Pamphlet: Groundbreaking


SOURCE: Groundbreaking Brochure, The Pavilion of Sierra Leone

Excerpts from a transcription of remarks by officials of the World's Fair and Sierra Leone, at the at the Pavilion of Sierra Leone groundbreaking ceremony, New York World's Fair, Wednesday, April 10, 1963.

MR. ALLEN E. BEACH [Director, International Exhibits]: This is an important day for the New York World's Fair and for Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is the first African nation to break ground for its pavilion. April is an important month for this proud nation; two years ago, on April 27, 1961, Sierra Leone gained its independence. Sierra Leone is small in size only; it has a big story to tell to the world through its pavilion at this Fair. Sierra Leone, strategically located on the west coast of Africa, is an enterprising, energetic nation with a background of culture and tradition that millions of Fair visitors will find most interesting.

Consul General Claudius Gibrilla has been the Fair's principal contact for many months, and Dr. George Bennett of our International Division staff will attest to the fact that his sincerity in projecting his personal belief that his country must be represented convinced us from the onset that in him we were not only dealing with a distinguished government official, but with a warm friend.

On June 18, 1961, shortly after Sierra Leone's declaration of independence, Governor Poletti, Dr. L. Gray Cowan, director of African Studies at Columbia University, and Mr. Marcel Duriaux, who at that time was executive secretary of the Unites States Society of Editors and Commentators, arrived in Freetown to present the official invitation to participate in the New York World's Fair. On this occasion, Dr. John Karefa-Smart, Minister of External Affairs, told the delegation that Sierra Leone would be present. Since that time, consistent and efficient progress has been made. Mr. Costas Machlouzarides has been appointed architect for the building that will shortly be erected here on the Avenue of Africa.

William Berns, vice president of Communications of the New York World's Fair; His Excellency, Ambassador Richared E. Kelfa-Caulker; Consul-General Claudius A. Gibrilla and Allen E. Beach.

We are proud and honored that Sierra Leone will exhibit at our Fair. Thank you.

HIS EXCELLENCY, AMBASSADOR RICHARD E. KELFA-CAULKER: I would like to start by quoting two old sayings that you might hear in the market places and elsewhere in Freetown. The first is: People are counting the big yams by the dozen, and in between a little one rolls along to be counted too. It seems to me that our presence here in the midst of the grandeur of these great pavilions being erected gives us the feeling that we too, however little, want to be counted.

The other saying is: If a little child sits near a big man and listens, he will learn a great deal. Perhaps this is our motive for coming here - that we might learn from the things that we shall see, as well as have an opportunity to help people come to know us.

Sierra Leone is the oldest and first British colony in West Africa. She therefore had a hand in the opening up of West Africa through education, through the Christion religion, and through commerce. Ours is a small country, and we shall advance by mingling with the peoples of the world at this great Fair. We are endowed with the same intelligence, the same spirit for advancement, and we believe not only that we have a contribution to make, but especially that through our association with the Fair, we shall learn and profit equally from the experience of all peoples and nations.

In 1460, Portuguese navigator Pedro de Centra discovered Sierra Leone, which means Mountain of the Lion. This discovery led to the institution of slavery for which Sierra Leone became a trading base. It also led to the establishment of the first free colony in Africa, a colony conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free. In the continuing pursuit of this freedom we will come to the Fair in the year 1964 to present Sierra Leone to America, and to the West, not in slavery, but in freedom; not in ignorance but with intelligence. Only time will tell the results of our efforts. We will hope for mutual understanding. We will appreciate what is good, for we will come to learn with eyes wide open.

We trust that in presenting the spirit of Sierra Leone, we shall help America and the West to see not only Sierra Leone but Africa as a whole, her potential and her present needs.

Mr. Chairman, it is a great pleasure to take part in this groundbreaking ceremony to establish the Pavilion of Sierra Leone at the New York World's Fair. Thank you.

WILLIAM BERNS: Supported by the enthusiasm and interest of the executives and staff of the New York World's Fair for the participation of the African nations, it is a pleasure to bring you this message from the president of the New York World's Fair, the Honorable Robert Moses:

"We are delighted with this participation by one of the ambitious new nations of West Africa, a nation aiming at the same objectives and with the same democratic principles as ours. The design of your pavilion is particularly attractive - I assume your exhibits will be equally impressive. I look forward to greeting you when the Fair opens.

Pavilion Location

Model of Pavilion of Sierra Leone, an ultra-modern structure that conveys the romantic traditions of this new western African nation. Its exhibits will tell the story of Sierra Leone, from a slave colony to proud independence.
Pavilion Model


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