Chief Mani Sundu’s grave recognized as a National Protected Historic Site
By Mohamed Faray Kargbo
“National Historic Protected Site-Chief Mani Sundu-1902-1984”
“This plaque placed over his remains by the Monuments and Relics Commission in recognition of his philanthropy.”
This day of our Lord January 19th 2018.
The plaque bearing these words was unveiled by the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Hon Sidie Yahya Tunis to mark the official recognition of late Chief Mani Sundu’s grave as a National Historic Heritage Site on Friday 19th January, 2018 at Sundu Bar junction, Koidu city, Kono District. Not only was the event historic but also colourful as well. A certificate of recognition was also presented to the stakeholders in Kono.
Never before had solemnity and festivity being blended so perfectly in one occasion. The traditional dancers displayed their enviable skills, the school children marched with their banners, the chiefs and traditional leaders poured libation and invoked the spirits, the Minister and his entourage graced the occasion whilst the Mani Sundu family hosted the guests with humility.
Such is the significance of Chief Mani Sundu’s contribution to the regional development of Kono that the Koidu New Sembehun City Council recommended that Sundu Bar junction be renamed Mani Sundu Square.
The school children could not help but grabbed the opportunity to ask the Monuments and Relics Commission to recommend the inclusion of the history of Mani Sundu into the school curriculum.
“The Research/Development Unit of the Commission did an extensive research to verify the claims made by the Sundu family to justify that recognition,” remarked Isatu Smith, Chairperson of the Monuments and Relics Commission.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Hon Sidie Yahya Tunis had this to say: “This singular act of recognizing this historic asset is an indication that cultural heritage and national development go hand in hand. It is enough to bring tourists to this part of the country and boost the local economy. We will remain restless until cultural tourism and ecotourism become an integral part of our development agenda.”
Sahr Sundu,the eldest son of late Chief Mani Sundu expressed gratitude whilst encouraging other families to seize the opportunity to get their indigenous heroes recognized by the MRC.
The event, first of its kind in the history of Kono district, was witnessed by various personalities from the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board, the Sierra Leone National and Railway Museums, Paramount Chiefs in Kono, the Monuments and Relics Commission, the media, the Sundu family.
HISTORY OF CHIEF MANI SUNDU- 1902-1984
Chief Mani Sundu was an indigenous pioneer Kono businessman, diamond dealer, people’s banker, philanthropist, Master Farmer, and property developer, owner of Mani Sundu Buildings in Koidu city and Town Chief of Yigbeda/Manjama, Soa Chiefdom.
He was born at Kamadu Village in Soa Chiefdom, Kono District in 1902 and died on the 2nd July, 1984 aged 82 years. His father Kpakuwa was a fearless warrior. Chief Mani Sundu was a revered hunter and marksman (shot birds in the air) a feat he was widely recognized for.
The most striking quality of this historical figure was his rise from the bottom as servant for the District Officers in the Colonial era to become the richest Kono man of his era.
After his tenure at the District Commissioner’s Kitchen, he went into business as a grassroots trader and subsequently diversified his business ventures. During his tenure at the District Barracks, he witnessed first-hand the yearly gruesome communal labour of the Kono people carrying bundles of thatched palms from very distant Kono country to roof the Colonial Offices and Quarters.
Chief Sundu’s philanthropic feat of voluntarily changing the thatched roofs of the District Officers’ Barracks to corrugated iron sheets remains one of the greatest achievements ever in the history of Kono. Additionally, Pa Mani Sundu has a legacy of developing settlements in Kono District including Bendu 2, Tombodu, Kamara Chiefdom, Kissy Town boundary in Gbense Chiefdom and Bullom where City Council Offices are, and the Gbense Chiefdom Council Offices.
Chief Mani Sundu strategically positioned himself to enhance the socio-economic and cultural life of his people as evident in the many diversified business endeavours he pursued. He was instrumental in setting the pace for the present weekly trade fairs at Manjama/Yigbeda in Soa Chiefdom and Komba-Yendeh in Lei Chiefdom respectively.
His legacies abound in the Kono District and even beyond.
For further information: Please contact
The Education and Outreach Unit
Monuments and Relics Commission
23 Pultney Street, Freetown
+232 76 387711