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Showing posts from February, 2013

Citizen Sierra Leone: Ancestry and Nationality

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Baltimore, MD 2/262013--In President Ernest Bai Koroma's remarks during his second inauguration ceremony in Freetown, Feb. 22,  he spoke of just how far Sierra Leoneans had come and the great anxiety of peace building. Looking to the future of almost six million people, he also spoke of  renewed confidence as well as a deep awareness of the magnitude and complexity of taking the country to another level.

To define Sierra Leone's future, the president reminded his people of the nation's diverse past:

"We have citizens claiming ancestry to migrants from as far north as the Maghreb; we have brethren whose ancestors came from all over the Upper Guinea Coast and the Sahel, as well as Nigeria and Ghana.   From the founders of Congo Town to those of Angola Town; from the Hausa roast beef sellers to the Marakas, people from all over Africa and even beyond our continent have made this country a home and a haven. There are other citizens born in this land whose forbearers cam…

A View from Mabang Bridge

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Last March, Rosie Zizer wrote a plaintive appeal to the government of Sierra Leone asking for urgent attention to the Mabang Bridge, but she isn't one to say I told you so.

Tonight, she reports on Facebook that a  group of concerned Sierra Leonean citizens in America hired civil and structural engineers to inspect the fallen Mabang Bridge.

According to Zizer,  based on the February 23, 2013 findings, the collapse of the Mabang Bridge is due to extensive scour on the piers of the bridge.

"The foundation of the pillars were also destroyed by impact from eroded soil," the report said. "There were no layers of gravel, sand, and any form of proper anchoring to embed the pillars on the Mabang Bridge. It’s a miracle that the bridge even survived for this period of time."

The report also said flood waters penetrated the bridge's bearings, and that the area around the fable anchor was not filled with rip rap stones but instead was back filled with mud and topped o…

Remarks by President Ernest Bai Koroma during his Second Inauguration ceremony at the National Stadium in Freetown, Feb. 22, 2013

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Colleague Heads of State
Mr. Vice-President,
Honourable Speaker of Parliament,
My Lady the Chief Justice,
... Ministers of Government,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
His Worship the Mayor of Freetown,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

The hand of destiny has led me to where I stand today as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone for the second term. I give abundant praise and thanks to Almighty God for elevating me to this exalted position and for sparing my life to see this day. I sincerely thank the people of this great nation for giving me the opportunity to serve them and sustain a legacy of peace, progress and development that will be preserved for posterity.

I welcome my colleagues, and the various distinguished representatives of friendly countries and organizations who are witnesses to this solemn occasion. May the interest they manifest in the affairs of our beloved country be rewarded with good health, happiness…

Mabang Bridge has fallen down

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Reports from various Sierra Leonean outlets confirm that the Mabang Bridge has fallen down and 34 people are said to have been killed.

Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, onetime publisher of Awareness Times and the newly-appointed special executive assistant to President Ernest Bai Koroma, however dismissed the death count  in a statement posted at  Voices of Sierra Leone (VOSL):

"As soon as the news broke on national TV last night that Mabang Bridge collapsed killing 34 people, President Koroma immediately instructed me to send a team up there to the scene. The team arrived at 3 am this morning. According to their initial report, it is true that the bridge collapsed. It is however not true that 34 people died. Initial report says no one died. I am going up there myself shortly as instructed by the President. I expect to be on the scene by midday. Will update on my return."
"This bridge is the boundary between Koya chiefdom in Port Loko and Rebi chiefdom in Moyamba Districts; fr…

Talking Gender

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Baltimore, MD, 2/19/2013---Aisha Fofana Ibrahim has just completed another landmark study on Sierra Leone. "The Integration of the Gender Perspective in the Sierra Leone Police force" was launched yesterday at the Police Officers’ Mess at Kingtom, Freetown, according to an article by John Sorsor Samura.

The case study focuses on issues like institutional culture, training, policies, service delivery on gender-related crimes, access, community relations, accountability and oversight, Samura writes. Aisha Fofana Ibrahim said that in order to publish the report, the police conducted self-assessment to evaluate the implementation and effect of its gender-related policies in 2011.

