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Canadian magazine pays tribute to late Saramadi Kabba

By  | 15 November 2016 at 04:06 | 2958 views

Several Sierra Leoneans were in the spotlight as nominees, during the 2016 Afro-Canadian Heroes Awards night on Saturday November 5. The organizers, Edmonton-based Diversity Magazine, also took the opportunity to pay special tribute to the late Alhaji Saramadi Kabba (seen extreme right of photo with baseball cap at a soccer match in Edmonton) who passed away here, last month.

Alhaji Kabba was a renowned journalist with the Sierra Leone Daily Mail in Freetown, before he moved to Canada in March 2001. Sport was his specialty, later becoming chairman of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) in the 1990s. Saramadi as he was called by his peers, first lived in Moncton, New Brunswick, when he arrived. He and his family soon relocated to Edmonton where he reunited with former colleague Daniel Oldfield. Saramadi launched his pioneering publication about eight years ago. He called it The Canadian African News Magazine (CANAF), operating as its managing editor.

To start the show that Saturday evening, host Kaygen Simon asked the audience to pause for a moment of silence in honour of Saramadi. “Mr. Kabba started the first ever magazine in the African community in Edmonton,” she said. Frankline Agbor, publisher of Diversity Magazine, also expressed similar sentiments in his welcome speech.

Agbor then went on to acknowledge his staff, volunteers, nominees, previous award winners, sponsors, and patrons. He gave a brief background of Diversity Magazine, a chronicle that came alive in a colourful slide show. "We began as a tiny 20-page magazine in 2012. Today we have one that is way bigger," the publisher announced.
He talked about the scope of its current coverage: stories and features about schooling, business, sports, talents, fashion, and even senior citizenry. "We all have dreams and we can achieve them," he observed. "We (Diversity Magazine) cannot afford not to share our dreams with you."

This year’s nominees.

Among this year’s Sierra Leonean nominees were compatriots:
• Kemoh Mansaray, president of the Sierra Leonean community
• Bakar Mansaray, author of the book Suitcase Full of Dried Fish
• Prince Thorpe, aspirant to the mayoral seat in Freetown
• Kondeh Mansaray, volunteer coach and founder of BTB (Born to Be) Soccer Academy

Kondeh Mansaray won the award for Youth of the Year 2016; in recognition of his role in promoting youth soccer. Mansaray was not available to receive his prize. Yet, instead of allowing an awkward silence, Federal Minister Amarjeet Sohi seized the moment and made a light moment of his task at the podium. "Kondeh is probably coaching our kids, as we wait for him to come up for his award." There was cheering and murmurs of approval, in response to the minister’s joke.

Minister Sohi and writer Bakar Mansaray. The Minister is holding Bakar’s collection of short stories, A suitcase full of dried fish.

Bakar Mansaray did not win.Yet, the author thanked his supporters on his Facebook page Mandingo Scrolls. “Please accept my sincere appreciation for your wonderful support by nominating and voting for me in the 2016 Writer-of-the-year Afro-Canadian Heroes Award organized by Diversity Magazine. Although I won the recognition as a nominee but not the award, I would like to share that recognition with all of you,” his online post reads. Community president Kemoh Mansaray and bilingual educationist Augustine Marah were winners in the previous ACH event.

The ACH gala was held at the francophone Campus Saint Jean, in the University of Alberta area. Among dignitaries were key officials from both the provincial and federal governments. Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi, Member of Parliament Ziad Aboultaif, and Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta David Shepherd, graciously handed out some of the awards.

In their respective speeches, they expressed support for Diversity Magazine, praising the publishers for recognizing and inspiring African Canadians in the community.
Edmonton MLA David Shepherd also traced the history of Black Canadians in the province of Alberta, dating back to the 19th century. He cited their accomplishments in the cattle industry, law enforcement, commerce, and even sport. There were loud expressions of support as Mr. Shepherd concluded: "I look forward to working with you, so that by the next elections, I would not be the only black MLA here."
Actor and former athlete Jesse Lipscombe won the Community Leader of the Year award; for his globally-publicized stance against racism. Beryl Linda Scott was crowned Community Woman of the Year; with Quinloha Entertainment taking the Promoter of the Year prize.

Zainab of Heritage Education Funds talking to Augustine Marah

Alison Clarke won the Writer of the Year laurel, while dentist Dr. A. Olapade, was named Professional of the Year. Other winners were: DJ Stevie (Disc Jockey); Jayne Doe (Artist), Tope Roth (Entrepreneur Woman); and Kilele Creations (Designer).
Prophet Michael of the Celestial Church led the opening prayers, while musician King Ramon played the Canadian national anthem on his saxophone, drawing loud applause for his solo rendition. Side attractions included a fashion show and a musical performance by Jayne Doe, winner of the Artist of the Year title.

There was also an exhibition by the various business enterprises associated with the magazine, and the ACH Awards program. The English Language school for international newcomers, CCI-LEX (Cultural Connections Institute: The Learning Exchange), represented by Kylee Winterholt; Heritage Registered Education Savings (RESP) Fund, represented by Sierra Leonean Zainab Kamara; Sun Life Financial, represented by Margaret Woro, were among the many participants.

Sponsors of the event included City of Edmonton and Global News Edmonton. A host of local personalities and businesses sponsored specific awards. They include Solomon Davies, Tony Muto, Sam Oboh, Michael Lawal, Harriet Tinka, Koultures Afro-Continental Restaurant, and the popular grocer Kasoa Tropical Food Market.
Diversity magazine is available in print and online (www.diversitymag.ca).

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