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Liberians, Sierra Leoneans glow at Mano River Awards gala

By  | 26 November 2019 at 04:29 | 2121 views

A host of Liberian and Sierra Leonean personalities, couples, and business enterprises were in the spotlight at the first ever Mano River Awards night in Edmonton, on Saturday 23 November 2019. There were glowing tributes as citations flowed for the winners.

Titled ‘1st Joint Sierra Leone & Liberia Annual Community Merit Awards,’ the event is the brainchild of Sierra Leonean Hamid Munir Kamara. Some patrons travelled from Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, and other places in Canada for the gala which took place at the Serbian Hall here.

The impressive turnout underscored the close ties between these two African communities. The team of organizers comprised Sierra Leoneans and Liberians. Each of the award categories similarly had a winner for both communities. Married couples, clerics and their congregations, entrepreneurs, deejays, event planners and unsung heroes, were among the many nominees and eventual winners.

In this same spirit, co-MCs Daniel F. Juwley Jr. and Patricia Mariama Sesay trace their respective ancestral roots to these neighbouring West African countries. With ace deejay Arthur Roberts at the music controls, the awards ceremony evolved into a dance party as the night wore on.

Soccer coach Kondeh Mansaray and some of his players

Among the many accolades were those for couples with exemplary marriages. Winners in this sphere of life included academic Dr. Alfred Saffa and his wife Theresa, senior citizen Daniel KDK Marah and his wife Isatu, and the charismatic James Brown and his wife. Each had a marital union spanning decades.

Exemplary couple Dr. Alfred Saffa (right) and his spouse Theresa

The president of the Liberian community Thomas Bumbeh, community worker Memunatu Dura Kamara (aka Chairlady), deejays Arthur Roberts and Kelvin Kamara, and Alma Beauty Salon co-owners Alimamy Papani Samura and Mariatu Sesay, also won awards for their contributions in the community. There was a dramatic show of support from his family, congregation, and compatriots, as Pastor Glory Blamo came up to collect his prize. The cleric heads Solid Rock International Ministries in Edmonton, Alberta.

Entrepreneurs Mariatu Sesay (centre) and Alimamy Samura

Soccer coach Kondeh Mansaray also had some of his players with him, when he took the stage. Coach Kondeh and his soccer club St. Albert Impact recently won the prestigious Under-15 Canadian National Soccer title. That was in October 2019. Kondeh played soccer with Edmonton Leone Stars for several seasons. He later founded and became executive director of BTB Soccer Academy. Now he is an accomplished coach working with teenage players. Coach Kondeh recently graduated from University of Alberta, with a degree in Sport.

James Brown and his wife won exemplary Liberian couple award

Kondeh pays a touching tribute to his club and supporters, on his Facebook page. “I am very proud of these boys for working hard and playing for their teammates, coaches, parents and the club. You boys are true champions. To win 5 provincial championships and a National Championship as the best 2004 team in the country is truly special,” Kondeh writes. “This is a forever moment.”

Mamadou Barry (from Guinea) left, and Kazir Coulibaly (from Cote d’Ivoire)

One of the gala organizers Fredo Ali Kamara anchored the opening formalities. These began with tributes to ancestors, elders, and peoples of Indigenous Canadian communities. Elder Gilman R. Cardinal’s supplications were followed by Christian and Islamic prayers. The audience also sang the national anthems of Canada, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, just before the prize-giving began.

Guinean community leader Mamadou Barry and the president of Edmonton’s Ivorien community Kazir Coulibaly were among the special guests at the soiree.

Purvision TV covered the event live.