The Sierra Leone Web


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------President Kabbah


    * 47 years of Independence for Ghana is indeed a milestone not only for Ghanaians but for the whole of Africa and the struggle for liberation everywhere.
* Political emancipation of African Countries and of all countries under one form of external rule or the other became the principal focus of the then OAU because it was evident that self-determination and self governance were crucial to the development and transformation of geographical entities from mere dependencies into Nation States.
* Thus, Ghana was at the vanguard of that dream which spurred nationalist leaders like the late Kwame Nkrumah, Shekou Toure, Modibo Keita of Mali and others to lead determined campaigns for the transfer of power from the Colonial Powers to the then new emerging States of Africa.
* Today's occasion therefore is to salute not only the founding fathers of Ghana's independence but also a time to reflect on how much of that dream of independence and of self-determination has been realised. Today's occasion also coincides with the opening of an exhibition of made-in-Ghana goods.
* As we reflect on 47 years of self-rule by Ghanaians let me start by extending heartiest congratulations to my dear brother, His Excellency President John Kuffuor, the Government and people of Ghana for keeping the flame of self-determination and self-government still burning.
* Sierra Leone and Ghana have always had very close ties and affinities which span the ages from pre-Colonial days. As countries within the same subregion our peoples suffered similar fates when large numbers of them were exported as slaves during the infamous Trans-Atlantic slave trade era. Some Sierra Leonean heroes were also banished to Ghana.
* The end of that infamous era of the slave trade saw the founding of the Province of Freedom for the resettlement of slaves in 1787, thus leading to the earliest form of colonial governance in what is now present day Sierra Leone. At a glance one can see that our two countries are intertwined not only by our close geographical locations but also because our ancestors suffered a common fate. The story of recaptive slaves and their resettlement in the Province of Freedom brought many Africans, particularly West Africans, together into the melting pot of peoples that constituted the population of the Colony of Sierra Leone.
* We are therefore one people. Subsequent exchanges and inter-relationships between our peoples during the Colonial and post-Colonial periods have indicated strong bonds between Ghanaians and Sierra Leoneans. Those initial contacts and relationships have now been further sharpened and embellished by even much closer ties such as our belonging to the then OAU, the African Union, ECOWAS, the Commonwealth, and such initiatives as NEPAD.
* A turning point in our relationship came about when Ghanaian troops, first under ECOMOG and then under UNAMSIL, made the extreme sacrifice of shedding their blood so that Sierra Leone can have peace and democracy.
* Mr High Commissioner, Sierra Leone is proud of Ghana. We are also proud of the excellent fraternal relations we have been able to cultivate over time.
* During my tenure I am delighted to note that the existing fraternal and bilateral ties between Ghana and Sierra Leone have assumed new and sustainable dimensions, particularly as you rightly pointed out, during the last 3 years. The fostering of bilateral trade between the two countries and the exchange of ideas and knowledge-sharing through experts are fundamental areas which my government will pursue as the cornerstone of continuing sustainable partnership between our two sister countries.
* At the outset, I suggested that there is a need to reflect on how successful our dreams for Independence have been. Have we, for example, achieved Osagefo Nkrumah's dream when he said, "seek ye political independence and all else will follow". I believe that we have not. I also believe that we have deviated from the original objectives of ECOWAS. My understanding of what people like Professor Adebayo Adedeji, architects of Ecowas, had in mind was that we must have an open market and free movement of our peoples in all the Ecowas countries so as to eliminate concerns for possible economies of skill argument in the minds of prospective investors.
* We have not worked hard enough to achieve this. To compound that particular problem we have internal and interstate conflicts within the sub-region, including coups d'etat. All these have culminated in concentrating on peace-keeping and peace-building instead of exclusively paying attention to the raison d'etre for the creation of the organisation. Fortunately, President Kuffuor is the current Chairman of ECOWAS. He is someone one can rely on to take steps to see that while addressing security concerns in the sub-region, trade and other developmental issues are addressed adequately.
* It now gives me great pleasure to declare this exhibition open and look forward to more fruitful co-operation and collaboration between our two Peoples and Countries.