SiA Sierra international Afrique MADAME SIA NYAMA KOROMA FIRST LADY OF SIERRA LEONE SAVING WOMEN’S LIVES PSQUARE BET NOMINATED MADIEU CELEBRATING THE LAUNCH WILLIAMS OF SiA'S SUMMER ISSUE NOSLINA'S HOTTEST DIAMOND AWARD WINNER US $6.50/CAN $7.50 00003 COMING SOON... MISS SIERRA LEONE-USA PAGEANT SEPT. 25TH, 2010 Summer 2010 Issue Visit our display table at the Miss Sierra Leone-USA pageant September 25, 2010 7995, Montgomery College Performing Arts Center, Georgia Ave. Silver Spring, MD KOKOTOWADE Leather Artisan Tina Pangelinan • 202.359.3989 • www.kokotowade.com Editorial & Publishing SIERRA INTERNATIONAL AFRIQUE Editor in-Chief ~ Fuambai Ahmadu, PhD SiA Special Report~ Jeneba Daramy Jeneba is a recent graduate from University of Mary- An anthropologist by training, Dr. Ahmadu land Baltimore County (UMBC) and is currently completed her doctorate at the dept of working at the Sierra Leone Pavillion at the World anthropology, London School of Economics, Expo in China. A former Miss Sierra Leone Interna- and a two year postdoctoral fellowship (Na- tional (2005) at the Miss Africa pageant and pageant tional Institute of Mental Health) at the dept coordinator for Miss Sierra Leone in DC, Jeneba en- of comparative human development,Univer- joys fashion, especially haute couture, as well as pro- moting the country's tourism potential in the global sity of Chicago. After two additional years at arena. the Child Behavior and Development Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Fashion Editor ~ Kumba Senesie Human Development (NICHD) helping to Kumba was born in Washington, D.C. but spent her develop research initiatives in underresearched formative years in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she areas, Dr.Ahmadu will take up residence this attended primary school. She returned to the U.S., fall 2010 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to begin completed high school and began working as a cosme- a writing fellowship funded by the Wenner- tologist before devoting herself to a career in fashion, Gren Foundation in NewYork. as a personal style consultant. Kumba does makeup and styling backstage at fashions shows, pageants and other community events. Her let's-get-real approach to style is clearly for the everyday would-be fashionista. Features Editor & Photographer Contributing Writer ~ Sunju Ahmadu ~ Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr. Sunju has a passion for filmmaking and loves travel- Born in Sierra Leone and raised for the most part in ling to West Africa, in particular Sierra Leone, her Makeni,Anthony is currently a resident of Pennsyl- country of origin. In 2007, Sunju produced and di- vania. He attended St. Joseph's University in Penn- rected her first documentary “Bondo:A Journey Into sylvania and is presently the USA Bureau Chief for Kono Womanhood”. She currently resides with her the PatrioticVanguard, a well-known Sierra Leonean family in Washington. DC. e-publication, as well as a senior contributing writer to SiA magazine. Anthony has been a professional writer and journalist for over four years. Beauty Editor ~ Susanne Siemonsen SiA Youth Counselor Susanne was born and raised in NorthWest Germany. ~ Fatoumatta Binta Jallow She has been living in the United States for the past Fatoumatta is a qualified Integrative Counselor 20 years. Susanne is a board certified and licensed Counselor currently pursuing a Diploma in Thera- medical aesthetician and is currently employed at the peutic Counseling inWest Herts College in Bucking- Center for Laser Surgery. Susanne specializes in treat- hamshire, London.As part of her course requirements ing hyperpigmentation in all skin types. Fatou completed extensive personal counselling training in clinical settings and provided counselling services to colleagues. Contributing Writer ~ Mustapha Sesay Graphic Designer ~ Susan Perreault Mustapha is currently the Project Manager for Fi- Susan has a BFA in Graphic Design and Photography nancial Review of the Social Security Administra- and has been in the design industry for over 12 years. tion’s $52 billion Representative Payee Program in Starting out in newspapers then progressing to pack- 22 States. With an MBA from Johns Hopkins Uni- age design and making her latest ascent to art director versity, Mustapha’s commitment and dedication to of a major magazine, Susan is well-rounded and ex- the development of Sierra Leone is evidenced by perienced in the technical, commercial and fine arts the time and energy he contributes to activities aspects of design. She is a global artistic designer who within the community. He is the founder of the clearly has a passion for what she does. Sierra Leone Network and a member of the Albert Academy Alumni Association. Contributing Writer Web Designer ~ Ramatha Njai ~ Amadu Massally A long-time employee of the aerospace industry, Amadu Massally is a Certified Public Accountant Ramatha is responsible for the good deal of graphics (CPA) and Certified Information Systems Auditor and artwork in MSLDC’s promotional materials and (CISA) who is passionate about Sierra Leone's de- website. Though the name sounds Senegambian, velopment and considers himself an activist of real Ramu is a Sierra Leonean Fula through and change in Sierra Leone. through. 4 SiA Summer 2010 Marketing Consultant/ SiA Contributing Writer ~ Cecil John Cecil John qualified as a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1993. He is currently CEO of virtualdeveloper.com, a computer science and software engineering consulting firm. Promotions Consultant, Entertainment Writer ~Mohamed Kosia, MBA Born in the eastern part of Freetown, Mohamed graduated from Howard University with a BS in Management and re- ceived an MBA in Global Management from the University of Phoenix. Mohamed is the well-known and popular CEO of Cool & Cozie Promotions, a marketing and promotions company registered in the Commonwealth ofVirginia.C&C promotes and represents African and Caribbean entertainers, especially Sierra Leonean artists, to the rest of the world. ON THE COVER: Madieu Williams Publisher: Cover Credits PHOTOGRAPHER: Halima Kamara Attn: Subscriptions Manager C&C Marketing and Promotions 5907 Highdale Circle, Suite E Contributing Photographer Alexandria,VA 22310 • Phone:(703)200-6973 ~ Halima Kamara Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, award-winning photographer, Halima, grew up mostly in Europe Articles, Letters and Press Releases: Articles and letters may be edited for clarity and length and may be published with space providing. Articles and letters submitted to us may not be and moved to the US in 1997 to complete her used in any other publication, printed or online. Submissions will not be returned unless ac- s Bachelor’Degree in Marketing and Strategic Man- companied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. We are not liable for missing articles. agement. She developed a passion for the camera Copyright Information: No part of this publication may be reproduced, by any means, print, at the age of 16 while taking a photography class electronic or other without prior written permission. Acceptance of an advertisement does and has been a professional photographer for a not imply an endorsement by SiA Magazine. SiA Magazine disclaims responsibility for the statements, either of fact or opinion advanced by the contributors and/or authors. SiA Maga- few years, covering a multitude of events ranging from weddings to zine reserves the right to revise or reject any advertisement and only the publication of the ad- fashion shows and award galas. She currently lives in the Adelphi vertisement shall constitute acceptance. SiA Magazine is not responsible in whole or any Maryland area, and has a studio located in Greenbelt, MD. part for any advertisement or typographical error. fashion • music • arts • entertainment • news SiA Sierra international Afrique To Advertise in SiA CALL: 703.200.6973 SiA Summer 2010 5 SiA Contents Summer 2010 IN EVERY ISSUE MSLDC NEWS: SIERRA INTERNATIONAL AFRIQUE 4 Editorial & Publishing 38 Natasha Beckley What is she doing now? Team Meet Our Staff FEATURED 6 Contents Summer 2010 Issue 40 Madame Sia Nyama Koroma The First Lady of Sierra Leone Saving 8 Editors Page Womens Lives By Fuambai Amadu 9 Letters to the Editor 42 SiA RELATIONSHIP ADVICE Ask Fatou ENTERTAINMENT 10 The Madieu Williams Story By Fuambai Ahmadu 43 Don’t Ask Zahra 14 Shabaka Interview By Fuambai Ahmadu 44 Deconstructing Passion Part 2: The Art of Selfishness By Cecil John 16 PSquare Concert/SiA Launch YOUR WEDDING PICTURES 46 By Sunju Ahmadu The wedding of: 17 Tribute to Michael Jackson Samantha Archer-Davies to Sahr Bockai Jr. By Mustapha Sesay SPORTS 18 The Emmerson Controversy His Take, By Mustapha Sesay 48 Sierra Delta By Mohamed Kosia 19 The Emmerson Controversy Her Take, By Sunju Ahmadu TRAVEL & CULTURE 20 Nollywood News Spotlight on Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Sierra 49 Travel to Bunce Island Historical Summary by Joseph Opala (2007) Theater Production By Sunju Ahmadu Write up By Amadu Massally 50 Ma Dengn: Festival Euphoria this December LITERARY CORNER 52 America’s Multicultural Community 22 Exercise Your Mind Welfare to By Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr. 54 Millionaire: Heart of a Winner By Sarian Bouma American Paddle By Mohamed Kosia 24 Her Turn II : A Short-story By Sunjata 55 2010 World Expo: Shanghai, China By Jeneba Daramy CAREER PROFILE AFRO HEALTH & BEAUTY 56 Spotlight on Sierra Leoneans at the National 30 Institutes of Health Facial Care : Facial care for the men of color By aesthetician, Suzanne Siemonsen FOCUS ON ASSOCIATIONS 32 Glowing Image Fashion Basics By Kumba Senesie 57 Biomed Conference AFROCHIQUE FASHION 58 Visao Foundation 34 Afrochique Fashion Fashion Editorial Spread with 59 Heyword Green. White. & Blue Ball By Mariama Jalloh- 60 Natasha Beckley Photography By The Rise & Rise of NOSLINA By Anthony Kamara Jr., Halima Kamara (original story found in Patriotic Vanguard) 6 SiA Summer 2010 BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND MSLDC in collaboration with C & C Promotions, SiA Magazine and the Montgomery County African Affairs Advisory Group Present MissSierraLeone-USAPageant September 25th, 2010 Montgomery College Performing Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD Culture Entertainment Tradition Friendship Applications Available Online at www.msldc.com or contact: 202-904-0023/703-200-6973 DON’T MISS IT!! Editorial Note SiA SIERRA INTERNATIONAL AFRIQUE Fuambai Ahmadu, PhD S Editor in-Chief iA Magazine is back! And we are set to launch two more promotional issues before the end of the year. Many of our readers were disappointed about the one year break, however the editorial, marketing, and publishing team needed to focus on developing a long-term business strategy to ensure that the magazine stays around, expands and is able to adapt to a fast changing global economy. In this issue, we continue to showcase the talent of Salone writers, entertainers, celebrities, athletes, academics and so on. The main features include a focus on the work of the First Lady, of Sierra Leone, Madame Sia Koroma, and her efforts in reducing maternal mortality; NFL football player, Madieu Williams, on his exemplary humanitarian efforts in Sierra Leone and the U.S.; and, Freddie Cole (aka Shabaka) whose music, in my opinion, is one of the finest from Sierra Leone. The entertainment and relationship sections get a little risky… spotlighting the recent controversy over Emmerson’s latest album and addressing the hidden issues of being “gay” and African (a heated topic, which will be discussed in more depth in our upcoming fall 2010 issue). In travel and culture, we feature Salone’s historic sites as well as many colorful festivals and grand displays from Freetown, to the streets of Washington, D.C, and as far as the country’s grand pavilion at the World Expo in China. As always, we hope you enjoy the culture, fashion, literary snippets and community events in this summer issue of Sierra international Afrique. Yours, Fuambai Ahmadu Fuambai Ahmadu, PhD Editor in-Chief 8 SiA Summer 2010 Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, Wow! I'm so excited about this new magazine - I've told all my friends. I especially liked the cover of the first issue, of Binta Bah, she's so beautiful and well, I'm a Fula too. Keep up the good work. I feel proud to be a Sierra Leonean! Fatou, Takoma Pk, MD Dear Editor, I just wanted to commend the entire editorial and production team of Sierra Afrique International Magazine for your wonderful work. As a Sierra Leonean living in the U.S., I'm finally glad to see our own women - beautiful, sexy, and shapely - on the pages of a black women's fashion magazine. I really love the wedding section because it showcases our mix of African and American styles. The articles are well written and I take my time to read them, all of them. I must say that I was crazy about the girl on the cover of the second issue, Fanta Conde and the one on the first cover was also very beautiful, in a more subtle way. Hawa, New York City, U.S. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Editor, Kudos to you for such a successful venture. I'm a Nigerian male from Minnesota and was very pleased to come across this magazine while visiting at my friend's house in Atlanta, Georgia. We have a few such magazines in Nigeria but hon- estly, none of them are of such high editorial quality. I wish you all long life and that you try and extend your market to all of Sub-Sahara Africa, or at least, West Africa. Also, try and put some marketable African men on your next cover - we too are making global headlines in entertainment, sports and business. Olufemi, (Taiwo: Please note the cover of the Summer 2010 issue and our focus on Vikings football Minnesota, U.S. player, Madieu Williams, also a Minnesota resident. Additionally, we have several depart- ments in this issue that deal specifically with black men - skin care, entertaiment and other areas. We definitely do not want to ignore our male customer base) Dear Editor, I am writing from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I was handed this magazine by a friend of mine who just came back from the States. Wonderful. Tenki, tenki for such a fabulous effort. May the Lord continue to bless you and ensure the success of this magazine. I would like to see it all over the country here - in all our stores and billboards in Freetown, Bo, Makeni and so on. I only have one question: are you going to do some stories on the experiences of women inside Sierra Leone soon? We have the latest fashion boutiques with unique designs; we have professional women who are able to stand their own against any man; we even have a powerful woman who will contest the next presidential elec- tions in Sierra Leone. Please bring your journalists to Freetown or you can call on the many female reporters who are already working in the country to cover real Salone women and how great we are! Eleanor, Freetown, Sierra Leone Dear Editor, What happened? I am a new subscriber to SiA magazine and after enjoying the first two issues, there were no more publications. I know the economy is a challenge but please try and keep up the good work. What you have started is amazing and refreshing. I am writing to compliment your team for some of my favorite sections of SiA: Sona's music picks is always well- written, classy and reflects the true musicians of Africa rather than today's computer driven nonsense. I like to read the agony column by Fatou, her advice is always on point. I'm not sure about Zahra though, what is that all about? Also, I like the fashion spread in the second issue - very beautiful but approachable models. What I would like to see you address is more difficult social issues (such as the spread and impact of prostitution among Sierra Leonean women inside and outside of the country - what is happening to our moral values? And also, problems such as drug addiction, unmarried pregnancies and other issues that affect our young women and girls. It's not all about cosmet- ics and fashion; we need to know what is killing our female population in Sierra Leone. Another thing, I'd like to see more politics. I enjoyed reading the political analysis by Barby in the second issue, which asked some tough questions about how we want to think about developing our country and the responsibility we need to assume as members of civil society. Maybe it is because I am a man but I would like to see more seriousness in this magazine. Sheku, (Sheku: We hope you will be provoked by the hard-hitting features in this new summer 2010 edition, where we cover the serious- London, England ness of maternal mortality as well as the Madieu Williams story and others. And, we will try better to make our publication dead- lines to keep our readers and subscribers extremely satisfied. Enjoy). SiA Summer 2010 9 Interview The Madieu Williams Story: Football Player. Humanitarian. Entrepreneur. By Fuambai Ahmadu Photography By Halima Kamara It was one of those unpredictable and psychologically draining mornings of a working mom; I struggled to get ready for work knowing I was leaving behind a sick child with a high tempera- ture. I couldn't send my then six year old to school shivering and with a fever but could I really leave him behind in bed to be looked after by his father (yes, I do know that new age, modern men, even African men, are emotionally connected with their children and know how to care for them just as well if not better than the baby mothers). But the guilt lingered. I knew I had to go to work. My then boss, the associate director for global health research and interna- tional activities (GHRIA) at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the 27 insti- tutes that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH), had types who were hanging on to his every word and gesture. Our asked that I accompany him to a planning meeting in eyes met briefly as he and his entourage marched beside the table preparation for the launch of the new Madieu Williams Center where I was sitting/hiding. There was mutual recognition (I knew for Global Health Research a the University of Maryland's School he was undoubtedly the star of the show and he must have been of Public Health. Madieu Williams, I researched earlier in the told that I would be there, oddly enough, a Sierra Leonean female week, is an NFL football player with the Minnesota Vikings, who medical anthropologist on attachment at the GHRIA office). was born in Sierra Leone and was the multimillion dollar bene- factor of the new center bearing his name. So, as a Sierra Leonean For the rest of the afternoon, I played the anthropologist, observ- descendant myself, who had hitherto never heard of a fellow ing, listening and taking "field notes" in steady amazement. Sierra Leonean being a major financial donor, I was anxious to Here was a well turned out brother, not yet out of his meet this young fellow. Yes, I