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  Thursday, May 26th
Thomalind Martin Polite Greets the Press in the VIP Room, Lungi Airport, Sierra Leone
Thomalind Martin Polite Greets the Press in the VIP Room, Lungi Airport, Sierra Leone
Notes From Toni:
The anticipated day has finally arrived! Thomalind and Antawn arrived at Lungi Airport this afternoon to a warm welcome. Dr. Chernor Jalloh and Dr. Mohammed L. Kamara greeted visitors on the runway. Paramount Chief Komkanda poured a libation and sought permission from the ancestors for Thomalind to commence her journey. Paramount Chief Komkanda was accompanied by musicians and dancers from the seaside village of Dunkegba. Priscilla's Homecoming was well-publicized in Sierra Leone. Many Sierra Leoneans who were aware of Thomalind's upcoming journey also arrived to greet her. The scene on the runway was a happy mayhem of music and dancing!

From the runway, we proceeded to the VIP room at Lungi Airport, where Thomalind was greeted by dignitaries, members of the press, and the Priscilla's Homecoming "family."

It was wonderful to see Thomalind's beautiful smile as she took in the sights and sounds of her welcome to Sierra Leone.

After Thomalind's greeting in the VIP room, we all proceeded to the Cape Sierra Hotel, where Thomalind received yet another warm welcome. The hotel had rolled out a welcome banner at the entrance to the lobby, and members of the National Dance Troupe were playing music and dancing. It was quite a joyous celebration!

This evening we had a Welcome dinner and a briefing from Joseph Opala concerning the week's events. Tomorrow we will pay a visit to Vice President Berewa and Mayor Johnson, and there will be a naming ceremony in which we will all receive Susu names.

Emotions were many today: joy at Thomalind's jubilant welcome, anticipation for the experience ahead, triumph at the return of Prisclla's spirit to her homeland, and sadness over the tragic history that led to Priscilla's capture and enslavement. I saw both smiles and tears on my colleagues' faces as well. In all, though, today was a happy and chaotic celebration of Thomalind's arrival.

Notes From Kenny:
Day One:
Well, Toni Carrier can be very persuasive, and the adventurer in me got up enough nerve to do the Helicopter ride from Freetown heliport to the Lungi airport. The film crew and several other members of Priscilla’s Homecoming descended on the BN Brussels airlines to greet Thomalind and Antwan Polite in Sierra Leone. On the way to the Airport the very talented Valerie Tutson, leader of the Rhode Island Project Priscilla (who always bubbles with enthusiasm) spearheaded a few of us to compose a song of welcome for Priscilla.

As Thomalind and Antawn descended onto the runway, the press, media, film crew and Sierra Leonean leaders hastened to the tarmac and gave the couple the warmest welcome anyone could hope to receive.

On that evening the delegation held a meeting where Joseph Opala, a historian at James Madison University, presented the itinerary for Priscilla’s Homecoming. In his initial dialog with the group he told the story of the slave girl Priscilla and a history of the British slave fort in Sierra Leone on Bunce Island. This was the first time that many of us had heard in detail about the research by Edward Ball, the author of “Slaves In The Family,” who, after examining family papers of his ancestor Elias Ball, was able to document for one of the first times a direct connection of a captive African with a modern day descendant. During that meeting we were informed that Sierra Leone’s President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah would not be meeting with us on Friday but that we would be received by first Vice President Solomon Berewa, and then later that morning by Freetown Mayor Winstanley Bankole- Johnson and his councilors, in the government building.





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