The 7th National Science and Leadership Festival (Scieleadfest2024) kicked off in Kabala on Thursday, showcasing the culture, science and education of the region. The opening ceremony featured traditional entertainment from some of the major ethnic groups in Koinadugu District, such as the Koranko, Fullah and Limba. Their singing and dancing created a lively and diverse atmosphere.
ScieLeadFest is a yearly event that gathers scientists, innovators, artists and policy makers, among others, to explore science and leadership. It is organized by Project 1808, a US registered non-profit that aims to enhance community livelihood and technical capacity through school, university, and community projects and global partnerships in Sierra Leone.
Dr Alhaji Umar Njai, Founder and Chief Strategist of Project 1808, stated in the opening ceremony that the organization strives to develop capacity and leadership to enable young people to aspire, think big and be motivated to pursue opportunities. Dr Njai advised the audience that it should not matter where people come from or where they started in life, but rather what opportunities and what motivation they have to accomplish their goals. “That is what will take you far,” he said in a statement mainly directed at young people. “Project 1808 is about taking people far away in life,” he added. ScieLeadFest2024, which runs from January 11 to 14, has the theme: “STEAM and Leadership: Ideas to Action, Promoting Action, Promoting Food Security, Climate Resilience, Opportunities for Youths and Combating Sustainable Peace. Dr Njai told ManoReporters that his organization hopes to provide a platform that fosters and reveals hidden talents in young people through which they can reach their potential. “The project extends its arms to culture consciousness by integrating culture into education and science. Thus, beneficiaries are prepared as productive citizens to solve problems within their communities,” he said. The scientist and Pan-Africanist also said that this year’s festival has a strong emphasis on capacity building, leadership and motivation for pupils in the Kabala community.
Project1808, founded in 2011, has worked to promote sustainable community development in the Koinadugu district, especially in Kabala. It does so by supporting young students in their efforts to identify and address the root causes of poverty, public and environmental health challenges, and other community-identified concerns. The ScieLeadFest is part of this effort. The Koindudgu College, which opened this year to students, is also part of this initiative. ScieLeadFest 2024 is taking place in the Red Cross campus of the college.
Dr Njai said holding the festival this year on the grounds of the college is a testament of the progress of Project 1808.
Over 1000 people were expected to attend the event, with over 200 traveling from outside Koinadugu, including scientists and cultural enthusiats from overseas.