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Meet the future Mayor of Freetown

By  | 11 December 2016 at 16:30 | 2135 views

Prince Harold Thorpe regularly describes himself as "the future Mayor of Freetown."

He is a young Sierra Leonean based in Edmonton, Canada. He has been the subject of discussions among compatriots here as he prepares to contest elections in Sierra Leone. PHT, as friends call him, is a very optimistic and positive young man who does not believe in failure and negativity. His motto is Better is always Possible.

I met Prince a few days ago here in Edmonton, Canada. Excerpts of our conversation:

Patriotic Vanguard: Please tell us about yourself as a person and as a Sierra Leonean.

Prince Harold Thorpe: I was born and raised in Freetown. I came to Canada over 10 years ago and I have been living in Edmonton ever since. Presently, I work as an account executive at Shell Canada here in Edmonton. At work, I handle our top performing clients. Before this job, I worked at the Canadian Western Bank as a project coordinator.

Even though I really enjoy my work I would love any chance to give back to my home and my people. I like to keep improving my life; and one sure way is to help improve my home which is Freetown. Serving others makes me feel good. In order to serve my community with real purpose, Freetown would be the best place to start. It is the reason I am running for Mayor of Freetown.

PV: Can you be more specific about the reasons you want to be Mayor of Freetown?

PHT: One of the main reasons is that I am personally fed up with the lack of vision, strong leadership and meaningful progress in the nation’s capital which is an African icon in itself. Add to that the plague of dirty politics that hinders our collective progress as citizens of that wonderful city.

Prince Thorpe (first from right) and APC National Secretary-General Ambassador Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh (centre) and an APC supporter in Toronto, Canada, in August this year.

Also, it seems many of us who have Freetown at heart have simply given up on it. A lot of people I know would rather just feel sorry for this beautiful place, or blame this or that person for its problems. A few people really wish things were better and just keep hoping for the best. Nothing solid and long-lasting is really being done.

Future Mayor of Freetown

I have decided to go a step further than merely lamenting the poor state of the city. I am going to do something positive and decisive about Freetown. Yes, I am going to be proactive; and becoming mayor will be just the beginning. It is my right and my duty to do the best I can to help bring Freetown back to its glory days.

PV: Could you give one example of one fundamental problem you would like to correct?

PHT: As a community activist and advocate for the past few years, I have come to realize that those who are not fully engaged in the political process are generally treated with contempt by those who take office and squander their powers. Take, as an example, the so-called divide between East end and West end Freetown. I don’t even understand how it came about but it makes no sense.

To me, it is a lie made up by some people to keep us going backwards. People say the east-west divide has to do with things like the allocation of municipal infrastructure projects, the water and electricity systems, and so on. I don’t believe it. If there seems to be a divide; it is more due to poor planning and improper implementation. The point is City Council can do way more to make Freetown a place of equal opportunities. When it comes to our differences, I see diversity which is a source of strength. I do not see divisions.

PV: You have been living in Canada for many years now. Have you not lost touch with the realities in Freetown?

PHT: I am constantly in touch with the people of Freetown. Plus, I visit Freetown at least three times each year. The international exposure I am currently getting in this age of globalization will be a big boost for our city. My frequent personal visits, added to my constant phone and video communication with my family and friends help me to see the situation clearly. I am confident I have not lost touch at all. In fact I have a broader, balanced perspective of the pressing challenges facing residents of Freetown.

PV: You could have chosen some other way to give back to the community. Why did you choose to go for Mayor and not, say, Member of Parliament?

PHT: You grow fonder of your city when you’ve travelled abroad. I remember returning from a trip overseas and almost kissing the ground when I arrived in Freetown. It is our people who make Freetown unforgettable. Things are tough, but they never give up hope. I want to help us move from hoping to doing. There’s always room to turn ‘Freetown The Good’ into ‘Freetown the Better.’ The Best way to serve God is to serve His people and the people of Freetown are God’s people.

Freetown is not only our biggest commercial centre, but also the official gateway of Sierra Leone. Make Freetown clean, healthy, safe, and prosperous and the rest of the Western Area, and all of Sierra Leone will benefit.

