Salone News

’Alaska’ Appeals for Sierra Leone Children

13 January 2007 at 02:09 | 415 views

By Comrade Zejepl,UN Headquarters, NY.

In a mammoth gathering that included some of the
finest world diplomats, Hollywood celebrities, and
high ranking NGOs at the Dag Hammerstad Auditorium at
the United Nations yesterday,Alhassan Kargbo, alias Comrade Alaska, took the
auditorium by surprise, by making one of the most
stunning appeals for child soldiers and all children in
Sierra Leone, during the Screening of the movie “Blood
Diamond”.

The movie screening and subsequent panel discussion
which was aimed at “child soldiers and conflict diamonds”
and the work of the Special Court , had attracted
hundreds of stakeholders from all over the world. In
an assemblage that brought together the casts of Blood
Diamond, world policy makers, Ambassadors, UN
Secretary General’s special representatives,
international journalists, the world diamond council,
Canadian experts on the Kimberly Process, Human Rights
organizations, Warner Brothers Pictures Virtual
Studios etc, Alaska, a lawyer and journalist, used a very rare opportunity to
articulate the impact of the war on children from a
victim’s perspective.

In a passionate plea to the gathering and particularly
one of the major casts, Djimon Hounsou, (alias Solomon
Vandy), he asked that some of the proceeds from the
movie be donated to the cause of children in Sierra
Leone.

Hinging on the major storyline of the movie
where Solomon Vandy perseveres at all odds to be
reunited with his only son, “Dia”, Alaska compared Dia
to all Sierra Leonean children whose “traumatic
experiences” need not be ignored in spite of the end of
that country’s conflict.

Despite several inputs from
many experts and diplomats, this tear-dropping appeal
from an insider’s point of view eventually formed the
centerpiece of the entire discussion. Until his appeal,
many in the audience (only seeing the movie for the
first time), assumed it was only another Hollywood
docudrama with it’s over-exaggeration of real life
experiences of native people in tropical Africa in
graphic images for dramatic effect in a bid to upsurge
the box office. Although there were no specific
pledges, the plea ignited serious thoughts about how
to move Sierra Leone ’s children beyond the discussion
table.

The program, which started with light refreshment,
presented attendants with the opportunity to socialize
with cast members, followed by a screening of the
movie, a panel discussion on the making of the
movie,children and conflict diamonds and the special
court in Sierra Leone.

In attendance also was
Sierra Leone ’s permanent representative to the United
Nations - whose presence though initially widely
acknowledged, was unfortunately dwarfed by Alaska’s
brief contribution. By the end of the program, diplomats,
journalists as well as other policy makers were
scrambling for small talk and business card-swiping
with this new-found “children’s advocate”, while some
celebrities even drooped around for photo-ops. For a
brief moment, the comrade was a celebrity in his own
right.

Ironically, amidst 21-degree chilling weather, Alaska
barely made it to the hall after a series of rejects by
UN Security personnel - under strict instructions to
permit only those on the guest list. The program was
overbooked, and many guests who had RSVP, including
Alaska , found out only at the gate that they did not
make it to the final list. At the end of the program,
one female UN official who eventually facilitated our
entrance after my respectful insistence admitted how
proud she was in making such a very rewarding
decision.

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