Staff members and close friends of Awoko gathered last Friday for a small celebration of the newspaper’s 10th anniversary. It was an intimate, pleasant get-together held at Awoko’s printing press.
Despite only being here for a few short months, my editor and colleagues appointed me to be the emcee for the short program. I’m entirely comfortable talking in front of a crowd I just came back from giving a best man speech at a sizeable wedding in the States so I was more than happy to take on the mantle.
The celebration, itself, was short and sweet. The Awoko staff members donned our bright yellow t-shirts and put up an equally bright banner to display the decade-long accomplishment.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about being in Salone and particularly working in Awoko is the ever-present and strong devotion to religion. I was raised a Catholic in the states, but I feel like my faith has noticeably grown since coming here.
It is Awoko tradition to begin every meeting and gathering with a prayer, and the 10th Anniversary celebration was no exception. Following a prayer led by one of our reporters, Bernard Turay, I introduced Bishop Frederick Abu Koroma to bless our newspaper and anoint our new color-printing machine.
I heard Bishop Koroma is a well-known man in Freetown and I thought his contribution to the celebration was wonderful. I’ve never really been a part of something like that before, where a religious leader comes to anoint a machine, so I felt blessed just to have the opportunity to see that.
After Harolda Lewis, our Managing editor Kelvin Lewis’ mother, officially commissioned the machine and printed off about ten pages of Friday’s paper, the light celebration suddenly and a bit surprisingly became very emotional.
I introduced Mr. Lewis to give a few final words to the small crowd of no more than 15 guests. Not a few lines into his speech, Mr. Lewis got teary-eyed but managed to compose himself and thank the many people who supported Awoko as his voice creaked several times. It was a definitely touching moment for all of us and especially for me, because I had never seen this side of Mr. Lewis before.
So while the celebration lasted no longer than 45 minutes, the intimate setting and Mr. Lewis’ heart-warming speech made me feel so proud and blessed to have had the opportunity to intern for this great paper.
By Yu Nakayama