Friday, February 16, 2007

UK Deputy Prime Minister Meets President Kabbah


President Kabbah welcoming the British Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Prescott The issue of the Trans-Atlantic Slave in Africa is one of the burning concerns that most Africans and other developing nations still hold against the Western nations that perpetrated the trade. During the 1880s Britain with the aid of some English philanthropists was one of the countries that first passed legislations to bring an end to the slave trade.

As part of the commemoration of the Bicentenary celebrations marking the end of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade in Africa and Sierra Leone being a former British Colony affected by the trade, the British Deputy Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Hull, Rt. Hon. John Prescott visited Sierra Leone and had audience with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah at his Hill Station Lodge office on Monday, 12th February 2007.

Briefing the President on the purpose of his visit, Rt. Hon. John Prescott said that he is in Sierra Leone to look at areas of development collaboration between Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom as a means of compensation for the slave trade. He explained that the issue of compensation to countries that suffered during the slave trade was first brought up by some West Indian countries, but instead of giving individual financial compensations to countries, they decided to transform it into development projects in the areas of education, health etc. that will benefit the greater majority of the people.

President Kabbah in handshake with British Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Prescott Mr. Prescott said he is particularly here in Freetown to work on modalities of twinning of the towns of Waterloo and Hastings in the UK to Waterloo and Hastings communities in Sierra Leone. As this is his last term in government, Mr. Prescott said he will be concentrating working on the slave trade issue at the end of his term and will especially take on the task of development projects in the areas of education and health. He also informed the President that the Mayor of Freetown had earlier requested the sum of 10 million pounds for the rehabilitation of the Freetown City Hall.

Vice President Solomon Berewa in handshake with British Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Prescott

President Kabbah in his response recalled that the City Hall before its name was changed was called the William Wilberforce Hall, named after one of the exponent of the abolition of slavery. He however requested for the name to be restored as this is a historical landmark in the history of Sierra Leone. The President also commended the UK government for their assistance through DFID and especially called for more assistance in training and job creation for the youth. He highlighted the current security situation in Guinea, stating that he was highly involved in trying to address this issue.

The British Deputy Prime Minister presented a coin to President Kabbah symbolizing black slavery concern and joining Africans in celebrating the end of slavery. He informed the President that African Culture and History is now part of the British school curriculum.

Source: Sierra Leone: President: UK Deputy Prime Minister Meets President Kabbah