The Duke of Kent yesterday opened the new Parliament Building of Sierra Leone which became independent at midnight last night after 150 years of colonial rule. The Duke arrived through the ranks of cheerleaders shouting “Independence” and “Margai”.
The principal ceremony today will be the state opening of Parliament when the Duke hands over the constitutional instruments which make Sierra Leone an independent nation. Later Sir Maurice Dorman, the present Governor, will be sworn in as Governor-General.
A state of transition
The foundations of Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, go back to the eighteenth century when the first shiploads of freed slaves were brought back to Africa. They founded the town at the foot of rolling hills and some of their wooden double-storied houses still stand. To the Creoles – the returned slaves who settled in Freetown – England became the model on which to base their lives. The surrounds of Freetown abound with names like those of New England: Leicester, Hastings, or Lumley. The generously proportioned women of Freetown rarely wear African dress. Rather less than fashionable cotton frocks and felt hats are the general order of the day.
Government House, where the Duke of Kent is staying, is one of the few modern buildings in Freetown. A new road, scarcely completed, unusually wide and heavily beflagged, leads steeply uphill to a new Parliament built in six months by an Israel construction company. The chamber is round (is this a portent of party politics to come?).
Government guests have been arriving here since the weekend. In addition to Liberia and Nigeria, nearly all the other independent African States are sending delegations, though there are relatively few prominent names among them – this is the fourth African independence celebration within six months and attendance at these events is turning into a time-consuming affair.
The Sierra Leone Independence celebration programme is a lengthy affair which opened last week with a Queen’s Birthday parade followed later in the day by a “Miss Independence” beauty contest which was attended by nearly all members of the Cabinet. An all-woman jury was shown to prefer intelligence to beauty. The winning girl’s remark that she opposed polygamy because she was a jealous person clearly obtained high marks.
There are receptions galore by the Governor, by the Prime Minister, the House of Representatives, a state banquet and state ball. Tonight there will be a searchlight tattoo.
BBC REPORT –1961: Sierra Leone wins independence
Sierra Leone has become the latest West African state to win independence, after more than 150 years of British colonial rule.
The new nation was born at the stroke of midnight, when its green, white and blue flag was unfurled. A huge crowd, gathered at Brookfields Playground in Freetown to watch the historic moment, broke into tumultuous cheering.
Independence Day formally began as the Duke of Kent handed over royal instruments recognising Sierra Leone as an independent nation.
Sir Maurice Dorman, Governor since 1956, was then sworn in as Governor-General by Chief Justice Beoku Betts.
Messages of welcome to the new government, led by Prime Minister Sir Milton Margai, came from the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, and from the Queen.
Her Majesty is due to visit Sierra Leone during her tour of West Africa later in the year.
State of emergency
Independence festivities have been taking place all week, mainly centred on the harbour area of Freetown. Three days of public holiday have been declared, and the city is in party mood, with streets decorated with bunting and the new national colours everywhere.
But the build-up has been overshadowed by the state of emergency, declared ten days ago following a campaign of sabotage by the opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC).
The party has been urging that independence should be postponed until free elections have been held.
The leader of the APC, Siaka Stevens, was arrested just over a week ago, along with his right-hand man, Wallace Johnston, and 16 other party members. They had been planning a general strike to coincide with the independence celebrations, and it was feared riots would break out if the strike went ahead.
The government in Freetown is insisting that elections will be held next year, as agreed under the terms of independence. Ministers say the arrests were made to protect those visiting the country for the ceremonies, and, they say, there is every intention to release those detained as soon as the ceremonies are over.
SIERRA LEONE INDEPENDENCE BILL SECOND READING IN THE LORDS : THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
“We are most anxious of course to do all that we can to help Sierra Leone in her future development. Shortly after the Constitutional Conference we announced our intention of giving aid, at the moment of Sierra Leone’s independence, to the tune of £7. million; about half under Commonwealth Assistance Loans and the other half as a gift to take care of Colonial Development and Welfare schemes not yet completed. And we are only too ready to give what help we can in the way of technical assistance…
We have had the Commonwealth Development Finance Corporation working on the Guma Valley hydro-electric scheme, which is very important for the country’s development. But we want to help Sierra Leone not only on the economic side but also in the development of her educational facilities. Your Lordships will know of the Fourah Bay College, the establishment of which was so generously helped by Durham University. We want to do all we can to help on the educational side, in so far as Sierra Leone may wish it. So much for the background, my Lords…”
THE EARL OF SWINTON
“My Lords, as an old Colonial Secretary and as a Resident Minister who spent many days in Sierra Leone during the last war, I should like—and I know my noble friend, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, who succeeded me, would wish to be associated with this—to extend our best congratulations and the warmest welcome to Sierra Leone.
