Hope International Church Celebrates Sierra Leone Independence Anniversary
History was made this weekend and standards were raised in Texas when Hope International church, a three-month old baby in the eyes of the Lord, largely with a Sierra Leonean congregation spearheaded a partnership with Sierra Stars soccer club to celebrate Sierra Leone’s 49th year of Independence in a manner that was accentuated with pomp, pride and patriotism.
The Tri-cities of Hurst-Euless-Bedford was the venue for this sumptuous week of festivities where hundreds of Sierra Leoneans, Liberians and friends from all over North Texas converged to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of freedom of Sierra Leone. For the first time, Sierra Leoneans in the metroplex dispelled a myth and took the lead in the spirit of patriotism. We will continue to take the lead from now hence forth because if we fail to put our nation on the pedestal stool it deserves, no one will said Mr. Christian Sesay, Coordinator of the Independence celebration.
The week long festivities began with a three day fasting for the nation of Sierra Leone. A church service was held on Friday, April 23rd at the Hope International church room, followed by a picnic alongside a soccer match between Liberia and Sierra Leone on Saturday April 24th.
Sierra Stars as has always been the case did not let her nation down when they trounced sister Liberia by a goal to nil. Patrick Dangawalie, former Leone Stars goal keeper and President of the Sierra Stars Soccer Association (SSSA) kept his cool between the goal post.
After an intense scrutiny from a panel of five headed by Retired Lt. Colonel Tom Davies-Granby, three distinguished Sierra Leoneans and two Liberians were honored for their service and dedication in rendering assistance to the community and providing humanitarian gesture to the needy here in the United States and back home in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The first two awards went to Mr. Patrick Dangawali of Sierra Leone and Mr. James Coleman of Liberia who won the community award for the selfless services rendered to their respective countries.
Ms. Florence Campbell, President of Sierra Sisters was honored with the service award for her overall participation in the functions and activities in the community and back home in Sierra Leone.
The philanthropy award for the night was given to Michael Sando from Liberia whose tremendous contribution towards building a progressive Liberia was acknowledged.
As many people describe it, the most prestigious Humanitarian award was duly honored to Mr. David Kessebeh, the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, Sierra Care Incorporation. Mr. Kessebeh won the award not only because of his initiative to establish an organization that will see to the plight of the amputees in Sierra Leone but also his interest and strong support, morally and financially, for the Sierra Leonean based church is a mark of true patriotism.
The guest Speaker was Mr. John Smith who spoke on the theme â€œUniting for our common Purpose He elaborated on the seven pillars of unity and admonished sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone to make that their mantra if we should take the nation and the church to the next level. Mr. Smith reiterated the importance of unity in our society stating that unity is a very essential value that relates to individuals living within the communities. He said that, unity in diversity is a multicultural social value that the world needs for absolute peace and economic development to prevail.
The guest of honor was Retired Lt. Colonel Tom Davis-Granby. Retired Lt Colonel Granby served under various governments and in different capacities. In introducing him, the coordinator of the program, Christian Foday Sesay, gave him a rousing welcome befitting a Colonel and a true patriot of the land. In his remarks, the retired Colonel highlighted corruption as a national epidemic which he believes is responsible for the backward state of Sierra Leone after 49 years of independence. Sierra Leone. With all the wealth in Sierra Leone, the country should not be placed in the category of poorer counties in the world if our resources are wisely used, he stressed. He went on to say that our nation should have been proud to present a positive image about development since we gained independence 49 years ago. He pointed out that Independence Day celebration is to mark the end of an era and usher in the beginning of a new era of freedom from the British imperialism. But he questioned our freedom and said, ‘Political independence without freedom of economy is meaningless’. We need to prove our capability to our former masters that we deserve independence, he concluded.
In his closing remarks, the pastor of Hope International church, Minister Emmanuel Botchway felt encouraged by the views shared by the key note speakers, Mr. John Smith and Lt. Col. Tom Davis-Granby. He said that celebration underscored multicultural spirit of cooperation was seen in the hearts of celebrants.Â Pastor Botchway advises Sierra Leoneans to seize the opportunity with an outward looking policy, self confidence, responsibility, and preparedness to work with any local organization for a common good. The celebration was concluded with a power packed Independence Thanksgiving service at Hope church on Sunday 25th April, 2010.
The MCs who steered the independence ship are two of our finest MC’S – Ms. Jayne Jah and Mr. Ben Miller.By Christian Sesay & Sanpha Sesay, Correspondents, Texas
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