Lisa Chesney: Music strengthens the relationship between Sierra Leone & the UK

British High Commissioner poses for photo        Lisa Chesney dancing at the event

By Yusufu S. Bangura

The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney has on Monday 23rd October told newsmen that music is one of the strongest things that strengthen the relationship between Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom.

She made this statement at the British High Commission’s residence, Runnymede, Main Hill Station Road in Freetown, while organising a concert for both Wells Cathedral School and Ballanta Academy of Music in order to celebrate the death of Peter Penford.

She said the event is a very special event and it’s really a special relationship between the Wells Cathedral School and the Ballanta Academy.

She noted that Wells Cathedral School is one of the top four musical schools in the UK and every October during the holidays, the students come to Sierra Leone to do a bit of capacity building by sharing their love of knowledge and music with the people of Sierra Leone.

The British High Commissioner said the students from Walls Cathedral School started coming to Sierra Leone since 2009 and during the event they had a wonderful concert with lots of different instruments and a wonderful fusion between UK and Sierra Leone.

“The collaboration between the two musical schools are something that’s really exciting because Sierra Leone has got so much talent in the creative industries, therefore we want to do anything we can to stimulate interest in it and to support Sierra Leone culture and creative that are trying to make a living. I think what’s really special here is just seeing that link between UK and Sierra Leone is the love of music,” she said.

She stated that the presence of key stakeholders during the event shows that they want to project Sierra Leone culture across the globe and by doing so they have organised several events that have really connected the two countries when it comes to culture, therefore the musical collaboration on Monday was a great example, so she feel excited about the UK, Sierra Leone connection and she love anything about the Sierra Leone culture.

“I want Sierra Leoneans to celebrate their artists because they have fabulous talent and they are better than those I’ve seen, as I have worked in so many places across the globe, so Sierra Leone talent on the creative side is huge, so if anyone of you have artist in your family with musical talent or any type of creative, celebrate them and do anything you can to support them,” she encouraged.

The Chairman for Ballanta Academy, Dr. Julius Spencer said the collaboration and association between Ballanta Academy and Wells Cathedral has been a lot for Ballanta which he believed there is still to be done.

He said Sierra Leone is blessed with lot of talents, but unfortunately these talents still remains untapped, unexposed and unsupported, so he was pleased to see the Minister of Tourism during the event because her presence shows that there is hope for creative and he will begin to see some real action as far as the creative sector is concerned.

He further said her passion, commitment and dedication to the sector, means that she is ready to promote tourism in the country and now is the right time for the promotion of creative.

He called on students from Wells Cathedral School will to enjoy their visit as they did not only come to work, but they come here to get an experience of Sierra Leone and the creative sector in Sierra Leone and to support the work that Ballantine is doing in the country.

He said it is challenging for those that have also been involved in the sector for long time because the financial situation in the country has made it even more difficult for them as people who want to attend the academy and take courses are struggling to find the funds to pay their fees, but they getting there and he believed that the future is bright.

Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Nabeela F. Tunis said it’s good to see the unlocked talent and it also good to see the partnership between Ballanta Academy and the Wells Cathedral which shows that bilateral relationships can transcend that formality and explore the talent of both countries.

“I really enjoyed when I saw the two bands, the two different groups singing their music and play together and I think it’s really a good thing as this evening is a social evening and an evening of relaxation and promising evening because it shows the talents we have in this country,” she concluded.


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