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UNESCO recognizes heritage sites in Sierra Leone

UNESCO recognizes heritage sites in Sierra Leone

The Chairman of the Monument and Relics Commission, Mr. Charlie J. Hughes has said in Freetown that UNESCO has named six cultural heritage sites in Sierra Leone which are now on UNESCO’s world list. They include Bunce Island, the Old Fourah Bay College, the Gates to The King’s Yard at Connaught Hospital, Tiwai Island, Gola Forest and the Western Area Forest.  (Photo: The remains of the Bunce Island jetty where thousands of slaves began their horrific journey)

Mr. Hughes made these remarks at a one day session held on Wednesday this week at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in which 15 organizations met to map out a common agenda for putting cultural heritage sites in Sierra Leone on a tentative world heritage list.

He said that Sierra Leone has been getting support to build capacity and technical ability to move the process of putting the sites on the world heritage list.

He noted, for instance, that two officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Gola Forest National Park would be in Uganda from 15-26 October on training on World Heritage list nomination. Last month again, two officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Gola Forest National Park were in Uganda for further training.

Officially opening the session, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture, Madam Kadiatu Sesay said that there is much more to be done from the tentative list of the World Heritage list itself which, she said requires cooperation, knowledge, resources and political will.

“This is why the participants are gathered here to reflect on the way forward. There is therefore some goodwill and opportunities out there on which Sierra Leone can build to move forward”, the Deputy Minister said, adding that one thing that should give Sierra Leone the confidence was the fact that Ghana has Elmina Castle as a World Heritage site and The Gambia has James Island also as a World Heritage site.

“These two places have the same historical background as Bunce Island. So if they are World Heritage sties, Sierra Leone too is going to put hers on the list.”

 “For us at the Ministry of Tourism,” Mrs. Kadiatu Sesay said, “we recognize the huge tourism value a site gets when it becomes a World Heritages site.

“Tourism in Sierra Leone is mostly about beautiful beaches, while there is huge potential for the country to offer other things. Tourism figures from Ghana, for instance, should remind us of what we are missing”, she noted.

In Ghana, for instance, the slave castles are the country’s number one tourism attraction bringing 400,000 tourists a year to that country.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Tourism, Hon. Frank Kposowa also made a statement at the session.

Participants represented institutions in charge of the natural sites on the tentative list and others active in heritage promotion such as Gola Forest National Park, the Forestry Department, Environment Foundation for Africa, Bunce Island Coalition, Campaign for Good Government, the National Museum, the Nation Tourist Board and the Peace Museum.

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