The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and the Monuments and Relics Commission have completed a Proclamation Ceremony recognizing the grave of the leader of the 1898 Uprising in Sierra Leone, Bai Bureh ‘Kebalai’ as a National Monument. As Mohamed Faray Kargbo reports, this development would change the face of tourism in Port Loko District.
The people of Mahera Village, Kasseh Chiefdom and its surrounding villages were the happiest on Thursday 13th June, 2019. They converged in their hundreds if not thousands to celebrate the recognition of the grave of their hero, Bai Bureh.
At the risk of sounding pompous, one might easily conclude that that was the biggest ceremony in content and context in the recent history of Mahera. The Paramount Chief of Kasseh Chiefdom, Bai Bureh Lugbu the Second gave a historical account of Bai Bureh where he noted that the Hut Tax was not the only reason for the 1898 Revolution.
Men, women and children, clad in their best attires, danced as if it was their last. Paramount and local Chiefs in their traditional regalia, performed ceremonies handed down from generations. The incantations could easily raise the dead. Happiness was spelt with capital letters in the faces of Government Officials.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Madam Memunatu Pratt while handing over the proclamation document to the Paramount Chief reaffirmed Government’s commitment to preserve Sierra Leone’s enviable cultural heritage.
She revealed that restoration/construction works will soon commence to improve the Site. When completed, the Site would greatly improve the outlook of Kasseh Chiefdom as it would be a hub for heritage tourism in Sierra Leone.
Some cultural practices associated with a visit to Bai Bureh’s Graveside were adapted to enhance visitor access.
Monument and Relics Commission, Chairman, Charlie Haffner not only asked the community to safeguard the heritage site but also assured that his Commission would proclaim more monuments.
Chaired by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, William IK Robinson, statements were made by the Resident Minister, North-West, a member of Bai Bureh’s family, a member of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Tourism and others.