Sierra Leonean President Dr Julius Maada Bio has granted Sierra Leonean citizenship to 22 African Americans who traced their origin to Sierra Leone through DNA results, most of them with roots to Bo and Tonkolili districts.
While handing over their passports, President Maada Bio welcomed them home, noting that their coming was not just about sightseeing or just experiencing another culture for culture sake, but that they were also about to fulfil their curiosity and satisfy some long-held dream of making a spiritual pilgrimage to Sierra Leone.
”So, while others may invent history for the purpose of marketing tourism, you have lived your own history through over 400 years. This is the land of our mutual ancestors who were to later work rice fields and plantations that sustained the economies of the 13 British Colonies in the Americas.
“This is the land of Sengbeh Pieh of the Amistad revolt. This is the land of the rice coast, of the Gullahs, of folktales about the trickster, of handicraft, of foodways, of seeking rituals, and the call and response of African-American song and dance. This is Sierra Leone,” he noted.
The President noted that Sierra Leone as a country had come a very long way from slavery and colonialism, through repressive dictatorships, bad governance, corruption, epidemics and natural disasters and civil wars, adding that his government had worked hard to restore the dignity of the country. He recalled that the 2020 Global Peace Index ranked the country as the 46th most peaceful country in the whole world and 5th most peaceful country in Africa.
“The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention rates us as Tier 1 low risk. We have under 3% case fatality ratio and only 76 recorded deaths. We are rated with a significantly lower violent crime rate. We have a free press, a free society, decongesting prisons, and working hard to build resilience in every facet of our nation,” he said.
President Bio further disclosed that government was creating an enabling environment for the private sector to flourish, protect investments and support the establishment of businesses and organisations that would touch lives either through direct employment or social capital impact.
One of the beneficiaries of the citizenship, Dynast Abete Adewale Amir expressed gratitude to President Bio for officially receiving them as citizens of Sierra Leone. He described the event as an emotional moment for them, adding that they were already pleased with the love they enjoyed from the President and citizens of the country.
Dynast Abete concluded by stating that they looked forward to making good use of their citizenship by adding meaningful contributions to the development and goodwill of Sierra Leone.
Credit: State House, Freetown