State House, Freetown, Thursday 29 April 2021 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has conferred Sierra Leonean citizenship on 59 African Americans who traced their origin to Sierra Leone through DNA, telling them that home was indeed home.
“You have experienced the exhilarating beaches, the serene mountains, the exciting wildlife, and there is ever so more to discover. You are also surrounded by a rich history – a history that unites us; a history of our common ancestry.
“Even as you sit now, you sit on the original Fort Thornton. Walk out of those doors into the garden and look left (100 metres down), and you will see the Cotton Tree. It is older than the United States of America. It was where in 1792 the freed slaves prayed, rejoiced, and sang the hymn,” he said.
He assured them that Sierra Leone was the 5th most peaceful country in Africa with one of the lowest risks of COVID-19, adding that there was a free press that also functioned in an open society.
“We are putting in place more pro-business and pro-investment policies and incentives in place. We welcome you to acquire land, live in communities, build capacity, and start a new life without the worries of that other place. I am also aware of and very proud of the work of Free Yannoh Bangura, Dynast Amir, Dr. Adrienne Hunter, Dr. Sonya Bug-Alsoton, Karmen Thomas and many other brothers and sisters who are making an impact already in this country,” he said.
President Bio said his government was open to easing constraints around land rights, housing, investments, skills transfers, taxes as you make your decision to relocate here – whether permanently or semi-permanently,” he assured.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt, welcomed the African Americans and thanked them for returning to the home of their forefathers, adding that it was a distinguished honour to be in country to be given citizenship.
She said the people of Sierra Leone were hospitable and friendly and encouraged them to be loyal to the country and obey the laws and the oath of allegiance which they had subscribed to.
President of the African Ancestry Inc, Malandela Zulu, thanked the government and people of Sierra Leone for allowing the African Americans trace their origin, saying that their organisation looked forward to more collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone to identify its citizens in the diaspora.
The African Ancestry Inc is an international organisation that helps people of African descent trace their ancestral roots back to a specific present-day African country and tribe or ethnic group.
The Ministry of Tourism and the African Ancestry Inc signed and enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to henceforth “create a partnership between themselves to collaborate in facilitating and coordinating the authenticity, orientation, integration and affiliation and pilgrimage of members of the African Ancestry Family as may be deemed necessary from time to time on mutual understanding and the following terms and understanding”.