finally decided that morning, my twenties, holding his own intellectually amidst a sea of seasoned husband would be able to take great care of our son and I can go to my scholars and academics, yet with such a real persona, so real that I meeting with a clear heart and conscience. couldn't help but visualize my own son growing up to be just like him. And a football playa? Madieu certainly did not fit the stereo- I dashed to my office in Rockville for a few hours and then set type I had: wild parties, nightclubs, young girls, voluptuous girls, out for College Park, finally showing up at the University of barely clad girls, fancy cars, jewelry, profanity - oh, and slow-wit- Maryland around lunch time (okay, so I did sneak in a stop to check ted. No, this guy looked, sounded, and seemed so smart and all on my man and son at home) and when I arrived, I sat right outside about business. the glass, see-through doors to the conference room. Trying to be inconspicuous, I squeezed between two administrative assistants That afternoon, I sat humbled as I learned about Madieu's com- who were in charge of distributing the meeting programs, name pelling life story: He left Sierra Leone at the tender age of nine tags, and other relevant documents about the University of Mary- years old during the protracted, bloody civil war in the country land, the School of Public Health and the new Madieu Williams that left tens of thousands dead and thousands of others physically Center. After a few moments, there was a loud applause, the meet- mutilated as well as displaced in neighboring countries. Madieu ing participants stood up and, as fate would have it, I saw my boss was raised by his great grandmother and lost his mother to an un- first, impressively decked out in his starched and neatly timely stroke in 2005. pressed uniform (a requirement of the U.S. Public Health Com- missioned Corps). He caught my glance almost instantaneously, Madieu is the first to admit that he didn't have it easy growing up rolled his eyes in feigned annoyance, and looked away. Yikes, I'm in Prince Georges County, Maryland, trying to fit in at public in big trouble, I thought. schools, surrounded by high crime, drugs and violence. The one thing that did provide structure and consistency in his life was his But then my eyes settled on the figure of a stately, brown-skinned love for football. Madieu was only fourteen years old and a fresh- brother, gliding easily through the glass doors that seemed to open man at DuVal High School in Lanham, Maryland when he wide on their own before him. He was sharply dressed, impecca- started playing. He originally wanted to play soccer but soon re- bly turned out, flanked on either side by much older scholarly alized that the sport was not popular in the US at the time. 10 SiA Summer 2010 After a two year stint at Towson University, Madieu transferred to the University of Maryland to be closer to home. He quickly rose to the top of the depth chart and be- came two year start. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004 in the 2nd Round as the 57 overall pick. In his second year in Cincinnati, Madieu started The Madieu Williams Foundation. He held free football clinics and health screening while in Cincinnati and built a playground for the youth. After four years in Cincinnati, Madieu joined the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent where he continues his philan- thropic activities. While still playing for the Vikings, Madieu decided it was time to give back to the disaffected neighborhood where he was raised and the equally distraught country where he was born. Among Madieu's major initiatives are: • Madieu Williams Foundation, which focuses on health, wellness, nutr ition, fitness and education for under pr ivileged youth. Through his Foundation, Madieu reaches out to a cross-section of youths and teaches them at an early age the importance of a healthy lifestyle. • Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives which focuses on ad- dressing the health needs of communities in Sierra Leone where Madieu was born and Prince Georges County where he grew up. • The Abigail D. Butscher School in Freetown, Sierra Leone was built in mem- ory of Madieu’s mother. The school is located in Calaba Town, which is one of the poorest areas in Freetown and is the first for this area. The school houses four classrooms, running water and has a capacity of 170 students each year. In addition to his clear humanitarian agenda, Madieu is on a mission to pro- mote research capacity in Sierra Leone. This past March, Madieu and a repre- sentative from the University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Dr. Woodie Kassel, traveled to Freetown to take part in a scientific conference hosted by the Sierra Leone Health and Biomedical Research Group (SL-Biomed). The con- ference was organized by the chair, Professor Aiah Gbakima, with input and guidance from other members including scientists and professionals of Sierra Leone descent at NIH, Dr. Chr istopher Taylor (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - NIAID), Dr. Mar ion Koso-Thomas (NICHD), Dr. Makeda Williams (National Cancer Institute - NCI) and SiA editor in-chief, Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu (NICHD) - see also career profiles (page 56). During this trip, Madieu emphasized his commitment not only to providing practical assistance to the alleviation of poverty in Sierra Leone in the education and health sectors, but to building and strengthening local research infrastructure, particularly in the biomedical and maternal health fields, where Sierra Leone could have a comparative advantage over other developing countries generally and in Sub-Sahara Africa in particular (see story on First Lady, page 40). Soon after Madieu's trip to Freetown, he was in the Washington, D.C. area for the eleventh annual National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North Amer- ica (NOSLINA) Awards gala, taking home the coveted special Diamond Award for his humanitarian services in Sierra Leone and helping to raise the image and voice of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. Last year’s special Diamond Award winner was actor and humanitarian, Isaiah Washington. In between the demands of his already hectic training schedule in Minnesota, Madieu managed another trip in mid-June to Sierra Leone with a group of or- thopedic surgeons from Johns Hopkins University. Madieu took on the role of host, showing the team around to observe first hand the desperate needs of the grassroots communities as well as the deplorable state of resource shortages in the health sector. Within a week of coming back to Minnesota, Madieu was on the plane again, this time meeting with SiA magazine's newest photographer, Halima Kamara, to shoot for the cover of SiA Summer 2010. Talk about indefatiguable! After following Madieu for some time and getting to know him not just as a football player but a humanitarian who has not yet forgotten his humble roots in America and in Africa, I also caught a glimpse of another side to this youthful wonder: Madieu the Entrepreneur. Sunju Ahmadu, SiA's features editor got up close and personal with Madieu in an interview about his business acumen and desire to be a serious and successful African-American entrepreneur. “ My foundation goals are to bring resources in Sierra Leone rather than take them out. ” 12 SiA Summer 2010 Madieu Wiliams: Up Close and Personal Interview by Sunju Ahmadu WE ALL KNOW OF YOUR HUMANITARIAN WORK, BUT YOU’RE ALSO AN ENTREPRENEUR? I consider myself to be a social entrepreneur. Although generating a profit is the goal, I focus on building relationships and utilize the profits by reinvesting in the community. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL VENTURES? I have an extensive real-estate portfolio. I believe true wealth is harvested through property ownership. I diversify through different sectors from resi- dential and commercial. I am currently involved in a project called Hightlight- stube. It is a website that caters to all sports throughout the world. We would like to call it the youtube of sports highlights and live streams of videos. I en- courage SiA reads to check it out and share their thoughts with us. YOU TRAVELED TO SIERRA LEONE EXTENSIVELY OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY? I love traveling to Sierra Leone. It is one of my favorite places to visit. The country is moving in the right direction but we still have ways to go. Sierra Leone has many resources at its disposal. We have to find ways to harness those resources and allow the wealth to trickle down to the poor. We have to leave our selfish ways behind and focus on the common good of the people. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR FOUNDATION IN SIERRA LEONE? My foundation goals are to bring resources in Sierra Leone rather than take them out. We would like to help build capacity in both the healthcare and ed- ucational sectors. We have plans in place to make it happen we have to ex- ecute and make them a reality. Salone Music Editor’s Spotlight of the Year Maryland’s Best Kept Secret: Freddie Cole aka Shabaka By Fuambai Ahmadu Starbucks at Border Books on Bethesda Row in Chevy Chase, Maryland seems an odd place to find myself sitting and listening intently to an intriguing history lesson on the founding of Freetown, Sierra Leone. But then, it was an unusual it... Another one of my favorites, “Mr. Jackson”, is about diaspora blacks moment. The storyteller is none other than the unassuming and alluring going back “home” to Africa and the problems they face with identity and Shabaka who is, in my humble opinion, Sierra Leone’s best kept secret in the recognition. “See dem a come” is about the use of child soldiers in the war Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. I am mesmerized and slightly ashamed that devastated Sierra Leone and “Who is the enemy” is about current African of my own ignorance about the rich story of my country of heritage. It is a per- leaders exploiting their own people and pointing fingers at others. sonal story for Shabaka, which depicts the entanglements of Creole family history in Sierra Leone. He was researching one of his ancestors called My top pick, the song that gives me goose bumps as I close my eyes and un- Thomas Bright, who was a slave descendant, when he stumbled upon a man wind in the evening after a long day, is “After we talk” – surely, Shabaka called Thomas Peters. Peters’ story starts first in Nigeria where he was born wrote that about strong, intelligent, independent and spiritually resilient and later captured; then delves into the plantations of the deep American African women of today: I want a woman who understands what it is to be south, where he was enslaved and later freed by the British for whom he free… a woman who can talk about the universe, a woman who explores my fought during the American Revolution in 1776; to as far north as Nova Sco- mind and after we talk, we can do the boom boom…. Well, okay, Shabaka tia, where he and other “black loyalists” were promised land and sustenance said he had no particular woman in mind and that he wasn’t even in a rela- by the British; and finally, after the latter reneged, the narrative turns to a tionship when he wrote the lyrics. The words were not born out of personal ex- coastal settlement in the region of what we now affectionately call Mama Sa- perience but an expression of what came into his head at the time: an African lone. man’s desire to share not just the physical flesh and soulful passion of an African woman, but the cerebral. Now how many of us learned, cosmopoli- Peters had been sent by the disenfranchised and frustrated group of former tan, spiritually and traditionally grounded Salone sisters wouldn’t want to get black loyalists in Nova Scotia to petition the British government about their de- with a brotha like that? plorable living conditions. After negotiations with British abolitionists, Peters set out to travel with 1,200 of his people as well as John Clarkson, the brother So we did talk, and I explored his amazing mind (which, in addition to a of the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson, to start a new life in the settlement they deep knowledge of history and science, includes intriguing ideas about the named, Freetown. Shabaka points out that in the schools in Sierra Leone, the metaphysics of love) and then I wanted to get to the boom boom, to get to history textbooks focus more on Clarkson as the “founder” of Freetown rather know the man inside out, who he is, what makes him tick, what’s behind the than Thomas Peters and that the greatness and heroism of Peters is unknown intellect and the music – who is Shabaka? in America because he had fought on the “wrong side” - for the Americans and against the British. Upon their arrival in Freetown, Peters refused to accept Born Freddy Cole in 1963, Shabaka came with his parents to the U.S. be- the leadership of Clarkson and rallied his people against Clarkson. After only tween 1966 and 1970, from three to seven years old, at the height of the civil six months, Peters died of malaria which brought relief to the British as he was rights movement, Vietnam protests and when Michael Jackson and the Temp- viewed as an obstacle to their rule. tations were played over the radio waves. His father, Magnus Cole was com- pleting a masters and doctoral degree at the University of Illinois. When the After he started working on the album, “The Black Loyalist”, Shabaka went to family returned to Sierra Leone, Njala to be specific, Shabaka was the star of his childhood friend and graphic designer Adrian “Netty” Fraser who did the the town and his primary school; he had cool shoes and a Superman lunch- graphics for the CD and told him of this discovery. Adrian, Shabaka would box. At the age of eight, this musical ingénue had already formed a band with learn, was a direct descendant of Thomas Peters. Adrian gave Shabaka the his brother and a few friends, which they called The Black Sparrows. They hand written family tree which was compiled and passed on to him by his made instruments out of toilet roll and foil paper and would perform for late mother. Shabaka would then discover from his own mother that the Bright crowds at Aunty Maria Tucker’s canteen that catered to teachers and other and Peters families shared further interconnections, effectively linking the two workers at the University. The Black Sparrows performed regularly at the can- friends in a common ancestry. teen and at school concerts. They had their last “concert” at Harford Second- ary school in Moyamba, a serious affair for the rising toy-band, as they were So, my music choice for summer 2010 is Shabaka’s “The Black Loyalist”, affectionately known. At just 11 years old, Shabaka had already written his which seems dedicated to unraveling and coming to terms with this difficult na- own songs, much of which he says were influenced by Jimmy Cliff’s music. tional (and deeply personal) history of Freetown. The first track, “African spirit”, is about overcoming the odds through the inspiration of our historic The family then moved to Freetown where Shabaka’s mother was in charge leaders: Any obstacle you face, you can conquer… Martin Luther has done of housekeeping at Freetown’s prestigious Mammy Yoko hotel. She once it, Nnamdi Azikwe has done it, Mandela has done it, Mammy Yoko has done arranged for her young would-be-artist to meet Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the U.S.’s Jackson Five singing sensation. 14 SiA Summer 2010 The young Shabaka brought this infamous father a bag of his songs and, with his mother’s savvy, actually had the opportunity to sing for him. When Mr. Jackson returned to the U.S. he sent the ecstatic Shabaka a tee shirt from his children (which the young fan treasured so much… that he ended up losing it!). When Shabaka got to form six (U.S. translation: 12th grade), he started jamming with mu- sicians in Sierra Leone, such as the Godfathers and the Dukes, who were Ghanaians daz- zling Freetown audiences with their jheri curls and retro clothes. Shabaka would later enroll at Fourah Bay College (FBC) where he studied and excelled at engineering. He also formed his own band called Fusion, which became a big hit on campus and all around Freetown. In those days, he says, concerts were overcrowded and cost only three leones to get in. After the last Fusion concert at City Hall, the German cultural attaché in Freetown ap- proached him and offered to support a cultural exchange deal by sending him to Germany to pursue his music career. But then this mysterious German committed suicide in Freetown before the plans materialized. Shabaka then went to Nigeria for six months in 1984 and worked with Akie Deen the Sierra Leonean producer of Bunny Mack. In Nigeria, he met two other Sierra Leonean musicians Mohammed Kani and Augustine Valcarcel. Life in Nige- ria was hard for them and Shabaka struggled quite a bit before traveling with Akie Deen and his friends to London later that year. The trip did not work out very well as the project with Akie Deen never got off the ground. Shabaka then went into a top recording studio in London called Matrix Studios expecting to record with just 400 hundred pounds! Though he was laughed at by the studio manager, Shabaka lucked out: one of the hottest bands in the U.K, Siouxie and the Banshees, was present at the studio and offered him studio time for his recordings. Shabaka’s major hit, “Dem nor wan dance” was born - much to the delight of thousands of fans in Sierra Leone and many other African countries. Shabaka returned to Sierra Leone in 1985, co-managing with his brother a new nightclub called “Nightshift”, another huge success for the Freetown youth scene. Riding on the waves of his Afro-urban popularity, Shabaka scooped up a visa to travel to the U.S. and recorded a cassette album called “Free”. This album included, “Dem nor wan dance” and another hit called “Goombay jamming”. He recorded with Vincent Nguini who later became the leader of Paul Simon’s band and Crystal Walters, who sang background vocals on the album. Wal- ters later recorded a Grammy winning song called “Gypsy woman” that reached the top of the billboard charts. Shabaka believed he too was on the road to success! But Shabaka’s journey would continue to be hindered by many factors; at the time “world music” had not yet entered the musical lexicon. Though Shabaka’s music got rave reviews by critics such as the College Music Journal, the billboard magazine for the independent music industry - “..this is the best tape we’ve received all year” - his music was said to be hard to classify, “…we like your music but don’t know what to do with it”. When the war in Sierra Leone started, Shabaka’s music moved from uptempo dance beats to a slower “roots reggae” groove as he believed that it was a more appropriate medium to deliver his message. Today, Shabaka is enjoying a