Seminar for Sierra Leone Parliamentarians
John D.S. Samura, UPF-Sierra Leone|
December 4, 2007
UPF recently held a seminar on 'Good Governance and Leadership, for Members of Parliament in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. It was held in the Parliament Building in Freetown. Earlier this year, a similar seminar was held for the parliament of Sri Lanka, and UPF plans to continue the series throughout the new year of 2008.
"The concept of peace in Sierra Leone is timely, since we just emerged from elections that were full of claims and counterclaims of violence," stated Hon. Sahr N. Fasuluku from Kono. "UPF came at a time when Sierra Leone needs a new approach to leadership," said Hon. Veronica K. Sesay from Moyamba. "There are a lot of hidden things that we came to understand about the concept of good governance and leadership, especially the root causes of conflict from God's viewpoint."
UPF Regional Chair
and Sub-regional Leader Rev. Adama Doumbia supported us in planning the event. With the help of the Chief Whip in Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu, supported by the Majority Leader, Hon. Eddie Turay, we hosted 94 Parliamentarians on the first day. They communicated to their colleagues who could not attend the main points of the presentations by Rev. Doumbia and Ambassador Gerald Coleman, Secretary General of UPF-Liberia. They found the unique information on topics such as "God's Original Ideal of Peace," "Understanding the Root Causes of Conflict," and "Principles of Restoration" very convincing.
Rev. Eiji Tokuno opens the seminar
Most of the members of Parliament are new and young. "With this kind of education, we can surely transform our attitudes as well as the attitudes of our people," said Hon. Ibrahim Bundu from Port Loko.
Having experienced a decade of civil war that ended in 2002, participants expressed special appreciation for the presentations about the origins of conflict. Hon. Sheku G. Dumbuya from Kambia said, "I learned during the seminar that peace comes only through understanding the root causes of conflict and how to resolve this conflict through the principles of reconciliation." During the war, an estimated 200,000 people were killed, 2 million displaced in neighboring countries, and thousands of people had their arms or legs hacked off by rebels.
"This is the first time I attended a seminar that pointed out the real of concept of conflict in human history," said Hon. Bintu Myers from Kenema. Hon. Abu Konteh from Koinadugu stated, "This seminar pointed out the origin of problems by explaining the root causes of human suffering. This clearly reminds us about the mistakes of our forefathers in human history. Thank God for giving such an inspiring message to the Founders."
On the second day, 101 members of Parliament listened as Rev. Tokuno elaborated on the core values and founding vision of UPF and its activities in 48 African nations. "Practically, it was full of hope for mankind and guidance for our lives and for future generations, especially on the issue of fidelity in marriage," stated Hon. Sallieu Conteh from Pujehun. "The seminar reminded us about our limitations towards our family, society, and nation."
A Paramount Chief from Bombali, Hon. Bai Sebora Kasangba II, said, "The seminar was educational and admirable especially for the new Parliamentarians who are looking forward to bringing positive change for our people. I feel proud to have received such an inspiring message of peace. My many thanks go to Rev. Eiji Tokuno for his love for my country."
The Opening Ceremony began with invocations by Sheikh Lama Jalloh and Rev. Alfred P.M Sondufu, leading Ambassadors for Peace in Sierra Leone. Speeches were delivered by Hon. Eddie Turay, Ms. Alice M. Kamara, Mrs. Maude Peacock, and the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Justice Abel N.B. Stronge. The Minister of Labor, Hon. Minkailu Mansaray, spoke at the closing ceremony.
The response was overwhelming. Many participants asked for more seminars in the future. For example, Hon. Mohamed Sufian Kargbo from Tonkolili said, "I look forward to future seminars for the benefit of not only Parliamentarians but even cabinet ministers."
We want to set up an office near the Parliament Building and create a Parliamentarians for Peace Committee. Hon. Victoria Saidu-Kamara from Freetown stated, "As a member of Parliament for my constituency and Sierra Leone as a whole, I would like to thank the organizers for their timely interventions that clearly remind us that we are one family under God. I was in the United States and I knew about Dr. Moon for many years, but I never understood his vision. Through this seminar I clearly understand that he is a man of peace."
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NOTE: There are signs of hope in Sierra Leone. After the September 2007 elections, the new President, Ernest Bai Koroma, promised to fight corruption, reform the justice system, promote youth employment, and develop the country's power resources, agriculture, and tourism.
The government, citizens, religious groups, and international agencies are working together to rebuild the nation. Regional stability is a priority, and leaders of neighboring Liberia have publicly expressed regret for their country's involvement in Sierra Leone's civil war. The UN Peacebuilding Commission established in 2005 has been active in Sierra Leone. For more information, see the New World Encyclopedia essay on Sierra Leone: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sierra_Leone
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