Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 January 2023:
With general and presidential elections less than six months away, the people of Sierra Leone and the capital Freetown in particular, are praying and hoping for a much better 2023, after five years of brutal economic decline that has seen a massive fall in living standards and rising abject poverty.
Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is hopeful. Speaking on BBC World Service on Boxing Day, she reflected on 2022 and described Freetown as a melting pot of people of diverse backgrounds, who came together few months ago to celebrate the 230th anniversary of the capital, symbolising the rich history of a city created for freed slaves.
She also spoke about Freetown winning the Bloomberg Climate Change Challenge Fund which is being used to help deliver the “Freetown the Tree Town” campaign that has seen thousands of trees planted across the capital to combat the rapid rise in deforestation.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said there is much hope of solving the capital’s transportation problem when the cable car project is completed.
This has been a year of huge increase in fuel costs for the people of Freetown, despite global prices falling, with the cost of electricity going up three-fold, crippling households across the capital, she said.
But despite these difficulties, she described the people of Sierra Leone as very resilient.
Yesterday, New Year’s Eve, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr visited and made donations to the Milton Margai School for the Blind and the King George’s Home for the Elderly in Freetown.
“It was lovely to join the Staff and Pupils of the Sir Milton Margai School for The Blind this morning to make a donation to them. The rice, palm oil, sugar, vegetable oil and other items from the Freetown City Council were gladly received and we were blessed with renditions of seasonal songs.
“Listening to Principal Turay was very inspiring! The vote of thanks was given by Aminata, an SS2 St. Joseph’s Secondary School pupil resident at the Blind School. I loved listening to the school song and totally agree with the words “we cannot see but we will conquer”!
“And then we went on to the King George’s Home for the Elderly. Coincidentally we were there at the same time as Patrons Mr & Mrs Bob Thomas. We were blessed by a moving prayer made by one of the residents of the Home and a welcome song from them all.
“Thank you Freetonians for your gifts to the vulnerable – these donations, cleaning of the city and other council activities are made possible through the payment of property rates, business licenses and local taxes.
“This year, the compliance level for property rate collection was only 35%. We trust it will be higher next year so that FCC can do more for all our residents in 2023 and continue our journey to Transform Freetown,” she remarked.
And on Friday 30th December, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr attended the Krio Descendants Union 230 Years Celebration of the founding of Freetown and Homecoming , with a Thanksgiving Service at St Mark’s Countess of Huntington Church (founded in 1883) and at the Al Munir Mosque in Waterloo.
Among the special guests attending the celebration and thanksgiving was the opposition APC Flagbearer Aspirant – Dr Samura Kamara (Photo above).
Following the church and mosque services, Krios of both faiths processed through the historic village together.
“It was lovely to give God thanks for our history together, whilst continuing the Freetown At 230 Years celebrations,” Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said.
You can listen to highlights of her BBC interview here: