By Abdulai Braima, Info. Attaché, SLHC, UK…..L
On Tuesday 27th April 2021, Sierra Leoneans all over the world gladly surrendered themselves, in body and spirit, to the shared mood of somber recollection and joyful commemoration. It was the 60th anniversary of our national independence.
This was a day when Sierra Leonean embassies, organizations, and individuals, around the world mounted colourful displays, organised sensible events and/or solemn thanksgiving services to mark the date. In line with the limitations imposed by the ongoing global pandemic the Sierra Leone High Commission in London hosted a virtual event to commemorate the independence.
Reechoing the words of His Excellency president Julius Maada Bio, Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and accredited countries, Dr. Morie Komba Manyeh called for unity, tolerance and patriotism among Sierra Leoneans. The High Commissioner emphasized that the president’s vision to properly develop the human capital of the nation would need the positive participation of all Sierra Leoneans.
Even as the presidential planes jetted in to Lungi Airport and taxied on to stand still at their designated stop points by the roll of red carpet; even as the honored line of invited foreign dignitaries and patriotic Sierra Leonean citizens were being recognized and decorated with meritorious accolades; even as the green mountains were ricocheting the heavy drumming and the happy singings from around the country; thousands of miles away in the West of London an event was taking place as an extension of the worldwide celebration of our national day.
These included the Rt. Hon Tony Blair former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Baroness Patricia Scotland Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon James Duddridge MP and Minister of Africa, the Rt Hon James Cleverly, Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa (and a Sierra Leonean by descent), and HE Mr. Estifanos Habtemariam Dean of the African Union Heads of Mission Group.
The event was also burnished by a glistering list of celebrities of Sierra Leonean origin including a number of Sierra Leonean artists and a shinny array of members of the Sierra Leonean business community in the UK. The world class all round artist Idris Elba was proud to reiterate his Sierra Leonean origin. The international film actor and director, Collin Archie-Pearce spoke passionately and eloquently and so did the one time premier league footballer and now West Ham United Football Academy coach Carlton Cole.
There were inspiring presentations from the Diaspora Council, Teach a Friend to Read, Archangels Montessori, and from a host of businesses including Nyanga Products, Alpha Phones, Cool and Coozy, Mingles, KadiaMoses, Sabina Store and Augusta Food shop.
The occasion which was sanctified with prayers by Alhaji Kamara and Reverend Patrick Kandeh began with a powerful rendition of Sierra Leone’s national anthem by 17 year old Alfreda Sivalie , and was beautifully moderated by the unflagging Deputy High Commissioner HE Mrs. Yvonne King. The vote of thanks was calmly but effectively delivered by the Head of Chancery, Mr. Wiston Yankuba.
© Abdulai Braima, Information Attaché, SLHC, UK.