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Sierra Leoneans in Texas celebrate 50th Independence Anniversary in a different fashion

Sierra Leoneans in Texas celebrate 50th Independence Anniversary in a different fashion

Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. May 16, 2011. The Sierra Leone community in the metropolitan cities of Dallas Fort-Worth, Texas, has ended a ten day Golden Jubilee celebration in commemoration of Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence anniversary. The celebration climaxed in a different fashion with spectacular programs ranging from inter-faith prayers, soccer tournaments, dances, and picnics.

For the first time the Sierra Leone community and its many diverse groups have come together to celebrate the freedom of their motherland from the British colonial rule. Organizations involved in the golden Jubilee included Sierra Stars Soccer Association, Sisters of Sierra Leone, Krio Descendants Union, United Sisters, Sierra Care Inc, the West African Muslim Association, and Tegloma. 

Commencing first and foremost in the series program was a historic and astounding inter-faith prayer on Independence Day of April 27th at the United Banquet Hall in Dallas.  The Islamic prayer was lead by Alhaji Sallieu Bah, Chief Imam of the newly established West African Muslim Association of Texas (WAMAT).  Reverend Franklin Coomber coordinated the many pastors to perform the Christian prayers. Both Muslims and Christian worshipers humbly praised God Almighty for the nation in which God has allowed them to live in peace and harmony especially at this moment.  This moment refers to the period when the country returned to peace from its ten year civil war, one man said. In the payers, Sierra Leoneans thanked God for the fruitful land and its bountiful waters that make their country so resourceful.  They prayed for everlasting freedom and liberty and the opportunity to do what is lawful and rightful as a people.

Bishop Samuel Boyabei

The keynote speaker for the prayers event was Bishop Samuel Boyabei.  In his keynote speech, Bishop Boyabei focused on the social and economic theory of performance.  He advised Sierra Leoneans to become a role model in nation building. The Bishop maintained that every citizen of Sierra Leone, living at home or abroad, as he put it, should all be “Players” rather than “Spectators” in all aspects of development.  Contrasting the word players and spectators, Bishop Boyabei asserted that, players are getting monetary reward and celebrate success for their victory; on the other hand, spectators do not receive any reward for their chanting support.  If all of us become Players then the power of unity will bring a sustainable benefit to the community, Bishop Boyabei said.

Grand Dance enjoyed by all

The second part of the program was a grand dance which took place on April 29th.  The committee for this extraordinary celebration described the dance to be part of Sierra Leone’s premier 50th Independence Anniversary Celebration Jubilee. The dance was all about paying tribute to the country’s freedom from the British and enjoying their traditional way of celebrating with free dancing. The DJ played haunting melodies of traditional songs that filled the dance hall with its hundreds of people. Nonetheless, the American hip-hop and country songs also contributed catchy melodically tuned songs that fascinated the teens and children born in the United States.  Mayor Protem, Patrick Jackson was there dancing with his wife reminiscing the sweet days of Sierra Leone.  The national anthems of both Sierra Leone and the United States were loudly sung in the beginning of all programs.

The third phase of the celebration was a soccer match between Sierra Leone and Gambia on April 30.  Sierra Leone lost to Gambia 2-0.  According to Coach Mohamed Jalloh who has made a comeback to the team, the loss did not have any negative impact to the Sierra Stars team; it was test matches that help him assess strength of each player.

A free picnic for over 300 guests was served

The final phase of the Golden Jubilee was a free picnic.  It took place at the First Baptist Church Park in Carrollton on May 7.  The weather was very beautiful, calm and pleasant with a temperature of 70 degrees high comfortable for everyone. Food and drinks were abundant and more than three hundred participants were served.  Alongside the picnic was a soccer match between people from the West versus those from the East. The East won by four goals to two.

Guests enjoying the picnic and celebrations

This emerging discipline of collaboration and the willingness of patriotic Sierra Leoneans to celebrate together as one family in one nation have given our community a renewed impetus and a sense of unity as Sierra Leoneans. Despite the fact that some senior citizens of the community were very critical of the warm fellowship that the Sierra Leone community was trying to achieve because of what one opposition believes, the community was not widely informed.  In response to the critics, some members of the committee to celebrate the 50th Independence Anniversary believe unity will prevail in achieving goals for the better.

Mr. Reuben Ndomahina, Chairman of the committee said, Celebration of Independence is patriotism in the context of national interest and love, and it is a cultural value that we must embrace to settle disputes and differences.  Love and devotion to conform to our country’s cultural values in the Diaspora should not be deeply problematic, he added.

A cross section of the committe including Patrick Jackson

Members of the steering committee included the chairman, former Tegloma President, Mr. Kinee Reuben Ndomahina, Protem Mayor Patrick Jackson of Rowlett, Executive Director of Sierra Care, Mr. David Kessebeh, Winifred Clarke of Brookhaven College, Dr. Alie Patrick Koroma and Ebune Williams both of Sierra Stars, Florence Campbell Coker of Sisters of Sierra Leone, Mambu J. Koroma of Tegloma, Christiana Taylor of the United Sisters and few others.  The paparazzo was Leslie Rickford.  In light of the 50th celebration, the committee will soon announce a date for a symposium to discuss plans for next year’s celebration and strategies of how to bring all organizations under one umbrella.

By Sanpha Sesay, Dallas Texas Correspondent

Photos: Les Rickford Photography

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