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Edmonton: Five Sierra Leoneans sweep prestigious awards at Diversity Gala

By  | 2 October 2017 at 15:28 | 4276 views

Five Sierra Leoneans won coveted prizes at this year’s Afro-Canadian (AC) Awards ceremony in Edmonton. Dr. Abu Conteh, Bakar Mansaray, Martha Sellu, and Samuel Mensah, each took the ultimate prize in their respective walks of life. Another compatriot, Sammy Dumbuya, won an award with his rap ensemble. With no more than 10 AC awards at stake, it was a sweep for Sierra Leoneans.

The event took place at the Majestic Palace of Sands Inn & Suites hotel in Edmonton, on Saturday 23 September 2017. It was organized by Diversity Magazine (

Dr. Conteh was crowned professional of the year 2017; Mansaray won the award for writer of the year; Sellu distinguished herself as unsung heroine of the year; while Mensah made the mark for his outstanding accomplishments in IT (information technology). Dumbuya (aka Slim Savage) won the artist of the year accolade, with his rap group Legacy.

Martha Sellu is a Canadian-trained social worker who started off as a teacher in Sierra Leone. She drew applause as she danced her way to the podium. In her speech, Ms. Sellu who is also social secretary of the Sierra Leone Association of Alberta (SLAA) in Edmonton, acknowledged her fellow nominees. “You are winners too; for the fact that you were nominated,” she said. She did not mince her words as she observed the dearth of women nominees in all categories. Ms. Sellu thanked her family, fellow Sierra Leoneans, and other Edmontonians, for all the support she has been getting in her work.

At the podium, Dr. Conteh thanked his wife Eudora and son Kutubu. He complimented Eudora as “the rock of my life.” Dr. Conteh is a science lecturer/researcher at Grant MacEwan University here and he cited the institution in his tribute to associates and supporters. He also credited his alma mater Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone; for his earlier career development. In the same breath, Dr. Conteh doffed his hat to respective universities in The Netherlands and New Zealand; where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees. Expressing his gratitude all-round, especially to fellow Sierra Leoneans and other personalities, Dr. Conteh tapped into his expertise. “Enzymes become inactive in the absence of a substrate,” he said. Putting this in context, he said nominees would not have been at the ceremony in their various capacities had it not been for the opportunity given to them to perform by various stakeholders such as their communities.

In his turn, author Mansaray was remarkably brief. He simply said thanks as he hoisted his trophy. Mensah did not attend the ceremony; but had a friend collect his award. Dumbuya and his two mates in The Legacy were ecstatic and the applause was so loud; the trio just waved when they took the stage to acknowledge their win.

Other winners were: Oliver Kamau (community leader); Charity Durowaa (entrepreneur); Keli Tamaklo (lifetime achievement); Afro Revolution (entertainer); and Kilele Creations/Marie Allure (fashion designer).

Several local businesses took part in the exhibition that complemented the awards show. They included:

ท IBN Training & Safety (with Idah Romo-Ngungkpanje as Director/Instructor)

ท The Cape Town project UBUNTU (a collaboration of Canadian and South African theatre artists coming up with a show in Edmonton in October 2017)

ท MelloHair (a cosmetics company run by Christiana Willis)

ท BusinessLink (an Alberta entrepreneurial hub)

ท AfroQuiz 2018 (Edmonton’s Black History Month education event for kids)

ท The Boys and Girls Club of Edmonton

ท Cultural Connections Institute - The Learning Exchange (CCI-LEX)

Sponsors of the event included: hosts The Majestic Palace; Kasoa Tropical Food Market, Tope Akindele Photography, Empowered Me, Adom Convenience Store, AAA Striping, Sam Oboh, Michael Lawal, Beryl Linda Scott, Tony Muto; Mama Afro Beauty Supply, and Diversity Magazine itself.

Rudy Jay Animus and Susan Argo Duty anchored the event; which also featured a fashion show.

The celebratory atmosphere was dampened by the tragic loss of three women in the Liberian community, the previous day. All three ladies died in a road accident on an Alberta highway; on Friday September 22. There was a moment of silence at the start of the ceremony; to show respect.

Diversity Magazine is a fast-growing publication in Alberta. Communications consultant Frankline Agbor is at its helm, as producer. The magazine enjoys a strong presence online, and the awards gala may be considered its flagship. Diversity Magazine started its awards show eight years ago; making it an annual event. Until last year, it was called the Afro-Canadian Awards. The showcase has since been rebranded as The AC Awards.

Martha Sellu

Dr. Abu Conteh (right).

Martha Selllu again

Editor’s Note: Here is Bakar Mansaray (Samory) receiving his award) in the video clip below: