the beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by these audacious African men and women but we have somehow lost the spirit of independence of the 50s, 60s and early 70s.  We have abandoned the revolution – we apologize and compromise for UN jobs, government posts and contracts, high-powered consultancies, cushiony faculty appointments, we collude and connive to become award winning journalists, best-selling authors and Nobel Prize laureates – we agree to the “mutilation” of our African spirit.

SiA Magazine is for me and I hope for others like me, the voice of that spirit that says it is okay to be African.  We give permission to ourselves to celebrate ourselves, our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, our culture and our traditions.  Yes, we can wear our hair natural – for those who do – and sport African couture while rocking boardrooms on Wall Street, winning Nobel Prizes, Oscar awards, or making millions in the hip-hop industry.  All that is good and well and I say bravo to those who show that we can be as “modern”, “global”, chic, and successful as our Euro American and Black American counterparts.

But, and I say this especially to my Bondo sisters in the diaspora, it is also okay to be African by our own standards, to enjoy our kinfolk back home, to take part in the grand masquerades and yes, to dance in our initiation ceremonies. That is what I believe third wave feminism is all about – defining for ourselves who we are and choose to be.  And, for those of us women and men who are descended from early Mande civilizations in the Niger Valley and from the great Nubians or Egyptian civilizations that followed, it is okay for us to prefer, enjoy and celebrate our circumcised bodies.

Read Part Two of Dennis Kabbatto’s interview with Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, including an open letter to the President of Sierra Leone by African Women are Free to Choose (AWA-FC)  in the 5th edition of SiA Magazine, which will be available on February 23, 2014 in PDF atwww.fuambaisiaahmadu.com.

 

Ambassador Bockari Stevens Markets Sierra Leone in the U.S.

Friday, February 21st, 2014
 Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States of America, H.E. Bockari Kortu Stevens, has provided relevant information on crucial laws, policies and procedures that could enable a cross section of business investors of the Prince Georges County in Maryland, USA, participate in legitimate business activities in the West African Nation.

 

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Dilating on the Topic “Trade and Investment Opportunities in Sierra Leone” during a two hours interactive session of “International Business Strategic Advisory Council meeting at the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation Conference Room, Ambassador Stevens told a cross section of Prince Georges County Business Chief Executives that the business and investment climate in Sierra Leone is characterized by reforms bent on attracting and sustaining Foreign Direct Investment as a means of stimulatory private –sector led economic growth and development.

“In Sierra Leone, foreign investments are protected against expropriation, Ambassador Stevens said, adding that, “Every person is protected from deprivation of property. It is contained in the law books of Sierra Leone that no property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsorily acquired.”

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He said that the Investment Promotion Act in Sierra Leone provide guarantees for the free transfer of funds with no restrictions on the repatriation of all forms of earnings and capital including, but not limited to, after tax profits, proceeds of liquidation, expatriate remittances, awards from dispute settlements and repayments of principal and interest on loans contracted abroad.

According to His Excellency “if a dispute arises between the Government and an investor with respect to an investment by the government, both parties will use their best efforts for an amicable settlement. If satisfaction is not gotten, either of or the two parties can seek justice from the United Nations Commission on International Trade (UNCITRAL) and, or the Courts of The Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS Community Courts) and other mutually agreeable national or international dispute  settlement system.

In order to simplify the investment climate in the Country, Ambassador Stevens said the government established “the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) through an Act of Parliament to serve as a lead public institution in promoting investments and facilitating exports in Sierra Leone.

“SLIEPA is tasked with serving as the one stop shop for investment information for FDI, develop relationship between public and private sector for growth of investment, promote investment opportunities, provide hand holding service for investors, identify potential investors and encourage them to invest and partner strategically to every investor.”

He gave a brief history of Sierra Leone, its strategic location and attributes, population, legal system, climate and political governance structure.

Ambassador Stevens invited the business community of Prince George’s County to invest in Energy and Water, Transport, Tourism, Agriculture, Mining, Fishing and Infrastructure sectors.

“I am inviting you to come and be a beneficiary of the recently adopted investment incentive policy by the government that is bent on providing a frame work for the uniform and objective provision of investment incentives in the country.” said Ambassador Stevens.

