A video message is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaQSfOl2N78&feature=channel_video_title
On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people and Government of Sierra Leone on the 50th anniversary of your independence.
There are many reasons we want to help you celebrate this day, from our shared history to Sierra Leone’s efforts to build a democratic and prosperous future.
Today, more than 20,000 Americans, including the Gullah culture of coastal Georgia and South Carolina, trace their ancestry to Sierra Leone. During our American Revolution, many citizens of Gullah origin re-crossed the Atlantic to found Freetown. And Americans have always been moved by the story of Amistad 170 years ago, when Sierra Leone captives took control of a slave ship and secured their freedom.
Sierra Leone has come a long way since your own civil war. Your successful elections in 2007 and 2008 showcased your commitment to democracy and your progress. We are encouraged by the government’s support for the first Special Economic Zone in West Africa. We think that can help you attract investment and bring jobs to your people.
So as you celebrate your history, traditions, and culture, please know that the United States stands with you. That we are committed to this enduring partnership. And that we look forward to working with you together to help you build a brighter future for your people. Thank you all very much and congratulations.