In an event organized at the Family Kingdom Resort Center, Aberdeen in Freetown on Monday 4th December 2023, the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) Hon. Alusine Kanneh handed over 52 Passports to African-Americans who traced their roots as Sierra Leoneans and encouraged them to invest in Sierra Leone.
Handing over the Passports to the African-Americans, Hon. Alusine Kanneh described Sierra Leone as ‘one of the most peaceful countries in Africa’ stating that last week, the African-Americans met him at his immigration office where they discussed the rules and regulations that govern the laws of Sierra Leone National Passports and indicated that they were very lucky to have qualified to possess the passports.
“I will tell you today that you are a very lucky citizen of Sierra Leone. Let me also thank the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, The Monument and Relics Commission in making sure that you acquire your citizenship accordingly as far as our nation is concerned” he said.
Hon. Kanneh revealed that he was at the Family Kingdom Resort Center because he is the custodian of the Sierra Leone National Passports and at the same time being the Chief Immigration Officer of the Republic of Sierra Leone to deliver the passports and bless the African-Americans present to hold on to the Sierra Leone National Passports for positive use.
He added by admonishing all that there is a law which covers everyone who goes with citizenship and one thing that inspired him to approve the applications of the African-Americans was the result of the background check done by the immigration since their job is to do background checks of people who have the trace of being a Sierra Leonean from another countries.
The CIO commended one of the African-Americans, Andre Johnson, President, Bantu Brothers Foundation for investing in Sierra Leone and employing over 80 Sierra Leoneans. He called on others to follow suit as it is necessary to invest in a country that is safe and ready to do business.
Alieya Alie Kargbo Director, Tourism Is Life Tours, shared his experience and expressed that the homecoming program started as a result of what happened in Ghana (the year of returns).
He disclosed that he was part of that ceremony and they learned how it was transpired and they thought it was right for Sierra Leone to do a program like this because Sierra Leone exported more slaves than any country in the 40 slaves fourth in the sub-saharan Africa.
“The simple reason is, it is not that all of them were Sierra Leoneans but because Sierra Leoneans were days back then most people were coming back to Sierra Leone selling…” he mentioned.
Andre Johnson shared his testimony, explaining that three years ago he was sitting at the same place waiting to receive his passport.
He opined that he was happy because his wife was also amongst those who were fortunate to receive her passport.
Andre further underscored that the event was not only about passports but noted that Sierra Leone is the only country in Africa that allows you to get citizenship through your DNA and only one of the countries he is aware of.
“We have to remember that we have work to do. Give whatever skill you have. Some of us have financial strength and I believe each of us has something to offer to this community. Right now I have employed over 80 people in Sierra Leone” he disclosed.
Dori Turay, Stafford Lodge, Salone Hidden Gems Travel and Tours also shared her experiences being in Sierra Leone for four years and since she came as a Black-America following her husband and his dream she has invested a lot. Dori Turay asserted that she followed her husband to come to Sierra Leone not knowing that she was tracing her ancestors.
“Since then I have a lot, I have met a lot of good people and friends… I know some people will leave this place today and never come back, it’s okay, but for you who believe Sierra Leone is your home please come back and let’s make this place a better place for all of us,” she said.
The Chairman of Monuments and Relics Commission, Joseph Ben Kaifala expressed that the African-Americans obtaining their passports is an indication that they have accepted the responsibility that comes with citizenship of Sierra Leone as their ancient rights will be guaranteed by the blood of their ancestors who left the shores in chain and paraded through a door which was referred to as a ‘door of no returns.’