A Sierra Leonean group based in Germany, the Sierra Sports and Cultural Club, has continued to promulgate the countries cultural richness and beauty during the world famous Carnival of Cultures in Berlin.
Sierra Leone’s famous masked devil, “Paddle” paraded the streets of Berlin, leaving onlookers with surprising agility, while Sierra Leonean traditional music, food, art and entertainment climaxed the occasion.
The procession assembled 90 groups from various countries around the globe. The significance of the event is however based on the fact that it highlights the hidden treasures of the international cultural scene in Berlin among which Sierra Leone is a part.
The Group’s Chairman, Mohamed Suma said their participation was specifically aimed at promoting Sierra Leonean culture in the diaspora adding that, such move would encourage people to explore the cultural richness of the country.
The Carnival of Cultures is open to everybody and all forms of cultural expression. It is regarded as a platform for a proud expression of hybrid cultural identities, containing traditional and contemporary elements. It includes and attracts all age groups, professional artists and amateurs, people from all walks of life.
The artistic quality of the group presentations has been stimulated and increased by the introduction of a competition during the parade. Prizes are awarded to the best carnival groups, floats and youth groups thereby encouraging the development of all aspects of carnival.
Though Sierra Leone is not among the five award winners, Sierra Sport and cultural club is confident to continue their participation in subsequent carnivals. This is because according to the Chairman, “…it is not all about money but also promoting our cultural and touristic potentials”
The Sierra Sports and Cultural Club, a group of young and dynamic Sierra Leoneans in Germany will be participating in this year’s carnival of cultures, (Karneval der Kulturen) to promote Sierra Leone’s cultural heritage in Berlin, Germany.
The occasion which will take place from the 25-28 May 2012, is geared towards presenting the cultural and ethnic diversity of the large international population living across Germany. It was against this backdrop that the Sierra Sport and Cultural club seized this great opportunity to showcase Sierra Leone, amidst millions of people who will converge to witness this august juncture.
In a brief interview with the Club’s Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Suma, he said his organization is proud to show case Sierra Leone’s culture in this year’s most colorful, diverse and vivid carnival. Their aim he went on is to attract the attention of participants and visitors regarding Sierra Leone’s unique and diverse natural beauty.
Other activities for the event include among others, Sierra Leone’s culinary seducements, arts and a traditional hunting parade.
The Carnival of Cultures is of special importance to Berlin’s ethnic communities. They see it as a challenge and an incentive to reconsider their view on the culture in their respective countries of origin while defining their cultural self-image “between two cultures”.
The involvement in carnival activities strengthens the bonds within ethnic communities and among all the groups alike. Their presence in the national and international media leads to a growing self-esteem within ethnic communities. Therefore, the Carnival of Cultures promotes awareness for the positive impact made by immigrants on Berlin’s cultural and social life.
Sierra Leone has once again participated in the World’s leading International Travel Trade Fair (ITB) in Berlin, Germany. The ITB is a platform for trade visitors, business partners and tour operators across the globe. It is aimed at encouraging individual countries to exhibit their touristic potentials in an effort to attract meaningful investors.
During the exhibition where Sierra Leone’s touristic and business potentials were extolled, the General Manager of the National Tourism Authority, Cecil J. Williams said it is a forum worth participating as according to him, it creates an opportunity to not only display products and provide relevant information about Sierra Leone, but also to establish networks with business partners and to update themselves about the trend in the tourism sector.
Mr. Williams said their participation in this year’s trade fair is to provide aid to investors and inform them about the rich potentials that Sierra Leone has in the business sector. This is why government has also established legislative instruments to provide incentives for investors – the Tourism Act and Finance Act 2011.
Considering the high unemployment rate and efforts to improve the socio economic development in the country, Mr. Williams believes that tourism is the answer to those many underlying problems. He noted that the industry has a multiplying effect touching on every facet of society. The reason, he went on, was because of its people oriented scheme which unlike other mechanised industries like Minerals and Agriculture, encourages everybody from various discipline. “….tourism does not only bring economic benefit but enhances the social status of the people. Once employed in the tourism industry, your status is improved,” he noted, adding that recent developments ranging from increase in employment rate and revenue collection lend credence to the aforesaid.
