Actor Idris Elba has been granted honorary Sierra Leone citizenship during his first-time visit to his father’s native country.
Elba was born in London in 1972, but this year marks a new type of birth – that of becoming a citizen of Sierra Leone.
Elba’s father, Winston, was from Sierra Leone, and his mother, Eve, from Ghana. His parents got married in Sierra Leone and later moved to London.
After decades of living between the UK and US, and visiting numerous African countries, Elba went to his father’s homeland for the first time in December 2019.
While in the capital city of Freetown, he spoke to the BBC after receiving his citizenship.
Sierra Leone citizenship a ‘big honour’
In the interview, Elba told the BBC’s Umaru Fofana that the citizenship was a big honour.
“I’m no stranger to Africa: I’ve been in Africa, I’ve made films in Africa, I’ve championed Africa,” he said. “But Sierra Leone, it’s a very different feeling because it’s one of my parent’s home.”
Thrilled with the recognition from the country, Elba shared the significance of the moment.
“The son of the soil is coming back to fertilise the soil.”
He also confirmed that he sees much potential in the country. “There are a lot of bright kids here who are techno-heads, [they’re] really really smart. I feel like I could contribute to building a workforce that supports other nations in film and that’s part of my journey.”
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