His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has toured the old Fourah Bay College building and the National Railway Museum that are situated at Cline Town, east of the capital city Freetown.
The college building was erected in 1827, the very first effort by the British Christian philanthropist group, the Church Missionary Society at introducing western education and ideas into West Africa. It would later move from its nascent stage to its chequered growth into the expansive university college, more popularly identified globally as the ‘Athens of West Africa’.
The Sierra Leone National Railway Museum was opened in 2005 in the old railway workshops in the Cline Town area of Freetown, by the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba. Established in 1895, the old railway business started its first passenger train service to the provinces in 1898 but was closed in 1975.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt, said that Sierra Leone was known for important monuments in education, slave trade, colonialism and many more, adding that President Julius Maada Bio had revived the tourism sector not only by improving its beaches but also its monuments, thereby making tourism a backbone of economic diversification in the country.
“Today, this is going to change a big narrative in the tourism and cultural industry of the country. It will convince people that Sierra Leone is not only open for business, but it is also ready for tourism,” she observed.
She further disclosed that government had also allocated additional funds to restore the image of the old Fourah Bay College building.
“The Embassy of the United States of America has committed to providing funds through the World Memorial Day to refurbish this edifice,” she noted.
In his statement, President Bio described the occasion as a great day because it would bring back the attention of what made Sierra Leone the ‘Athens of West Africa’, adding that his government was leading the way to resuscitating and reenergising the image of the country.
He further stated that Sierra Leoneans were resilient people coming from colonialism, war, Ebola, mudslide and the ongoing Coronavirus.
“With my leadership and with your resilience as a people, we are going to make Sierra Leone a nation that we will all be proud of,” he assured.
He said his government was focused on human capital development government and that the greatest resource the nation had was its people, which was why he would continue to make education a priority. He said they would take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that would transform the narratives, the mindset of citizens, restore the glory of the cradle and symbol of education in Africa.