President Dr Julius Maada Bio on Friday 20 December 2019 on State Lodge, Freetown has issued the British Hollywood actor and musician, Idris Elba, with a Sierra Leonean Diplomatic Passport and pronounced him a Brand Ambassador for the small resource-rich West African nation.
During a meeting at the State Lodge on Hill Station, President Bio said that Mr Elba’s visit to Sierra Leone had been long-awaited, saying that he could feel his burning desire to come back home to be welcomed by his country people. He said that the country had gone through a lot with a scarred image, which needed a conscientious effort from everyone to change that perception and create a new narrative.
“We have tried our best to change the narrative but we need more hands on deck. With you, we have a capable hand to join my government in shaping the future of this country – telling the world a new narrative about a Sierra Leone that is ready to grow and a nation that is ready to be the hub for innovation and technology in Africa and a nation that is looking forward.
“We are conferring you a citizenship of this country and to make you a Brand Ambassador of Sierra Leone. We want to tap into your network to be able to tell the world that the little nation they knew for bad things is now a new Sierra Leone. We want to let the world know that Sierra Leone is now ready for business,” he said.
Receiving the passport, Idris Elba said that he was honoured and thankful for the opportunity to become a citizen of his father’s country, noting that it was an honour for his family. He said he had always wanted to come to Sierra Leone and make a mark adding that he was thankful that his career had afforded him and family the ability to come back to Sierra Leone with determination to rebrand the country.
“This is my first visit to Sierra Leone but will not be my last. I will love to bring with me the new energy that President Bio is so focused on. I am very excited for this honour and I want to take this honour to make the President and people of Sierra Leone proud of me,’’ he said.
Elba’s father, Winston Elba, migrated from Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom in the late 1960s where he met with his Ghanaian mother, Eve Elba. He is also a producer and director continually securing his place as one of the most versatile performers in Hollywood. He is a winner of several accolades for his distinguished service in the field of entertainment. In addition to his Golden Globe win, he is the first male actor to receive dual Screen Actors Guild awards in one evening.