By Millicent Senava Mannah
Raymond Alie, the Director of Eminence Africa Entertainment has on the 8th December 2022 revealed at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs that the organization is indeed very pleased to be in Sierra Leone to organize the first African-Caribbean Festival in the country from the 28th December 2022 to the 2nd January 2023 at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Lumley Beach respectively and assured that the festival is expected to be the biggest event in Africa.
According to the Director, their ultimate goal is to increase tourism, create employment and economic impact for the private sector, showcase the country, organize lantern parades, promote local musicians like Ebenezer Calendar, local artists, drummers, ‘bubu’ dancers and the country’s culture as well as display Caribbean culture and instruments.
He enlightened that the event is an opportunity to showcase Sierra Leone to the outside world and appealed to the public to be part of the festival that would be exciting and fantastic, is optimistic that the event would be organized annually to among others foster greater economic trade between Africa and the Caribbean, to create investment opportunities in addition to exploring freedom and get a taste of the country’s culture and freedom.
Raymond Alie continued to inform that Eminence Africa Entertainment has subsidiaries and that part of its mandate is to enhance growth and development in the entertainment sector.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt articulated that this is God’s time for tourism to thrive in Sierra Leone as it has not been at its best over the years, observed that a country’s DNA is in its culture, that without tourism there would be no cultural heritage reiterating that the day is historic as the festival would be the first in West Africa.
She also asserted that Africa is full of many opportunities, is not divorced from African-Americans and Africans in other parts of the world and recalled that 109 African Americans who traced their roots to the country were recently awarded Sierra Leonean passports.
Dr. Memunatu Pratt further informed that the African Union has declared the Diaspora African Region and the Year of Return due to the high remittances, that Africans in the diaspora are exploring their roots to the continent through DNA and recalled that Sierra Leone in the 1808s was the hob for free slaves and a melting pot underscoring that the country is a very important component in all of these.
She continued that creative identity is a very important tool to promote culture, emphasized the need to review the country’s cultural institutions like the lantern, suggested the organizing of a food festival during the same period to enrich the festival and that she has informed the President and Parliament about the program.
The Minister went on to appeal to the public to make the festival one of the best in the country citing as examples the Bamako/Budapest Rally and others that were success stories and called for the cleaning of the Lumley Beach.
The program was chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Kwame Yankson.
Highlights of the press conference were the video show, the question and answer session and the vote of thanks by Kai Saquee, Public Relations Officer, National Tourist Board.