renewal of interest in his music as the Black Loyalist album has charted on college radio stations throughout the U.S. My coffee, now lukewarm after nearly three hours of conversation (where did the time go?), Shabaka shyly emphasizes that, “you can look at a people’s art and have a sense as to what they are going through during that period”. He views his music as not just for dancing but as a vehicle to deliver a message and to represent the climate of the times. His hope (I can read his mind) is to continue making good African reggae music with socially and soulfully meaningful lyrics. On a personal front, ladies, Shabaka is today a single man. He has been married before and is blessed with three children, two boys - a nineteen and seventeen year old - from his marriage and a thirteen year old daughter. Both women are Sierra Leonean. Has he lost faith in Salone women? Not at all, but these days Shabaka is focusing on enjoying his current fam- ily, including his mother, brother and sisters who live in London and his father, the ex-Profes- sor from Njala, who resides with him in Maryland. It seems that the trials and tribulations in his career and personal life (even being virtually homeless at one point) are the things which honed his spiritual depth and continue to feed his thirst for further, deeper knowledge. It this quest for understanding the contradictions of his life and of existence in general that drives Shabaka’s other passion, studying aspects of quantum physics and spirituality as he tries to grasp what we are as human beings. This is second onlyto his love of music. Keep your eyes and ears open for 2011 as you will experience new music from Shabaka. You can listen to his music at www.shabakasounds.com" www.shabakasounds.com or go to you tube to see thevideos for “The Black Loyalist” and “See dem a come”. PSquare SiA Magazine Launches Summer Issue at PSquare Concert, Maryland USA By Sunju Ahmadu Once more C & C Promotions made it happen again this summer, bringing us the hottest group topping the charts in West Africa. The long awaited show by Nigeria’s most successful hip-hop group, PSquare, performed live and direct in the DMV (DC, MD, VA) area, Sat- urday, July 17, 2010. Stunning beauties from Naija and Salone were in full representation, filling the Springbrook High school auditorium with earsplitting cheers at the mere sight of the striking twin brothers on stage. Not to mention the exuberant mania that erupted from the ladies when the duo took off their wife beaters as they broke out into their hit single “do me ah do you”. Even the fellas couldn’t contain themselves when the group burst out with their latest hit “no easy”. It was shear fun madness! From the neon lights that adorned their every move on stage to their impeccable dance choreography the likes of Usher and Chris Brown. PSquare simply made the crowd go ballistic. The most refreshing part of the show was that they actually sang live! No lip synching or singing over top of pre-recorded material. These guys actually broke it down acapella to their romantic ballad “No one like you”, which has been played at every African wedding reception since it came out two years ago. For all you die hard fans out there who missed this spectacular show, SiA Magazine (while launching our amazing summer issue), got up close and personal with the guys backstage on your behalf. The ambiance backstage was definitely more laid back except when the twin with dreads jumped up from his seat shouting “No doubles, no doubles oh” as an influx of ladies shoved their way in front of flashing cameras requesting to get a pic- ture with both brothers. However all those girls had to step to the side when the reigning eye-catching beauty, Miss Guinea, was whisked in backstage for her photo op. Purple is definitely these bothers’ theme color; they had on matching purple and white high top addidas, pur- ple baseball caps and I even noticed purple cell phone covers as they texted on their cell phones backstage. SiA Magazine did man- age to grab their attention for a quick photo op. The brothers said they were extremely happy to be on tour in the States for the first time and that the DMV area has by far been their best audience. A few hours later, the dress code transformed into strictly glitz and glamour at the steamy after party which went on into the wee hours of the morning. All in all, I must say, it was well worth the wait. Job well done C&C promotions putting together a sensational concert! 16 SiA Summer 2010 The 1st Anniversary of the Death of the King of Pop Sierra Leone's Solid Gold Dancers Remember the Man, the Music, the Money, and the Magic By Mustapha Sesay On June 25th, 2009, the world lost a friend, After confirming Michael’s Michael Jackson. Those who truly understood death, I also reflected on the him knew that his most gratifying work was fo- early days of SGD and the im- cused on caring for the less fortunate. pact Michael Jackson had on the group members when On hearing the rumor that Michael Jackson was they were teenagers as well in the hospital, I prayed for him to be strong and as his overall influence on Beat It. However, the Lord had other plans for the music world, which is him. That evening, I received over 70 calls and evident in the present-day text messages immediately after Jermaine Jack- dance moves of Usher, Be- son officially announced Michael’s death. After yonce, and many, many about the 40th call, I realized that the people call- other top artists. ing me were fans of Sierra Leone’s Solid Gold Dancers (SGD). As soon as these people heard Michael was undoubtedly the message of Michael’s death, they instantly the greatest entertainer to reflected on some of their earlier encounters with walk the earth, so trying to Michael Jackson and the Jacksons through emulate him required some Sierra Leone’s teenage idols, SGD of the '80s. degree of talent. By perfect- ing his moves, SGD quickly became a force to be reck- SGD was formed in 1982 by Mustapha Sesay oned with in Sierra Leone’s (Barby), Abubakarr, and Junior Siafa. Sheku entertainment circles. The Kallon, Jr., Eddy Boy, Kofi and the Twins (Now release of the Thriller album Fulani) later joined the group. At the peak of the provided SGD with good ma- group’s fame, SGD was known as the Jacksons terial to work with. of Africa, with Junior Siafa undisputedly known as the world’s best interpreter of Michael Jack- Michael was a good role model for son’s electrifying Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough the well-behaved teenagers that moves. made up SGD. Some can say that SGD was an unintended business SGD performed for top dignitaries in Sierra partner of Michael Jackson, in the Leone and Guinea. One of those performances sense that Michael Jackson "exported was for President Momoh in 1985. The group goods" to SGD in the form of music and was one of the opening acts alongside perform- dance steps and SGD "distributed those ers from Paris when Lagoonda Entertainment goods" in the form of great performances Complex was newly opened. The group did a to pretty young things (PYT) across Sierra show for the Guinean TV station in 1986 that was Leone, Guinea, and the Gambia. marketed as far as Saudi Arabia. In another sense, Michael was a tutor to SGD, Their favorite performances were school shows because the latter learned to master the skillful at the end of the academic year. These perform- moves in the Thriller album. Michael was a vi- ances included shows at St. Joseph Convent, sionary and so was SGD; the group staged the Annie Walsh, Girls High School, Freetown Sec- best of shows and mastered the perfectionist ondary School for Girls, and many other second- standards of the Man in the Mirror. Whenever ary schools. The group also performed across Michael got Off the Wall and Wanna be Starting Sierra Leone and were the favorite in Bo, Ken- Something, for example the release of a new ema, Kono, Makeni, Kambia, and many other album, SGD communicated the message of the towns. SGD won the 1985 Progress Award for gloved one to their fans. This was a great long the best dancing group in Sierra Leone. SGD distance relationship between the King of Pop was well known for mastering the Dangerous and the teenage sensation of Sierra Leone. God gravity defying steps of Michael Jackson and the called Michael Jackson but for us He is Gone Too Jacksons. Soon. SGD will always remember him with a Smile. SiA Summer 2010 17 The Emmerson Controversy HIS TAKE “Grandpa Nar Pikin Kanda” By Mustapha Sesay I was driving one spring morning a few years back, contemplating whether to But, the political arguments back and forth have neglected to focus on the roll my car windows down or leave them up; the weather was mild so I decided artistic value of the “Yesterday Better Pass Tiday” album. This begs the ques- to leave them closed. As I was driving, my mind went back to a conversation tion: Is the “Yesterday Better Pass Tiday” album as good as the “Borboh Belle” I had with a friend the night before about an album released by a Sierra album in terms of musical creativity? Or, did the new album lackluster be- Leonean artist, which he thought was going to resuscitate the country's music cause of its explicit political message? Was the album a “gravy train” for Em- industry; an industry that had been dead for decades, perhaps since the days merson to cash in without proper utilization of the skills he demonstrated in of Afro National and Super Combo. his first album, or has the new album been sabotaged by APC, as some critics have suggested. My friend knew that I was an aficionado of good music and was yearning for Personally, I don’t think this latest album is as good as the first one, but it is the Sierra Leone music industry to come alive once more. After about 30 sec- still a very good album. But, this is typical in the music industry. For many onds into the track my friend had recommended, I quickly rolled down all four artists, the album that makes them a superstar is always very difficult to sur- windows: The sweetness of the music beckoned for fresh air. It was the song, pass. Take Michael Jackson for example, the Thriller album catapulted him to “Tutu Party.” global stardom of unimaginable scale, and he was never able to supersede it in sales. Though Bobby Brown was already famous with New Edition, it was Tutu Party is one of the hits from Emmerson’s “Boboh Belle” album. The level his My Prerogative album that legitimized him as a superstar, but he has never of the album's creativity gave rise to what is now the neo Sierra Leone music been able to torpedo that height. So, could Emmerson's latest album have industry. After listening to the entire album, I recalled Bunny Mack, Dr. Orloh, fallen into this music industry syndrome? Salia Koroma, and Rogee Rogers, all blended together in a special and differ- ent kind of music, the Emmerson Music. I thought, as did many other Sierra Or, was this album so controversial that the richness of the music got lost in Leoneans, that this would be the artist to put Sierra Leone on the map of world the political cacophony? Is everyone, including diehard Emmerson fans, so music. focused on the album's political message that they ignore the need to consider Emmerson's creative skill? Or, was the album undermined by the APC, as al- However, the release of Emmerson’s last album “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday” leged? This, of course, would mean that the APC Government, which is now was met with so much controversy that it makes one wonder if the music got in power, is directly tampering with freedom of speech. lost in the miasma of bitter accusations and alleged official censorship. Was Emmerson deliberately excluded from the Akon show at the 49th Inde- pendence Day celebration (see Sunju Ahmadu, next page) because of the “Yes- The album “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday” seems to have ignited a division terday Betteh Pass Tiday” album? If that is the case, then Emmerson would be amongst Sierra Leoneans. In my humble opinion, the album has been more correct that yesterday is sure better than today, because freedom of speech is politicized than constructively debated for its musical merits. All the argu- an important tenet of the democratic progress undertaken by the current ad- ments, so far, seem to be based on party politics: If you are an APC (All Peo- ministration. ple's Congress) supporter you hate the “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday” album but love the “Boboh Belle” album, and if you are an SLPP (Sierra Leone Peo- Emmerson is undisputedly the best artist in Sierra Leone and, in my view, he ple's Party) supporter, you love “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday” and hate the should have been invited to perform alongside Akon. No government should “Boboh Belle” album. The first album condemned the corruption of the ancien be afraid of constructive criticism: criticism is a vital source of knowledge and regime and the second is a warning to the current government that the suffer- motivational factor pressing us to do better. For Sierra Leone to have a “betteh ing youths and masses are still waiting for improvements. tiday”, our people have to give up the negative attitudes of yesterday. 18 SiA Summer 2010 The Emmerson Controvers y By Sunju Ahmadu HER TAKE Some people did not bother or could simply not afford to buy tickets for the much raved about Akon concert in Freetown to celebrate Sierra Leone's 49th Independence Day. Afterall, as many expressed, isn't Akon, the main head- liner, a Senegalese? For other committed revelers, it was the torrential rains that turned them away and forced the cancellation of the show. Among them there was gossip and whispers about Divine Justice -- the storms sent a mes- sage of disappointment, even rage, from High Above, to protest the dissing of one of Salone's own in what has been dubbed the Emmerson Controversy: Bo dis noh mek any sense. How could there be an official celebration of such grandeur, with all the hottest musical artists from Sierra Leone gracing the stage at Stadium while the great- Nah wickedness normoh. est of them all, the most renown, the don of contemporary Salone music, Em- merson Bockarie, is not headlining? In fact, he wasn't even slated to be there. Nah bad hat. Nah dis mek Sa- Bo dis noh mek any sense. Nah wickedness normoh. Nah bad hat. Nah dis mek Salone man noh dey go befoh. All because of dah wan single dey, 'wi lone man noh dey go befoh. yestaday betteh pas tiday'. Nah dat mek den dey fred Emmerson" explained Salieu Kamara a taxi driver in Freetown, who drove me to my hotel room dur- All because of dah wan single ing a family visit some weeks after the anniversary celebration. But could that dey, 'wi yestaday betteh pas be true, I asked myself. Could it really be because of a mere single released by the artist named Emmerson, a track which even some ardent detractors tiday'. Nah dat mek den dey simply disregard as a teasing caution to the current Government, a harmless reminder that the young people of Sierra Leone are watching and no longer fred Emmerson" passive receivers of bad governance and official corruption? Why would the Government take the lyrics of a single pop artist so seriously that the APC ruling party, or so the rumors dictated, for all intents and purposes, would ban - Salieu Kamara him from participating in such a tremendous nationwide festival? Well, the Akon concert went on the next day, and the energetic crowds were titillated by the fancy and upbeat musical repertoire of a new generation of local Sierra Leonean artists. But the Emmerson question, his obvious ab- sence, still begged answers in many circles. To understand and answer these questions I decided to do some digging, to find out why Emmerson and no other Salone artist would be subject to such a diss? What is it about the en- tertainer's personality, his music, his message that would make him a serious political threat to the current establishment, if this is in fact thecase? What are people on the streets saying, on the various Sierra Leone listservs, within the political corridors of power at State House? What do Emmerson's closest handlers, his friends and relatives have to say, and what about the artist him- self? How do we get to the bottom of the Emmerson Controversy? SiA readers, stay tuned for Fall 2010 issue to get a full breakdown of these varied viewpoints on the Emmerson Controversy Part II. SiA Summer 2010 19 Nollywood News West Africa Cinema & Theatre By Sunju Ahmadu Spotlight On: Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde Sunju Ahmadu The Queen ofNollywood. At an elegant and quaint soiree in Maryland last ules. But, the reigning diva of Nollywood cau- in the world's third largest film industry. Having summer, Sunday July 12th, 2009, Nollywood tioned other hopeful African actresses trying to confidence, according to Omotala, means being queen, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde was the unas- break into the industry to have a head on their fearless when going for screenings, when meeting suming guest of honor. Mother of four shoulders, to be savvy in business as well as in industry officials and making contacts and con- children and United Nations Goodwill cultivating their art, and most of all to be confident. nections. Omotola spoke honestly and Ambassador, Omotola was presented provocatively about the challenges and re- Issa Mudashiru, Sr. (husband of with an Award of Excellence by the Or- SiA editor in-chief), Omotola wards of marrying early, the support she ganization of African Female Entrepre- Jalade-Ekeinde and SiA editor recieves from her doting husband, and the in-chief, Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu neurs (OAFE) for her exceptional trials of balancing motherhood and mar- achievements in entertainment and her riage with an active and demanding acting commitment to the less privileged. The (and soon to be singing) career. You can have it all, she encouraged the crowd, but popular actress spoke about how she the price is hard work, discipline, sacrifice got into acting, the perils of making it in and a conviction in oneself. Nollywood especially in the early days of production before every Jack and Jill In attendance was the wife of the Liberian wanted to get into the acting and film Ambassador, Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes, as business in Nigeria. well as former Miss Sierra Leone Interna- tional, Jeneba Daramy, who was among In those days there was a lot of stigma the MCs hosting the night's events. SiA ed- to overcome, many viewed acting as an itor-in-chief, Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu and fea- excuse for prostitution and a playing tures' editor, Sunju Ahmadu, were also ground for loose women and philander- among the evening's guests. The event was ing "executive producers". There was also the In fact, Omotola advised that confidence is that sponsored by Joi Onyeukwu, a well-known name poor pay