Last night people from all over Los Angeles gathered in Burbank to help raise funds for actor Isaiah Washington’s Gondobay Manga Foundation.  Through the Foundation, Isaiah has already built one school, the Chief Foday Golia Memorial School with plans on building more.

With the fundraiser, the goal of the organization is to raise funds to provide mosquito nets to protect families from malaria, one of the highest killers of Sierra Leoneans and to provide one-year scholarships for students in the village of Njala Kendema in Bo County to attend to school.

In addition to the school and mosquito nets, Isaiah is working hard to preserve Bunce Island.  Bunce Island was the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast of West Africa.  Founded around 1670, it exported tens of thousands of African captives to North America and the West Indies until the British Parliament finally closed it down in 1808. During its long and tragic history, Bunce Island was operated by four London-based companies: the Gambia Adventurers; the Royal African Company of England (which had official recognition from the British Crown); and the private firms of Grant, Oswald & Company and John & Alexander Anderson.

While in Sierra Leone, I was fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time at what is left of the original slave castle, and I applaud Isaiah’s efforts to restore that part of our history.  Bunce Island has a direct connection with North America, in particular in South Carolina where my family is from.  During the 1750s Richard Oswald, Bunce Island’s principal owner, forged a strong business and personal relationship with Henry Laurens, one of the richest rice planters and slave dealers in the Colony of South Carolina. Rice planters in coastal South Carolina and Georgia were willing to pay high prices for people brought from the Rice Coast of West Africa where farmers had been growing rice for hundreds of years and were experts at its cultivation.  Ever heard of the Gullah people?

As you may or may not know, all of this started a couple of years when Isaiah received the award at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival.  As part of his award, his African ancestry was traced by AfricanAncestry.com and he found out that his people were from Sierra Leone.  He hasn’t stopped since then and last night was just another example of him doing his part of to help his brothers and sisters back from.  Kudos to Isaiah and everyone that came out and gave.

So what you can do to help?

  1. Donate $10 today to provide an anti-malarial treated mosquito bed net to a family in need
  2. Donate $50 to provide a one-year scholarship for a child to attend school at the Chief Foday Golia Memorial School
  3. Make a general donation in any amount to assist with the preservation of Bunce Island

Visit the official website of the Foundation at gondobaymangafoundation.org.  Or send a check made payable to:

The Gondobay Manga Foundation
1101 Flower Street
Suite 4
Burbank, CA 91502

The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

I’d also like to shout out my family and friends for supporting the cause and stepping to the plate to sponsor several kids for a year at the school.  It’s much appreciated.

I’ll be hosting a fundraiser with Isaiah and the Foundation’s President Sonya soon in Los Angeles, but you don’t have to wait on me to support the cause…