One American citizen who has been a friend of Sierra Leone for too long is Mr. Gary Shulze . He was a member of  the first Peace Corps group that went to Sierra Leone in 1962. Mr . Shulze became a History Teacher  at the Albert Academy and served as acting curator of the Sierra Leone National Museum in Freetown. According to snippets on his involvement with Sierra Leone , Mr. Shulze, while at the museum, commissioned the statue of the Temne warrior Bai Bureh which later appeared on the Le. 2,000 banknote. He also made the replica of the DeRuiter Stone which is still on display at the museum.

I was privilged to meet Mr. Shulze in person at the Manhattan Club in New York yesterday during the Leadership Dialogue staged by the United African Congress , led by Sierra Leonean-born social and development activist, Mr. Sidique Wai,  and two other organizations. I first had the chance to be in his presence in September last year when he paid a courtesy call  on President Ernest Bai Koroma at his hotel in New York during the 65th Session of the United Nations Assembly.

Mr. Shulze, who has an M.A. in Foreign Political Institutions from Columbia University and a B.A. in Government and Psychology from New York University, returned to America but went back to Sierra Leone in 1996 as a United Nations Election Observer for Sierra Leone’s first democratic Presidential & Parliamentary Elections.

Mr. Shulze is fully involved in developmental initiatives in Sierra Leone . He  serves on the boards of Friends of Sierra Leone, The Magic Penny (an NGO which builds schools in Sierra Leone), The United African Congress (a non-profit organization serving African immigrants across the U.S.), and the WNYC Community Advisory Board

According to the organization’s website, the “Magic Penny, Inc. is a New York State 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization created to provide financial support for educational, economic and agricultural programs in the Bompehtoke area of Sierra Leone, West Africa.”
“The Primary Objectives and Goals of TMPI are:
to fund and sustain support for primary school children in rural communities of Sierra Leone;
to fund and sustain support for small scale capital projects, such as improving health care, drilling of drinking water wells, and promoting community gardening for producing fresh and healthy food crops:

to fund and sustain support for rural electrification projects. ”

Mr. Shulze is famous for his African Art collection. The TIMES LEDGER Newspaper of New York published this report about him in 2005 :

The African art collection of Gary Schulze, entitled Artists and Patrons in Traditional African Cultures, was unveiled Saturday at the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery in Bayside.

“I would like this exhibit to give students and visitors a chance to understand and appreciate African art,” Schulze said, “and to see how creative people on the African continent really are.”

Schulze’s interest in African art increased when he joined the Peace Corps and in 1962 was among the first group of volunteers to travel to Sierra Leone. It was there, he said, that he gained an appreciation for diversity and began to understand the importance that art has on culture and education.

He has since dedicated more than 40 years to collecting the exhibit’s almost 200 pieces that represent more than 30 different cultures, spanning 15 countries. Many of the artifacts are extremely rare and have distinguished aesthetic value. The oldest piece in the collection dates as far back as 500 B.C.  END OF ARTICLE

Peter Andersen of the Sierra Leone Web, another peace corps volunteer with a long history of involvement with Sierra Leone , writes : ”Gary Schulze has scanned his entire Sierra Leone historic postcard collection for the Sierra Leone Web. Eventually more than 500 postcards, spanning over a century of Sierra Leone’s history, will be posted and restored. ”

Mr. Shulze gave COCORIOKO  a vintage and memorable photo he took with Sierra Leone’s first post-Independence Head of State, Prime Minister Sir Milton Margai. He is the young man on the far left.

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