and very tight production budgets, as overarching quality that separated her from all the in African fashion and design for plus size women well as the long hours and ruthless filming sched- other actresses vying for attention and recognition of color. Let Me Die Alone, A Sierra Theatre Production, directed by David Vandy "Let Me Die Alone” is the title of the newest play which will be performed by Sierra Theatre Production this summer 2010. It is a compelling story of the life and times of one of the most famous and tragic heroines of Sierra Leone herstory, Madam Yoko, written by Kolosa John Kargbo and directed by Voice Of America's own David Vandy (firstname.lastname@example.org) SiA Magazine is sure to be there to document and enjoy the theatrical re-enactment of an all but forgotten historical figure and to help ensure that Mammy Yoko's memory and legacy lives on for generations of Sierra Leonean and African women to come. 20 SiA Summer 2010 Global Ministries ANNOUNCES CD LAUNCHING featured guests: The Church Powerful Choir & Band Led by C.J. Alhaji & D.J. Franco Special Appearance by Comedian “Pa Bangura” and Sam Ford of WJLA ABC 7 TV To order your copy of the CD or for more information, contact Cornelia Moore 301-341-9669 Harry Laggah 301-254-6229 Aiah Fanday 240-821-3641 Sia Gbenda 240-821-3642 Theresa Frazer 301-408-9152 Marie Fackie 301-699-5953 Frank Kargbo 301-442-7915 Alhaji Jalloh 301-731-0703 Gladys Richards 301-341-1364 Linda Jones 240-832-2104 Literary Corner "Exercise Your Mind" Welfare to Millionaire: Heart of a Winner By Sarian Bouma Welfare to Millionaire: Heart of a Winner is the incredible true story of Sarian Bouma, the Sierra Leone, West African, immigrant who went from finding herself in a homeless shelter as a welfare mother to a self-made millionaire! Born into poverty, Sarian made her way to the "Promised land," America, with $1,500, to wind up di- vorced, down and out on welfare, and having to feed her baby water because she didn't have enough food stamps to buy milk. In Welfare to Millionaire: Heart of a Winner, Sarian shares her journey, recounting her challenges and obstacles, failures and successes, disasters and triumphs. She talks about new goals and dreams with humor, warmth, and honesty. Her story will take you on a fascinating journey of challenges and triumphs, of tapping into the resources that all of us possess, and of making dreams come true! Sarian's motto is "Never Give Up!" After reading this story, you will be fueled, charged, and ready to face whatever obstacles are in your path and to overcome them with tenacity, and to find the satisfaction that comes from making it happen! Paperback - $18.69, Hardcover - $28.79 Available now at www.welfaretomillionaire.com, at major bookstores and online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Borders.com, Xlibris Author Sarian Bouma has reinvented the American Dream. An immigrant to America, Sarian over- came poverty, prejudice, heartbreak and welfare in 1987 when she started Capitol Hill Building Main- tenance, Inc. Now, this self-made entrepreneur is the owner of a multimillion dollar corporation, a successful motiva- tional speaker, an official for business development offices in the state of Maryland, a liaison for the US Department of Commerce, producer of Sianna Mystique body products and the esteemed author of Welfare to Millionaire: Heart of a Winner. Recognized by the US Small Business Administration, Avon Corporation, the National Council of Negro Women, "O" The Oprah Magazine, McCall's Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine and Black Enterprise Magazine, Sarian teaches people to visualize big and follow their dreams. According to Sarian, when it seems you are at the end of your rope, that's when you stand up and pull harder. Let Sarian help you live the American Dream, too. Sarian Bouma is the voice of Sianna Productions. Under this corporation, Sarian teaches people to dream big and follow their dreams. When it seems you at the end of your rope, that's when you stand up and pull harder. "Here is someone who believed in herself, who followed her better instincts and who above all worked hard, with creativity." --Senator Bob Dole, United States Senate 22 SiA Summer 2010 SIANNA Mystique Like the motivational words of Sarian’s invigorating life, her energy and beauty secrets can now revitalize and invigorate your skin. PHOTOGRAPHY: www.Benizo.com A new skin-care line made of all-natural ingredients, including Rooibos from South Africa, is designed to bring out your natural beauty and slow the signs of aging. Order yours today! Rooibos (From South Africa) Skin-Care Body Butter A luscious body butter with nature’s unique Rooibos extract from South Africa, helps to nourish and revitalize the skin. Also containing the anti-aging enzyme Super Oxide Dismastuse, known to limit the activity of free radicals that cause aging. Available size: Approx. 4 oz. (lotion size) - Price: $7.50 US Rooibos (From South Africa) Skin-Care Bar Soap A glycerin cleansing bar, cleanses and conditions the skin while the invigorating tropical paradise scent tantalizes your senses. The Rooibos Skin Care Bar Soap is enriched with nature’s unique Rooibos extract from South Africa to protect and soften skin. Available size: Approx. 3 x 2 x 1.5 - Price: $9.00 US Save on both and purchase the gift package containing the soapbar and lotion! Gift Package - $14.00 US To order the Sianna Mystique line, please call 301-346-9492 Her Turn -II By Sunjata She was braiding Mabinty’s hair when the phone rang. She saw the 011 44 number and smiled. Remy! He had become the most anticipated part of her Sunday routine. “Darling.” “I’m not your darling.” “Oh?” “Hi Remy. It’s Mariama. I’ll get Mummy for you.” “Got it,” said Nadia. “Oops,” said Remy. “You were saying,” she teased. “How are you, love?” “Just dandy.” “All of London is buzzing about Obama’s victory. Doesn’t sound like Hillary’s conceding though. Do you think he can win?” It was what she loved most about their relationship, their conversations. They talked about everything, from politics and religion, to sports and movies. He asked for her opinion, loved that she expressed her thoughts, and could coax the least concern out of her. She marveled that it had been only two months since that fateful meeting at Sulay’s wedding reception. He’d departed for London that night but called her the next day, and every day after that until she returned his call. Unfor- tunately for him, she seldom checked her home voicemail. There was never any need. Her friends and family knew to call her cell phone if there was no answer at home. Intrigued by his persistence, she’d called at once. He was delighted. He confessed that he couldn’t get her out his mind and thought he needed “a cure.” “What kind of cure would you be needing?” she had asked. “I’m going to have to make love to you,” he had remarked, rather definitively. “Awfully presumptuous of you, isn’t it.” “Not presumptuous. Hopeful.” Since then they had spoken almost everyday. He was a first generation Brit, the only child of Sierra Leonean parents whose marriage ended before their son was three years old. Remy had never been “home.” He was a freelance writer with articles in gaming and technology magazines and a book underway. He was single, ended his “only committed relation- ship” two years ago, and thought marriage was a “huge deal.” He led a “boring life,” had thankfully avoided “drama,” but counts the death of his father, a few months ago, as the most “terrific pain” he’d ever had to endure. He’d never been lonely, not even while growing up an only child, but lately everything he did felt mundane. He wanted someone to share his life. At first he chucked it down to “knocking on fifty’s door,” but the feeling of emptiness had become acute. Nadia’s thoughts always returned to their first conversation. “I’m going to have to make love to you.” It didn’t matter how often she rewound that phrase, it always left her pulsating and breathless. She wanted him. His calls didn’t do much to temper her desires. “So. One week from today eh,” she said, trying to sound casual. He chuckled. “I can’t wait either.” “Noh form oh.” “Not in a million.” He never spoke Krio. She changed the subject. “To answer your question…Yes. I think Obama can win. I’m sure he will be as calculated with his Republican op- ponent as he was with his party’s contenders.” “Calculated? Do you think he is cunning?” “No. Just shrewd.” “Do you think he’ll make Hillary his VP?” “I would love it if he did. She’s brilliant. She was my candidate, you know.” “What changed?” “Corny as it sounds…I began to see Obama through my children’s eyes.” Nadia told Remy how she came to be an “Obama Mama.” It was Sunday. The family had congregated at Nadia’s after church as they did every Sunday. The remnants of the big meal, Jollof Rice, pepper chicken, ginger beer and plantains had not been cleared away. Too stuffed to move, they had remained seated and chatted. The topic had turned to politics and the Obama sup- porters, Sulay, his wife Cecilia and Mariama, were arguing with the lone Republican, Muk, Zainab’s husband. The three dis- missed the chance of a Republican comeback in light of the unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the housing crisis, while Muk held his ground insisting that it was the social issues, same sex marriages and immigration, that would define the race and result in a Republican victory. Nadia and Zainab had long decided on Hilary Clinton and told the opposing teams each was backing the wrong horse. Mariama pointed out the failings of the Clinton ticket. “It is like interviewing for the most important job of your career and walking in with dirty jeans. As intelligent as she is why she trusted her campaign to ineffective cronies is beyond me,” Mariama had said, to which Sulay responded in soft clipped tones. “Why? She never considered Obama worthy of thought and strategy. Meanwhile, Obama who has it all – looks, charisma, a beautiful Ivy League mate, and the right friends – is taking nothing for granted. He is courting the vote of all Americans, from every socioeconomic group and every race. He has a strategy at every turn. He knows he can’t win some states or certain segments of the population so what does he do, he lobbies the electorate, charms the press and asks the youth for help. And he will win. He will win, and he will be a great President. He will win so that 16 year-old black boys like Kevin, who maintain an honor-roll record despite a weekend job and grueling after-school activities, can know that no dream is out of reach.” His wife had looped an arm through Sulay as he got chocked up about his stepson, Kevin. He had everyone’s attention. Nadia had been converted that day. Sure she still wanted a female president, and she knew Mrs. Clinton would be good at it, but maybe the country needed to believe again and be reminded that hard work was its own reward. Maybe there needed to be a fresh perspective to what constitutes a solution, an alternative to aggression and retaliation, and a recognition that America wasn’t moving forward. If Barack Obama, who seemed to have a handle on the realties, were up for the challenge then she like Sulay, Cecilia and Mariama would support him. “Amazing what he means to different people,” Remy remarked after Nadia recounted the story of her conversion. “If nothing else the prayers will get him elected,” she added. “Indeed,” he agreed. “Okay baby, on that note, enjoy the rest of your Sunday.” Nadia smiled because she knew she would. Today and every day will be enjoyable because she had him in her life. “You too, my darling.” Mariama who had been hovering in the hallway poked her head in to Nadia’s room. “Mummy we deh go trate foot, yah. Leh a lef Mabinty?” “Usahy una deh go?” “Estella wan leh a meet d new gu“Does he know?” “They aren’t getting married Mum,” said Mariama switching to English as she did when she got irritated. “They’ve been seeing each other for just two weeks,” she continued. “Okay. Okay. Me en Mabinty deh go waka to Aunty Masiray. Ah go kerr am go school tomara. U noh need for pick am up. Stay safe.” Nadia worried that Mariama and Estella were skirting around Estella’s problems. And her episodes had worsened. She needed help, but neither wanted to acknowledge that. She hoped, for their sakes, they knew what they were doing. SIERRA LEONE NEW PROVINCIAL PAYMENT STATION BO KENEMA KONO MAKENI STATION STATION STATION STATION 2B Old Garihun Rd. 23A Hangha Road 3 Post Office Road 1 Rogbanch Rd. Bo 1st Floor 1st Floor, Koidu 1st Floor Sierra Leone Kenema, Town, Kono District Makeni Town Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Tel: 00232 76 635 0 Tel: 00232 76 833 330 Tel: 00 232 76 66606 Tel: 00232 76 501 501 OTHER PAYMENT STATIONS Barrie Money Transmitters FREETOWN • BANJUL • CONAKRY • DAKAR • MONROVIA • ABIDJAN We Have The Experience and Reputation To Back Up Our Service!! Barrie, Inc. Money Transmitter • Contact Us at 1-800-376-8113 www.barrieinc.com • Office: (301) 731-4414 • Email: email@example.com B. 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(Too Much) is a simply a “No- No” • Lip Gloss Always • Never Lip Gloss with Glitter DRESS UP TIPS (Image Consultant can Glow your Image) • Every style is not for every “Body Type” • Tailor can adjust your clothes for a great fit • Wear things that flatter’s the best of you MAke-up • If you have nice legs, wear skirts • Blending Make-up Color(s) on your skin is key. Not every color at once. • Plus size ladies look great with off the shoulder tops and dresses. • Top heavy women look nice in empire waist dresses and tops LIP Stick • Slim pear shaped women look nice in skinny • Red Lipstick is not for everybody and not all leg jeans, pencil skirts the time for anybody • Get the entire outfit... Stop wearing shirts as dresses • Thongs or cheeky underwears with fitted clothing. Big Underwear imprints are tacky • Don’t wear all your jewelry Chin at once • Chin hairs is not sexy. Twizz them. • Don’t be afraid to look Fancy, Gorgeous or Fabulous 32 SiA Summer 2010 • Get your braids done by a professional or someone PLACES TO SHOP FOR GREAT BARGAINS who knows how to braid. Marshalls: (Clothes, Shoes & Bags) DSW: (Shoes, Bags) Ross: (Jewelry) Express: (Work Clothes, Casual Wear) Target: (Hot Tees, Jeans & More) Asos.com: (Dresses & More) Victoria Secrets: (Lip Gloss) • Head wears done right is always classy. Hair Business: Weaves, Wigs &Tips • Get a new do as needed. Don’t go around with matted hair • Keep your bottoms up...Work Out! • Try several wigs, buy the one tht flatter’s you the most. Not the one that looks good on the mannequin MUST DO’S • The wig or weave should look like it’s your hair. Perfume (Try lace front wigs...Fool People) Perfume, oils, spash whatever You are not allergic to. Look good smell good Heels Learn to walk in heels some sort of heel. Flats are cute, heels are sexy SiA Summer 2010 33 Natasha Beckley Unbreakable. Unshakeable. Unstoppable. Photography By Halima Kamara 34 SiA Summer 2010 MODEL: Natasha Beckley SHOES: By Bakers Shoes, JEANS: by Ed Hardy TOP : Sierra Leone flag draped around shoulders and torso MODEL: Natasha Beckley DRESS: Hot pink lace and wax dress by SAB Sewing, located at Landmark Mall 36 SiA Summer 2010 MODEL: Natasha Beckley DRESS: Bright colored Kente strapless long dress with matching head tie by Agnes Tailoring MSLDC NEWS Natasha Beckley Unbreakable. Unshakeable. Unstoppable. Miss Junior Sierra Leone, These three words from a popular Christian rock song that attempt to encapsulate the Almighty (and no words alone can ever) also seem appropriate in describing the spirit of Janet Lagah-Bona Natasha Beckley, Miss Sierra Leone 2009-2010. That’s right, the real Miss Sierra Leone in the U.S. who actually competed in and won the now biannual MSLDC, Inc. compe- tition in December 2008. And who would have guessed it then? This tall, bold, uber confident and imposing 5’8” African beauty who literally stole the coveted first place prize at the above competition has come incredibly far. Showing up just one week before the December ’08 pag- eant, many months after the other beautiful and talented competitors had been diligently rehearsing their introduc- tory lines, practicing their catwalk swagger and perfecting their infamous pageant contestant wave of the hand – twist inside front and then softly twist outside back – Ms. Beckley stunned everyone at the final rehearsal. Her monologue, her floetry as she stepped up to the mic, her in-your-face I- know-I-got-this style may have been a put off to some but captivated the attention and admiration of most people within the sound of her deep, sultry and commanding voice. Another MSLDC breaking news story: On Saturday, July 31st, The other competitors – some said to be far, far more beauti- 2010, Miss Junior Sierra Leone, Janet Laga-Bona, was crowned ful than Ms. Beckley – simply did not stand a chance. After winning Miss Sierra Leone, Ms. Beckley went on to sweep up Miss Pre-Teen Virginia, making her the first Sierra Leonean- the Miss University of Virginia at Wise’s first place position. American to ever win at a major U.S. pageant. The talented Miss And now, as SiA Magazine goes to press, Ms. Beckley headed Janet will head with a sizeable Salone entourage to Hollywood, back to DC to claim yet another crown, yet another crown at California, in November 2010 to compete in the national pageant the Miss Africa-USA competition and beat out 34 other hope- and represent the State of Virginia (SiA magazine will have de- fuls to assume the position of first runner up (SiA readers, be tailed coverage of Janet's rise to success and exclusive pictures sure to purchase special fall pageant issue for more detail and from the Miss Pre-Teen Virginia Pageant in the upcoming fall pictures on Natasha's amazing success at this pageant and pageant special issue to be launched at the Miss Sierra Leone- more...). USA pageant in Silver Spring, MD - see ad on page 7). 