By Ishmael Dumbuya
Julius Maada Bio has on Tuesday, December 6, through the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and its agency, the Monument and Relics Commission (MRC) conferred Sierra Leonean citizenship on 109 diaspora Africans that traced their root to Sierra Leone via African Ancestry. The ceremony was held at State House.
African Ancestry is an international organization that aids persons of African descent to trace their ancestral roots to a specific African country and their ethnic group. The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with African Ancestry to create partnership and collaborate in facilitating and coordinating the authenticity, integration, orientation and affiliation of diaspora Africans that traced their roots to Sierra Leone.
In his presentation of the new securitised Sierra Leonean passports to the newly sworn citizens of Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio congratulated the recipients for the conferment of Sierra Leonean citizenship, which, he said was a climax of a historic journey after years of searching for their ancestral roots.
He maintained that Sierra Leone was always open to it brothers and sisters making the momentous journey back home.
He explained the agonizing history of slavery on Sierra Leone and how the country has bounced back to one that is now making positive reforms nationally and internationally for which he said need the genuine collaboration of the diaspora community for the country’s sustained development.
In her own address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt applauded the new Sierra Leoneans saying that the initiative was part of the development of the tourism sector and also the promotion of their heritage to not only rebrand the country but to diversify the economy.
She informed the President that the Ministry has been able to develop and expand on the African American root tourism programme which she said has impacted the wider Sierra Leonean community. She mentioned that the 109 diaspora Africans have diverse skills and trades and are considering contributing to the economic development of the country.