Several questions regarding security, the rationale behind the status of Sierra Leone relating to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the status of the government in so far as to the fight against graft is concern. Other questions including the status of the economy of the country, investment opportunities in the inland water ways, information technology and health sectors also formed part of the deliberation.

All attendees were high profiled chief executives including, Pravin N. Sheladia, Chairman, SHELADIA Associates, Inc.,  Sharrarne Morton, President, Morton Media, a Professor at the University of Maryland, Philippa Palmer who also doubles as Marketing Director, Global Technology Solutions, Dallah B. Herman, CEO, Forward Technologies Corporation, Omni Systems, Catherine Thomas, Executive Vice President, XCBG International Development Group, Eric Henderson, Executive Chairman, BEACON Ltd., Export Management, Major Retired James Henderson RFC (USAF), President, Wealth Management Center and other CEOs of Roots to Glory Tours, Legal Shield, Economic Development Corporation, Prince George’s Community College.

Earlier, Chairman of the International Business Strategic Advisory Council, Dallah Herman, introduced His Excellency Bockari Kortu Stevens and described the meeting to be very important to have the Ambassador of Sierra Leone in their midst not only to update some of them about the business climate in Sierra Leone, but also to have him give authentic and cohesive information about the West African country.

 

 

 

Pasco Gerald Temple
Information attaché
Embassy of Sierra Leone
Washington DC
20009 USA
Tel- 2024466958

President Ernest Koroma launches “Pay No Bribe Campaign” in Sierra Leone

Friday, February 21st, 2014

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By State House Communications Unit

President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday 20th February said that the “Pay No Bribe Campaign” would primarily ensure that Service Charters for key institutions and agencies nationwide are printed and disseminated so that citizens are aware of services provided with costs and expected service delivery time. “Each Service Charter shall have the ACC hotline numbers to report incidences of corruption and administrative decadence/ bottlenecks,” he noted, and vowed that as a nation, we will not relent in the fight to tackle corruption in the country.

The President admitted that although there are still challenges, government’s determination and dedication to meeting these challenges is stronger than ever before. He also maintained that the hosting of the Mo Ibrahim State of Governance Seminar in Africa by government demonstrates its continued commitment to promoting democratic good governance, transparency and accountability.

“Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, through support from DFID, we are launching a pilot study to identify key institutions that will be targeted for reporting bribery and, by May this year, we will install a data management system at the ACC manned by an independent service provider mandated to receive reports via phone calls and text messages on incidences of petty bribery and grand corruption.” President Koroma further noted that the roles and involvement of civil society in the success of the war on graft through the “Pay No Bribe Campaign” is immeasurable; “we count on your cooperation; we will protect whistle blowers; we will ensure their confidentiality. This is a fight for everybody; this is a fight for integrity in the offices, in the banks, the markets, the streets, in the classrooms, the courtrooms and the boardrooms,” President Koroma urged.

State House Chief of Staff, Dr Richard Konteh said in his welcome address that the hosting of a Mo Ibrahim Seminar on governance in Africa by the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) is a testament to President Koroma’s dynamic leadership and resolve to transform the country by upholding the tenets of the rule of law, transparency and accountability and by introducing sound management of natural resources and proper fiscal management.

Today’s seminar and launch of the “Pay No Bribe Campaign”, he stated, is a transformative deep-dive by the GoSL to promote transparency and accountability and to realign the war against corruption.

Board Member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Abdoulie Janneh commended President Koroma for his desire and commitment to launch the “Pay no Bribe Campaign” in Sierra Leone.

African Development Bank Director of Governance Department, Isaac Lobe noted that the presence of the President at the launching ceremony is an attestation of his commitment to governance and tackling corruption. He reiterated the Bank’s continued support for Sierra Leone’s efforts at achieving good governance and the “Pay no Bribe Campaign”.

Anti-Corruption Czar, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara said in his very entertaining presentation that today marks a red letter day as “we take a positive step forward in the fight against corruption in our country.” He called for awareness raising activities, especially among youth such as jogging against bribery or observing a “No Bribe Day” at the Immigration Department.

