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In Sierra Leone, Kaffu Bullom Honours Awareness Times and Sylvia Blyden
By Bampia Bundu
Dec 21, 2010, 17:02
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The Chief Executive Officer of the Awareness Times, Sierra Leone’s most widely read and circulated newspaper, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden on Friday 17th December, 2010 left Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom and the Lungi International Airport environs a very pleased woman, having been honoured with double awards; one given in recognition of her "valuable contributions to the development of women and youths in post-conflict Sierra Leone", and another to her Awareness Times Newspaper as the Best Newspaper of the Year 2010 for the institution’s "all round national coverage of news".

A Cross Section of the full Kaffu Bullom Court Barray

The awards were jointly dished out by the National Awards Committee of Yaraheem Development Organization (YADO) in consortium with the Pan-African Organization- Uhuru Project of Great Britain, and the Pan-African Unity Organization Sierra Leone.

Chairman of the ceremony, who is also the Principal of the Ansarul Islamic Secondary School, Rotifunk, Mr. Daniel Santigie Turay noted that YADO and partners decided to give awards to deserving individuals in the country in acknowledgement of their contributions toward the nation and for what they are doing in their various areas of responsibilities.

Bampia Bundu accepts Award from Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Sheba Gbereh III

P.C. Gbereh III handing over the Award to Sylvia Blyden

Speaking also was the Secretary General of YADO, Mr. Osman Sorie and the Chairman and Founder, Mr. Uhuru Wurie who gave an extensive background about the organizations and their vision, mission and objectives.

The YADO Scribe further informed that YADO’s awards selection was done by their independent National Awards Committee. He said presentation is extended to various institutions including school, the Police and Military forces, teachers as well as traditional chiefs on merit. He informed that before the ceremony they conducted a survey across the entire country, and that according to their findings, Awareness Times News Paper was lauded as not only the leading and best newspaper in the country but "the most credible newspaper that does not lie".

Mr. Osman Sorie said as for Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom itself, even the young children and especially the women know the name ‘Sylvia Blyden’ as one standing for development and good things in Sierra Leone. He said whilst himself and the Awards Committee were researching within Freetown City itself, 7 out of every 10 people interviewed responded that Awareness Times was the best newspaper followed by Exclusive, Standard Times, Concord Times and Awoko but with Awareness Times as "the clear leader of all newspapers in Sierra Leone".

Mr. Bampia Bundu accepted the Award on behalf of Awareness Times newspaper whilst on her own behalf, Dr. Blyden accepted her own personal award during which she expressed her gratitude to the organizations for their independent surveys. She took the opportunity to reveal her first place of medical practice as a Final Year Medical student on provincial rotation "was right here inside Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom".

Sylvia Blyden thrilled the people of Kaffu Bullom when she skillfully displayed some traditional dance moves!

Uhuru Wurie, P.C. Gbereh III & Ansarul Principal Turay

A Police Officer receiving his Award from P.C. Gbereh

Sylvia Blyden revealed that the late former Paramount Chief Komkanda had grown very fond of her during her stint in the Chiefdom in the mid-nineties and she remained like a daughter to him until the day he died. She however lamented that since the death of the late Paramount Chief several years ago, she had never paid much attention to the chiefdom again which was why she said "it was so emotional to me when I received the phone call and unexpected announcement that the people here want to honour me. I see it as a wake-up call from the late man’s spirit for me not to forget the people of his Chiefdom".

She then went on to commend the chiefdom people for choosing a young man as their new Paramount Chief, saying it is an indication of progressiveness. However, though she said it is correct that young men can deliver well, she encouraged people to consider trying women for positions of leadership.

The two best NPSE Students in entire Port Loko District were awarded for their excellent academic proficiency

Many who could not get a seat inside the jam-packed court barray watched from outside in the Chief’s compound

"Women can deliver more than men if given the opportunity. I am the living example of that. There are over fifty newspapers in this country but according to your own analysis, I, as a woman, am heading the best newspaper which means a woman as leader can be better than a man."

Making a statement, the host Paramount Chief of Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom which is the chiefdom housing the Lungi International Airport, P.C. Bai Shebora Sheba Gbereh III expressed his elation for being part of the ceremony to honour personalities and institutions of integrity for their outstanding performances in society. 

"I am overwhelmed with pride to host you all here today and I hope these organizations will continue to honour individuals and institutions of substance in the country," he noted, saying it was no misplacement for the Awareness Times publisher to receive the twin awards for herself as a woman of substance, and for her newspaper as the Best Newspaper of the year 2010.

P.C. Gbereh III granted an exclusive interview to this writer after the Awards Ceremony during which he stated: "I have always been pleased with Dr. Blyden for her investigative journalism. She has made the Awareness Times the most credible newspaper in the country that investigates issues to their logical conclusions," the Paramount Chief stated adding "We are extremely happy to see her in our midst as her presence here today, as one of our country’s highly educated and fearless females, means a lot to my chiefdom as it is surely an inspiration to not only our young ladies but to many others.".

On behalf of his people, the P.C. thanked Dr. Blyden for her achievements both locally and at the international level in news dissemination and also for her efforts to stand up for the Women of this country and to encourage the young. He said her contributions to societal development are a glaring show of how women can meaningfully contribute to national development. "Dr. Sylvia Blyden should keep it up! Sierra Leoneans fully appreciate the work she is doing in the country," P.C. Sheba Gbereh III exhorted.

"Our daughters and our wives see Sylvia Blyden as their role model," he concluded.

Uhuru Wurie, Sylvia Blyden and Osman Sorie pose for photographers after the auspicious Awards occasion

Sylvia Blyden later invited the kids in the Chief’s compound to join the photo session. As can be seen, they were thrilled.

He also thanked YADO saying their awards would also help instill seriousness in students, teachers, nurses, chiefs as well as other personalities in the chiefdom and the country at large as people will work and serve the country even better with such motivations like Awards Ceremonies. He thus encouraged YADO to continue their good job in the country of recognising deserving persons.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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