The Sierra Leonean Community in Canberra and Regions (SLCCR) ACT Inc marked their native country’s 61st Independence Anniversary on Saturday 28 May 2022 attended by guests from a diverse range of people from different faiths and background. The night witnessed elegance in dress, food and cultural performances.

From left: Sierra Leonean born artists; NSW based Buckman (with mic), Canberra local and also the association’s Youth and Social Secretary Santigie Kamara aka King Leon performing for the audience,  and chairlady (with green head cover) and secretary of the Women’s Committee savouring the moment.

From left: Guest showing their dance moves with Aluspa (in hat and glasses cheering on), and community volunteers Ms Mballu Kamara and Ajarah Kamara. Ms Ajara used to live in Canberra before moving to Sydney.

Hunting cultural performance by NSW African Australian Hunting and Drumming Group Inc.

Certificates of appreciation were handed to volunteers, service providers and community organisations in recognition of their contribution to the community. Some members of the executive committee also received medals in recognition of outstanding leadership.

Service providers that were recognised include The Companion House, Migrant and Refugee Resettlement Services (MARRS), Multicultural Youth Services (MYS), HelpingACT, Canberra Islamic Centre (CIC) and the president of African Australian Council (AAC) ACT Inc.

From left: MC Pastor Charles Koker, AAC’s Dr. Yvette Djomani and Chairlady Ms Fatmata Conteh.

 

From left: Vice Chair Abubakar Fofanah receiving his certificate and Distinguished Leadership medal from AAC President Dr. Yvetee Djomani and cutting of the Independence and launch the Women’s Committee cake.

From left: Secretary Moses Kamanda receiving his certificate and Distinguished Leadership medal from AAC President Dr Yvetee Djomani (left) and community volunteer and event disc jokey Hassan Kamara aka DJ Hasten receiving his certificate of appreciation from association’s Chairman Amadu Barrie.

From left: Community founder member Tenneh Kamara, Rashid Bangura and Roselyn Koroma receiving their certificates of appreciation from association’s Chairman Amadu Barrie.

From Left: Mballu Kamara (Kuku Mama) and former Treasurer Esther Koker receiving their certificates of appreciation from association’s Chairman Amadu Barrie.

Group photo of members of the executive committee showing their certificates of appreciation.

From Left: Ms Mariama Tonkombah receiving her certificate of appreciation from husband and association’s Chairman Amadu Barrie and DJ Hasten posing for the cameras.

From left: Karen Sture, N’madama, Yembeh, Isata, Ibrahim Sorie Kamara, our Ghanaian guest Kofi Bonsu and Treasurer Ms Aminta Kamra with the mic.

 

From left: Chairman Amadu Barrie giving his address, Guinean guest Mohamed Fofana and his work colleague.

From left: Former Chairman Alhaji Kamara and his family, Ms Kadijatu Sesay and her mum Ms Fatmata Yansaneh.

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Social Welfare Madam Baindu Dassama-Kamara was Guest Speaker of the event. Other key speakers were the ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne. Madam Baindu and Tara Cheyne sent in pre-recorded video messages that were played to the audience.

in her speech Minister Baindu Dassama-Kamara thanked the community for extending invitation to her as Guest Speaker and conveyed greetings to the community on behalf of the president, vice president, first lady, government and people of the republic of Sierra Leone.

She highlighted some of the accomplishment of her government since taking office in 2018 including increasing the number of women participation in government.

She reminded the community about the importance of unity saying “the commonalties that bind us together are more than those petty, petty things that divide us a nation”. Minister Baindu concluded by saying she’s looking forward to coming to Australia to meet her compatriots.

Guest Speaker was the Minister of Social Welfare of Sierra Leone, Madam Baindu Dassama-Kamara

In her remarks Minister Tara Cheyne said, “the Sierra Leonean community is a valued part of the Canberra community and has helped make Canberra the diverse and vibrant community that we enjoy today.”

She went to say “The Sierra Leonean community has helped new arrivals from Sierra Leone and other parts of the world settle in the Canberra region and you have actively engaged with the broader community so they feel welcomed from the time of their arrival.”

The ACT shadow Minster for Multicultural Affairs Giulia Jones MLA was represented by Peter Cain MLA Liberal member for Ginnindera.

from left: Peter Cain MLA, Amadu Barrie, Yusuf Mansuri, Rashid Bangura, Giulia Jones MLA and Tara Cheyne MLA.

