|Fedration Chairman Mustapha Sheriff|
This past weekend, members of Tegloma Federation International Inc, a 39 year old Sierra Leone sociocultural and philanthropic nonprofit, with headquarters in USA and 24 chapters in North America, Europe and Africa met in the Texan metropolis of Houston for their annual Mini-Convention. Tegloma is the largest Sierra Leone sociocultural organization in the diaspora.
|Convention Host and Houston President|
From a group concerned mainly with immigration, bereavement, legal and other social issues, Tegloma has over the years evolved as times have changed. In the late 90s it supported the government of Sierra Leone under President Ahmed Kabba for the restoration of democracy in the country and also sent a very high level delegation to the inauguration of President Ernest Bai Koroma, headed by the Tegloma Federation Chairman at the time, Aloysius Bandami Foh, brother of current Sierra Leone Ambassador to China Victor Foh.
|Federation Sec. Gen. Amos Allie|
Tegloma is now concerned mainly with with charitable and cultural activities and is registered as a 501 C 3 philanthropic organization in USA. Over the past four years the organization shipped medical supplies to hospitals in Sierra Leone and awarded scholarships to over 40 deserving students all over the country.
This weekend Houston Texas played host to the organization and the Mayor of Houston Texas declared Saturday 24th May 2014 as "Tegloma Day," in recognition of the services rendered by members of the organization in the multicultural community.
|Convention Coordinator and Houston|
Sec. Gen Juliet Laverley
Delegates to last week's mini-convention started arriving in Houston on Thursday as the election for the board of directors was scheduled for Friday. By Friday morning, many of the board members were already in Houston.
On Friday there was a board meeting to set an agenda for Tegloma for the next few years. The Tegloma Federation Board of Directors, comprising two representatives from each chapter, are responsible for oversight of the organization, drafting policies and providing strategic direction. The Tegloma federation administration is responsible for the day to day management of the organization.
|Reelected Board Executives Abu Bhonapha,|
Alice Hawa Kallon and Henry Gegbe
In the election following the meeting,Tegloma Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha, Vice Chair Alice "Akpaji" Kallon, and Treasurer Henry Gegbe were reelected for their second and final two year term. Chairman Abu Bhonapha expressed gratitude to the board members for the vote of confidence in his team and promised to support the administration in their quest to make Tegloma a more formidable organization. Board Secretary General Sheku Sheriff did not run again and his position will be filled by the board executive.
Saturday was convention day and the head of the Tegloma Administration, Chairman Mustapha Sheriff laid out his plans for the development of a 300 thousand dollars multipurpose hall on the Tegloma land in the city of Bo in Sierra Leone. Administration Secretary General Amos Allie made a brilliant PowerPoint presentation on the status of project and the developments that are already underway on the five acres Bo Tegloma Land.
|Houston Board Member Dr. Jibao Musa|
The Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha made a passionate appeal to members to support the Bo Land project. His wife, Mrs. Angela Bhonapha opened the flood gate of pledges and cash donations by making a a pledge of $500.00 to the project and soon members were making pledges and cash donations, raising more than 27000 dollars in less than an hour!
|Tegloma Grand Benefactors|
Mr. and Mrs Kolima Williams.
The highlight of the pledges and donations occurred when Mrs and Mrs Kolima Williams of Dallas Tegloma chapter wrote a check for ten thousand dollars towards the Bo Land project! This degree of philanthropic generosity is almost alien in the Sierra Leone community. Sierra Leoneans are brought up to rely on government and others for almost everything. Slowly however, many people are gradually waking up to the fact that there is equal pleasure to be derived from giving as it is in receiving. Many Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora are now starting charitable enterprises and projects in their local communities, to either complement the work of government or provide vital services that are nonexistent.
|Convention Keynote Speaker|
Convention Keynote Speaker Ernest Pekanyande made a powerful presentation on leadership, spelling out the type of leadership criteria that will be necessary for taking Tegloma to the next level. He is one of the original founding members of Tegloma, though he is full of vitality and youthful exuberance.
The whole convention was infused with cultural performances by the Sierra Leonean children of Houston, traditional Sierra Leonean masquerades and a celebration of Sierra Leone food, traditions and music. In the bright Texan sun, the African attires were colorful and vibrant, the women were good looking and graceful and the men were confident and full of vitality.
The African cultural performances by the Sierra Leone children of Houston was remarkable for the fact that almost all the children were born in the USA, a testament to Tegloma's mission of preserving the culture of Sierra Leone, a country with a great and diverse cultural heritage.
The Tegloma Board of Directors presented a certificate of exemplary service to Sheku Sheriff for his outstanding work for the board and the past administration also gave an Eagle award of meritorious service to Sheku Sheriff and Alice Kallon for their services to the federation.
The convention was followed by the Mini-Convention ball at night. Many members of the Sierra Leone and African community in Houston came to celebrate with Tegloma and know more about the organization. There was dancing and cultural displays at the elegant ball.
On Sunday, there was a picnic at the Baymont Park in Houston to which members of the Sierra Leone community in Houston turned up in force.
|Outgoing Board Secretary General|
Mrs Magaret Tagoe, the President of Tegloma New York/New Jersey described the Houston Convention as the most elegant and classy Tegloma convention she has ever attended and gave the chapter an A+ rating for their effort. All the delegates agreed that the convention was one that will be hard to top, but members of the Tegloma Delaware Valley chapter who will host the main convention in August in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love have promised to make theirs even more memorable. It will have to be seen whether they will be able to deliver on their promise.
|Ex-Houston Chief Kadie Kakai|
Of course, an event of such magnitude could not have been successfully implemented without the effort of many people.
All the active members of Tegloma Houston put their shoulders to the wheel to make the delegates feel welcome and at home. The Tegloma Houston chief Josephine Miller, Ex-Chiefs Mrs. Kadie Kakai, Dr. Jibao Musa and Mrs. Watta Musa were on hand to ensure that the delegates wanted for nothing. Mrs. Kadie Kakai lodged many delegates at her house, telling them not to go to any hotel. Many other members did the same. Former Tegloma Minnesota chief Mr Abdul Songa and his wife Christina Songa took particular care of the Minnesota delegation.On a personal note I am grateful to my brothers Sualiho and Fodie Maliki Sheriff and their wives for the warm reception accorded to me.
|Tegloma Kids Receiving Performance|
The Tegloma organization was founded in USA in 1975 as a self help entity to promote the social, cultural, welfare and economic interests of Sierra Leoneans from the southeastern region of the country. This influential group of citizens were increasingly marginalized by their country's embassy under the regime of former president Siaka P.Stevens who viewed them as his political adversaries. In those days Sierra Leone embassy staff were not very welcoming to southeasterners. When an individual from the region was involved in a gruesome road accident in the mid 1970s and the embassy did not get involved, a small group of pioneers met in Washington DC and decided to form Tegloma, to assist each other in times of need.