History was tapped yesterday as Colonel Kestoria Kabia was promoted as the first woman Brigadier of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) during the piping in ceremony of Alfred Claude Nelson-Williams to the rank of Major-General.
The proclamation was made by the Defence Minister retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh, at a ceremony at State House. He also announced the promotion of Colonel Samuel O. Williams to the same rank.
Colonel Kabia, who served as master of ceremony, was virtually shocked as the pronouncement was made; and was seen wiping as her colleagues and other ranks gave her a standing ovation.
She was enlisted into the army in 1978 as a second lieutenant and had some training in Freetown and Women’s Royal Army Corps College in Britain. She has held several positions within the army, including Director of Personnel, Officer Commanding Pay Services and Director of Public Relations & Information.
Commenting on her promotion she disclosed that she is extremely grateful to God for giving her the strength and wisdom to carry on in a male dominated society for nearly 30 years unruffled.
She is a product of the Methodist Girls High School and Milton Margai Teachers College (MMTC) and her achievement is a big challenge and a success for womanhood in the country
Addressing the gathering the Defence Minister said that, the policy of empowering women is a manifesto commitment by this government and it is with deep pride and humility that he announce the decision of the Defence Council to promote to the rank of Brigadier, a female for the first time in the history of RSLAF, in the person of Colonel Kestoria Kabia.
He went on, “to the women of Sierra Leone we say you have a place and a role to play in the development of this noble institution.”
To the new CDS, he emphasized that, “I want to personally register my sincere congratulations on attaining the highest rank in RSALF,” noting that, “it is a great achievement when you consider he joined the army as a private soldier.”
He maintained further that the lesson to be learnt by others is that if you are hard working, dedicated, sincere and loyal, the sky would be the limit.
He affirmed that he had no doubt that the new CDS would make a fine officer.
The new CDS took the oath of office, promising to “support, uphold and maintain the Constitution of Sierra Leone as by law established”; to which President Koroma responded, “by the powers vested in me as Commander-In-Chief, I hereby decorate you as Major General today the 9th day of October 2008”.
The Director-General of the Ministry of Defence K.O. Bah gave a historical background of the new CDS and the Minister, both of whom he said were enlisted into the army the same day.
Giving the vote of thanks, Major General Alfred Nelson Williams proffered gratitude to God, emphasizing that under his leadership he would enhance the standards of RSLAF and motivate them to higher heights. By Samuel John