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As January 6th Invasion commemorated… 

Social Welfare Minister Urged Compatriots to Embrace Peace

January 11, 2018By Bampia James Bundu

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Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Madam Isata Kabia, has urged all Sierra Leoneans to embrace peace, co-existence and development as they commemorate the January 6th, 1999 invasion of Freetown, themed ‘Never Again: Let Peace Reign’.

The colorful ceremony started with a float parade from Up-Gun in the east and Aberdeen Road in the west, climaxing with a Public Advocacy and Launch of the Community Action Day at the precinct of the Law Court building in Freetown.
The commemoration was graced by civil society organisations, women’s groups, children, ministers of government, heads of parastatals and the media.
Explaining the rationale behind the commemoration, Madam Isata Kabia expressed that January 6 presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the unfortunate events of 6 January, 1999 and renew their individual and collective commitments to sustainable peace and development.

Madam Kabia further noted that the event of January 6, 1999 should not repeat itself in the history of Sierra Leone, and that all should commemorate the day as a day of mourning and reflection, a day that should not be celebrated but used to offer special prayers for all those that lost their lives during the carnage and a collective prayer for non-replication of the ugly incident in the country.
She revealed that with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations, her ministry was working assiduously to ensure that the day be regarded as a positive day of national service with the aim of improving communities through collective actions.

She described community action day as an initiative which aims at rebranding January 6 from the painful memories of horror and carnage to improved peaceful co-existence that the country has enjoyed under good leadership and the attained inclusive national development process that characterised that period.
She explained that the intending support action of her ministry was to capture the horror and pain encountered, bringing about a new sense of collective action in soliciting community support to achieve the SDGs.

“We aimed at promoting citizens responsibilities in key areas. Whether it is painting a school (Goal 4), tree planting (Goal 15) gender focus (Goal 5,10) local business donations (Goal 17), their community actions will be clearly tied to the goals, to ensure they give more visibility and understanding to the SDGs within communities.
Speaking on behalf of civil society organisations, Madam Juliet Anderson commended the minister and her team for initiating the commemoration of January 6 in a colourful manner.

She maintained that atrocities that were committed within that period cannot be overemphasised as thousands of people lost their lives while millions of properties were destroyed.

She urged political leaders and all Sierra Leoneans to be peaceful and embrace peace for the betterment of the country.

Inspector General of Police Dr. Richard Moigbe assured all Sierra Leoneans of their commitment in ensuring that the March 7 general elections would be manned professionally by his men.

“We have enough personnel across the country to ensure that we maintain the peace and stability we are enjoying across the country,” he assured.
Chief of Defense Staff Lieutenant General Bureh Sesay pledged the army’s support to ensuring that the country maintain peace and reiterated that Sierra Leone will never return to those dark days.

He assured that they would always be ready and determined to serve whenever called upon.

Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Madam Naneth Thomas, pledged her ministry’s support to the commemoration of January 6, not least the theme of the commemoration.
She urged that as the country heads to general elections the actions of everyone should to be guided by7 the theme of ‘Never again, let peace reign.’

She urged all to work towards peaceful, transparent, and credible election, reminding them that elections are not a matter of life and death but a means to national unity.

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, Minister of Defense Retired Major Palo Conteh commended the Social Welfare Minister for mobilising Sierra Leoneans from across the country to commemorate the day.

He maintained that Sierra Leone has come a long way in building peace and development and that, “We should not allow ourselves to go back to those dark days. January 6, 1999 was a horrific day in the history of this country and we should always reflect on the incident that occurred on that day and use that reflection as lesson as we move forward.”

He added that government was committed to peace and would do everything in its powers to ensure that the March 7 elections end peacefully.

He maintained that government had done a lot to ensure that they maintain peace in the country by the amount of legislations that have been enacted, coupled with the institutions that have been created to cater for youth, persons with disabilities, women’s group, and children among others.