The aim of integrating gender into the Sierra Leone Police is to look into gender issues in the force and to increase the number of female officers as a way of setting the stage for more inclusion of women into police management, Samura said.

I say it's great news from the "boys in blue" …

State House Press Release on Relocation of the Annie Walsh Memorial School

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OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
STATE HOUSE
TOWER HILL
FREETOWN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT NOTES WITH GRAVE CONCERN THE ACRIMONY AND VITRIOLIC ATTACKS COMING FROM SOME SECTIONS OF THE PUBLIC OVER ITS LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE LORD BISHOP OF THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF FREETOWN AND THE NORTH, PROPOSING THE RELOCATION OF THE ANNIE WALSH MEMORIAL SCHOOL TO A MORE CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT PRIOR INFORMAL DISCUSSIONS WERE HELD BETWEEN HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT AND A VERY SENIOR CLERGYMAN OF THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE WHO CONFIRMED THAT PLANS WERE ALREADY AFOOT FOR RELOCATION OF THE SCHOOL, AND EXPLAINED THAT THEY WERE CONSTRAINED BY THE HUGE FINANCIAL OUTLAY INVOLVED. THE PRESIDENT SAW THIS AS A GOLDEN OPORTUNITY TO KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE BY HELPING TO ACTUALIZE THE DREAMS OF THE PROPRIETORS OF THE SCHOOL WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY SECURING A SUITABLE SITE FOR DEVELOPMENTAL PURPOSES. THE PRESIDENT WAS ENCOURAGED TO HAVE THE PROPOSAL OFFICIALLY FORWARDED TO THE LORD BISHOP FOR INI…

Will Controversy Overshadow Annie Walsh's Birthday Party?

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Baltimore, MD 2/13/2013--5:24PM--The Annie Walsh Memorial School (AWMS) has good reason to celebrate on International Women's Day (IWD). You can't do better than educating the girl child in Sierra Leone for 164 years.

About a week after IWD on March 8, an ecumenical service will be held at the St. George's Cathedral in Freetown to mark the school’s day, but there are fears their birthday party may be overshadowed by the political wrangling over the school's future in the nation's corridors of power.

"I am deeply saddened by the threat posed to the Annie Walsh School building," wrote one alumna. "This is a historic monument and should not be demolished at will. The school pupils and parents along with members of AWOGA [Annie Walsh Old Girls Association] worldwide and Freetown should resist this attack on girl’s education in Sierra Leone."

"We’ve got to keep the school's legacy," said Marionette Cole, another AWMS alumna on the “Let…

What's Missing in the Debate Over Annie Walsh Memorial School?

Baltimore, MD 2/13/2013--Just over eighty days since Ernest Koroma was re-elected and sworn in for the second term as the president of Sierra Leone, an article appeared in Awoko bearing the headline, "For the construction of a Modern Market Annie Walsh School to relocate." In the article, by Samuel John, John presented evidence of a divide between the president's State House and the proprietors of Annie Walsh Memorial School, one of the oldest in West Africa.

According to John, the letter written by Secretary to the President E.B. Osho-Coker to the proprietor of the school, the lord bishop of Freetown and the north, proposed the relocation of the school from Kissy Road  for the construction of a modern market.

“[A]s you are no doubt aware, when the Annie Walsh Memorial School (AWMS) moved to its present location on Kissy Road, Freetown in 1865, the environment was ideally suitable for a school that pursued excellence in all areas including high academic performance, sou…

Annie Walsh Memorial School: A matter of history or a philosophy on the capital?

At the first glance and reading of the letter from President Ernest Koroma to Bishop Lynch regarding the possible relocation of the Annie Walsh Memorial School, I was struck by the absence of an introduction that would suggest that all options on negotiating the idea of removing the school to another location have been exhausted, necessitating a letter from the president as the last resort.

I still do not understand why the letter was sent from State House and not the Mayor's office.It appears to be a "thank you" gesture by State House to the traders for their support during the November elections.  Furthermore, it was also strange to note that absolutely no strong lines of argument were made in the letter to justify the removal of the school and the construction of a public market at the location.

I am aware of prior discussions on relocating the school for other reasons among which was the existing wretched, congested and totally unacceptable overcrowding and noise i…