From the Editor’s Keyboard

Breaking News: There are Sierra Leoneans in Canada!

8 April 2008 at 19:42 | 762 views

Commentary:

By Gibril Gbanabome Koroma, Editor and Publisher, the Patriotic Vanguard, Vancouver, Canada.

I have been living and working in Canada for almost eight years now and I have not seen or heard of a single Sierra Leonean government official visiting or meeting with Sierra Leoneans here. Not even a visit by the Sierra Leonean ambassador in Washington DC who is supposed to cover Canada. It’s as if there are no Sierra Leoneans in Canada!

The negligence of Sierra Leonean leaders with regards to Canada is sometimes simply incredible and mindboggling. Here is a country(Canada)which has contributed immensely in terms of human, material and financial resources to Sierra Leone during and after the war and continues to do so, but yet there is not a single Sierra Leone consul here(Canada has one in Freetown).

Many people do not know that Canada is the second largest country in the world(larger than the United States and China), Russia being the largest. It(Canada) also has tremenduous human and material resources which makes it one of the richest countries in the world(G8). I therefore find it extremely unconscionable that smaller and poorer countries like Benin and Burundi have embassies here and Sierra Leone does not.

Canada has a lot to offer Sierra Leone in terms of trade and investment, but yet Sierra Leone governments behave as if the country does not exist even though it’s just a few minutes away from the United States, a country which does vigorous trade and shares many cultural values with Canada.

I am sometimes amused that Sierra Leonean politicians would come to a place like New York to raise funds and meet Sierra Leoneans but neglect to visit the Canadian city of Toronto which is just across the border. Toronto is home to thousands of well established Sierra Leoneans many of them highly successful professionals and entrepreneurs.

It’s ridiculous that president Koroma and Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura have many times visited a comparatively tiny country with limited resources like Britain and fail to visit Canada, not even once in seven months. It’s true that Britain has done more for Sierra Leone than Canada but that should not be a reason for it to be ignored.There are many Canadians living and working in Sierra Leone and Canada pours huge amounts of money into that country without making any noise about it(Canada is famous for keeping a low profile).President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia has been here a couple of times and Canadian investors are increasigly talking about doing business in her country.

Past Sierra Leonean governments had totally ignored Canada, the quiet giant, and we have lost a lot in terms of much needed investment and aid. The current APC government should not repeat that mistake.

I look forward to frequent town hall meetings(involving Sierra Leoneans and Canadians) with the new ambassador in Washington and visiting Sierra Leonean dignitaries in Canada. I also look forward to the eventual appointment of a Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Canada and the appointment of Sierra Leone consuls in major Canadian cities like Toronto,Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg.There should be a radical change in attitude in our diplomatic environment.

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