38 SiA Summer 2010 fashion • beauty • music • arts entertainment • culture • politics SiA Sierra international Afrique To Subscribe to SiA CALL: 703.200.6973 SiA Summer 2010 39 The First Lady’s quest to reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone By Fuambai Ahmadu So, it is worldwide news now. Just as frightening tales of the brutal However, this grand scheme is not without its skeptics - opposition diamond war circulated in global news networks a decade ago, leaders, members of civil society, as well as some outside observers Sierra Leone’s abominable rates of maternal deaths are headlined have commented on the lack of Government preparedness and fi- in the most renown newspapers - New York Times, Washington Post nancial resources, not to mention inadequate hospital and clinic fa- and most recently (and perhaps most outrageously) in a horrifically cilities and basic materials and medicines. In some quarters, there graphic video story of a woman known only as “Mammah”, who lost are whispers of impending doom with the election of a new, con- her life giving birth to twins. Like the mind numbing images of servative Government in the U.K. – how willing would be the current senseless human cruelty in the bodily mutilations inflicted on inno- British regime to continue subsidizing such a major commitment un- cent civilians during the internecine war in Sierra Leone, global dertaken by the Labor government (also given the high profile iden- media coverage of the sheer indignity of pregnant women suffering tification of Tony Blair with the rebuilding of Sierra Leone)? and dying to bring forth life is, in some sad way, a mixed blessing. Nonetheless, ordinary people, especially pregnant women, are be- ginning to feel the impact of the new measures in saving their lives On the one hand, Sierra Leone is once again stigmatized and made and giving hope of survival to their newborn infants (see Mariama’s notorious – not for the rich, diverse cultures and religious tolerance story pg 41). that define our unique experiences in the world - but for the worst aspects of our existence. Once again Sierra Leoneans are on the However, the task for Government alone is colossal. With an annual pages of western newspapers or youtube and circulated in budget, which is less than the net worth of some U.S. hip hop nanoseconds on facebook threads: Not for our collective strength moguls, and an entire country that requires rebuilding of basic, and resilience demonstrated in the worst of times; or the generous physical and other infrastructure, the Government knows it must financial contributions of our diaspora to needy families back home; reach out to the international donor community. President Koroma’s or for our good humor even during the craziest of times; but, once administration has spearheaded several ambitious health initiatives again for bloodshed and death – this time of our very own mothers, with the financial assistance of external partners, in particular Great the symbolic foundation of our society. On the other hand, such an Britain, and yes, even the Chinese, who recently built a new mater- invasive worldwide glare, however uncomfortable, embarrassing nity hospital in Kono District. and downright shameful it makes us feel, at least brings badly needed international focus, funds and technical expertise to curb a Mrs. Koroma herself has personally embarked on a global campaign devastating social problem once and for all. to raise awareness as well as badly needed funds to support her own intervention program in improving maternal health, called the So, what is the scale of the problem, what is currently being done Women’s Initiative for Safer Health (WISH). The main thrust of about it and what can educated, elite and relatively affluent afropoli- WISH is to create a framework of support and interventions to en- tans in Sierra Leone and the diaspora do about it? Thank goodness hance the provision of health service delivery to mother and child. for a fearless and tireless woman - a wife and a mother - Madame The WISH Framework activities include: community sensitization Sia Nyama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, and advocacy; training of community based health workers, includ- who has made it her personal and professional business to galva- ing traditional birth attendants (TBAs); creation and maintenance of nize local and international support to eliminate preventable mater- pregnancy support groups and construction and equipping of birth nal morbidity and mortality at home. In a recent publication from waiting homes. her office at Presidential Lodge, Hill Station, Mrs. Koroma describes the extent of the problem: Sierra Leone has one of the highest ma- Sierra Leone’s First Lady has made several personal appearances ternal mortality rates in the world (1300/100,000 live births) and and given keynote addresses at critical international conferences, ranked 177 out of 177 of countries assessed for the 2007 UNDP such as the CARE conference in Washington, D.C. during which Human Development Report. she shared a platform with Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton. Within just a few weeks of returning to Freetown, The situation has improved in the last couple of years through con- Madam Koroma was back in D.C. participating in the Women Deliver certed effort of the Government, international agencies and NGOs. conference, which included practicing nurses and midwives in dis- One of the major achievements is the provision of free, universal cussions on interventions to improve childbirth, as well as maternal healthcare for pregnant women and children under five years old. and newborn survival. During her short stay, Mrs. Koroma still found 40 SiA Summer 2010 time to visit with key members of Con- gress as well as attend a fundraising gala in her honor hosted by members of the Sierra Leone diaspora commu- nity in D.C. What can we do? SiA readers, which include not only Sierra Leoneans, but other Africans as well as African-Americans and many from other communities who share a common interest in celebrating African culture and uplifting African women and children can join in the struggle to save the lives of pregnant women in Sierra Leone in many ways: • Tax-deductible donations to those domestic and international pro- grams that are already in place and directly impact maternal sur- vival, such as WISH, CARE, and UNICEF •Volunteer - take a few days, a week, or your entire holiday in Free- town to provide hands-on assistance at local maternity hospitals and wards. Bring or donate badly needed materials – plastic gloves, surgical gear, maxi-pads, bedsheets and pillows – you name it, it is needed in the poorly stocked hospitals in Sierra Leone. •Support training and increased salaries of critical medical person- nel – in Sierra Leone there are only four trained obstetrician-gyne- The Case of Mariama: What the Global cologists for a population of over six million. Media Does Not Cover •Raise awareness in local communities. Become involved in local Sierra Leonean and African community organizations and help to Lansana Conteh remembers how scared he was at 3am in the place curbing maternal deaths in Africa high on the agenda. Visit morning sometime in early June 2010 when he was awakened your members of Congress and connect with organizations that by the chilling cries of a woman: It was his neighbor’s pregnant lobby for assistance to developing countries. wife, Mariama, who had been in labor for nearly two days. No Most important, our readers can educate themselves about the one in the compound could sleep. Two elderly women had been problems of maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, i.e. just “google” it. looking after the young woman, using cold compresses on her You can also insist on more balanced representations of African forehead, massaging her back, getting her to walk around, and women and motherhood. While the realities of poverty and desper- feeding her local medicines to “push” the baby out and numb the ation are undeniable, we need not allow western or international excruciating pain; to no avail. They begged Mariama’s husband, media to define us: Sierra Leonean/African women are more than Mohamed, to allow his wife to be taken to the hospital; but he dismal statistics or images of black, barefoot mothers with unkempt hair, dirty and torn lappas, woefully extended bellies, bleeding to was worried that he had no money to pay the doctors or pur- death in prolonged labor. Write letters to editors insisting that jour- chase materials. The other anxious neighbors urged Mohamed nalists move beyond the harrowing pictures of maternal deaths and on, reminding him that, since April 27th, Government had prom- also highlight the sacrifices and leadership of women like Madame ised that there would no longer be any charge for pregnant Koroma and the many who are unseen but daily oversee the safe women to deliver in hospitals. Still hesitant but fearing even and healthy delivery of high-risk pregnancies with no modern equip- more that his wife would die in his hands, Mohamed agreed to ment, or electricity in deplorable, unsanitary conditions. have Lansana, a taxi driver, rush Mariama to the nearest hospital in Malama. The neighbors pooled their meager resources to Some of these women are the TBAs who get a bad rap in the west- ern media and elite global health circles as being untrained, un- purchase petrol and some small items for Mariama’s delivery. skilled, illiterate and to blame for risking the lives of pregnant Almost immediately she arrived at the hospital, Mariama was women. But, in my opinion, these women are the real, everyday, rushed into the operating theater for an emergency Caesarian. unsung heroines in our “traditional” societies that we must continue Mariama survived and so did her newborn; mother and child to celebrate and support with resources and training, as Madame were admitted for observation but remained in good health. The Koroma has also recognized. Of course, we must also lift up the next day, Lansana would tell me this story after picking me up skilled, trained medical doctors, nurses, midwives, community very late to drop me off at Lumley Beach for an appointment (he health workers and other health personnel, female and male, too few and far between, for their sacrifices and successes in saving didn’t have any sleep the night before). So, I thought, an actual women’s lives. These two groups straddling the traditional and mod- success story, perhaps one of many, stemming from a recent ern health sectors must work together, learn from one another and Sierra Leone policy initiative (much criticized as grandiose and respect each other’s unique gifts and knowledge in order to achieve unachievable) that would never make breaking news on CNN. the same goals: eradicating senseless and preventable maternal deaths in Sierra Leone. SiA Summer 2010 41 London Advice Corner ASK Fatoumatta Binta Jallow, Youth Counselor Dear Fatou, ADVICE I don't know if you are going to be able to help me. I am a little embarrassed about my problem. I'm a 32 year old Salone lady and I've been in the US now for about six years. I have been in a relationship with my current boyfriend, Paul, now for over nine years. He travels back to Freetown fre- quently and in fact he has a business there and spends as much as six months at a time when he goes. We have talked about marriage but I do not push him because he is already in a "marriage of convenience" for his green card. This was a strictly business arrangement. Many of my aunts and other relatives as well as my close girlfriends are giving me a hard time that I should marry this young man right away, otherwise they say one of those "Freetown girls" will take him from me. To be quite frank, I am not that interested in marrying this man. For me, he is also just "convenient" to have around so I am not bothered by other men. Fatou, I really am not interested in him as a husband; I am not attracted to him and don't even like it when he touches me. Here is my problem: I feel more attraction towards other women. I know in our culture this is a taboo but ever since I was in secondary school I have felt attracted to other girls. I had my first girlfriend, Isatou, back home, when I was sixteen and she was eighteen. She used to tell me that our relationship was just a schoolgirl thing but I told her that I loved her very much and only wanted to be with her. Eventually, she fell in love with a guy and started to ignore me. I swear, I almost took my life. Paul was a good friend of my brother's back then and he was the only one who knew my secret. He was always nice and gentle towards me so I confided in him. He comforted me and told me that my heart would change. I was so lonely and Paul was so good to me that I gave in to him one night. Since then, Paul has been inlove with me and insists that he will change me so that I can forget about other women. But I have not been able to forget about women at all. I have had relations with a few very close girlfriends but they have all left me for men. I have prayed and fasted so that God would change my heart and I can love Paul and be a good wife to him. I am so depressed and lonely. You know if I tell my family they will disown me but I cannot stand living this lie. What should I do? Yours, In love with women, New Jersey Dear In Love with women, I hear what you are saying and I do hope you find my input useful to you. First and foremost, I was wondering if you've ever considered counselling/therapy for your depression/loneliness and the issues around it because it might be helpful. You've mentioned fasting and praying which I would encourage you to do no matter what as it is the most influential tool in asking for spiritual guidance. It sounds as if though you already are clear about your sexuality and the fact that it was not just a schoolgirl fantasy; your main concern is what other people especially your family would think and do. Well, I can understand how difficult this must be for you and the thought of your family "disowning" you is almost impossible to contemplate but this is about you, you and what your soul is demanding and no one is going to live your life for you. It might be worth coming out clean with your family and you might be surprised by their reaction and either way, you will be one step closer to fulfilling your heart's desire. Okay, it could be difficult for them to accept initially but these days people are not oblivious to homosexuality; so they may not even be so shocked. Paul, your "convenient" partner may also be killing two birds with one stone i.e. being married to another woman (convenience or not) and trying to be with you at the same time which means he is having the pleasure of both of you and he could be content with that whereas you are living a lie...you are torn between emotional satisfaction and coming out clean and that's a huge burden to carry around and exhausting I would imagine. Being with Paul suggests that other men might lay off but it also means that other potential women won't get the hint that you are interested unless you want them to think you are bisexual, but my im- pression is that you are not. If Paul loves you as you claim he does, then he would respect your decision to follow your heart and he can always marry someone else if he wishes to; besides having a chat with your family could also mean they either have to support your decision or take some time out to think about it but at least, your are honest and hopefully free to be with whomever you want to be with. Marrying Paul might spell misery for you although you will be satisfying his and others needs but what about your own needs? Marriage is supposed to be a lifetime commitment and also you ought to derive some happiness in it, but being imagine married to a man and cheating with other women? I don't think that would work, do you? So, my advice is that you arrange to talk to your doctor and if possible seek counseling; consider having another chat with Paul and your family but the ultimate decision lies with you! And don't forget to turn to the Almighty! I wish you well and that you find solace in whatever decision you take. Fatou. 42 SiA Summer 2010 Advice: Zahra’s Musings DON’T ASK... The Wor(l)d According to In Love with women, Zahra Nine years is a very long time to live such a lie my dear. Unfortunately, some families can be forceful regarding marriage, however, you have to remind yourself that you are living your life for you, not your parents nor siblings. If your relationship with Paul started off as friendship and nine years down the line you haven't fallen in love with him (or even mention that you love him in your letter) and, you cannot stand him touching you, then you really need to break your relationship off with him. He already knows you've always been interested in set in their ways and expect the children to have the women, so, try and talk to him. Make him understand same mentality/live by their rules. you would rather love him in as a friend, than hate/de- spise him as a lover/husband. In a way, you are allow- You're a 32 year old young independent woman. In ing your body to be abused, which is wrong; for both of time, you will find the courage to either tell your parents you. He also saw you as a challenge, and took advan- about your sexuality, or, say nothing and ask them to tage of the situation at the time. back off and let you live your life. If there is one family member you can confide in, do so. Should you need He sounds like a nice guy, and has been there for you someone around to talk to. for a very long time now. Have a serious chat with Paul, and I'm sure he'll under- stand, and will want to have you in his life as a friend at You don't need him around to deter other men from ap- least, if nothing else. And I'm sure he will be there to proaching you. All you have to do is either tell them support you, should you decide to tell your parents the you're not in the mood to talk to them or ignore, which truth. But if you think it will tear your family apart, then, works for a lot of women. Allow yourself to feel what some things are best left unsaid. you feel. Go out and meet like-minded people and have some fun. You will meet the woman of your We spend too much time living in the 'what if' and need dreams one day I'm sure of it. to learn to live in the 'what is'. It's almost impossible for African parents to understand Good luck my sista! or accept that their child is gay. Especially if they're still living in Africa. At least some become a little open- minded when they live abroad, whilst the rest remain SiA Summer 2010 43 Deconstructing Passion II: The Art of Cecil John Selfishness By Cecil John Alex spent seven years tirelessly developing his computer software business. We are programmed to be innately selfish. So what role does man play in the During this time he offered no financial assistance to his ailing mother who pursuit of happiness and the flight from depression? suffered from diabetes and could barely walk. Today he owns a large multi- national corporation in several countries . His brother Steve forsake the full athletic scholarship he had been offered to attend Harvard University. While The Art of Selfishness he earned a meagre income from a part time newspaper delivery job, he cared for his mother providing food, shelter and companionship. Which of I choose therefore I think the brothers would you consider to be more virtuous? If you chose Alex, you are probably part of the majority. It may not even matter that Alex eventually Man automatically acts to pursue what he "believes" to be his values and to hired thousands of people who were consequently able to provide financial flee what he "believes" to be his detriments. He has no choice in his emo- support to their families. Today, Steve can now barely even afford to feed him- tional response (pleasure or pain) to these. The EVIL is not that he pursues self since he has no skills that he can market to earn a decent living. values or flees detriments (that is automatic) but in what he chooses as his In the minds of many the capitalist is automatically regarded as less ethical values or detriments. or moral than the altruist. Consider this question, Did Bill Gates do more for society through building his mega billion dollar Microsoft Corporation than Man has no automatic code of ethics. He has to choose to develop his own. he does today as a philanthropist now through his Bill and Melinda Gates He can draw inspiration from religious traditions for example Judeo-Chris- corporation? tianity, Islam or create his own religion, but this is a choice he has to make. Man has to choose for himself his values and detriments. There is no guar- According to Ayn Rand, the author of the ground breaking book "The Virtue antee in life that he will make the right choices. He bears the full responsibility of Selfishness", the ultimate purpose of man is to survive and to hold his life for these choices and must be prepared to suffer the consequences of an in- and his happiness as his highest values, bar none. Even organized religion correct choice. To quote Ayn Rand, "Mans responsibility goes further, a entices us with the promise of eternal life. Man needs a code of ethics that process of thought is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infalli- guides him through the process of evaluating his values and detriments. The ble. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its re- preservation of his life is the standard by which he makes these choices. sults." Man’s natural pleasure pain mechanism is the barometer by which he meas- ures his effectiveness at surviving. When he attains or maintains constructive “ We program our emotional pleasure pain mechanism by our choice of values values, he is rewarded with the experience of pleasure and ultimately hap- and detriments. We have to make these choices in the context of our lifetime piness. When he fails to lose or resist destructive detriments, he is punished and distinguish between short term pleasures that lead to our destruction ” with pain and ultimately depression. Within the context of our personal code and short term pain that lead to our survival. If we make the wrong choices, of ethics, the GOOD are the values which lead to our survival and the EVIL our emotional pleasure pain mechanism which is supposed to be a guardian are the detriments which result in our destruction. angel instead becomes a demon of destruction. Man may escape his responsibility to think through disengaging his con- Within the context of our personal code of ethics, the GOOD sciousness via various forms of escapism (e.g. alcoholism, workaholism, ad- are the values which lead to our survival and the EVIL are the dictions etc.,). These diversions only offer temporary relief from unhappiness. detriments which result in our destruction. Man however cannot evade the consequences of violating his ultimate goal in life. Selfishness is not a choice? We are ALL selfish and this trait is hardwired into our physiological and psychological makeup. Have you hear about the selfish gene?? Man is programmed to pursue consciously or subconsciously what Rational Self Interest he "believes" to be his values or flee from what he believes to be his detri- ments. The question now is not whether man is selfish, but in the quality of selfish- ness he chooses to practice. In this endeavor, is man foolish or wise? is man At a physiological level, man is programmed to hold his survival as the high- rational or irrational? est goal in life. His life depends on the the nutrition he needs from the external world and his ability to digest and effectively process that nutrition. From the Man experiences short term pleasure when he takes morphine or exces- simple act of breathing to digesting his nutritional intake into essential amino sively consumes alcohol. When man wills himself to effectively exercise he acids and vitamins, he is programmed to digest the GOOD and reject the endures the short term pain and gains the lasting pleasure from the release EVIL. He has no choice in this matter. of endorphins (the bodies natural morphine). At a philosophical level, man is programmed to hold his survival as the high- Man experiences pleasure when he consumes products containing saturated est goal in life. He processes external concepts and ideas through the act of fat (red meat, dairy products, ice cream) but eventually this leads to destruc- thinking. He cannot control his emotional responses (pleasure or pain) to his tion and illness such as heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol etc., Man may values and detriments. He is programmed to pursue what he considers to not like fish (high in polyunsaturated fats) but eventually this leads to good be his values and flee from what he considers to be his detriments. He has heart health and better physical and psychological fitness. no choice in the matter. 44 SiA Summer 2010 The heart is deceitful. The emotions are not tools of cognition, so man Another definition of selfishness, this time from the Merriam Webster dic- should not be guided by whims, and desires whose source, nature and tionary is as follows: " Seeking or concentrating on ones well being, pleasure meaning he does not know. It is man’s responsibility to define his proper and advantage without regard for others. I would prefer to use the word "in- code of ethics, his values and detriments to give him the means of achieving considerate" so that we can give the word selfishness a well needed break. lasting happiness. This is not achieved through the faculty of feeling (emo- tions) but through reason and basically thinking things through. It is very exhausting and consuming to continually pursue ones own interest. The foolish man chooses destructive values (e.g. a life of crime as opposed Remarkably sometimes the best way to seek your own interest is to be ac- to productive work), focuses his mind on irrational ideas and strives to seek tually become disinterested (to the extend that it does not become destruc- short term happiness. This man seeks pleasure as an end in itself and does tive) and instead focus on the needs of others. not realize that lasting happiness is only attained in the context of maintain- ing life as the highest value. He flees from the pain that must be endured to arrive at a place where he can enjoy authentic and lasting happiness. Pursue Happiness Says Rand, "Happiness is the state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of ones values. The maintenance of life and the pursuit of Embrace Sacrifice happiness are not two separate issues. To hold one as ones highest value and ones own happiness as ones highest purpose, are two aspects of the Says John Galt the lead character from Ayn Rands "Atlas Shrugged”, "I same achievement." swear by my life and my love of it that I will not live for the sake of any other man, nor will I ask any other man to live for my sake". John Galt knows that Selfishness is a very complicated art form and can only be honed in time he should never sacrifice his wishes, desires or opinions for those of another with knowledge and practice. The battered wife who chooses (consciously person. Does this act of sacrifice in his best interest or further his own life. or not) to stay with her emotionally abusive and violent husband "believes" When the rational man offers a sacrifice he forsakes a lesser value for a probably at a sub cognitive level that she is actually acting in her own best “ greater value. Jesus endured the crucifixion "for the joy set before him" but interest. She has tried to leave him before and remembers too clearly the he knew that he would rise from the dead, and that by sacrificing his mor- pain that comes with a broken relationship and the withdrawal symptoms of tality he would be rewarded with eternal life, be seated at the right hand side depression, fear and anguish that come from breaking away from loves pow- of the father and win immortality for millions of followers and believers to erful and various forms of addictions. Rather than go through that process, ” come. Surely Jesus in offering the sacrifice was pursuing his values and act- she chooses what she considers to be the lesser of two evil; to stay with her ing in his own best interest. Jesus by definition was selfish. husband. The man who walks away from his girlfriend of ten years from an intensely Surely Jesus in offering the sacrifice was pursuing his incompatible and confrontational relationship to start a new life with a differ- values and acting in his own best interest. Jesus ent woman that promises him happiness is ultimately acting in his own best interest. He cannot imagine coping with the displeasure of living with the for- by definition was selfish. mer lady that he had grown to despise and decides that he will not live the rest of his life for her sake. The classical altruists on the other hand considered that the ultimate bene- ficiary of a sacrificial act should be society, essentially anyone except the I leave you with this final thought. God helps those that help themselves. Do person making the sacrifice. This is a destructive code of ethics because not tempt God by disengaging from your responsibility to think and relying pursuing this path does not further man’s life but can actually lead to his instead on him to make the right value judgments for you. When you have neglect and consequently depression and destruction. done your part, remember the words of the prophet Nathan to King David when he had to make difficult decisions of his own; "Do what is in your heart Some acts of sacrifice give the impression that Man is acting ultimately in the to do because God is with you." best interests of others and are therefore considered more virtuous. Consider the father whose son faces the firing squad. The father pleads to take the place of his son and suffer death at the hands of a firing squad. The father offers this sacrifice because he loves his son, so ultimately he is striving to keep this highly important object of value thereby satisfying his own self interest. Secondly, the father knows that his life will become un- bearable living with the memory of his executed son and in offering up his life as an alternative, he would actually succeed in fleeing from the worst sort of emotional and psychological pain that he could imagine. Again the fa- ther is ultimately acting in his own best interest. Imagine if the son felt the same way, and would rather be executed than live with the memory of his father dying for his own crimes. If the father denied the sons wishes, would he be acting in the best interests of his son? Will this act now be considered less virtuous if he still sacrificed his own life while refusing to save his son from the same mental torment that he subcon- sciously seeks to evade? Love Thy Neighbour Love thy neighbor as you love yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is more blessed to give than to receive. These are tru- isms that when practiced lead to the experience of pleasure, happiness and ultimately an enhancement of life. In the rebel war in Sierra Leone, at least in the urban centers, the rich were targeted for looting and many other count- less crimes. Man is not acting in his own best interest when he builds a man- sion amidst slum dwellers living in abject poverty and squalor, thereby fostering sentiments of resentment and possibly even hatred. It is in the best interests of the wealthy to value the lives and happiness of his neighbors. This attitude may lead to his own safety and protection. SiA Summer 2010 45 Your Wedding Pictures Sierra Afrique’s Wedding Gala of the Quarter: The Editorial Team at SiA wishes a happy and successful marriage… There is little doubt that the Sierra Leone Wedding of the Summer 2009, which has yet to be outdone by any matrimonial gala this Summer 2010, was that of Samantha Archer-Davies (daughter of the NOSLINA Diamond Award winner, Gemina Archer- Davies) to Sahr Bockai Jr., son of Sierra Leonean business and real-estate tycoon, Dr. Sahr L. Bockai, who is also a trained and licensed pharmacist. The five hundred plus guests, many of whom flew in to Maryland from all parts of the world, were treated to a traditional church processional at St. Matthews United Methodist Church and then an extravagant African accented reception and dance at the grand Camelot by Martin's. Bridesmaids and Junior Bride Samantha and her groom, Sahr Bockai Jr. Bride, Samantha Archer-Davies His Excellency, Honorable Ambassador Bockarie Stevens giving a toast Groomsmen and Jr. Groomsmen Groom's father, Dr. Sahr L. Bockai, Samantha, Sahr Jr., and groom's mother, Mrs. Teresa Bockai 46 SiA Summer 2010 Subscribe Now to SiA Sierra international Afrique For 1 full year, at the low price of $30.00 Name Address City/State/Zip Phone (optional) Email Yes, I'd like a one year quarterly subscription...please bill me later $30 (four copies at $5.00 each plus $2.50 for postage/handling and sales tax per issue) A check or money order is enclosed for $30.00 I would like to advertise in SiA Magazine, please contact me. Signature Form of payment (cash, check or money order only) To order, mail to: C & C Marketing & Promotions, 5907 Highdale Circle, Suite E Alexandria, VA 22310 or call 703-200-6973 Sports Sierra Delta The 2009 Salone Tournament Champions By Mohamed Kosia Thanks to some of our retired soccer players from Sierra Leone and soccer lovers, the soccer tradition stills continues in our U.S. diaspora communities. The players made it possible for Sierra Leonean teams across the US to organize and com- pete against each other in an annual soccer tournament. The first tournament started with just four to five teams in the east coast and has now grown to about 16 teams representing different states, including Texas and California. As a soccer fan and a player, I have been a member of the Sierra Delta Soccer Club of Virginia for about ten years. For the past seven years, we have made it to at least the quarter final and have made it to the finals for the last four years consecutively yet never won the championship. However, thanks to the dedication and discipline of the new coach, Ahmed Saso, Sierra Delta won the 2009 national championship held in Columbus, Ohio. My hats off to the coach, management team, the players and all our supporters. Saso, as he is popularly known, is a professional coach and works with young boys and girls in the Virginia area. He played professionally in Sierra Leone and Lebanon before moving to the US to further his coaching career. His patience and dedication was the missing ingredient to the success of the Sierra Delta Soccer Club. Under Saso, the 2009 Sierra Delta team was determined to redeem themselves from the stigma of loosing finals. The entire team played remarkably well in all the games leading up to the much anticipated finals. Some of the players who deserve to be highlighted include: Abdulai Mansaray, Uchi, Pele and Bash Bangura, who’s beautifully orchestrated winning goal was the talk of the town. Congratulations to the Sierra Delta Soccer Club of Alexandria, Virginia. 48 SiA Summer 2010 Travel & Culture Bunce Island CITATION: "Bunce Island: A British Slave Castle in Sierra Leone (Historical Summary)" by Joseph Opala (2007). Historian and Cultural Activist: Sierra Leonean Amadu Massally listens to Professor Joseph Opala explaining the history of Bunce Island and the ruins that still stand there today. Opala is the Director of the "Bunce Island Coalition (US), the group that has raised the funds needed for preserving Bunce Island and for establishing a history mu- seum on the Atlantic slave trade in Freetown. Once these projects have been com- pleted, Massally hopes to bring African Americans to Sierra Leone on a regular basis on cultural heritage tours. Bunce Island is a slave castle located in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Slave castles were commercial forts operated by European mer- chants during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. They have been called “warehouses of humanity.” Behind their high protective walls, European slave traders purchased Africans, imprisoned them, and loaded them aboard the slave ships that took them on the middle passage to America. Today, there were about 40 major slave castles located along the 2,000 miles of coastline stretching between Mauritania in the north and Benin in the south. British slave traders operated on Bunce Island from about 1670 to 1807, ex- iling about 30,000 Africans to slavery in the West Indies and North America. While most of Bunce Island’s captives were taken to sugar plantations in the Caribbean Basin, a substantial minority went to Britain’s North American Colonies, and especially South Carolina and Georgia. Given the fact that only about 4% of the African captives transported during the period of the At- lantic slave trade went to North America, Bunce Island’s strong link to that re- gion makes it unique among the West African slave castles. Ruins of "Bance Island House," the headquarters building that served as the residence for the "Chief Agent," the commander of the castle. The Chief Agent and his officers lived on Bunce Island’s commercial ties to North America resulted, as we shall see, the upstairs, while the ground floor was used for offices and storerooms. in this particular castle and its personnel being linked to important economic, political, and military developments on that continent. Bunce Island figures Amadu Massally was stunned when he saw the ruins of the castle and could barely make out what was what. After reviewing the compound over and in several significant ways in the history of the American Revolutionary War. over in his head and then studying a computer-generated diagram shown by And, later, after the war ended, the castle interacted intensively for twenty Opala, he now gets it. "This place is a priceless" Amadu says. years with a community of freed slaves from North America established only “I was first driven to Bunce Island after a visit I made to Hilton Head South Car- 15 miles downriver. For these and other reasons, Bunce Island is arguably olina in which I was taken on a Heritage Tour by Gullah leader Emory Campbell the most important historic site in Africa for the United States. and his brother. Subsequently, I met Mr. Opala who has given me a lot of infor- mation about the island including a lot of reading material. When African Americans finally discover Bunce Island’s significance for their own history, they will likely pay less attention to the slave castles in other West But after all that information I was still unprepared for what I felt the first time I African countries that are now so often visited but whose histories are linked set foot on the island. Resentment, sorrow, anger, tears, were all parts of my ex- more to the West Indies than to North America. Visiting Bunce Island, they will perience. Bunce Island is both eerie and fascinating at the same time. Nothing moved me like the roots of the trees clinging on to some of the ruins and the also find it a very different experience from the other castles, many of which symbolism they depict, as if they are messages showing us the interconnected- are in built-up areas and were used for various purposes until quite recently. ness of the people who left that island, or stopped by there, on their way to the An uninhabited island in a remote area, Bunce Island was abandoned soon unknown. That night I could not sleep well... the spirits of 30,000-plus people after the slave trade ended. In many respects, it is a slave trade Pompeii, and clung to mind .“ - Amadu Massally going there today one has the sense that history stopped 200 years ago. A Sierra Leonean historian once called it a place “where history sleeps.” SiA Summer 2010 49 Ma DengN Festival Euphoria this December 2010! With our 50th Independence Anniversary only a few months away, it is now time to REBRAND Sierra Leone, so let us... Ma DengN… T he time has come for us all to MA DENGN and REBUILD Sierra Leone back up beyond its former glory. This was the affirmation that in 2008 brought together a group of 13 vibrant, mostly Sierra Leonean individuals of di- verse skills and background to form the Ma Dengn Associa- tion. The word “ma dengn” is derived from the Kuranko language and means “come together”; the Ma Dengn beach festival is the coming together to promote Sierra Leonean culture through five key channels: music, art, literature, cui- sine, fashion and breathtaking terrains. We see this as a positive way of REBRANDING Sierra Leone both at home and interna- tionally. The first annual Ma Dengn festival was held last year on December 19th and 20th, 2009 at the infamous Lumley Beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was a remarkable debut, with the First Lady, Madame Sia Koroma, as the guest of honor and a key champion of the event. Ma Dengn Beach Festival 09 - photos by Stephanie Malyon With increased investment and attention from commercial sector and the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), the Ma Dengn festival has the potential to grow into becoming a sustainable, internation- ally recognized event, with the prestige and following of other cel- ebrations such as the Malian “le Festival au Desert” or the Nigerian “Calabar Festival”. Sierra Leone is blessed with a rich and diverse culture, and this is part of what Ma Dengn wishes to capture -- an opportunity to experience the spectacular masquerades, oral litera- ture blended with some of our appetizing fresh traditional cuisines. This December there will be a rich and wide variety of traditional arts and crafts to be purchased and to witness firsthand how they are all made. Ma Dengn is also an educational experience, teaching vis- itors and locals alike about the traditional methods of tie dying, bas- ket or clothe weaving. There will be several fashion shows organized by our talented and promising fashion houses with their latest and types of music, from our traditional musicians to folk singers special Ma Dengn festival collection. to local home grown talents that are up and coming. This event is for the people… those who wish to soak up our cul- With the golden sand on the beach and the Atlantic Ocean as part ture and party hard. So look out, this December is going to of the back drop, this unique setting is enough to get the crowd be an even bigger beach fest than last year’s. going for any party or carnival atmosphere. We wish to keep the crowd well entertained by providing a wide range of dif ferent Come let’s Ma DengN. Ma Dengn Beach Festival 09 - photos by Stephanie Malyon Ma DengN… Celebrating African Heritage Month in Montgomery County, Maryland: America’s Multicultural Community By Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr. Group photo; members of the Advisory Group, County Executive, members of the Diplomatic community, Montgomery County Board of Education, etc As a relatively wealthy, highly educated, ethnically diverse community, resourceful, entrepreneurial and educated as their American born neigh- Montgomery County, in the State of Maryland, is poised to become the bors and they continue to make sincere efforts to gain recognition for model multicultural community in the United States. Home to the their presence and contributions to the County. “largest concentration of residents holding a bachelors degree of any community with a population of over 50,000” it is no wonder the area In an effort to advise the County Executive and County Government was once rated as the “most enlightened County in the nation.” Such ac- on the needs and concerns of the African immigrant community, policy colades are the results of collaboration between the County government initiatives, budget priorities, economic and other partnership opportu- and residents as well as the outstanding contributions of the various im- nities, Soffie Ceesay and Mumin Barre, from The Gambia and Somalia migrant communities. respectively, were chosen by County Executive Isaiah (Ike) Leggett, with recommendations from the African community, to lead the African Af- Montgomery County is a very unique place. Situated along the edge of fairs Advisory Committee as co-chairs in the year of its inception. Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, it is no longer the rural commu- nity it once was that depended largely on agriculture to provide eco- Everyone who knows them agree that Ceesay and Barre demonstrate nomic activity needed for its survival. great leadership in using their talents and skills to cater for the needs of their community and to put the spotlight on Africa.The two volunteer Founded in 1776 by Revolutionary War General, Richard Montgomery, leaders “stood out in terms of building an effective advisory group from the start in a little less than a year,” underscores Bruce Adams, Director the same year America’s Founding Fathers signed the “Declaration of of the Office of Community Partnerships. Independence” residents of this county have endeavored always to wel- come all. Their hard work culminated in the formal proclamation by Ike Leggett, declaring September as African Heritage Month, making Montgomery In my conversations with residents, there was simply the recognition County the first in the nation to do such a thing.The first and second that “all men are created equal” and regardless of where they come from, African heritage celebrations were held in Rockville, Maryland and fea- they all seek the same things for themselves and their families which in- tured speakers from the community, local and national government, mu- cludes the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” sical entertainment,African cuisine and a soccer tournament. Two hundred and thirty years later, it is a thriving urban center that has In addition, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland appointed a 21 been incredibly fortunate to attract an extraordinary group of individuals member commission “reflecting the growth and diversity of the African from all over the world. It is a place where diversity is seen as strength, community” as he signed an Executive Order on May 14, 2009 estab- welcomed and encouraged.“This, my friend, is the beauty of this place lishing the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs.The African Af- and I am proud to call Montgomery County home for the last twenty fairs Commission is charged specifically with serving “as an advisory years,” said Mumin Barre. body to the Governor and agencies within the Executive Department on matters relating to the African population of Maryland, including The last 10-15 years has seen an unprecedented growth in the County matters relating to the economy, workforce, and business development.” which is attributed mainly to the foreign born immigrants who make up This includes ensuring greater access and inclusion for Africans in the thirty percent of the population.The immigrant African population is as State of Maryland. 52 SiA Summer 2010 Outlining reasons for what makes Montgomery County a unique place, Ceesay tells me confidently that “our County is the first to tap into the highly educated, entrepreneurial and resourceful African community.We are not afraid to dialogue and articulate our ideas and needs.The office of the County Executive sees the drive in our community, appreciates what we have to offer and embraces us to be part of the decision making process.This way, we all can build a better Montgomery County.” Patrick Tangelo, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a 17 year resident of the County stressed the importance of having a voice in our community.“We not only have a strong voice but we also pro- vide information to folks from our community so they know about the re- sources available to us all” he maintained. L to R: Mumin Barre, County Executive Isaiah Leggett & Soffie Ceesay It is important that Africans in their respective communities “come together and make their voices heard. Ceesay advises local residents: “As you make Moreover, "the hiring of Daniel Koroma, from Sierra Leone, as Liaison to your voices heard, be ready to adapt and be seen to be providing services as the African and Caribbean communities in the Montgomery County Ex- you partake of the services that are available in our communities. Make sin- ecutive's Office of Community Partnership is a historic step in part because cere efforts to build bridges and volunteer generously of your time for it is it is a recognition of not only the presence and contribution of the fast grow- only in giving back that we can all contribute to making the world a better ing African immigrant community in the County but also the valuable work place”. that the Advisory Group has done to advocate for the needs and concerns of the community," noted Barre, who is also one of the Maryland Commis- sioner on African Affairs. Daniel Koroma, member of the Executive Committee welcoming guests Also recognizing the contributions of the growing and vibrant African com- munity are Maryland Congressional Representatives, ChrisVan Hollen and Donna Edwards, who issued and presented citations during last year’s African Heritage Month Proclamation ceremony. The creation of the African Advisory Group (as with all the others) is in keeping with Ike Leggett’s challenge during his 2006 inauguration address that to be seen as a “truly transparent and inclusionary government, those af- fected by our decisions must be involved from the beginning, not when as- sumptions about projects have hardened into stone, and when the train has all but left the proverbial station.” Believing that Montgomery County stands to benefit from its cultural di- versity and heritage by making sure that “everyone affected by his decision has a seat and a voice in the process,” the OCP, which until recently only On what the future holds for the OCP, Adams emphasized that the 2010 boasted of Liaison Officers for the African American,Asian and Latino pop- census “represents another great opportunity for us to reach into new, grow- ulations was re-organized. ing communities to engage with leaders who have not been previously at the public policy table.” Re-named Montgomery County Office for Community Partnerships (MC- OCP) in 2007 with a new focus and a strong mandate to integrate the var- Even though there are challenges as well as budget limitations given the ious ethnic groups, the office seeks to “to help break down the barriers of current economic climate, one thing remains clear: Montgomery County race, income, religion, and a sector that too often divide the residents of the will continue its tradition of reaching out, involving and empowering the County and to build bridges between community residents and our County various ethnic groups so they can participate fully in the affairs of the government.” County. According to Adams,“the new office provides outreach to all residents with In the quest to position Montgomery County as America’s pre-eminent a special emphasis on our ethnic, multilingual, and multicultural communi- multicultural city, Adams hopes that “if someone is to call the National ties and works to strengthen the capacity of the County's faith-based and Council of Counties or League of Cities and say we are struggling with non-profit organizations as essential community partners. Our Volunteer people from different counties, we want to be able to share with them just Center which is integral to OCP's effort will help to strengthen the what we did that made us a truly extraordinary, diverse community.” County's civic infrastructure by empowering and engaging our almost one million residents, making it possible to bring more representation to the Indeed, it is this spirit of oneness that sets this Maryland suburb apart. If you County.” are looking for a place where you can feel at home, where everything African can be found and experienced, Montgomery County might just be The reorganization of the OCP led to the formation of various ethnic ad- the place for you. visory groups to better cater to the unique needs and concerns of the Lati- nos, African-American,Asian-American, Middle Eastern-American and the Look out for Montgomery County African Heritage Month Celebration, Caribbean communities. Adams highlighted the fact that these voices are September 2010 at the Civic Center, One Veterans Square, Silver Spring, equally important in the policy decision-making process that affects every MD. Montgomery County resident. Because of budget constraints, these groups “have had to rely heavily on volunteer leadership out of these communities” Contact: Daniel Koroma, Remi, President, Montgomery County continued Adams. African Affairs Advisory Committee. SiA Summer 2010 53 AMERICAN PADDLE American Paddle at the Georgia Avenue Caribbean Festival, Washington D.C. By Mohamed Kosia Masquerading is a tradition that is typical to our Sierra Leone culture and cuts across the as a symbol of our ability as humans to rise above problems, pain, heartbreak, and illness political, social and economic fabric of our nation. It is a scene of celebration for participants, — to travel to another world to be reborn and to grow spiritually. Today, we see feathers an exciting and vibrant display for spectators on the sidewalks, roof tops or windows. As a used in many, many forms in creating carnival costumes. kid, I remembered looking forward to holidays, like Christmas, Easter, Eid ul Adha or Eid ul Last year some Sierra Leoneans in the DC metro area saw familiar masquerades being pa- Fitri (both Muslim holidays) to watch masquerading. raded and celebrated by other Diasporans and decided they wanted to get in on the action. There are many masquerading groups throughout Sierra Leone and each of them parade the While hanging out at the popular Dove Cut International Grocery, in Maryland, they decided streets of Freetown in a carnival style once a year at different holidays. The most popular ones to find out how they could join the DC Carnival under the name of Eastern Paddle. The idea are Eastern Paddle from the East, Firestone from the central part and Bloody Mary from the started like a dream, says Henry Johnson, a local Sierra Leonean entrepreneur, who dis- western part of Freetown. One interesting point to note is that you do not need to live in these cussed the idea with Eustace Jones (the owner of Dove Cot). The duo made calls to obtain areas to be part of these groups. The groups have their core membership, but everyone is information about the possibility of joining the DC Caribbean parade which was scheduled welcomed to join the procession and have fun. to take place a week later. They were able to get the information and obtained the necessary permits within days. The two men then contacted Gibril Sesay, aka Songo Train, one of the most popular Sierra Leonean DJ’s in the area. Sesay made the necessary arrangements to provide a PA system and then he rented a truck. What was a dream became a reality for many Sierra Leoneans in the DC metro area. With limited time to advertize, a few flyers were printed and the word was out. It was amazing that with such constraints, so many Sierra Leoneans showed up to be part of the procession. Thanks to the hard work of Jones, Johnson, and Sesay Georgia Avenue experienced a different, authentic African flavor to the parade than was ever witness in previous years. The success of this event is also a testament of how music from Sierra Leone is receiving an international response. When DJ Songo Train dropped the song Tutu Patti at the end of the parade, hundreds of spectators on the sidewalk and parade participants started dancing and gyrating in a frenzy to this popular Emmerson track. The Eastern Paddle masquerade group is arguably the biggest group in Sierra Leone which attracts Sierra Leoneans from the Diaspora who participate in their once a year carnival. It also attracts successful business people, politicians, students of all levels etc. Another dimen- sion of the popularity of this group is the thousands of mass protesters who speak to the po- litical, social and economic injustices in our society through songs. According to the Muslim calendar, the Eid ul Adha Holiday “Dunkay Sallie” does not have a fixed date like Christmas or other holidays. However, this is a day Sierra Leoneans look for- ward to. This procession has a route that stems from the eastern part of Freetown, through the central part, then the western part and finally back from where the procession starts in the Magazine Cut area of Freetown. Sierra Leoneans that moved to Guinea and The Gambia due to the war have obtained legal As Nunley and Bettelheim expressed, for African people, carnival became a way to express permit in the past to celebrate this day by masquerading their power as individuals, as well as their rich cultural traditions. After 1838 (when slavery in the name of Eastern Paddle in their host countries. In was abolished), freed Africans began to host their own carnival celebrations in the streets and the United States, different forms of masquerading are these grew more and more elaborate, soon becoming more popular than the formal dances performed predominantly by people from the Caribbean of that time. in cities like the District of Columbia, New York, and San Francisco. After chatting with the main organizers of the parade’s Salone segment, I could see that they were happy and appreciative that the DC Carnival authorities allowed them the opportunity Nunley and Bettleheim (1988) noted that important fea- to showcase Sierra Leone culture in such a magnificent and colorful way. This year’s perform- tures of Caribbean festivals arts include the ancient ance was even bigger and better, the Salone masqerades were the main attraction – and re- African traditions of parading and moving in circles member, this is still a Carribean carnival! Sierra Leoneans in other cities in the US cannot wait through villages in costumes and masks. Carnival tradi- for next year’s DC Carnival. For those who are not able to make it to Freetown to dance to tions also borrow from the African tradition of putting to- Eastern Paddle, the DC trio plus Songo Train and others have made it possible to dance to gether natural objects (bones, grasses, beads, shells, American Paddle in the US. fabric) to create a piece of sculpture, a mask, or costume Contact organizers Dove Cot, International Market - 301 772 9401 for a copy of the — with each object or combination of objects representing a certain idea or spiritual force. DVD of the American Paddle procession in this year’s DC Carnival parade and for Feathers were frequently used by Africans in their motherland on masks and headdresses more information on how you can participate in 2011. 