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Edmonton: Wedding guests sing Canadian and Sierra Leonean anthems

By  | 6 July 2017 at 00:57 | 3748 views

Sierra Leoneans living in Edmonton take dual-loyalty to a whole new level. This showed at a recent reception for newlyweds, Juliette and Ivan Jackson. The couple and their well-wishers sang two national anthems, all in the same breath. The first song was for the birthday of their adopted country. Then came the next tune; a tribute to their birthplace.

Saturday July 1, 2017, was the 150th anniversary of Canada. Around noon that day, Ivan Ekundayo Jackson and Juliette Elizabeth Ifeh Max-Peters took their wedding vows at the Church of Pentecost in the west of the city. It was followed by a wedding reception a few hours later. The atmosphere at the place, Londonderry Community Hall, was as cheerful as it was colourful

Edmonton was already abuzz with ‘Canada 150’ celebrations and co-MCs Martha Caulker-Mbayo and Dr. Abu Conteh could sense it. At the opportune point in the agenda, the two MCs seized the moment. They asked guests to rise and join the singing of ‘O Canada’ (the Canadian national anthem) in a tribute to this nation. As people began to re-take their seats afterwards, Martha Mbayo again invited everyone to join in some more singing. This time it was the Sierra Leone national anthem. It seems the DJs had both tunes ready to roll.

From the high table where the newlyweds were seated, to a special table for family members, and all around the main floor, everybody rose again. “We thought that it would be fitting to sing the Sierra Leone national anthem as well,” Dr. Conteh later explained. “It’s Canada Day today and a special one at that.” He reasoned: “Many of us here come from Sierra Leone. So why not sing both anthems?” The cheers were deafening as the singing ended.

The couple could not have been more delighted. Both Ivan and Juliette were born in Sierra Leone and now live in Canada as naturalized citizens. They have family members in Sierra Leone, and in other parts of the world. Some of them flew into Edmonton, just for the wedding. Among them were family members and guests from Britain, Holland and the USA.

The Patriotic Vanguard spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Jackson during a semi-formal event the next day, Sunday. It was a barbecue (called Cookout, in the US). Family members, friends, and well-wishers were all dressed in cotton ‘ashoebi’. This is the Sierra Leonean tradition of wearing clothes of the same fabric - in both pattern and colour - to celebrate a community event.

The bride describes her husband as “a man of God.” Ivan had much the same compliment for his wife. “Juliette is a virtuous woman of God,” he said. “She is studious, hardworking and above all, she is a caring and devoted mom.” The Jacksons have a six-year-old daughter, Ivannette. The two first met in London, Ontario, in 2008. Ivan arrived in Canada in the early 2000s and has since been living in Edmonton. Juliette came to Canada much earlier and lived in Ontario for many years, before moving to Edmonton.

The bride’s mother is Mrs. Ebi Elizabeth Max-Peters, now living in England. She was a senior officer in the Sierra Leone Police force. Her husband, now deceased, was Theodore Max-Peters. He worked at the Income Tax department in Sierra Leone. Ivan’s father, still living in Sierra Leone, is Reginald Patrick Jackson. His mother, Mrs. Margaret Jackson, passed away in Freetown a few years ago. There was a moment of silence for departed loved ones, during a well-timed pause in the celebrations. Juliette’s brother, the late Julius Max-Peters, was one of those who got special mention.

Among those who came to the wedding, to represent the bride’s family were one aunt and her friend. Both flew in from the United Kingdom. Most of the others who came for Juliette’s sake were from Ontario and the USA. Among them was Ransford Mammah. He was a journalist at the then SLBS in Freetown. “Your dad taught me Statistics in school,” Mammah says gratefully of the elder Max-Peters.

Mammah is an engineer who warmed up to everyone he met here; especially journalists like Daniel Oldfield. “Many people associate me with the road traffic campaign song, “Look left, Look Right.”. Mammah was referring to an old SLBS jingle. It was a sensitization song to promote the safe switch from left-hand road traffic to right. Called ‘Saful, Saful’ that song was a household tune at the time. That was early in 1971 when Sierra Leone became a republic. Another notable guest was California-based lawyer Alieu Iscandri. He was invited by Juliette’s US-based godparents Mr. and Mrs. Vidal Smith. Juliette’s other godparents are Olivia and John Elliott, both Edmonton residents.

On the groom’s side, one of Ivan’s aunt and one cousin flew in from the UK. There were several other cousins and close family friends from Minnesota, USA. A special guest was one of the two DJs who played the music. De Nazer and ArtBeat impressed the guests with their wide selection of Sierra Leonean music.

Born Alie Hassan Nasralla, De Nazer is a Sierra Leonean too. He is based in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. He plays music on the Internet and Ivan is one of his biggest fans. De Nazer’s co-DJ was Edmonton-based ArtBeat (born Arthur Roberts).

Though they had never met before, the duo bonded well on the music controls. DJ ArtBeat compliments his partner: “De Nazer makes these machines work like magnets.” “The guy draws people unto the dance floor, and just keeps them dancing.”

In his reply, De Nazer says: “I flew in to cheer up folks of Edmonton, just for Ivan and his wife.”

Cutting the wedding cake

DJ ArtBeat (Arthur Roberts), left, and DJ Nazer

Guests from the United States of America. Lawyer Iscandri is second from left and Vidal Smith is third from right

Singing the two national anthems

Left to right: DJ ArtBeat, Dr Abu Conteh, journalist Daniel Oldfield and DJ Nazer

Ransford Mammah, visiting from Minnesota, USA.