For his part, the chairman of the SLCCR ACT Inc Amadu Barrie said “he is humbled for been elected as leader of the great Sierra Leone community and encouraged by the fact that the community is sticking together since it was setup in 2008.”

Amadu went on to say that his executive committee has the record of having more women then men and that it is befitting that his administration has the honours of launching the Women’s Committee. He credited the success of his administration to the hard work of his team and supporters in the community.

Chairlady of the newly launched Women’s Committee (WC) Madam Fatmata Conteh described the event as a success. Ms Conteh said one of the objectives of the WC is to “create a unique and enabling platform for our women to support each other and where our children can learn about our rich culture and know each other”. She called on both women and men to support the community so it can implement what it sets out to do.

Vice chairman of the association Abubakar Fofanah described the event as “Successful, as it showcased our culture, music, food, our contribution to Australian community, our Sierra Leone community here and consideration of our homeland, Sierra Leone. It also highlighted the immense contribution of Women in our community”.

The secretary of the community Mr Moses Kamanda described the event as “an opportunity to showcase our rich and unique culture to non-Sierra Leoneans in Australia, celebrate diversity and foster peace and unity by bringing the community together after almost 2 years of COVID-19 lock down/isolation thereby given everyone an opportunity to meet with people they may not have seen for a long time.”

The CEO of ACTMA Inc had this to say about the event. “What a wonderful event launched during the Sierra Leone’s 61st Independence Anniversary and Women’s Committee Launch in Canberra. The diverse arts, cultural performances, and authentic taste and smell that transformed Albert Hall into an African village. This was truly a great example where people from many cultures and places came together to celebrate diversity of what Australia is all about”.

Mr Mansuri then paid tributes to the commitments of community’s volunteers including the executive committee that made the event possible.

The president of the AAC ACT Inc Dr Yvette Poudjom Djomani who helped cut the cake for the launching of the Women’s Committee and also in handing out certificates and medals said, “As president of the AAC ACC Inc. it was important to show my support to the Sierra Leonean community on the celebration of the 61st anniversary of their independence. This was a great event that showcased the multiple of talents of the Sierra Leonean people. I was also honoured to witness the launch of the Women’s Committee. I commend them for this great achievement.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Pastor Charles Koker with DJ Hasten dishing out the music.

Left (bottom row): Sierra Leonean born musician Miracle performing for the audience

Sierra Leone gained her independence from Great Britain after 153 years of colonisation on 27 April 1961. The event was rescheduled to 28 May due to the Islamic month of Fasting (Ramadan) to allow for proper celebrations. However, the community was able to organise Islamic and Christian prayers on the 27 April for the event.

Muslim prayers were offered at the Sabah Al-Ahmad Masjid and Islamic Education Centre on the night of the 27 April which coincided with the Night of Decree (Laylatul Qadr) and the completion of the recitation of the whole Quran as part of the month of Ramadan Taraweeh (night) prayers. The night also coincided with the award ceremony of the masjid’s 2022 Qur’an Memorisation Competition that was held the masjid on 20 April.

Chief Imam of the Sabah Al-Ahmad Masjid Sheikh Adama Konda used the occasion to pray for Sierra Leone and for global peace.

From left: Sierra Leonean community elder Alhaji Mohamed Pony Hamidu Kamara, Deputy Chairman Abubakar Fofanah and Chairman Amadu Barrie, award recipients of the 2022 Qur’an Memorisation Competition and Chief Imam, Sheikh Adama Konda at the Sabah Al Ahmad Masjid and Islamic Education Centre

Similarly, the Christians in the community held a thanksgiving prayer service at the Gospel Faith Ministries International at the Harrison Primary School with Pastor Charles Koker as guest speaker.

Mr and Mrs Pastor Charles Koker and pastor Koker in his clerical dress

The Sierra Leone Community event was held on the same day but different times as the Africa Day event that was organised by the AAC ACT Inc of which the SLCCR is a member. The Nigerian High Commissioner Ambassador Anderson N Madubike was guest speaker of the Africa Day event.

From left: Ambassador Anderson N Madubike and Dr Yvetter at the Africa Day event.

From left: Ali Barrie representing his country Sierra Leone and a cross section of dignitaries including Ambassador Anderson N Madubike, Mr Cherif Khali, Chargé de Mission, Embassy of Algeria, Chargé d’affaires of Botswana High Commission Ms Tebelelo Bareki and Peter Cain MLA, representing the Shadow minister for Multicultural Affairs at the Africa Day event.