“The team will also meet with key opposition leaders”
By Alpha Kamara NYU Alum
US Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Gregory W. Meeks led a Congressional delegation (CODEL) to four African countries-Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tanzania. The Chairman is joined by Representatives from the Black caucus Ami Bera, Ilhan Omar, Joyce Beatty, G.K. Butterfield, Brenda Lawrence, and Troy Carter.
In Sierra Leone, the delegation met with President Bio, and some of his government officials. In Freetown, the delegates were crowned as paramount chiefs which is the highest traditional honor in the country at a ceremony attended by the president and first lady Fatima Bio.
President Julius Maada Bio reminded the delegation that the relationship between the two countries started in the 1950’s and the US has supported Sierra Leone through Peace Corps and other US agencies. He said slavery disoriented family ties especially with African Americans. But that did not take away the reality of their connection with their African roots. Bio said in the past few months he has welcomed dozens of African Americans reconnecting with their roots. He said his country is making strides to facilitate more development.
“My government is taking strides to improve human rights, justice and governance. We will continue to do our best to build on these successes. We also want your continued support. Even as you leave please come back soon,” he added.
Representative Gregory W. Meeks congratulated the president and the people of Sierra Leone for the honor bestowed on them. “It is the honor of my life to have this cultural experience. I will never forget,” he said. Weeks added that, he remembered going to school with people from different cultures. But he always felt empty because he never knew where he came from because of the cruel reality of slavery.
“The cruelty of slavery restricted me from connecting with the cultural experience of my people. Even though I knew I have African blood running through my veins. Thanks to DNA testing. I found out that my roots is Sierra Leone from the Mende ethnic group,” he said.
Rep. Meeks promised to strengthen the already existing ties with Sierra Leone and will facilitate more development projects to the country to make it a shining example. The team will later meet Sierra Leonean opposition leaders, members of civil society, and NGOs. They will also tour Bunce Island SL a former slave trading port which carries a testament to one of the darkest periods in human history.
In Liberia, the delegation will meet with President George Weah and other members of the Liberian government, attend a roundtable event to discuss good governance and accountability, and commemorate Liberia’s Bicentennial Anniversary.
In Tanzania, the delegation will meet with Prime Minister Kaasim Majaliwa, alumni of the Young African Leaders Initiative, and conservation officials and partners. Finally, in Cote d’Ivoire, the delegation will meet with President Ouattara and Prime Minister Patrick Achi, President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, and observe U.S. Africa Command’s annual FLINTLOCK exercise.