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President Koroma presents new staffs to 149 Paramount Chiefs in Salone

President Koroma presents new staffs to 149 Paramount Chiefs in Salone

April 18, 2011 Bo, Sierra Leone – His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma officially opened the Conference of Paramount Chiefs and presented new staffs to the 149 Paramount Chiefs in the county as a way of restoring dignities and reflected on the colonial day of transformation from Kings and Queens to Chiefs, in a colourful ceremony which gained support and funding from the United Nations and took place in the Southern Provincial headquarters City of Bo.  The conference is expected to end on Friday 22nd April, 2011.  (Photo: President Koroma handing over a new staff to PC Kassanga II of Bombali Sheborah C. Dom)

The Durbar of Chiefs according to the Chairman of the program, Ambassador Dauda Kamara, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, was a long standing occasion being waited for by all 149 Paramount Chiefs in the country including their subjects and the nation noting that it has made another milestone in the ministry and the chieftaincy in particular, considering the facts that this ceremony was last organised in 1961 by our colonial masters.

The minister noted that any society that paid less attention to culture and tradition is a lost society in that vein; he urged the Paramount Chiefs to ensure to work with and in the interest of their subjects.

The Resident Minister South Juana Smith described the ceremony as very significant especially as some chiefs had lost their staff as a result of the war but with the new staffs he furthered the respect and dignity the chiefs used to have during the colonial days will come back.

“Northerners always have respect for chiefs which is why our women are pleading for their rights to become Paramount Chiefs”. This according to the resident minister North Alie D. Kamara has raised women participation in the north in all sectors of development.

The resident minister informed that they are looking into the conditions of women to become chiefs in the north.

In her 2011 elections message to the 149 Paramount Chiefs and stakeholders present, the chairperson for NEC Dr. Christiana Thorpe spoke with regard to the elections, and stated the roles chiefs are required to play is well defined in the 2009 Chieftaincy Acts quoting from section 20.

Dr. Thorpe said all 149 Chiefs are democratic leaders with challenges and responsibilities that will determine the overall development of the country. She urged them to be transparent, accommodate all politicians in their chiefdoms to campaign and avoid party colour politics.

In his keynote statements His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma thanked our traditional leaders for making the day a reality noting that our 50th Anniversary celebration is very important especially when we start our celebration with our traditional rulers, culture, customs and traditions as they were when the first people fought for the independence we are now enjoying.

President Koroma recalled the struggles of Bai Farma Tass of Kambia, PC Julius Gulama of Moyamba, and PC Mbiriwa of Kono who among others played great roles in achieving our independence. The President called on the 149 Paramount Chiefs in the country to be integral in the building of a modern democratic government.

Deliberating on Bo city President Koroma pointed out that it was in Bo city that the protectorate assembly was constituted noting that Bo has reasserted itself as a historic centre for the activities of chiefs starting from the centre of its Provincial administrative headquarters since the early 1900’s.

President Koroma urged Chiefs to follow in the footsteps of Julius Gulama in the value of education and development, Bai Farma Tass who united chiefs and Sierra Leoneans from all professions for self government, and struggles against exploitation by chief Mbiriwa.

The President Ernest Koroma described the Chiefs as long time being part of progressive development, so he urged them to continue along that path and confound the critiques who say Chiefs are mainly concerned about court, fines, and local tax.

Addressing women’s engagement into politics and other places, President Koroma said women are taking their rightful place in all sectors of the country noting that, a country can only develop very well when women and youth play central roles in the process.

Talking on the staffs, President Koroma described the first staff as one with the symbol of the colonial Queen Victoria II while stating that the new symbol of authority has the coat of arms of the country and a medallion of office to be worn on other formal occasions.

The President ended by saying that, ”Tradition does not move forward with times and it is time that our Paramount Chiefs are visibly recognised as an institution of the modern states of Sierra Leone”.

The traditional Durbar ceremony in the Bo Coronation field was full with traditional dancers from all over the country to grace this all important historic occasion which according to many was one of the best ever organised traditional, cultural and custom gatherings in the country’s history since independence.

The remaining three days were selected for deliberations on the roles of Chiefs in modern day governance, conflict prevention, in ensuring peaceful, free and fair elections, customs and traditions, development of their constitutions and to elects their head regional and country wide.

By Mohamed Kabba from Bo City, Vice President Sierra Leone Reporters Union

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