…as USL celebrates 5 years of partnership with Gannan Normal University
September 23, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh and authorities from the University of Sierra Leone, headed by Principal and Vice Chancellor Prof. Ekundayo Thompson, yesterday received a delegation from the People’s Republic of China.
Speaking to the more than 20-man delegation at the conference room in the Office of the Vice President, Vice President Foh said Sierra Leone and China have been together for 45 years now, adding that the relationship has gone a long way in benefiting both countries.
“Sierra Leone recognised China as a great nation at a time when the whole world was against it. Former President Siaka Stevens, through the then Foreign Affairs Minister S.A.J. Pratt, led the debate at the Security Council for China to be included in the Security Council of the United Nations,” he said.
VP Foh, himself a former Ambassador to China, disclosed that when the government went to ask the Chinese for a loan to construct the proposed Mamamah Airport, the negotiation was very difficult as it was going against Sierra Leone. He added that he then took the platform on a political basis and mentioned Sierra Leone’s role in the recognition and inclusion of China into the Security Council of the United Nations.
“After my presentation, the debate turned in Sierra Leone’s favour. The Chinese then agreed to give us the money and the project is underway. Let us keep the friendship going so as to benefit our future generations,” he said, adding that most of the beautiful structures that Sierra Leone has were given to her by the Chinese.
He disclosed that he enjoyed his time as Ambassador to China because the Chinese were very hospitable to him, noting that he was opportune to pay a visit to Gannan Normal University and that he was impressed with the campus and its facilities.
The Vice President thanked the frantic efforts of Prof. Sahr Gbamanja, Mrs. Bernadette Cole and university authorities for bringing the Confucius Institute to Fourah Bay College, adding that he would always be ready to give support to the university if the need arises.
Earlier on Thursday morning, the Chinese delegation paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone (USL), Prof. Ekundayo Thompson, who was very pleased to receive them.
Prof. Thompson said in a statement that after USL signed a memorandum of understanding with Gannan Normal University in China, they opened an institute in Sierra Leone that has today benefitted their students.
He added that the university authorities would host a welcome dinner for the delegation at Bintumani Hotel on Friday. The dinner will reportedly have 110 diners.
At the Committee Room of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College, Prof. Sahr Thomas Gbamanja told the delegation that the relationship between the University of Sierra Leone and Gannan Normal University in China started in 2011. He added that it was former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Redwood Sawyer, that signed the MOU, adding that the Chinese have since given scholarships to Sierra Leonean students, taking senior members of the academic staff on a yearly two weeks’ vacation to China, donated multi-media gadgets to the university, among other benefits.
At the Vice President’s Office, Prof. Gbamanja presented the delegation to the Vice President the delegation was here to celebrate a successful establishment and functioning of the Confucius Institute here in Sierra Leone.
He told head of the Chinese delegation that the Chinese head of the Confucius Institute, Prof. Liu Hande, was a very humble man, who during his stay in Sierra Leone, sometimes went without water, electricity supply, among other facilities, but never complained.
Head of the Chinese delegation, Prof. Qui, who is the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Gannan Normal University, remarked that he was touched by the warm welcome given to him and delegation by both the authorities of USL and VP Foh. He added that Sierra Leone is indeed a friend in-need to China as was clearly demonstrated during the debate that led to the inclusion of China in the Security Council.
He said when Sierra Leone was also in a difficult situation, especially during the Ebola outbreak, China also intervened and lent her support. He noted that, together, Sierra Leone and China would achieve greater achievement if the relationship continues as present.
The USL authorities took the Chinese delegation on a conducted tour of the Confucius Institute at FBC, residence of the Director of the institute, among other areas on campus.
Gifts were changed by the Chinese delegation and university authorities.