According to the Anti-Corruption Czar, who quoted the Afrobarometer survey, almost 1 in 5 people (16%) have paid a bribe one or more times to a government official in the past year in order to get an official document or permit. Paying a bribe to get medical treatment as well as avoid a problem with the police were the other two most cited reasons for bribery, he stressed. He urged all to consider bribery as a common enemy.

Shortly after President Koroma officially opened the Mo Ibrahim Seminar on State of Governance in Africa and the Launch of the “Pay No Bribe Campaign”, an MOU on “Pay No Bribe Campaign” was signed between the Office of the Chief of Staff at State House (OCOS) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Department for International Development (DFID). The sum of 4.7 Million British Pounds Sterling has been set aside by DFID in support of the campaign to end bribery.

Dr Richard Konteh, Joseph F. Kamara and Cynthia Rowe signed for the OCOS, ACC and DFID respectively.

Sierra Leone Scientist heads EMRC in Brussels

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Professor Monty Patrick Jones was on Monday, February 17th installed as President of the European Market Research Center (EMRC) based in Brussels.

The Sierra Leone-born world-renowned scientist and founder of the NERICA rice becomes the first ever African to occupy the Presidency of a wholly European organization established to create the optimum environment for the matching of sustainable business partnerships in Africa in both the private and public sectors.
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 The new EMRC President, Professor Monty Patrick Jones addressing audience during the reception in his honour
Proposing a toast during the reception organized at the ACP headquarters in his honour by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the European Union, Hon. Ibrahim Sorie, he described Professor Jones as an icon not only for Sierra Leone and Africa, but the world.  He said Professor Jones is one of the gifts of Sierra Leone to the world.
Responding to the toast, Professor Jones, who also doubles as Special Adviser to His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and Ambassador-at-Large said, “I feel extremely honoured by this reception and feel very proud to be a Sierra Leonean and one that has contributed in his own little way to the fight against hunger not only in Africa but the world”.
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. Professor Jones (C) flanked by Ambassador Sorie (R) and wife (L).
The award winning scientist and graduate of Sierra Leone’s Njala University, gave a brief synopsis on how the now popular NERICA rice came about. He disclosed that initially, he had no intention to become a Scientist and even his parents frowned at that idea as he is from a highly religious background.
“However, after carefully looking at the worsening situation then in Liberia and around Africa, and how sixty percent of the world’s One billion hungry people are living in the African continent, I resolved to do all I could to contribute in my own little way and help to alleviate hunger not only in my country but Africa and the world at large.
“NERICA rice is better nutritious than any other imported rice and could be cultivated throughout the year”, he emphasized.
The reception attracted senior diplomats based in Brussels and a cross-section of the Sierra Leone community in Belgium and Holland.
The EMRC was established in Brussels in 1992 as a non-profit International Association composed of a network of Entrepreneurs, Financiers, Consultants and officials based throughout the world to lead the private sector in Africa to sustainable economic development via partnerships.
Professor Jones is Co-winner of the prestigious 2004 World Food Prize. He won the award based on his discovery of the genetic process to create the New Rice for Africa (NERICA), which gives higher yields, shorter growth cycles and more protein content than its Asian and African parents.
Professor Jones started his career at the Rice Research Station in Rokupr, Sierra Leone where he worked as a Breeder. He has served many international institutions including CGIAR, IITA, USAID, WARDA etc.
In September 2001, he received the National Order of Merit of Cote d’Ivoire given by the former Ivorian President. In 2004, he also received the Insignia of the Grand Officer of the Order of Rokel from the former President of Sierra Leone on his work on NERICA. In 2011, he received the Golden Jubilee Award from President Ernest Bai Koroma. In 2010, he was awarded the Niigata International Food Award. He has received honorary doctorate degrees (Honoris Causa) from Universities in the UK, Belgium, Sierra Leone and South Africa and in 2007 was named as one of the Hundred Most Influential Persons in the world by TIME Magazine.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Information Attache,
Sierra Leone Embassy,
Brussels/Eu.
Notes on pics:
1. The new EMRC President, Professor Monty Patrick Jones addressing audience during the reception in his honour.
2. Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie reading a short profile of Professor Jones.
3. Professor Jones (C) flanked by Ambassador Sorie (R) and wife (L).