Saturday, March 31, 2007

30 Lanterns for Independence Eve

Some thirty Lanterns will be on parade at this year’s Independence Day Eve celebrations, the Coordinator of Heritage Foundation-Sierra Leone Alhaji Unisa Alim ‘Awoko’ Sesay has disclosed. Making the disclosure to Awareness Times, Alhaji ‘Awoko’ said the celebration would be centered on the theme, "Celebrating 200 years of the abolition of Slave Trade" and that the lanterns would be designed to depict the Slave Trade and the role Sierra Leone played in the abolition process.

He indicated that the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade is very much crucial to the history of Sierra Leone and that as the world commemorates 200 years since it was abolished, it was good that those who were fortunate not have been part of the "cruel trade" be made aware of how it was practiced and its effects on Sierra Leone and Africa as whole. "When we talk about the Slave Trade, we need to focus on how it affected our history as a people in the face of the underdevelopment the continent of Africa as whole is facing as a result of the trade," Alhaji Awoko noted, adding that during the four hundred years of the trade, Africa lost most of her men and women who could have turned the image of the continent away from the backwardness it suffers from today. He said the trade itself and the abolition has a lot of effects on the culture and tradition of Sierra Leone on to this modern times. According to Alhaji Awoko, the lantern parades and carnival is to bring Sierra Leoneans together as a people following eleven years of brutal war, during which period acts that were reminiscent of slavery were perpetuated against the people of Sierra Leone. The lantern parade, he said, has over the last two years since it was restarted brought Sierra Leoneans of all works of life in a carnival of peace and reconciliation. This year’s lantern parade therefore, Alhaji Awoko noted, will cause a reflection of the history of the continent as a whole in the face of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and the civil war that characterized Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002.

"We have been doing it for the past two years and the outcomes have been very successful. It is a way of bring us closer to our culture and tradition as a people" Alhaji Awoko acknowledged.

He therefore called on individual Sierra Leoneans, communities, businesses, institutions, clubs and associations to do all they can to ensure that they take up the sponsorship of a lantern within their communities for the grand show down on Independence Eve, which is April 26th.

The lanterns, he disclosed would be allowed to carry the logos of their respective sponsors which he said can be in the form of advertising as well.

Alhaji Awoko also called on individuals, institutions, businesses to continue their usual sponsorship support to the Heritage Foundation to ensure a "well coordinated and successful programme," he called.

He warned that the Heritage Foundation will not entertain any political representation nor allow any political songs from any of the participating lantern clubs during this year’s celebration.

"Ours has nothing to do with politics. It is a cultural show and we expect it to be just that. As an organisation, we owe quite a lot to the people of this country, especially the young ones in their quest to learn about their country’s history, culture and tradition," Alhaji Awoko warned.

Link to 30 Lanterns for Independence Eve in Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone News