President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is back from Durban, South Africa, where he was honoured with the prestigious Africa Peace Award on behalf of the government and people of Sierra Leone. The award is in recognition of the resilience, candor and dedicated commitment of the people of Sierra Leone to the attainment of lasting peace and democracy in Sierra Leone, according to the President during his acceptance speech. The issue took center stage not only among the South African media, but also here in the United Kingdom. And this, by all indications, is a major boost for the government of Sierra Leone in its efforts of re-branding the image of the country.
In recent past, Sierra Leone has portrayed a positive image in the eyes of the international world – two free and fair violence-free democratic elections; and above all a country where power changed hands from a ruling party to the opposition party – not to talk about Dr. Christiana Thorpe’s exemplary performances as Chief Electoral Commissioner.
A Commonwealth diplomat visiting us here at the High Commission in London recently described Dr. Thorpe as a role model not only in Africa, but also in the world. Although there is still much to be done in terms of its information machinery, the current government’s robust strategy in re-branding the country is no doubt yielding positive dividend.
Throughout my 16 months or more stay here in the United Kingdom, I have had the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with the cream-de-la-cream in the diplomatic and political fields – and one thing I have come to realised is the fact that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is himself an image-brander for Sierra Leone.
While in Freetown a week ago, The Exclusive newspaper carried a banner headline story titled: ‘Ernest Koroma, Paul Kigame Are Generation Leaders.’
The Exclusive – one of Sierra Leone’s highly influential local newspapers was apparently quoting the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a conference of world leaders recently. Blair’s respect for President Koroma and love for Sierra Leone is no longer news – and never mind the scanty and senseless negative local propaganda about this all, the international community is buying his remarks in good faith. Blair has made it loud and clear over and over that the Sierra Leonean leader is one of the two African leaders (and Rwanda’s Paul Kigame) he would love to do business with. The former British Prime Minister had since been working side by side with the current government through a humanitarian NGO called African Government Initiatives.
Come to think of it, high-profiled political leaders like Tony Blair hardly make such sensitive political statements – and when they do, the world takes such remarks for granted. One needs to see how the British media reacted to Blair’s description of President Koroma and what he said about Sierra Leone during the Trade and Investment conference and the London Stock Exchange respectively. It was not long after the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, again described President Koroma as a ‘remarkable leader.’
That was when Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Edwards Turay went to the Queen’s Buckingham Palace to present credentials on behalf of the government and people of Sierra Leone. Heads of States and high profiled diplomats see it as an honour and privilege to meet with the Queen – one such was Mitchell Obama, wife of President Barrack Obama of America.
Mrs. Obama described her meeting with the Queen as one of her greatest opportunities in life. And you can tell that from the excitement on the face of the American First Lady during the meeting. This is why, as Sierra Leoneans, we have every reason to be proud of President Koroma whose leadership style, sincerity and his commitment to the people of Sierra Leone, continue to impress his people and the international community.
We have seen the infrastructural development his government has undertaken within this short period of time – major road networks rehabilitated, frequent electricity supply, a robust fight against corruption and above all the recent launching of the free medical for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Under previous regimes, Freetown was the darkest city in the world; Sierra Leone was experiencing the highest number of deaths on pregnant women and children; while major roads linking strategic towns and villages were in complete mess. These are factors that kept Sierra Leone permanently in the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. We are happy now that things are beginning to take shape and negative issues like these are now been over-shadowed by the way the world now looks at Koroma as one of Africa’s most decent and respectable politicians. It gives the rest of the world hope about the future of one of Africa’s finest countries – Sierra Leone.
Note from the Newstime Africa Publisher: Sorie Sudan Sesay has been doing an excellent job as Information Attaché at the Sierra Leone High Commission in London. Along with Wilfred Kabs-Kanu the Sierra Leone Minister Plenipotentiary at our UN Mission in New York, these two men have been at the forefront in ensuring that Sierra Leone is showcased as a country with huge potential. Day-in and Day-out, these men spend tireless hours presenting our country’s case in the media. They deserve to be honoured and their work acknowledged. I may have not fully recognize the amazing contribution they have made to project the good image of our country around the world and for this I must say I am sorry. As Sudan Sesay himself so brilliantly confirms, the Head of State Dr Ernest Bai Koroma is the biggest re-brander of Sierra Leone, as his hard work is continuously acknowledged by his counterparts in Africa.
Gentlemen I implore you both to continue your good work and ignore those who have chosen to destroy the good image of our country, and join me in an unprecedented media campaign to unleash the potential of our country and pay tribute to our distinguished leader who has made the welfare of his people his utmost priority.
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