Sierra Leone is blessed with an authentic, diverse and multi-ethnic cultural heritage. The values associated with the West African nation’s heritage have been resilient over the years, for this reason, the need to preserve them sustainably cannot be over-emphasized.
The integration of the Ministry’s direction with the implementing agency Monuments and Relics Commission and other inter-ministerial relationships is a value addition to the sector.
The government believed that economic transformation using people-centered approach in Sierra Leone is the foremost means of mitigating some of the challenges the nation face and change the narrative.
The country’s potentials for tourism development are enormous-excellent serene beaches and islands and navigable creeks, mountains and rich biodiversity, interesting wildlife, friendly and rich social capital among people and its special place in the global history of anti-slavery movement as ‘Home of the Free’ making Freetown and Sierra Leone one of the marked spots in the British Empire for freed and liberated slaves returning to the continent and on the West African Coast.
Back to Your Roots (Salone Path of Return)
The Year 2020 was designated as the ‘Year of Domestic Tourism and African Diaspora Homecoming’ in Sierra Leone (BTYR or Back to Your Roots 2020’ respectively.
It is worthy to note, that directly or indirectly slavery became the backbone of all the 13 North American British Colonies. This subjugation across the seas contributed greatly to the evolvement and development of what is today known as the United States of America, Europe, Caribbean and the wider Atlantic.
By 1675 Bunce Island Slave Fortress and outlying factories in Sierra Leone under the European slave merchants had started the transportation of enslaved Africans.
While the inhuman enslavement of Africans was in operation as early as the 1500s, among the first historical documentation on enslaved Africans in British North America were approximately 20 men and women who docked at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 for which 2019 was marked globally as the 400th Year commemorating this landing in the Americas dubbed as Year of Return.
The Monuments and Relics Commission in the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs tasked statutorily to conserve heritage both natural and cultural, tangible and intangible in Sierra Leone is responsible nationally and internationally to coordinate the Roots Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
The Homecoming of the African Diaspora to the Motherland in this context Sierra Leone is a natural monumental heritage conservation that the government of Sierra Leone is engendering for the resilience of people of African descent.
As a nation, we have always opened our hands to our brothers and sisters making the journey back home whether from the forced migration of slavery or voluntary movement that we call today the African Diaspora.
The Sierra Leone Diaspora by definition in our conception is any member of this African construct that has ancestry to specifically Sierra Leone or who in his/her African/Pan African Personality irrespective of your nationality/citizenship deem our nation as a home in his/her healing journey.
Sierra Leone’s ‘Path of African Return’ and the African Diaspora Homecoming is framed from a popular African Proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Our collective national learning through reminiscence on the remarkable feat of our forefathers’ in Sierra Leone and across the Atlantic is key in the popularization of our rich, authentic and varied history that we seek to coalesce in this journey for our families across the seas.
We are a people of rich natural/cultural and historic heritage with a widened African diaspora connection, a result of the involuntary mass exportation of our ancestors across the middle passage to the wider Atlantic world through enslavement from whence our strength and unity is built to counter the challenges of the modern era. Drawing mainly from our contributions to human evolvement and inspiring civilizations.
Our Vision on The Root Tourism Programme
Sierra Leone’s vision is framed within a broader continental and global reality in enhancing the viability of people of African descent in sustainable development. As a nation, we see this family cut from us with time as an important constituency in the development narratives pursued. The African Union Agenda 2063, United Nations Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2025 speak to these.
Our people-centered approach is to uplift our kinfolk thereby unshackling minds with lost history, opening a ground for rebuilding. Every activity is channeled through this lens of African collectivism.
The Root Tourism and Citizenship programme is organized twice yearly-April and November every year.
Proposed Oath of Allegiance
I…NAME……………(being admitted by the President of Sierra Leone) as a citizen of Sierra Leone solemnly swear, that I will at all times put my country first, abide and defend the constitution of Sierra Leone, preserve her sanctity among the body of nations. So, help me God.
Illuminating the contributions of Indigenous Sierra Leoneans, Continental and Diaspora Africans in the fight against human subjugation through slavery and the emancipation detailing Sierra Leone as one of the first point of African Return in 1787, thereby positioning our resilient feat among the body of nations will form the crux of the historic “Sierra Leone Path of Return” Sojourn.