I am happy to think that Sierra Leone has other assets. Certainly it has its agriculture, but there are considerable assets besides. There are the diamonds, which are of enormous value. I recall that when I was Colonial Secretary I made the agreement with the Selection Trust for the exploitation of the diamond mines, I must say with great credit to the company, on extremely favourable terms. They did all the exploration and the Sierra Leone Government got 27½ per cent. of the profits. I think that was a pretty good deal. I remember that when Lord Balfour of Inchrye and I were in Africa the Government’s diamond share then, in the war, was bringing in something between £350,000 and £400,000 a year. Then I remember—I do not suppose it is exhausted 37 —the considerable iron ore supply, with a railway to get it. I imagine that iron ore is still coming from it. There was quite valuable timber as well…”
” My Lords, it was my privilege last year to go to Sierra Leone to open the new Court of Appeal, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said, I attended the sitting of the Court wearing a Peer’s robes together with a full-bottomed wig. Indeed, it was a great occasion to see that the people of Sierra Leone are perhaps in advance of the other countries, because the people there have trained up their own lawyers, and from those lawyers have produced their own judges; so that in Sierra Leone you now have judges and magistrates of the country very much attached to the Common Law which they have inherited from this country, and at one in upholding the fundamental human rights which are now to be in their Constitution. Their attachment to the appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is to be ensured, and the independence of the judges, which also is to be ensured by the fact that a judge cannot be removed except after inquiry there and eventually on an appeal to the Privy Council, means that they are carrying through the principles which they have inherited from this country. With that strong bulwark, I am confident that they will play their full part among the emergent countries, and I would add my word of welcome to this Bill.”
The return of former vice president Sam Sumana to Sierra Leone politics has set the wagging tongues into overdrive. Since his return, there has been talk of a new political party, which in its embryonic state is just referred to as a movement – Coalition 4 Change (C4C).
Well we had 4 4 4 the last time we played with our ballots. So there is no crime for an offshoot – so it looks. But the return of Sam has given rise to a lot of political permutations. There are those who believe that his return is a flash in a pan, and that it will all fizzle out, come March 2018. March 2018 is indeed a long way off but as we know, a day in politics is a long time.
As I mentioned in one of my recent writings that home is home. Regardless of whatever type of good achievements one made outside Sierra Leone. That individual will not be well recognised or well accepted in the society in which he or she finds himself like his or her own home country, Sierra Leone. Particularly because of our skin colour and nationality. Therefore, there is no place like home. At home people have respect and veneration for individual personal and general achievements. Therefore, it’s good for us to always exhibit real practical love for our country. Such love should be seen and felt through our positive contributions, our comments, our writings, the way we treat and embrace others and the photos we show to the world about our country. But not by lips love.
Self-delusion is bad – but collective self-delusion is truly the ultimate. (Photo: Selling the presidency to the highest bidder?)
It is clear that the government of Sierra Leone cannot be trusted to exhibit or stand with integrity. But whether the abnormal, modish and immoral scoundrels in the legislative and executive arms of government, who are promiscuously focused on fevered partiality, at the expense of the sea of troubles that their political corruption and ethical lapses will cause the nation, like it or not, 2018 elections will hold.
Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and accountability still continue to be challenges for human rights in Sierra Leone. There seems to be no end in violations and abuses. And today there is little prospect for improving human rights situation in Sierra Leone.
It is true that the ban on Sunday trading played an integral role during the fight against the Ebola virus. But it is high time the calling of traders taken into consideration.
In an interview with some traders in Kenema, they clearly told this medium that the Sunday ban happened to be a serious burden on them as most of them could not afford to shop a day ahead, while adding that even those who had the money to do so, did not have the necessary storage facilities to store their perishable food items.