PV: How do you plan to make the positive changes you now espouse for Freetown?

PHT: I am going to do more with the less; by assessing and managing expenses rigorously, exploring and tapping beneficial partnerships, introducing investment accountability, helping our city embrace technology and by creating a culture of inclusiveness.

My priorities as mayor will be affordable housing, community consultation on matters like petty trading, economic and small business development, municipal-wide health, education and recreation. I will work with city council and key stakeholders to bring innovative approaches to infrastructure projects and in addressing our environmental concerns.

PV Could you be more specific about your strategy ?

PHT: I am currently in consultation with my party (APC), and the key stakeholders of Freetown. Once that process is complete, hopefully by the start of the new year, I will release my manifesto. It will show my specific action plans.

PV: You are a young man and people would be curious to know what training or experience you will bring to this important position of Mayor of Freetown.

PHT: Being a born and bred Sierra Leonean who grew up in Freetown, I have primary and secondary schooling. Since I came to Canada I have been able to complete post-secondary education and become gainfully and steadily employed. I now have real skills and experience that should make me work well with other Sierra Leoneans in and out of Freetown. One of my strengths is leading by example; and motivating others to work for a common goal as a team.

I am trained in accounting and in the actual management of money. I know that business drives municipal economies. I know about international business in this 21st century. I say: give me the chance to re-connect Freetown with the rest of Sierra Leone and the rest of the world. We’ll talk the same language - efficiency, productivity and profitability.

The basic challenges facing the people of Freetown are not hidden from visitors. This mayor, Prince Thorpe (laughs) is not only business savvy but also business friendly.
It is about time we allow youthS like myself to participate in politics. This is not only good for our society , but very necessary for our society.

PV: You could have sought the Mayoral seat as an independent candidate. Why are you campaigning under the banner of the All People’s Congress (APC) party?

PHT: I have been a member of the APC party since the early 2000s. I joined the APC because we (APC) believe in action instead of intention. For evidence, just take a look at the massive development that is taking place right now in every corner of Sierra Leone .

PV: It takes money, time, and physical and mental stamina to run a campaign of this magnitude. Do you have enough of these to go the distance?

PHT: Hundreds of thousands of people do believe that Better is Always Possible. With their support and the amazing support of my family, my friends and my APC party, I have more than enough to go the distance. We have a lot of fundraising events coming up in the new year. My main goal is to be able to inspire and motivate people of Freetown to think Better and be Better .

PV: What is your message to the people of Freetown as you campaign ?

PHT: Society is a reflection of our actions. If we want to change our society , we must change ourselves, our attitudes, our behaviour and our everyday lifestyles. The moment we all accept that Better is always possible, that will be the time we will have the power to implement better - and for better results.

PV: Why should people of Freetown put their trust and confidence in you?

PHT: People should trust me because I am honest, hardworking and a responsible person. For the position of mayor, I am the best among the rest. My record speaks volumes. Plus, a city like Freetown needs innovative ideas, energy and passion from our able youth like myself. This is necessary; for Better to be possible within our municipality .

It is about time we allow the youth like myself to participate in politics. This is not only good for our society but very necessary for our society .

PV: Your campaign slogan sounds interesting. Please tell us more about it.

PHT: I want to inspire people to think and know that “Better is always Possible.” This is true in everything we do in life. We can learn a lot about ourselves by being aware of the emotions within us; understanding why they are there, and realizing that we have the power to choose which emotion we want to feel. I choose to be better, day by day. I strive to be better. I want Freetown to be better.
We cannot live happy, positive lives if we are always dwelling on negative thoughts, or focusing on what is lacking. Let’s use the energy of our awareness wisely and be mindful of the things we spend our energy on. That’s why I say BETTER IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE.

But, in order for “Better to be Possible,” we have to refocus as a community. We must reorganize and restructure our system in order to get what we want . Where we are right now is the beginning of greatness. I, Prince Thorpe, wants to be the engine that will drive our city forward.

There’s always room to turn Freetown The Good into Freetown the Better.The Best way to serve God is to serve His people; and the people of Freetown are God’s people.