By Joseph S. Margai, Strategic Communications Coordinator
Efforts to restore the former glory of Bonthe Sherbro Island have been intensified as President Julius Maada Bio has revived the annual canoe competition, signaling a new era for the municipality. The race, which took place from 1959 to 1964, saw seven sets of competitors participate this year, with five coming from chiefdoms and two from the municipality.
When presenting the prizes and trophies to the participants, President Bio noted that the last time the canoe competition took place on the island was nearly 60 years ago, in 1964. He stated that the revival of the competition is part of his government’s ambition to restore the lost glory of the municipality, saying “We are Sherbros, this is our culture. As Sherbro, our identities are boats and fishing. Fishing is what we do to earn our livelihood while boat racing is a way of boosting our economy and tourism.”
The winning team was from Nongoba Bullom Chiefdom, and trophies were awarded to those who placed first to third. Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, William I. Kongkatee Robinson, explained that the canoe race was initiated by the British Governor of the colony of Freetown and Bonthe Municipality in 1959, and used to take place every December 26th. He stated that during the active years of the competition, spectators from all over the district would come to witness it, and the winners would take the trophies and prizes back to their communities. Robinson expressed hope that the competition would continue in the future and bring optimism and tourism to the municipality.