Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has commenced a long-awaited Entertainment Policy validation and the 2013 Cultural Policy Review and Upgrade to an Act workshop on the theme: “Promoting National Cultural Dialogue for Social Cohesion, Peace and Development through Tourism.”
Held on the 14th October, 2020 at the Council of Churches of Sierra Leone hall on Kingharman Road in Freetown, lead facilitator Director of Cultural Affairs, doubling as Chairman of the programme, said in his inaugural statement that he was excited that he and his Directorate would experience the final validation of the Entertainment Policy. “We all know the role of Arts, Culture and Entertainment in the average Sierra Leonean life,” Mr. Foday Jalloh explained. He emphasized on the necessity for inviting the key stakeholders within the said industry after having looked at the zero draft way back in 2019 by the very stakeholders, because he wanted it to be done through the right procedure. He maintained that it is pertinent and necessary for the entertainers to do their best in making sure that upon completion of the validated documents, the best for the Entertainment Industry becomes the final outcome.
The Consultant and the Cultural Affairs Directorate, Mr. Jalloh said that he will make sure the stakeholders’ recommendations are captured and forwarded to the nation’s House of Parliament for subsequent approval. He concluded that the Entertainment Policy and the Cultural Act are not for the Ministry but to regulate, control and supervise Salone’s arts culture, entertainments, social and traditional institutions.
In his welcome address, the Hon. Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mr. W.I.K. Robinson, encouraged all participants who might have skipped their busy schedules to witness the all-important validation of the two important documents. Culture is the backbone of the Tourism Industry, he asserted. He furthered that His Excellency Rtd. Julius Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has promised this nation under the Medium Term National Development Plan (2019/2023) that he is going to use Tourism as one of the pillars to diversify Sierra Leone’s economy. He said the Ministry currently trends on such agenda to complement His Excellency’s effort towards rebranding the country’s image. “Our Cultural heritage is one that is on top of the jewel in the crown of Sierra Leone’s Tourism products,” the Deputy Minister concluded.
Henrietta Mbawa, Producer, Actress, Singer, representing the Entertainment Industry, said they need to applaud the Ministry for taking the Entertainment Industry to a higher height by validating the document. Over the years, she added, the Industry has been badly hit by piracy; robbing them of their earnings. “This validation comes in as a step in the right direction,” Henrietta continued. She expressed some bitterness in the delayed validation process experienced over some time now.
Representative of Culture, Mr. Ferdinand Valentine, in his presentation, said Culture is Sierra Leone as we are all Culture in its strict sense. Recalling his Kanilai Festival experiences in Banjul, The Gambia, where Sierra Leone once took the first position in one of its cultural outings, Mr. Valentine confirmed the image Sierra Leone had made before at both domestic and international fronts.
The Hon. Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu B. Pratt, in her keynote address, stated that she’s delighted to see many old faces after the Tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit in the country. “As a result of the Covid-19, high end hotels were closed, flights cancelled and citizens remained jobless,” she recalled. The Entertainment Industry, according her, remained one of the biggest employers, largely driven by the Private Sector. Whiles enlightening the entertainers on the reason for the delay in their own Social Safety Net Support package, she fumed at the negative development unfolding among, especially the esoteric groups, whom, she said, may want to use the country’s culture the wrong way as it is destructive to the Rule of Law in Sierra Leone. The Entertainment Validation session was climaxed by recommendations from key elites within the sector, which was followed by the validation of the Reviewed and Upgraded 2013 Cultural Policy to an Act on 15th October, 2020.