(This article was written after the author after the recent death of some of the author’s college mates, Messrs Crispin Grey and Ernest Cummings in Feetown and Momodu Jawandor in Liberia , in the context of all the other deaths involving Messrs Sylvanus Labor, Reginald Pobee, Felix Rizk, Max Katta, Alfred Kirby Kanu, Alfred Fawundu, Hindolo Trye, Kanji Daramy, Emmanuel Campbell , Jesse James and others ) .
After the recent deaths of members of our 1970s brigade at FBC —Reginald Pobee, Ernest Cummings and Crispin Gray, among hordes that have left us –I think it is high time we the surviving members began thinking about writing books to have on record the memorable time we had up Mount Olympus.
A leaked audio tape doing the rounds on social media is very disturbing. A lady is heard tearfully admonishing her aunt for her to help her take a love rival to a juju man who should inflict very serious abdominal pains on the rival for three days after which she must die.
We had enough of our bitter experience from 1991-2002 Foday Sankoh and others brutal civil war in the country. Therefore, the country's peace and stability must be a top priority. Because we need no more war. Also because of what is currently happening in the world, especially in the Middle-East, Europe, particularly London, America and Africa, especially in Congo, Nigeria, Somalia South-Sudan etc. there should be NO chance taking in terms of the country’s safety and stability. Particularly against those who think and feel that they can only achieve power by inciting violence or war situation at the expense of the gullible general public and the poor students in the country.
Sierra Leoneans should congratulate themselves and celebrate even if it’s just for a day, out of the 365 days in 2017. Why?
Our nation, in recent times, has been unfairly known for infamy rather than her fame. Blood diamonds rather than the 706 carat recently discovered, making us the country that has produced two great diamonds amongst the best ten in history. We are amongst the best religious tolerance nations in the world.
John Baimba Sesay By late 2001, the Anti Corruption Commission arrested then Sierra Leone’s transport and communications minister, together with his wife, “for involvement in illegal diamond mining” in Kenema district. Large quantum of illicit diamonds had been found in their possession, according to a BBC report at the time.
As the world celebrates World Water Day today, it is important for us in Sierra Leone to reflect on those activities which may have adverse impact on this life sustaining resource in. Despite being a public worker, I wrote this piece as my personal view on a very important issue confronting our beloved country, and that is the issue of environmental protection for sustainable water and sanitation.
He started as a ball boy at age 5, retrieving and supplying balls for players and officials at the Hill Station Tennis Courts, whether during training sessions or at local tournaments. Ball boys and girls are key auxiliaries in sports such as football, cricket, tennis, baseball, and basketball as their activities help to speed up play by reducing the amount of inactive time.
Fourah Bay College, West Africa’s oldest University, located on Mount Aureol is not just an institution on a hill top, but sub-Saharan Africa’s first University Institution founded some 188 years ago in Freetown, thanks to the benefaction of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) whose philanthropic initiative saw the emergence of the first University Institution that placed Black Africa in the educational map of the world.
EIGHTEEN presidential elections were scheduled in Africa this year. Thus far, 10 incumbents have secured their re-election, six new presidents have been elected into office, one election has been postponed and one national election (in Guinea) still has to be conducted before the end of 2016.
A review of the electoral events this year highlights the manipulation, intimidation and contestation that mar democratisation processes in the continent.
With a date announced for the 2018 general elections, a platform has been provided for parties to officially start the process of ensuring victory at the end. This can be a herculean task for the next one year, politically speaking.
Where there had been political mudslinging and infighting for close to a decade, behind-the scene smokescreen peace process had to be initiated even if for the pleasure of supporters and other stakeholders. Well, can such moves be a clear ruse? Only time will tell!
Sierra Leone, the motherland has had its share of tragedy in recent years.It suffered an eleven years internecine war and lately an Ebola epidemic that has today resulted in an unprecedented economic hardship that has further deepened poverty and unleash anger against a failed vision.
We are in this current state of penury because of an uninterrupted nine years of mismanagement of state resources, a complete lack of foresight and vision to diversify a mineral dependent economy and the absence of a genuine and sustained fight against the scourge of corruption that continues to deter our progress and cloud our dream.
The current Syrian quagmire which has spilled over to Europe in the form of the refugee crisis gives grounds for a review of relationships between the power brokers, the “Western” alliance of the US and Western Europe regarding the kind of support, engagement, neutrality, opposition and wars with the rest of the world. The west has highlighted political and economic principles as a major factor in engaging with the rest of the world,