Moroccan Ambassador meets Tourism Minister

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The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Isam Taib together with his delegation has in a meeting with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt discussed the potentials of the tourism sector and how it can be harnessed. The meeting was held at the Ministry’s conference hall, Kingharman Road, Freetown.

 Commending the Minister for her commitment towards the improvement of the country’s tourism, Ambassador Taib said Dr. Pratt has the most exciting job in government that deals with projects and the development of tourism infrastructure.

In her response, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt welcomed the Ambassador and team to the Ministry saying that since she took up office in 2018, the tourism Ministry has taken a turn for the better thanks to the vision of President Bio that saw tourism as one of the growth sectors for economic diversification. She informed the Ambassador that they have been able to situate Sierra Leone strategically in the international agenda worldwide by attending and exploring many international tourism trade fairs and markets and also the introduction of wildlife tourism.

She said despite the huge gains made by the sector thus far, there are many areas that still need to be improved to get the tourism industry to international level. She highlighted the need to upgrade the national capacity of the hold country, training of tour guides, tour operators, support for museum management and also cultural exchanges of personnel between the two countries. She suggested a promotion on flight collaboration that will see AirMoroc bring tourists to and from Sierra Leone at a reduced cost. She called on the Ambassador to help lure investor from Morocco to invest in Sierra Leone.

Match fixing, money laundering, gambling: Dark days of Salone football returns

It is back to business as usual where entrenched corruption, political manipulation, match-fixing, money-laundering, human and drug trafficking were the norm in Sierra Leone Football.

This was sadly what the status quo of football in Sierra Leone was, where development of the game was stifled, and the FA in a permanent state of disorientation and a permanent state of financial deficit despite the consistent funding from Fifa and CAf.

This was all before 2013 when Isha Johansen (Tejan-Cole) stepped up to the task of heading the Sierra Leone Football Federation.

Isha’s story is well documented internationally as she put her life on the line for the past eight years fighting against what evidently is a chronically corrupt system.

Standing her ground in spite of the mounting odds against her, she gradually restored integrity and fair play into the country’s favourite sport, together with her faithful and hardworking General Secretary Christopher Kamara, rebuilt an erstwhile National team together with gender and youth development programs.

Finally, international and local corporates where beginning to show interest towards the FA.

In less than one year after Isha’s stepping down from the top seat in national football and handing over to the current FA President Thomas Daddy Brima, the country’s FA has plunged back to the dark days of doom and hopelessness.

Old names synonymous with match-fixing re-echoing, and new money launderers with political goodwill run the administration. Bribery amongst Journalists, Match  Officials, Agents, Scouts, are all having a field day as the ‘New-Normal’ of Salone Football decadence returns.

Last weekend’s premier fixtures between Blackpool v Bo Rangers was the final signal which confirmed that Match -Fixing and the decline of football in Sierra Leone has returned.

Isha declared in 2013 that she would fight to give birth to what she heralded to be the ‘Dawn of a new era’ and she unquestionably did that but the undeniable truth is that the dawn was short lived and we are fast returning to the DARK LONG NIGHTS OF DOOM IN SIERRA LEONE FOOTBALL.

To show how endemic and acceptable match-fixing and corruption is in the current Salone football, many were expecting that the former SLFA Boss (Isha Johansen) would have fixed her own match to give advantage to East End Lions because of her existing relationship with Lions, where his father served as chairman. But she disappointed them and again proved that she was fighting a genuine course against irregularities in Sierra Leone football. Fixing that match in favour of her parent club (Lions), would have increased their chances of topping the league table and cause no threats to FC Johansen’s league position, but she allowed fair-play and promoted integrity – a resounding message that should be embraced and celebrated by fans, pundits and administrators of Sierra Leone football. But many chose to celebrate wrong and mediocrity over what’s right and acceptable in modern and civilized footballing activities.

Jonathan Leigh Is Gone But Not Gone

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

The history of Sports Reporting, in Sierra Leone print media, will never be completed if Jonathan Leigh’s name is not mentioned in the Introduction and Bibliography. This is because a whole generation of Sierra Leonean Sports Writers had their inspiration from this man.

From Concord Times to Expo Times to the Independent Observer newspapers; Jonathan Leigh created a niche for himself as an authority in “Backgrounding” (in my journalese). Of all the “old school” Sierra Leonean journalists I know, he was the one who could not write any news without giving it background to clarify it without giving it overt clarification. His wealth of knowledge on prominent Sierra Leonean personalities and historical events was amazingly amazing. He was a sort of walking Yellow Page who could give you vital information off-the-cuff.

Jonathan Leigh and I always had mutual respect for each other. During my four-and-half years at the Independent Observer as News and Features Editor; I was the only one who he trusted to edit his stories or commentaries. And I was the only staff who could overrule his editorial decisions without him putting up any fight.  Many a time, in the Newsroom (at the FW Building, opposite the Komeh Building, at Short Street in Freetown), if an exclusive news broke out the first thing he would ask was who was the source of it. And if told it was I; he would say: “Ah, wans nar Sankoh kam with am ar believe am”. But one of the things he hated to love about me was my tell-it-to-your-face frankness. He would always tell the late Sorie Sudan Sesay or Bai Bai Sesay: “Ar dae fraid Sankoh ihm mot. E nor dae fraid for tok nar tin”.

Joe man Joe, as I always called him, had a good sense of humour—albeit at times lewdly lewd. Whilst the Independent Observer was headquartered at No.1 Short Street he used to, or liked to, crack jokes at the expense of the late Mohamed D. Koroma of the African Champion newspaper. He would pick up that day’s edition of the African Champion, picked out some journalistic and grammatical faux pas in it and made fun out of them. Another journalist he liked to crack jokes about was the late Chernor Ojuku Sesay of The Pool newspaper. I can still recall one evening at the façade of the Daily Mail building, at Rawdon Street in Freetown, when Ojuku came with his lab results after being appointed Press Attaché to the Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels. “You nor get HIV pan all de gyal dem way you don flap”, Jonathan asked with a mocking smile. Ojuku replied, “De lab result en medical report dem say ar nor get any sick.” Jonathan then retorted: “Then HIV nor dae if you nor get am.” And Ojuku counter-retorted: “Bo f*¬*k off yanda. Look udat dae tok but HIV.”

Despite Jonathan Leigh and I were not of the same political leaning, we never discussed politics. Even on the rare occasions we did; it was always on light-hearted notes. When he was appointed Sierra Leone’s deputy Ambassador to Germany, I phoned and wished him well. And when he was recalled, I called and offered words of consolation despite he seemed inconsolable.

Jonathan Leigh might be gone to meet his ancestors; but his memories will be forever with some of us who worked and walked with him. His gap-teeth smiles and swagger will be missed. He was, no doubt, the ladies’ man! Nar bluff man die so bobs!

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