Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 December 2022:
In 2020 Mayor Giuseppe Sala of Milan and Mayor of Freetown Aki-Sawyerr, co-founded the Mayors’ Dialogue – a city-led platform for Africa & Europe that aims to create opportunities and improve the lives of citizens, especially addressing the high levels of youth unemployment in many African cities that is a driver of irregular migration.
As Milan is a world leader in the fashion industry, they decided to centre their first city-to-city collaboration on fashion.
On Friday 16th December, after months of working together to identify opportunities for collaboration between the fashion design industries and creative communities in both cities, a significant milestone was achieved with the launch of the Freetown Fashion, Design and Creative Arts Network.
In partnership with and supported by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Labrum (a menswear fashion brand fusing British tailoring with West African design) the platform will be used to develop and channel opportunities for skills exchange between designers, broker networks and alliances amongst textile manufacturers, and more broadly support business development and investment in Freetown’s fashion industry.
The ultimate aim is to open the Milan market to Freetown fashion designers, thereby growing the industry and creating jobs.
Marta Foresti, ODI project lead and Foday Dumbuya, Labrum founder and creative director, came from London and Nonku Msomi from Durban City Council came from Durban to participate in the launch event and to engage with Freetown based creatives who have been working on the concept of the Freetown Fashion, Design and Creative Arts Network for several months.
Speaking about this exciting and promising initiative, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said: “We were excited to listen to three Freetown creative makers share reflections about their experiences in London and Milan in July and September this year. It was also a pleasure to listen to a recorded message from Mayor Giuseppe Sala of Milan. (Photo below: Hardworking Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr).
“Another highlight was watching a very moving film produced by London based Sierra Leonean producer Julian Knox. “Freedom of Movement” embodies the concept of what the Freetown Fashion Design and Creative Arts Network and the broader Mayors Dialogue seek to achieve. An arts and crafts exhibition provided a stimulating background to a lovely evening in which fashion designers, makers, musicians, artists and film makers, Empower Africa and Innovation SL committed to working together with Freetown City Council to ensure that the Freetown Fashion, Design and Creative Arts Network is a success.”
The Freetown Fashion, Design and Creative Arts Network has the potential to spin-out dozens of new small fashion manufacturers – with export income forecast at over two million dollars and creating hundreds of highly-skilled, knowledge-based jobs in the capital.
The is leadership in action not leadership in inaction .And the enemies of Sierra Leone are always the ones that are out to undermine her efforts as she tries to make a difference to our peoples lives , and promote our country’s image and as destination of where you can come and invest and live your dreams . You got to take your hat off to her because since Bio took office Mayor Akin Sawyer have faced many challenges in the form of vendetta politics and witch hunt from his SLPP government , but she remains steadfast and true to her beliefs that there are better days lying ahead for our country . The idea that one man can destroy the dreams and aspirations of millions of his fellow citizens , is no brainer .There comes a time where you have to pick sides .And Mayor Akin Sawyer have shown where her instincts lies .You are either with the majority of the people of Sierra Leone or you are playing succor to the enemies of Sierra Leone , Bio and his one directionless government .This projects shows Mayor Akin Sawyer has huge ambitions for Sierra Leone and it’s peoples. She is always looking ahead , and looking at the big picture .She is determined to achieve what is possible and is not held back from irritants that snip from a sedentary position .Even if she is working bare feet on broken glass to make lives for her Freetown city residence liveable and for once in their lives forget all the traumatic events the chaotic Bio government have subjected them to.Whilst Bio and some of his no hoppers supporters are busy planting stories on her , Maryor Akin Sawyer and her team in the city council are busy planting trees to mitigate the flood disasters that are becoming more regular to hit our coastline. The. good news is in the court of public opinion both nationally and internationally she commands an overwhelming support for the good works she have commissioned since taking office .One can hardly say that about Bio, who in his own words ,brands his political opposition as terrorist and working to make Sierra Leone ungovernable .It is this tale of two contradictions that makes Mayor Akin Sawyer work harder even with the best of intentions .She will need the biggest and the best cleaning brush to clean the image of our country that is damaged by the RUF wars , Ebola, Man made disasters like flooding, Tanker disasters , Prisinoners killed by security forces , security forces killed by cost of living demonstration and the never ending stream of corruption cases that keep tarnishing the image of a country that was once known as the Athens of Africa .What a lot of palava from Bio and his team. Let’s hope our country turn a new page in 2023 and let’s for once start thinking about our long suffering country and it’s people instead of our personal and greedy ambitions.Merry Chistmas to the management and Staff of the Sierra Leone Telegraph and the beloved people of Sierra leone.
Well done Mayor Aki-Sawyerr and all of your collaborators. It’s a mighty endeavor and I pray for a fruitful outcome. Kudos to you!