MINISTRY OF TOURISM AND CULTURE
Issued May 22, 2012 Freetown
SIERRA LEONE SUBMITS TO UNESCO A TENTATIVE LIST OF CULTURAL AND NATURAL SITES DESIRED FOR WORLD HERITAGE LIST INSCRIPTION
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture on behalf of the Republic of Sierra Leone on Tuesday May 22, 2012 formally submitted to UNESCO a Tentative List of cultural and natural sites desired for World Heritage List inscription. The cultural sites that made the list are Bunce Island, the Original Fourah Bay College building, and the Gates to the Old King’s Yard at present-day Connaught Hospital. The natural sites in the Tentative List are the Gola Rainforest National Park, Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Western Area Peninsular National Park. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honourable Victoria Saidu-Kamara, has called the preparation and submission of the Tentative List of sites a “milestone without precedence in heritage protection and promotion in Sierra Leone”.
Bunce Island and the Gates to the Old King’s Yard are cultural monuments to the painful passage of Africans into slavery. In Sierra Leone’s unique Slave Trade history however, Africans did not only go into bondage but walked back into freedom here. Inscription of Bunce Island and the Gates to the Old King’s Yard in the World Heritage List would accord the world the only country to immortalize what the Chairman of the Monuments and Relics Commission, Charles J. Hughes has called a “dual passage”. The Old Fourah Bay College building on the other hand makes the Tentative List for bearing an exceptional testimony to the spread of Western education in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was at the Original Fourah Bay College building that the earliest generations of West Africa’s public administrators, educators, Christian clergy, and political leaders were produced.
For the natural heritage submissions the Gola Rainforest National Park, Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Western Area Peninsular National Park hold Outstanding Universal Value as part of the Upper Guinea rainforest of West Africa which has been lauded as one of the world’s most important hotspots for biodiversity. The designation of these sites as World Heritage Sites would be complementary to other efforts in the region to ensure the survival of endangered, rare and endemic species.
Sierra Leone ratified the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 2005; granting her right to submit a Tentative List to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. The project to prepare the Tentative List was led by the Monuments and Relics Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency-Sierra Leone. A National Working Group provided stakeholder implementation of the project. The Sierra Leone National Museum, the Department of History at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone Peace Museum, Bunce Island Coalition, and Campaign for Good Governance provided leadership in articulating the cultural heritage submissions. The National Tourist Board, Welfthungerhilfe, Environmental Forum for Action, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Gola Forest Programme, and United Nations Environmental Programme similarly provided leadership in articulating the natural heritage submissions.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.