Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 February 2022:
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Memunatu Pratt and World Monuments Fund (WMF) yesterday announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for a preservation project to save Old Fourah Bay College in the Cline Town district of Freetown, Sierra Leone, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Freetown
Old Fourah Bay College was the first western-style university in sub-Saharan Africa and is a living testament to idealism and the power of education. Established in 1827, it produced the earliest leaders in West Africa including many leaders of the independence movements that helped end colonialism. It is immensely important in the history of Sierra Leone and the region and is a protected national monument.
World Monuments Fund is the implementing partner for a United States Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant, awarded in 2021, to preserve Old Fourah Bay College. This grant will cover the first phase of what will likely be a multi-phase project.
The scope of this first grant is to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the structure, carry out limited emergency stabilization to prevent further damage, and develop a plan for reuse of the structure in consultation with the community and key stakeholders.
“This project, funded by the United States Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, demonstrates American values in action and United States leadership in preserving cultural heritage sites like Old Fourah Bay College. It is my hope that preserving this site ensures that the next generation of Sierra Leonean leaders can continue to draw inspiration from the triumphs of education, culture, and science of the past,” said U.S. Ambassador David Reimer, who attended the ceremony.
“The project at Old Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, supported by the United States Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, reflects our shared commitment to working with local communities to protect their heritage for future generations, and preserving structures that can help tell a more textured and complete story of human experience,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund.
About World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world’s diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries.
Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society. wmf.org
The “Athens of West Africa” is slowly and steadily on the rise again. May the almighty continue to bless our beautiful and best Tourism Minister Dr. Memunatu Pratt for her foresight in convincing the American Ambassador in restoring this monumental structure:
I hope and pray that students from all over Africa will have the opportunity to visit this historic building in the near future which will definitely boost our tourist industry.
Sierra Leone is one of those countries in the west African region, that is fulll of historical facts, that helped shaped the past, the present and future for generations yet to come. And one of this great institutions is the establishment of Fourah Bay College in 1827, as a centre of learning in the west African region. Indeed many of our future African liberation leaders , had their rite of passage in this great institutions. Dr Pratt working with the American Ambassador in helping in the restoration of this educational heritage is worty of conservation, which is intargible attributes of Sierra Leonean society inheritance from the past, there by ensuring it survival for feature generation yet unborn. Make no mistake, your past inform your present and help shape the feature trajectory of our nation. Governments should always ensure we work tirelessly to preserve and celebrate our countrys rich history.
Some of this historical structures like Fourah Bay college, Cotton Tree, and the point of departure of our African men and women and children sold to slavery to Europe, the Americas and Caribbean, and their return four hundred years later to the shores of” Freetown ” and establishing their own settlements as freemen and women, should be a subject of persarvation orders and regulations by the government. Working with our international partners, world monuments funds is a most. Our country will benefit greatly, because there are people out there that are willing to pay their arm and leg to visit this historical sites.Apart from our own Country’s citizens, which is an enormous benefit to Sierra Leoneans that are hungry to learn about how country came to be, in the Caribbean, United States, and Europe the Black Lives Matter movement have flung the door wide open for anyone willing to learn about the slave Trade, Colonialism and its impact on our societies we see play out today in the world stage.
Our tourism sector will benefit hugely from descendants of the barbaric trade that wants to retrace their origin. And Sierra Leone is one of only few African countries that have a ring side seat to all the terrible things that happened to the African diaspora.