Satisfied that they had been properly schooled on the history of Freetown, the Heritage Club members from nine secondary schools dispersed with a unanimous resolution. To educate their peers, as best as possible, about the enviable heritage of Sierra Leone.
The Monuments and Relics Commission of Sierra Leone gathered pupils from schools in Freetown to commemorate the International Day for Monuments and Sites also known as World Heritage Day, April 18.
Designated by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the day is used to raise awareness globally about endangered monuments and sites and ways of preserving them. On Wednesday 18th April, 2018, Heritage Clubs were taken on a guided tour of historic Freetown to mark the second observance of World Heritage Day in Sierra Leone.
“Never before had anyone explained the history of Freetown to us as has been done today by the Monuments and Relics Commission.” Remarked Fatmata L. Sall, a pupil of the Methodist Girls High School.
Led by the Research/Development Officer, Monuments and Relics Commission, Francis Momoh the guided tour of historic Freetown saw pupils visiting the National Museum, St John’s Maroon Church, Gateway to the King’s Yard, the De-Ruyter Stone and many others.
The children confided that the information they acquired from the tour was timely considering the fact that they were not only preparing for their examinations but the country was also about to celebrate its 57th independence anniversary.
However, they lamented that the number of tourists who visit the country is inversely proportional to the history of the country. “Where are the descendants of African-Americans who were shipped out of Sierra Leone into slavery in the Americas? Judging by its history, Sierra Leone should be the hottest place for diaspora tourism.DNA testing has made it simple. Our country need to step up to promote heritage tourism” Noted James Williams of the St Edwards School Heritage Club.
If this year’s theme, ‘heritage for generations’, is anything to go by, then the MRC couldn’t have chosen a better group than the School Heritage Clubs for this year’s sensitization. Teenagers and youths are the custodians of the nation’s preservation efforts, for this reason, the current generation need to hand down knowledge acquired from past generations.
From the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to post independence era, the monuments of Sierra Leone have been neglected such that they no longer exist and where they do, they are either greatly endangered and in urgent need of restoration.
Over the years, Government’s support to the sector has been fraught with insurmountable challenges. Though the Monuments and Relics Commission was established in 1947, no serious preservation strides were made till 2014 when it was reconstituted.
With a combine experience of over 60 years, the current set of Commissioners led by Isatu Smith have gone out of their way to ensure that some of the cultural assets are restored. Restoration works are currently underway on Bunce Island, National Railway Museum, the De-Ruyter Stone, etc.
World Heritage Day 2018 in Sierra Leone brought children very close to their history as they were shown and taught about monuments that are over 150 years old. “The Commission hopes to do a grand celebration of World Heritage Day in future.” Noted the Chairperson of the MRC, Isatu Smith.
Mohamed Faray Kargbo
Education and Outreach Officer
Monuments and Relics Commission
23 Pultney Street
+232 76 387711