Sierra Leone Students elect new executive
The Sierra Leone Student Union in China (SLSUC) has elected a new executive for the 2011/2012 academic year during their annual convention in Beijing. The elections climaxed the four-day convention at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing where Maurice Baimba Kargbo a doctoral candidate in Agronomy was elected President and another Phd student in Computer Engineering, Hamza Bangura was elected Vice President. (Photo: Maurice Baimba Kargbo, President, SLSUC)
In his victory and acceptance speech, the newly elected president Mr. Maurice Baimba Kargbo thanked the entire membership for entrusting the responsibility of running the union. He promised that he will not fail in his duties as president of the union as long as he receives the support, cooperation and contributions of the entire membership. Maurice Baimba Kargbo said the Sierra Leone Students Union in China is mainly founded on the need to promote unity and education of its members as well as the good image of our motherland in China. He thanks the embassy for making its facilities available to students to hold this but all importing meeting. He promised to uphold the following: Education, Welfare, and Finance and Socio-Cultural relations. Maurice ended up by saying that his plans cannot go without challenges but they are surmountable. “It takes much of responsibility, commitment, and cooperation of all members”, he ended.
Mohamed Sow and Theresa Teneh Dick were re-elected as Secretary General and Welfare and Education Officer respectively. Abdul Karim Koroma a Phd student in International Relations was elected Ombudsman as a way to peacefully resolve minor students’ disputes within the union.
During the official introduction of the convention, Mr. Philip Kargbo second secretary at the Sierra Leone embassy in China said student unions are created for various aims, and most of them presuppose the protection of student’s rights and welfare. He said this convention is to bring students together to engage in exploration and discussion about social, educational, national and international issues.
As the theme epitomizes the desperate desire for Sierra Leone to move ahead, he continued, is to implore the minds of all students present at the convention to play a role in taking mother Sierra Leone to the pinnacle of development which can be achieved through loving and working assiduously for our country. Mr. Philip Kargbo emphasizes that in doing this all of us will move as a nation to brandish Sierra Leone as one of the rapid developing countries in the world. He ended by advising students to take a personal and collective reflection on what our country has gone through in almost five decades of independence and to make meaningful contributions to the nation. “With this Sierra Leone will never be the same again”, he ended.
The theme for the convention was “Sierra Leone at 50 Years of Independence, The way forward”‘. Speaking as keynote speaker on behalf of both Ambassadors designate and acting Ambassador, the Head of Chancery, Mr. Paul Minah first apologized for the absence of the acting ambassador whom he said was attending to important family matters back home. He commended students for their assiduous efforts in making the convention a success. Mr. Minah who by all indications does not look and sound like a politician said he is not the fittest person to speak on the theme since his work is more diplomatic than historical or political. However, he managed to do justice to the topic by informing students about the long path of our country since independence to present day Sierra Leone. He accounted the several efforts Sierra Leones are making today in their different fields to move Sierra Leone to another level in the international arena. He further highlights several developments projects presently taking place in the country and its rapid movement from a war ravaged to a developed country. He however admonished on attitudinal change, “attitude that is not good for the unity and progress of our country”, he said. He ended up by admonishing students to remain focused on their studies and continue to be united and work for the interest and development of Sierra Leone
First secretary at the embassy Mr. David Gbenjen gave a detailed review of student affairs for the 2010/2011 academic year. Students are really impressed with that report as it clearly shows that the embassy is steadily and carefully monitoring students’ welfare in China.
The chairman for the opening ceremony, Mr. Desmond Conteh who has once served as vice president of SLSUC, emphasizes on the importance of such meetings which he said is to keep students together and work for the common aim to build Sierra Leone.
In his handing over and farewell statement, Mr. Philip Maada Pessima Mornya thanked students for their support and cooperation during his one year term. He went further to say, “we have a common goal which is unity and progress”, but warned that students can only achieve this if there is a strong cooperation and oneness amongst us. The efficiency and success of our Union lies in our hands and this is a good time for us to reflect on why we are celebrating our 50th anniversary and what it means, he said. Philip Mornya concluded by imploring all students to learn to accept different views and opinions from one another.
At the plenary session, the hotly debated clause in our constitution was finally laid to rest. Section eleven sub-sections two of the Sierra Leone Students Union in China constitution stated that elections for presidency shall be open to all paid up members who have spent at least one academic year in China. There was a hot debate on this section. Whilst some students support this section pointing at the period of time for the candidate to understand the union and the Chinese system before running for presidency as their argument; others refute this argument saying as long as the student fulfilled all other criteria, he/she qualifies to contest for presidency. The union was sharply divided on this issue, and the matter was put to vote and those arguing against this section won. Starting from next convention, every member is qualified to run for presidency; new or old student, it’s no longer a barrier.
As an elitist union, some members presented papers on varying topics. Mohamed Beva Kelfala Foh, student from School of International Education, Jiangnan University Jiangsu presented a paper titled: “Pathogens, Poverty and Politics, leading to Malnutrition”. Tamba Dauda presented on the topic: “Land title Registration in Sierra Leone, advantages and challenges”. Matilda Zainab Kamara presented a paper on “the Implementation of Good and Services Tax (GST) in Sierra Leone”, and finally, Mohamed Bai-Konto Kroma discusses “The role of Social Security (NASSIT) in National Development”. At the end of each presentation, questions were posed to the presenters.
During the dinner and dance to mark the end of the four day convention, the newly elected executive was officially presented to the embassy officials for their blessings and support. Receiving the new executive, Mr. Paul Minah again reiterates the point that students must work together devoid of where you are coming from and your affiliations. He promised to cooperate with the new executive especially if it stands to seek the interest of the entire membership, he emphasized. Mr. Brima Zoker a Sierra Leonean resident in Beijing gave a lengthy advice to especially new students to be focused on their studies; emphasizes on the reward they will enjoy upon completion of their studies. Mr. Kai-Samba another Sierra Leonean resident in Beijing was asked to presents certificates to out gone executive, embassy staffs and other Sierra Leoneans in China for their support to the union.
James Koroma who has been serving as adviser to students, whispered to me that he was very pleased with the peaceful conclusion of the convention.
Abu Bakarr Sesay, Masters student in Contemporary International Relations Studies, Jilin University, China
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