54 SiA Summer 2010 2010 World Expo: Shanghai, China May 1st 2010- October 31st 2010 By Jeneba Daramy They say there is no place like home, however, when an opportunity such as this arose, I had to jump on it right away. It required sacrifice, leaving my place of comfort to live in another part of the world for six months all because of the love that I have for my beloved country Sierra Leone. I am one of the representatives and official participants at the 2010 World Expo working at the Sierra Leone Pavillion. This is the country's first participation in the World Expo so it means that we have to do what it takes to represent Sierra Leone well. There are many different opportunities that one can find at the World Expo and more information is available on http://en.expo2010.cn/ We recently celebrated our National Day in May 2010 and the President, His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and other dignitaries and investors were present to grace this occasion. Besides working at the pavillion, I also participated and read a patriotic poem on the National Day written by Professor Jonathan Peters titled, Country Matters. The National Day was a success. I am learning so many things, meeting so many people from different cultural backgrounds and many of them have expressed interests in visiting Sierra Leone. I also attended a Cultural Heritage and Urban Regeneration conference in June 2010 in Suzhou and I was so impressed with all that I witnessed firsthand. My usual day at work is fulfilling because I get to do what I love, which is selling Sierra Leone, letting people become aware that it is safe to do business and that change has come and everyone is welcome... As Miss Sierra Leone International 2005, I was thrilled to be a symbolic ambassador for my country. Now, in my official capacity in China, I am delighted to be a true ambassador for Sierra Leone. Career Profile National Institutes of Health (NIH) Interested in a career in public health? Why not consider the National Institutes of Health (NIH), based in Mary- land, U.S. Made up of 27 individual institutes and centers, the NIH is known to be a first rate employer, providing intellectual and professional career challenges, above average salaries, generous benefit packages, and many years of job security if you are a permanent federal employee. Check out the bios of a few Sierra Leonean-Amer- icans, currently employed at the NIH and then visit the main website for more detailed information: www.nih.gov Christopher E. Taylor, Sc.D Dr. Taylor is currently the Bacterial Diseases Program Officer, in the Respiratory Diseases Branch, Division of Mi- crobiology and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Previously he served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Medical College of Penn- sylvania, and earlier was a Senior Staff Fellow in the Laboratory of Immunogenetics, NIAID. He has received several awards including the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) "Young Inves- tigator Award", in 1992, he served as Chair, The Immunology Division, ASM and in 2009 Embassy Science Fellow, Freetown Sierra Leone. Marion Koso-Thomas, M.D. Dr. Koso-Thomas is a program officer for the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research, providing medical oversight and scientific direction in the conduct of clinical trials, and collaborating with other relevant pro- grams and institutions. She is in charge of three large multi-site RCTs and the development of a protocol to test the impact of antenatal steroids. She is a member of the Executive Working Group Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health and the Technical Working Group for the African Diaspora initiative at NICHD. Makeda J. Williams, Ph.D., MPH, CHES Dr. Williams is an International Programs Officer in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of International Affairs (OIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), managing international cancer training and research programs and serving as a NCI Liaison for international cancer affairs. Dr. Williams has participated in public health and leadership development programs including the HHS Emerging Leaders Program, C-Change, and the CDC International Ex- perience and Technical Assistance Program. She is also a member of Delta Omega, the honorary society for public health graduate studies. Fuambai Ahmadu PhD. Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu works for the Child Behavior and Development Branch at NICHD. A medical anthropologist, Dr. Ahmadu received a doctorate in social anthropology at the London School of Economics and worked for two years as an NIMH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. She conducted research for five years in The Gambia as a lead consultant for UNICEF and a resident anthropologist at the Medical Research Council (UK) in Fajara. Her research has focused on socio-cultural constructs of gender and health as well as health seeking be- havior. Dr. Ahmadu, also editor in-chief of SiA magazine, will be relocating to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in fall 2010 to work as a senior health research fellow at the Office of the Vice-President. Mammah Sia Borbor, M.S., M.B.A. Mammah Sia Borbor, M.S., M.B.A. first joined the NIH in July 2007 as a Department of Health and Human Services Emerging Leader (EL) intern. Upon successfully completing the EL internship program, her organizational skills and interest in clinical trials led her to receive a position as a clinical trials specialist for the Nulliparous Pregnancy Out- comes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-Be (NuMoM2B) in the Child Health and Human Development Institute – Preg- nancy and Perinatology Branch. 56 SiA Summer 2010 Focus on Associations Sierra Leone Health & Biomedical Research Symposium: From Left to Right: Dr. Makeda Williams, Dr, Fuambai Ahmadu, The First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madame Sia Nyama Koroma, Dr. Marion Koso-Thomas and Dr. Christopher Taylor March 18-19, 2010, a handful of scientists and professionals from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, MD traveled to Sierra Leone to participate in the 2nd Annual Sierra Leone Health and Biomedical Research (SL - Biomed) Sym- posium at Taia Beach hotel in Lumley, Freetown. The Vice-President, Honorable Chief Sam Sumana, whose office is currently overseeing the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, gave the keynote address. The First lady, Madame Sia Koroma, a trained biochemist and psychiatric nurse, was honored at a special cocktail for her role in advocating for women and children’s health (see feature story, page 40). The NIH group, who are themselves Sierra Leone descendants, included: Dr. Christopher Taylor, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Dr. Marion Koso-Thomas, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD); Dr. Makeda Williams, National Cancer Institute (NCI) and, Dr, Fuambai Ahmadu, also at NICHD, participated as an independent scholar (see Focus on Careers, page 56). Another Sierra Leonean participant was U.S. football player and hu- manitarian, Madieu Williams, who is also founder and benefactor of the Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives at the School of Public Health, University of Maryland. What these individuals share in common is a passionate desire to use their knowledge, skills, experience and resources in public health to advance biomedical research and training in Sierra Leone, which would ultimately improve the health status of all Sierra Leoneans. The launching of the Sierra Leone biomedical group was the brainchild of Dr. Taylor and Professor Aiah Gpakima, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, following the completion of Dr. Taylor’s three-month tenure in Sierra Leone as a U.S. Embassy Fellow. During this time, Dr. Taylor had the opportunity to investigate first hand the conditions and needs of the health sector and the challenges and prospects of advancing scientific research in the country. After participating in the planning sessions for the Madieu Williams Center, Dr. Ahmadu connected with her NIH colleagues, Drs. Taylor, Koso- Thomas, and Williams and discussions began on how this group could leverage their expertise to create opportunities for a new generation of researchers in Sierra Leone. Dr. Koso-Thomas, who is a medical officer at NICHD, gave the opening address on the first day, which was devoted to dis- cussing issues surround maternal child health, her area of expertise. As a graduate of the University of Sierra Leone School of Medicine, Koso-Thomas’ eloquent message was particularly poignant given the number of medical students in the audi- ence: work hard, remain focused and publish! Drs. Taylor and Williams also presented on topics relating to their areas of re- search, infectious diseases and cancer, respectively. Overall, the significance of a group of Sierra Leoneans returning home to share knowledge and enhance scientific develop- ment in the public health sector cannot be overstated to all those in the Diaspora who dream of returning back home one day to give back to the country and community they love. Visão Foundation By Liesel Renner, Founder and Director of the Visao Foundation. The Visão Foundation is a 501c3 charitable organization devoted to the academic, ethical and social development of children in Sierra Leone,West Africa. In 2005 we es- tablished Camp Visão, a biannual academic program designed to develop students self esteem and to equip them with tools that will enable them to better serve their communities. Though our main focus is on academic support, we’ve incorporated recreational opportunities into the curriculum by offering workshops/classes in basic computer skills, public speaking, financial management, leadership, writing, effective interviewing skills etc. OUR GOALS ARE SIMPLE: • Provide high quality education for disadvantaged children • Promote access to higher education by providing a service to students and par- ents so that they can pursue their goals and achieve selfsufficiency. • Provide an opportunity for children to learn in an unrestricted atmosphere where they can be challenged, assume autonomy, and gain a better understanding of their country and the world around them. We believe that a firm educational foundation is a direct source of em- powerment. In Sierra Leone however, this is an unattainable privilege for many children. As Sierra Leone goes through a critical recovery period, the provision of basic and quality education is rapidly declining. The schools are overcrowded, 60% of the teachers lack teaching credentials, and students are ill equipped for higher learning. Our organization is working 1 hard to raise funds to: Recruit and train teachers to be more creative and effective with their teaching 2 Establish an enrichment center that will offer a library, study room, free homework assistance, and supplemental academic and recreational courses. Provide scholarships that would cover the costs of tuition, books, 3 uniforms, school supplies, food and basic emergency health care. Children are our future! By educating them we help to develop and sustain communities and eradicate the cycle of poverty. Today, they need our support. Tomorrow, we will need their contribution, their creativity, their commitment and their leadership. So invest in their future today! We encourage everyone to please visit our website to learn more: www.visaofoundation.org Or our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The Visao Foundation/5710319974?ref=ts 58 SiA Summer 2010 Green.White Green.White. and Blue Ball By Mariama Jalloh-Heyword Several years ago I envisioned an event on a grande and opulent scale that served the main purpose of bringing all Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora together. I reached out to several promoters in the DC area and none of them seemed to grasp my vision. Determined to bring my idea into fruition the Green.White.&.Blue Ball was born. An event celebrating our independence from colonialism and the strength and resilience of us as a people. Over the past two years, the event has surpassed my wildest dreams. To see all generations enjoying themselves under one roof and dressed so well. The GWB Ball serves two purposes: to contribute to the community as well as to entertain. Each year we pick a deserving Sierra Leonean charity to spotlight and contribute proceeds from the Ball. The Sierra Leone Fund and Sons of Africa are the two charities that we have supported. The Commission has started planning for next year; the GWB will be a transat- lantic event, connecting Sierra Leoneans in the U.S. and back home. With the 50th Year of Independence fast approaching, we promise to produce an event that will make everyone proud to be a Sierra Leonean. The Rise & Rise of NOSLINA By Anthony Kamara Jr., Dr. Donald Taylor, departing Chairman of the Board of NOSLINA (based on original story in Patriotic Vanguard) Sierra Leone’s Annual Awards and 49th Independence Anniversary Gala hosted by the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA), launched successfully in May 2010, at the Best Western Capital Beltway Hotel in Lanham, Maryland, with SiA Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu, as MC. Widely regarded as Sierra Leone’s "Golden Globes" or "Academy Awards" in North America, this annual event is one that Sierra Leoneans across continental USA and Canada and friends of Sierra Leone look forward to with great pride and anticipation. Members of the Sierra Leone community who were awarded the 2010 NOSLINA Awards for promoting "interconnectedness" and making a difference in the lives of others, include Gemina Archer- Davies, who recently became the first female Sierra Leonean to hold a top executive position with the African Development Bank. As the overall head of the Human Resources department, Archer-Davies is the key decision maker and provides expert advice on HR best prac- tices to ADB senior management. She also ensures that critical va- SiA's own Mohammed Kosia cancies are filled to meet and exceed the Bank’s vision of promoting of C&C Promotions, NOSLINA Special Diamond Winner sustainable economic growth and reducing poverty in Africa. Madieu Williams and NOSLINA Executive Director, Suna Nallo Sierra Leone entrepreneur, Mohamed L. Bah and Madieu Williams father, Mohamed Forna 60 SiA Summer 2010 Diamond Award Winner, Gemina Archer-Davies “A lot of people are caught up on the with Sierra Leone businesswoman, Sarian Bouma numbers of what this investment is. But also a member of Board of Directors, NOSLINA honestly, you cannot put a number on the number of lives that we can change.” Madieu Williams Gemina Archer-Davies Prior to her appointment at the ADB, Archer-Davies worked at the International Mon- etary Fund for 35 years where she quickly rose to join the managerial ranks of the Fund. Her courage and concern for the wellbeing of others at work and in the local community, particularly the Sierra Leone community, earned her the 2010 NOSLINA Diamond Award, the highest competitive award for outstanding all around contribu- tion to Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. Chairman-of-the-Board, Dr. Don Taylor and SiA’s Editor in Chief Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu Madieu Williams accepting award from Dr. Don Taylor Madieu Williams and his father, Mohamed Forna Chairman-of-the-Board Elect, Melbourne Garber SiA Summer 2010 61 SiA Contributing Writer, Anthony Kamara with Special Diamond Award Winner, the Old Makeni Franciscan Association. Madieu Williams and Miss Sierra Leone, Natasha Beckley The Old Makeni Franciscan Association (OMFA), an alumni association of Saint Francis Secondary School in Makeni, was one of the three groups presented with the 2010 NOSLINA Community Service Award. OMFA was noted for actively engaging its members in building and sustaining a viable network that promotes education. Recently, OMFA com- missioned a Resource Centre worth over $150,000 that was designed, engineered, con- structed and equipped by members of the worldwide Franciscan family. "As proud Franciscans, we have one single and great vision; to see that our alma mater, St. Francis Secondary School in Makeni, not only regain her past glory but to be recognized as the pre-eminent Catholic Secondary School in Sierra Leone. We are proud and passionate about St. Francis for having provided us with the foundation necessary to become what we Miss Sierra Leone, are today. Our single duty and moral imperative is to give back to our school, providing the Natasha Beckley with current and future generation of Franciscans with strong educational opportunities, which ul- Junior Miss Sierra Leone, timately would help to develop our communities and build future leaders for our country, Janet Lagah-Bona Sierra Leone." "Our shared vision, feeling and single duty embodies the Franciscan spirit; a spirit that teaches us to show love and appreciation to our alma mater and to give back generously be- cause giving is in itself a privilege. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi 'it is in giving that we receive'", said Anthony Kamara, Jr. when receiving the award on behalf of the OMFA Na- tional President, Siray A. Timbo, and the worldwide Franciscan family. Kamara is also a senior contributing writer at SiA Magazine. Diamond Award Winner, Gemina Archer-Davies with two daughters, Amira and Samantha and her husband, Samuel Efa Archer-Davies. 62 SiA Summer 2010 SiA Magazine Model Search kicks off at the 4th Bi-annual Miss Sierra Leone-USA Pageant, Sept. 25th, 2010 at 5:30pm sharp, pageant show starts at 7pm. Montgomery College Performing Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Avenue - Silver Spring, MD If you have what it takes to be on the cover of SiA Magazine and the official face of Sierra Leone 50th Independence Celebration CALL Cool and Cozie Promotions now at 703-200-6973 for an application. Medsatu Hotels & Forex, Inc. money transfer made easy INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFER - Reliable - Convenient - Secure - WHO WE ARE... 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