The Mayor of Freetown, His Worship, Herbert A. George-Williams, in his Mayor’s Parlor in Freetown today said he would “identify” himself with the aims of Youth Arise!!! in the development of their “GREEN MAY 8” concept, and that Youth Arise!!! should consider him one of their “patrons”.
Mayor George-Williams made the pledge when a delegation of Youth Arise!!! executives, led by their “Guru”, Oswald Hanciles - Â and their National Coordinator, Ishmael Abu Kamara (a.k.a, Van Damm), National President, Ahmed Ramadan Jalloh, National Secretary General, M. Sheriff - went to seek his support for their GREEN MAY 8 programme .Â
Youth Arise’s GREEN MAY 8 programmeÂ aims to replicate the unprecedented demonstration of over 100,000 people in Freetown on May 8, 2000 to confront the threat of Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader, late Corporal Foday Sankoh, and prevented him unleashing violence again; and to mobilize the public again to face the threat of environmental degradation in the country, especially in Freetown.
The Mayor bemoaned what he termed as the increasinglyÂ “scarred mountains” of the Freetown Peninsular, which in some areas “look as if bombs have been dropped on the land”.
A descendant of freed slaves who settled founded and settled in Freetown in the late 18th Century, the Freetown born and bred George-Williams, reflected on his youthful days in Freetown when “birds would chirp, and insects buzz…all over the city….By the Hillcut and Regent area, monkeys, deer, and antelopes used to crisscross the road during the day and night….Now, they are all gone…”
A Brown-Belt holder in the Martial Arts discipline of Karate, the still muscular Â and physical fitness fanatic Mayor of Freetown, George-Williams, shows discipline determination Â that the problems caused by unregulated housing construction on our mountains, uncontrolled burning down of trees for fuel charcoal, unrestricted mass migration from the rural areas to Freetown, would be checked first with a ‘dream’, a vision.Â “I dream ofÂ our mountains being made green again…I dream of the biodiversity in Freetown being restored….”.
The Mayor’s dream has the foundation of policy that involves giving priority to keeping Freetown refreshingly clean; keeping the city crime free; ensuring that there is regular electricity in the city; and upgrading the hotels in Freetown to help harness the splendid tourism potential in the city.
Action being taken by his City Council involves the making manure, and planting flowers all over the city.Â “People are not used to such beautification.Â Traders and passerby sit on the plants, or, put their hawkers’ trays on it…We are embarked now on educating people on the need to keep our city beautiful….”.Â
“There is desperate need for us to rebrand Freetown, rebrand out country.Â The image of our country still etched in the minds of most people in Europe and America is that of ‘Sierra Leone, the land where rebels fought and chop off the hands of men, women and children’….We must all work to change this image; and project an image of Sierra Leone being a country being a land ready for investors; a land with some of the friendliest people in the world, with one of the most beautiful beaches on earth….”, Mayor George-Williams said.
For a moment losing his mayoral calm, the Mayor exploded with enthusiasm as he said, “I was in a helicopter coming from the airport one day as we approached Freetown; and there was this European guest by me who was so amazed, he said, ‘I thought the mountains were right inside the sea…I have never seen something so beautiful before in my life…’”
On frightening youth unemployment, Mayor George-Williams said, “The look of despair and hopeless which was on the face of youth before the war started, and during the dark days of the war, is still on the face of youth today….We must undertake many projects to have our youth employed….Or else, the energy of their youth will me misdirected into negative endeavors…”.Â Dressed in light-pink shirt, with dark red tie, and fawn trousers, the Mayor said that it is a policy of his City Council to have as many youth employed in construction projects the Council is engaged in, or, has influence over; with some of the youth taking part in “food-for-work” programmes.Â Â “But, that is only a drop in the bucket.Â Much more needs to be done”, the Mayor stressed.
The Guru of Youth Arise!!!, Oswald Hanciles, said part of the cue for the GREEN MAY 8 concept of Youth Arise!!! has come from the words of President Ernest Bai Koroma, when on Friday, March 19, 2010, he launched the “Sierra Leone Western Area Peninsular Reserve and its Watershed” programme, and the President said: “I have seen the destruction from the air, I have observed the devastation from the sea, driving through Freetown and the Peninsular I am alarmed by the level of deforestation and the possibilities of landslides and the washing away of coastlines by the sea.Â We must put a stop to this.Â We must reverse this trend.Â We must save the water resources of Freetown.Â Guma (hydro electric scheme to electrify Freetown) depends on these mountains….”.
The Guru, Oswald Hanciles, said the Youth Arise!!! GREEN MAY 8 programme would involve a seminar at Santanno House’s Archbishop Droshahan Memorial Hall on Howe Street on May 7, 2010, at 10.30 a.m; and the erection of billboards, posters; the development of a video documentary around the concept; and stimulation of youth to make manure, plant trees, etc. in a sustainable projects. Â “This is only the start of a life long programme”, Oswald Hanciles stressed.
The National Coordinator of Youth Arise!!!, Ishmael Abu Kamara gave a brief history of Youth Arise!!!: a group founded in 2000, which at its peak had 35 branches in Freetown, and nearly all the provincial districts, including branches in our universities and colleges, and our schools; a group standing on the three pillars of Religious Discipline, Psychological Discipline – which involves learning the letter, and putting into practice, the creed of religions like Christianity and Islam; memory and listening skills being learned by school-going youths, and all-round sports and athletics, that includes Karate and Yoga exercises. Others present at the ceremony were the Coordinator of the Central OneÂ Branch, Sheku Sheriff, and Gassimu Baimba, a member.