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Page added on October 25, 2011
Dallas, Texas, USA: October 23rd. It is argued that the establishment of the consular service in Texas is a necessary part of the Sierra Leone policy of trade expansion that President Ernest Bai Koroma focused on as part of his economic development plans. The Sierra Leone @ 50 Organizing Committee of Dallas-Fort worth (DFW) hosted the first Meet-and-greet session between the newly appointed Honorary Consul General, Mr. Reginald Spiller at the United Banquet Hall in Dallas, on October 21st. (Photo: The Honorary Consul and former Mayor of Rowlett, Mr. Patrick Jackson)
The event marked another important milestone for the committee, whose initial goal was to bring together all the different groups of Sierra Leoneans in the DFW for the golden jubilee anniversary of Sierra Leone’s independence.
Honorary Consul General, Mr. Reginald Spiller would coordinate his activities with the Sierra Leonean Ambassador to the United States but he reports directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone. He has diplomatic functions in America representing Sierra Leone, and of course, Mr. Spiller is already recognized by the State Department in the Diplomatic corp.
Mr. Reginald Spiller has an impressive biography. He is a trained and qualified as a geologist with over 30 years experience working in the Oil and Gas Industry. He has worked in different countries around the world in Europe, Africa, South America and North America. He has also served in the United States Energy Department. Mr. Spiller is not a politician but a businessman. He has being at the helm of several different companies. He is married with two children.
Mr. Reginald Spiller kicked off the town hall styled meeting with a PowerPoint presentation showcasing his trip to Sierra Leone in May 2011. He was able to make the trip to Sierra Leone with his long time friend, Ms. Rachel Dunn, who he described as a woman “who will be able to convince an Eskimo to buy ice cubes from her.” Ms. Rachel Dunn was the person that got me interested in Sierra Leone, he said. He described their trip with Rachel to be memorable more so when Ms. Dunn and he were able to break ground for an orphanage at Waterloo that was sponsored by Ms. Dunn. They also visited the Bonthe Island, in the Southern part of the country.
The highlight of the meeting was the question and answer session led by an educationist, Mrs. Winifred Clarke-Osunbor. The Honorary Consul General informed the gathering that his position is purely voluntary and not a paid-position. He accepted the position because Sierra Leone is one of the countries in West Africa that he has never worked in. Furthermore his wife was very instrumental in joining Ms. Dunn to persuade him to accept the position, he said.
Mr. Spiller informed his audience that he cannot issue visas at this time, saying that his main goal is to support the work of the Embassy in Washington and to convince American businesses to invest in Sierra Leone. He expressed that he will do his utmost to encourage American businesses investing in Sierra Leone to hire qualified members of the Diaspora community, who are willing to return home to contribute to the economic development of Sierra Leone.
The Honorary Consul urged Sierra Leoneans to encourage their children in deciding on a career goal to be engaged in courses like Sciences, Math and Engineering especially mining engineering because, as he put it, “I am currently part of a Congressional Mandated Committee looking into the shortage of mining Engineers.” He said he will work towards helping children of the Diaspora community to obtain certain benefit like summer internships in the oil and gas industries as well as the Energy Department. He encourages American businesses working in Sierra Leone to start local development projects like provision of clean supplies of water, health care etc.
Responding to a question on how he will use his influence to help improve the standard of the University of Sierra Leone, Mr. Spiller informed the audience that he hope to establish partnerships between United States’ Universities and the University of Sierra Leone. He went on to say that he has already established one such partnership between the University of Utah and Fourah Bay College, and cited, Dr. Sudeep Kanungo of the University of Utah was part of his entourage during the trip he took to Sierra Leone. He was recently at a meeting at Shell with Ms. Rachel Dunn and members from Penn State University. At this meeting they spoke to the team from Penn State, his Alma mater, to establish a relationship with the University of Sierra Leone.
The Honorary Consul is also advising the government to encourage indigenous businesses to partner with foreign business to utilize the abundant resources he saw in the country. This partnership he believed will be a key to the future of Sierra Leone. Mr. Spiller noted that despite Sierra Leone has a long way to go in developing its infrastructure, he was impressed by the fact that the country has vibrant democracy with highly educated public servants, very loving and determined people that are yearning to development the country. He added that Sierra Leone has a beautiful landscape, wonderful beaches and a place to invest and grow, therefore, the chances of growth in development is eminent.
Mr. Spiller believes that in the not too distant future an oil field will be found off shore in Sierra Leonean waters because Sierra Leone has a petroleum system. “Sierra Leone has a great future”, he opined.
The town hall meeting was concluded by Dr. Alie Patrick Koroma giving the vote of thanks. As part of his vote of thanks he gave a short story. An old man has three sons. The youngest was a spoiled child and did all the wrong things. On his death bed the old man called his three sons to his side and spoke loving of each starting with the oldest. At the end he wished the two oldest “Goodnight” and the youngest “Goodbye”. The youngest then asked the father why he wished him “Goodbye” and not “Goodnight”. To which the old man replied as a man of faith I believed I will see your brothers again but not you. Dr. Koroma then wished the Honorary Counsel Mr. Spiller, his wife and members of his delegation Goodnight on behalf of the members of the Diaspora Community in Dallas Fort Worth and hope that the Honorary Consul will do likewise.” Mr. Spiller then stayed and spoke to members of the audience and took pictures with them.
Earlier, the meeting was opened with prayers. Pastor John Kanu and Parliamentary aspirant,Mr. Daniel Kanu led the audience in Christian and Muslim prayers respectively. The welcome address was done by the community Iron-Lady, Ms. Florence Coker-Campbell, while the committee Chairman, Mr. Ruben Ndomahina recognized the Sierra Leone @ 50 committee members for all their contributions in making this celebration a success. Our former City of Rowlett Councilman and Deputy Mayor Pro-temp and current president of the Krio Descendant Union introduced the first Honorary Counsel General for Sierra Leone based in Houston, Texas. Notable politicians such as the former APC Secretary General Mr. E.T. Kamara and Dr. A. F. Joe Jackson and long time Educator Dr. Faulkner of Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone were also present in the well attended meeting.
By Sanpha Sesay, Texas Chief Correspondent.
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