It could be recalled that the industry has created employment to approximately five thousand people, with a total contribution of $ 36.9 million into the country’s national coffer. Tourists arrivals in the country have equally increased from 33 thousand to 52 thousand in recent times.
The General Manager further disclosed that other major development activities will soon be undertaken by two Hotel chains – Radison Blew and Hilton Hotel. They will construct 200-bed Hotels in the country, in an effort to increase the capacity of the hotels in the country. These developments he said are good news for operators who are interested in going to Sierra Leone.
Mr. Williams described the relationship between the National Tourist Board and the private sector as vital. “That is why we are here with a number of private sector participants. They are the main suppliers of services and our role is to facilitate,” he affirmed.
In another development, the tourism sector has secured a $ 3million fund to enhance human resource and capacity building, sector governance review and eco-tourism policy diversification.
“As the world population grows, so does the demand for high-quality foodstuffs. It is estimated that there will be nine billion people to feed in 2050,” those were the exact words of the German Minister of Agriculture, Ilse Aigner, in her welcome statement at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture(GFFA), during the 77th International Green Week in Berlin last weekend.
The forum assembled approximately 70 Agricultural Ministers from across the globe, including Sierra Leone, to develop strategies aimed at addressing problems affecting food security and economic growth. The green week is not only the world’s biggest fair for food, agriculture and horticulture, but also an important forum for experts to discuss global issues that arise in the field of agricultural policy. It was in line with the aforesaid that President Koroma declared Agriculture as his government’s top priority in 2008. This is a clear demonstration of his government’s commitment to ensure food security and economic growth through mechanised and commercialised farming in Sierra Leone. While the discussions were also centred on the fight against hunger and food waste in both developed and developing countries, Sierra Leone has been the champion to make agriculture as an engine for increased earning export, youth employments and infrastructural developments in the country. This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, in an effort to market his country’s agricultural potentials
He specifically mentioned the ongoing development programmes within the fundamental policy framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme in that sector. The Minister informed meaningful investors in Germany and colleague Ministers that his government is committed to ensure efficient and effective resource utilization, cross cutting issues of gender, including environmental sustainability and social protection. In order to achieve the aforementioned objectives, Dr. Sesay said government allocates 40% of its national budget to subsidise both small and large scale farmers across the country. The commercialisation of small scale holders as part of the National Sustainable Agricultural development Programme, caters for farmers with adequate provision of agricultural materials to enable abundant production of food in the country. Such developments strides are fundamental tenets designed to lay a proper foundation that would guarantee food sufficiency in 2050. The role of agriculture in ensuring that people will not go to bed hungry need not to be overemphasised.
This was why the host German Agriculture Minister, Ilse Aigner, said the fight against hunger in developing countries should be a central focus with specific emphasis on the crucial role that the agricultural sector should play in that regard. She said without a sustainable and productive agriculture and food security, the fight against hunger will not yield fruits. The Federal Minister referred to the Green Week as a real magnet for the public, politics and science. Because it offers a podium for high ranking world Ministers to deliberate on issues that are central to the social and economic well being of the world population. She expressed worries that one billion people are already suffering from hunger as disclosed by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She therefore called on government representatives from around the world, business expert and researchers from development cooperation to make meaningful contributions that would add value to the International agriculture and food policy.
Meanwhile, African Ministers, senior technical representatives from governments, regional organizations, the private sector and academia, also had fruitful discussions on the modernization of African Agriculture as a contributing factor in food security towards a new paradigm. They also looked at mechanisms as to how hunger should be minimized and the development of various methods to integrate farmers in respective countries.
The events which were climaxed by the 4th Berlin Summit of Agricultural Ministers came up with a joint declaration on issues regarding global food security and poverty alleviation, focusing on farming with limited resource and sustainable growth. The growing demand for food, soil protection, management of water resources and the protection of small scale farmers are among the 27 key issues discussed in the summit.
The results of the Berlin Summit of Agriculture Ministers will be incorporated as in previous years in ongoing international negotiations. Above all, they should give impetus to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro.
Before the final declaration was made, Dr. Sam Sesay told his colleague Ministers that there is a need for increased supply of food production and therefore called for the establishment of intensive and sustainable strategies for effective environmental management.