I am humbled, honoured, to be awarded Sierra Leone citizenship-Idris Elba
London, Dec. 21, 2019 (AltAfrica)-British actor and producer Idris Elba and his Canadian wife Sabrina Dhowre have been granted honorary Sierra Leone citizenship and a diplomatic passport
Idris Elba and wife arrived his father’s native country, Sierra Leone for the first time on Wednesday
According to the government, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio conferred the passport to Elba and Dhowre at an emotional private ceremony at his colonial-era residence in the capital Freetown.
“I’m humbled and thankful for the opportunity to become a citizen of my father’s country, it’s an honour for our family,” Elba said.
The actor was born in London but his mother is from Ghana and his father from Sierra Leone.
Speaking after the brief ceremony, Elba said he had wanted to visit the West African country earlier but “it was in turmoil and I was chasing my own dreams.”
His father and uncle left Sierra Leone for London in the 1960s and 1970s “with only two bags and prayers,” he said.
Elba’s father died in 2013. But his uncle, as well as senior government ministers, attended the ceremony.
President Bio said he hoped Elba would help Sierra Leone shed its image as a source of blood diamonds and Ebola virus.
The diamond-rich former British colony is one of the world’s poorest countries and is still recovering nearly two decades after the end of a civil war which claimed some 120,000 lives.
It was also hit badly by West Africa’s 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.
“We want to tap into your network to be able to tell the world that the little nation they knew for only wars and Ebola and all the horrible stories is now a new Sierra Leone,” Bio said.
The award-winning actor was named People magazine’s “sexiest man alive” in 2018. He is a rapper and DJ, but he is best known for his roles in playing Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), Marvel franchise films such as “Thor” and “The Avengers,”.
Elba, who broke to international fame starring in the HBO hit series The Wire, has spoken fondly on multiple occasions the need to give back to where he comes from.
According to a press release, “Sherbro Island City will serve as an engine of economic growth for Sierra Leone and the surrounding West Africa region. Operated under an investment and legal regime designed to attract and protect long-term investment, Sherbro Island City will develop a diversified services and manufacturing economy that creates job opportunities for Sierra Leoneans and attracts new capabilities to the region. The project will integrate efficient infrastructure with transparent and effective governance, supported by the intelligent application of smart technology
The TV and film star has been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film, winning one and was nominated five times for a Primetime Emmy Award.
Elba made headlines this April when he married his fiancée, Sabrina Dhowre, in a three-day ceremony in Morocco. The two, who got engaged in 2018, exchanged vows at the Ksar Char Bagh hotel in Marrakesh on Friday, April 26.
He joins the list of growing black global celebrities investing in the lands and peoples of Africa. Last year Senegalese-born American musician and entrepreneur, Akon, visited Sierra Leone and announced investment plans.