If you hear the name of the West African country of Sierra Leone and instantly think of Kanye's lyrics from 'Diamonds' , you are not alone. Images of child soldiers and the war torn country have been depicted in not only songs but in movies like Leonardo DiCaprio's "Blood Diamond" and books like A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The struggles that they have had over the years are the only associations many in the international community have with the nation. The President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and ambassadors of the country are aware of this and they are on a mission to change this perception.
BSF was honored to be in attendance at the 50 Years Forward - Celebrating a New Sierra Leone event held November 21st, 2010 at an exclusive reception at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. Famed Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning Actor Jeffrey Wright was introduced as the Sierra Leone "Peace by Piece" Ambassador and the premiere of the compelling documentary Sierra Leone: Road to Change, produced by M3 Films was screened at the theatre as well.
The intimate event, hosted by award-winning journalist and political commentator, Jeff Johnson, was sponsored by VeeV and included more than 100 international key influencers, such as Ambassadors to Sierra Leone and the UN, Mos Def, and Best-Selling AuthorIshmael Beah (A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier). There were also performances by Sierra Leone's most prolific Hip Hop group Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew and by R&B singer/songwriter Carolyn Malachi.
The highlight was hearing Wright recount stories and memories of his 14+ trips to the country. In a melodic love letter to the country he talked about about the food, the people, and the countryside and the reasons he keeps going back. It was his affinity and dedication to the country that led him to the Peace by Peace campaign.
Those in attendance and others have pledged to join Jeffrey Wright, to serve as host committee members on behalf of the "Peace by Piece" campaign and to spread Sierra Leone's good news to at least 50 people in honor of their "50 for 50" campaign and to help attract long-term investors and sponsorship for the momentous occasion. The theme of the celebration is "50 Years Forward - Celebrating a New Sierra Leone." April 27, 2011, will mark fifty years of independence from British rule.
For more information about Sierra Leone and its 50th anniversary celebrations, visit www.sierraleoneat50.gov.sl