The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt has opened the exhibition of the book of remembrance for the 900 Sierra Leonean soldiers that died during the first and second world wars. The presentation and exhibition of the book of remembrance was done at the National Museum in Freetown.
The Director of Operations of the Commonwealth Grave Commission, Barry Murphy said they were in Sierra Leone because they realized that there were 900 fallen soldiers from Sierra Leone during the First World War that have been forgotten. He said they want to through radio campaigns hear the stories of these fallen heroes which he said will enable them to tell their stories on the global stage. He said they are in discussion with the government with regards the best location to build a new memorial for these individuals, but on a temporal basis they have put all 900 names in a book of remembrance which was handed over to Paramount Chief Sheku Amadu Tejan Fasulluku on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone.
The Dean of Postgraduate Studies, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Professor Joe A.D. Alie did a presentation on Sierra Leone’s involvement in World War 1, including the Sierra Leone Carrier Corps, while the Minister of Defense, Brig. Gen. (Rtd) kellie Conteh shed light on the importance of the initiative to honor the non-commemorated Sierra Leoneans who sacrificed their lives in the World Wars.
In her presentation, the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney stressed on the importance of recognizing Sierra Leone’s contribution to the two World Wars and encouraged members of the public to come forward with their stories so that these might be shared in Sierra Leone and with the large Sierra Leonean community in the United Kingdom.
Opening the exhibition of the book of remembrance of the 900 fallen compatriots, Dr, Pratt stated that it was very historic to join other commonwealth nations to commemorate and work on the memorialization of those Sierra Leoneans that contributed and sacrificed for the first and second World Wars and the Eleven years civil war. She said memorialization is important and it makes a nation, which is why according to her more needs to be done in remembering those that sacrificed their lives in those wars. She mentioned that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report recommended that Sierra Leone places importance on memorialization, learn from their past and repair the mind-set to have a peaceful and united country.
She maintained that the exercise falls clearly within the Ministry’s mandate of restoration of monumental sites and museums; hence they are supporting the work of the Commonwealth Grave Commission and contribute to the discussions around it, noting that it was high time Sierra Leone started having a collective memory that serves where people should go. She thanked the Commission for awakening this and called on Sierra Leoneans to visit the exhibition and tell the stories of the fallen heroes.