You may not already know this but yours truly was one of the Masters of Ceremony at the inauguration of the President last Thursday November 15the one day after my 23rd birthday. Why was I selected as one of the MCs….because they needed someone who spoke French but clearly also because my uncle was overseeing the entire event…hehehe..Its a little of what you know and a whole lot of who you know
I actually spent my birthday at the stadium under the hot blazing sun rehearsing routines with the military and other MCs and performers. The other MCs were Mr. Raymond Desouza George, a poet, writer, and professor at the University of Sierra Leone, Mr. Dennis Streeter, comedian and actor, so in all there were three.
I went to several meetings at State House a week or so before the inauguration with civil servants from different ministries and government agencies who had been meeting long before the election results were called.
There were three events planned for the day: the inauguration at the stadium, a special luncheon for foreign dignitaries at Parliament and an inauguration ball to follow on the grounds of State House in the evening. The official inauguration at the stadium and the luncheon were both GOSL events whereas the ball was spearheaded with $20,000 from GoodWorks International LLC/ GWI Consultancy—(of which former US Ambassador Andrew Young is Chairman…let me not bother go into why GoodWorks would be interested in funding an Inauguration Ball for a new elected president in Sierra Leone if not to make sure that they have a foot into having GOSL as a client…nothing goes for nothing people)to be matched by private sector contributions from Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The ball was almost not going to happen when certain “Sierra Leoneans from the diaspora” misrepresented their capabilities promising to bring a fleet of vehicles, a ferry, helicopter, and much more failed to meet their end of the bargain. Surely they were removed from the planning committee and real efforts then began to solicit private sector contributions for the Ball.
As of Wednesday, it became apparent to me that all the planning that had been taking place at State House was insufficient for the task ahead. When it came down to actually executing the Inauguration and making it happen, it was left to the MCs, most specifically Mr. Dennis Streeter who took the lead and began to make decisions when no one was available to take them. Working with the military guard of honor, the band and local artists he was able to put together what actually became the Inauguration Program.
On Thursday I woke up at 7am, my mom (a director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) had left an hour earlier to head to Lungi Airport to receive foreign heads of states with our new Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana. The hovercraft had almost sunk the night before so the two available means of transport from the Airport were the ferry (which would not be fast enough) and the UTI helicopter service (not to be confused with the Paramount helicopter service that crashed several months ago). Actually from what I hear, the name of the company might be different but the conditions of the helicopters are still the same. My advice to anyone coming to Freetown is to wait for the ferry (until further notice). If you arrive at night sleep at the hotel in Lungi and take the first ferry out or you can take the ride through the horrid roads of PortLoko and make it home that way. Stay away from the helicopter until yours truly gets a chance to investigate their services reallyJ Now back to the Inauguration….
I got to the stadium at 8 O’clock in my brand new burnt orange and brown dress that my grandmother spent the whole day and much of the previous night making to perfect fit. Dennis and Mr. George were already there as well as thousands of APC-ALLPEOPLE’SCONGRESS supporters who were not going to miss out on the opportunity to witness the inauguration flocked to the stadium. I entered through the YWCA/Swimming Pool gate round back and into the opening to the field underneath the presidential/covered stand. The sun was doing its best to make sure that it too was present and accounted for because my eyes burnt until I put on my “very cool super dark don’t look at me shades”. I had anticipated that we would not start on time….but not like this. The program was scheduled to start at 9:25am. We started at 12pm.
I felt most sorry for the military men in their regalia who had to stand with their weapons for hours on end under the blazing heat with no idea or hint as to when the program was going to start. To entertain the now heat exhausted crowds Dennis began to instruct the cultural groups to perform….there was music from the Ballanta Academy, and Freetong Players, a couple skits from the WanPot Comedians and a comedy group from the APC Party whose name I cannot forget but sounded something like Ebony (though I am sure its not). Finally we were informed that the Vice President had arrived…which meant that all the visiting heads of state were now all at the Stadium. Now you may be wondering…why it took 3hrs for us to start the Inauguration…the answer is quite simple…TRANSPORTATION…how easy do u think it is to wait for the arrival of private jets, do a reception befitting of a head of state…calabash…school children included (multiple times), transport several 32person delegations from Lungi to the stadium with only a helicopter or two and a ferry at your disposal???
Anyway I was thrilled to hear the Vice President was on the premises…finally we could begin….first the Chief of Defense Staff, then the Minister of Defense (one tall lanky fella with a slight FELA resemblance), and then the Vice President all to receive their salutes.
We waited a little longer and former President Kabbah arrived…and I don’t even think anyone was booing (as someone had said might happen the day before)…people were just happy to see some activity.
Followed by some more waiting because the president had not yet arrived….45mins later dressed in a big white gown with hat to match, riding on the back of a white HILUX truck……Mesdames et Messieurs le President de la Republique de Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma…led by two horses from Melian Rentals & Décor (who were responsible for decorating the stadium). Our president looked to brilliant that Thursday afternoon…as he rode passed the different stands with his white handkerchief in hand waving…the people went mad with excitement and roared in approval. Around and Around he went…twice. Everyone was happy….My heart runneth over with pride and joy….if it wasn’t for the dehydration I was beginning to suffer from I would have completely forgotten that I’d been waiting for 4hours just for this.
………………TO BE CONTINUED VERY SOON, WITH PICS…………