May 6, 2019 Off By StandardTimes Newspaper

By Koyie Mansaray, Abidjan, Cȏte d’Ivoire

Hundreds of patriotic Sierra Leoneans resident in Cote d’Ivoire attended festivities marking their country’s 58th Independence Anniversary on Saturday 27 April 2019.

Marcory Youth Centre in Abidjan hosted the memorable event, enlivened by Sierra Leone cultural displays and music. The singing of the National Anthem and the rendering of the National Pledge by the leader of the cultural group transformed the hall into a microcosm of the Lion Mountain

Expressing solidarity with their Sierra Leonean counterparts were nationals from the other West African countries. Heading the ECOWAS delegation was Ambassador Babacar Carlos M’baye, Permanent Representative of ECOWAS in Cote d’Ivoire. Yves Houndji, General Delegate of Beninese Abroad and Mathias Bio, represented the Republic of Benin.Mr. Chitou Omar, Secretary General of Nigerien Community in Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Moustapha Fall of the Senegalese Community and Mr. Aurelio Tavares of Cape Verde, all came to grace the occasion.

Before delivering his anniversary speech, Mr. Daniel Musa, President of the Sierra Leonean Community Resident in Côte d’Ivoire presented members of his Executive Committee to the guests. In his address, Daniel Musa expressed joy and happiness at the massive turn-out. He went on to catalogue the challenges Sierra Leone has had to go through since gaining independence on 27 April 1961. He singled out the 11-year Rebel War, Natural catastrophes like the Ebola Outbreak and the August 2017 Mudslide at Regent and bad governance, all of which combined to hinder education, healthcare delivery system, agriculture and other areas on national endeavours. He however, assured his audience that in spite of the aforementioned challenges, there is no cause to lose hope.

“AS people, each of us has a pivotal role to play within our respective families and communities. We must not expect others to bring to an end the challenges we are facing. With our sense of commitment, we can do so.We need to come together and close our ranks, for there is hope at the end of the tunnel,”President Musa declared with optimism.

He went on to state that we as a people need to make a sober reflection on what we have had to endure since gaining independence. According to him, Independence, in essence, must entail taking care of all our national issues as an autonomous and independent nation. He went on to express the hope that the rule of law, fair distribution of opportunities and taking care of all the basic needs of the citizens would become a reality.

Giving an inside story of the Community, Mr. Musa informed his audience that since 1980, the Sierra Leonean Community in Cote d’Ivoire has been working solidly together as one umbrella group. He enumerated the objectives of the group as bringing together all Sierra Leoneans resident in Cote d’Ivoire, irrespective of class or ethnic origin, poverty alleviation among the membership as well as empowering and building their capacities.

The short-term objectives of the community for which letters had gone out soliciting assistance are:French language training, introductory computer application programmes and building the entrepreneurial capacityas well as equipping the Community Secretariat and Financial Department.

In conclusion, Musa paid tribute to all elders of the Community for their moral and material assistance. He thanked the Honorary Consul Kamal Harati for strengthening the bilateral, fraternal ties between Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivioire. Though unavoidably absent, the Honorary Consul actively participated in planning and organizing the event, but held back due to other serious commitment., President Musa disclosed.

President Musa then launched an appeal for the possibility of issuing biometric identification documents to all Sierra Leonean in the community. Next, he made a case forthe facilitation of air travel between Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. He then went on to thank the Ivorian authorities for the warm hospitality accorded to all Sierra Leoneansin their country.

Speaking on behalf of the Honorary Consul, Mr. Emmanuel Samah, a retiree from the African Development Bank, tendered apologies on behalf of HE Kamal Harati, whose absence was occasioned by some urgent pre-arranged engagements.He went on to thank all the guests for the presence. He was full of praise to the community and the Executive Committee for being able to host the event. He encouraged the community members to work in unity of purpose and members should respect the Executive members they elected. He informed the gathering that the Consulate has no budget line for the Community’s affairs and urged members to be patient and show understanding when making any request to the diplomatic representation.

He digressed a bit about independence, which is not always suffering, as one Afro-pessimist in his village would have us believe. That even Europe had to go through a lot of ups and downs before getting to where they are today.“We therefore need to be optimistic and remain focused for us to make steady progress. Let us look up to ourselves, first as individuals and then, as a nation. Mr. Samah declared.

He then turned his attention to the elders, majority of whom are retirees and employees from the ADB, the United Nations system and thanked them for being present at the function. He also thanked all those who had made some assistance to the young people who constitute the majority of membership of the community.

“We are all each other’s keeper. Let us continue this spirit of unity, because no one is an island. We need to stick together in orderto realize great goals”, Samah advised in conclusion.

Dancing with cultural music and modern African and Sierra Leonean sounds given by Fatou Kamara and her group added colour and pageantry to the celebrations.