Newton, March 8th 2017:
It has been a long time since I saw President Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) so animated and happy as he was today. After 10 years of him diligently serving the interests of advancement of women, today the women of Sierra Leone really did him proud. They turned up in their THOUSANDS! The crowd was so massive that the Police under AIG Memuna Conteh-Jalloh, took the wise decision to completely block the Highway and divert traffic away from the modern highway at Newton to the old road. It was a jamboree. The inside of the stadium was packed full and both sides were overflowing. Women travelled from all over Sierra Leone to celebrate themselves and to thank the President. 12 of the 14 elected female Paramount Chiefs of Sierra Leone were on the field at the celebrations in Newton. Virtually all the duly elected female Local Councillors in Sierra Leone were on that field as were all the 12 district traditional leaders of the Bondo Society.
Every single girl from all 12 districts who is an elected executive member of the 12 districts Children’s Forum Network was present alongside the CFN National President who is also a girl.
I have received rave reviews from those who are regular participants at March 8th IWD, that today’s event was the most beautiful, most colorful and most well organized IWD celebrations.
I think I have to agree.
We had it all. From an eloquent, well researched academic presentation by Lawyer Mariama Dumbuya Esq. to the boogie music by Female Musicians to the CFN’s fantastic joint celebration of EBK’s ten years of advancement of Women, we the women were awesome in Newton today; all under 50-50 President, Dr. Fatu Taqi who chaired the event.
Thanks to all who made IWD2017 to be the glorious event it has turned out to be. It is no exaggeration and I do believe it when many tell me that this is the very best ever International Women’s Day that has ever been organized in this country.
The MSWGCA ensured that the celebrations at Newton were being replicated on a smaller scale all over the districts in North, South and East.
I want to publicly give many thanks and appreciation to key staff of MSWGCA especially Gender Director Charles Vandi, Deputy Gender Director Goodie Sowonie, Western Rural District Asst. Director Kabbakeh Noah and Acting Director of Planning Ibrahim Kamara.
I also appreciate all those who made today possible by giving me the advise, guidance and support I needed - especially during my bereavement. Special thanks to our beautiful First Lady Sia Koroma for standing in the gap with an offer to assist my Gender Directorate & Planning Directorate to organize this event during my recent bereavement. Thank you Big Sister!
Deep appreciation to Maude Peacock (Women’s Forum) and Nana Pratt (NOW) for their experienced guidance and unrelenting support.
To our steadfast Partners like UNITED NATIONS, PLAN INTERNATIONAL, WORLD VISION, AMNET, IRISH AID and to our local parastatal partners like the women-led National Revenue Authority (NRA), Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to corporate business houses like MELIAN RENTALS, AFRICELL, BAREFOOT WOMEN SOLAR, I say thank you.
Now, there were many poignant moments today but honestly the high point of today’s fantastic event came towards the end of the Keynote Address of the President. Prior to him speaking, the lamentations from speaker after speaker was that they feared whether the successor to EBK in 2018 presidential elections, will be able to sustain the pro-women policies and programmes of EBK.
So to end his speech, the President used his trademark wittiness to transmit a powerful message on behalf of his All Peoples Congress (APC) political party. Using a Krio parable, he said “orange trees do not bear lime fruits”. Then he compared himself to be the outgoing APC father who will ensure that the elected successor to the Presidency is a bonafide product of the APC just like himself the President. He said the APC has many capable members who can continue to serve women “in the APC way” which way he said, was one which puts priorities on advancing women’s issues.
He said he was the father right now but he assured that the successor child whom the APC will give to Sierra Leoneans for them to vote for, is someone who will be just like him.
“In the APC, there are many who are just like me. I am not unique. There are many APC children who are capable of stepping up to continue doing what I have been doing so no need for all the sad faces,” the President assured.
He basically was assuring the sad faces that they should rest assured that he was an outgoing father in a family that will give birth to a successor whom will not divert off from serving the interests of Women.
He said he was proud to deviate from his usually humble demeanor and loudly thump his chest to boast that the APC had so empowered Women during his tenure that Women were now “unstoppable” in advancing themselves just like the APC itself was now unstoppable.
As he repeatedly stated that “orinch nor day bear lem”, and stressing on how he had empowered women, the President and Supreme Executive Authority was so awesome as he assured the crowd of women of the kind of ‘successor child’ whom the APC will provide, that the previously sad women turned uncontrollably jubilant; Rising from their seats, they broke through the presidential security and spontaneously approached the High Table with loud praise-singing, dancing and their banners held aloft.
It was a wonderful sight to behold. The presidential security personnel tried so hard to keep the crowd at bay but it was tough. The women approached the High Table on energetic jubilation like they were drawn by a magnet.
It was a very emotional moment. One could see that President was visibly touched at the massive outpouring of love and adoration from Sierra Leone women gathered from all four corners of the land.
There and then, as the women jubilantly rushed at the High Table, the Head of State who was still on the microphone, said he was very very happy at all what had happened during the IWD 2017 celebrations and from the women’s reaction, he was satisfied that he has really pleased the women of Sierra Leone in the last ten years.
Earlier, a joint presentation by myself Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden as MSWGCA Minister, in collaboration with elected girl leaders of CFN, culminated in a THANK YOU commemorative plaque being presented to President Koroma by the Women & Girls of Sierra Leone. The words on the Plaque here follows:
Heartiest of Felicitations to
H.E. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The Women of Sierra Leone appreciate Your Excellency’s remarkable contribution to the Advancement of Women
2007 - 2017
You are our Shining Star
empowerment of Sierra
Leone Women has inspired
so many Girls and Women to
know that what used to be
impossible for Women to
achieve was all now very
So on this International
Women’s Day, we want to say:
8th March 2017
© Hon. Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.