NPCA Board Member Installed as Paramount Chief in Sierra Leone
By Erica Burman on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
It’s not every day that an American is made a paramount chief.
National Peace Corps Association board member Gary Schulze (Sierra Leone I 1961-63) was installed as an honorary paramount chief at an impressive ceremony in Shenge, Kagboro Chiefdom, Moyamba District, Sierra Leone on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Gary had announced that he intended to accept the honor on behalf of all Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in Sierra Leone and so Judy Figi (Sierra Leone 1964-66) and Peter C. Andersen (Sierra Leone 1967-68) represented Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Daryn J. Warner attended on behalf of Peace Corps Sierra Leone staff, and Meghan Welsh, Michael Lee and Nicole Alexander on came on behalf of current Volunteers. The Minister of Tourism, Hon. Peter Bayuku Konteh, and former Foreign Minister Shirley Gbujama were among others who made the trip to Shenge for the occasion.
His official title is Paramount Chief Pieh Gbabior Caulker Schulze.
Gary has maintained a 52-year relationship with his Peace Corps country of service. A member of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Sierra Leone, he taught history at Albert Academy and also served as Acting Curator in the Sierra Leone Museum. Later he served on the board of the Friends of Sierra Leone group, which played a major role in securing political asylum status in the United States for thousands of Sierra Leoneans during the rebel war. He also acted as a United Nations election observer during the crucial 1996 elections. Gary has given assistance over the years to a number of aid projects in rural areas, including Kagboro Chiefdom. He is being crowned an honorary paramount chief in recognition of these longstanding efforts.
Gary is also an avid collector of African art and recently was instrumental in making a remarkable historical discovery: a clear, face-on photograph of Bai Bureh, Sierra Leone’s greatest hero – the only one known to be in existence.
Schulze came across the photo of Bureh on eBay, the online auction house, in August last year, at the same time as his long-time friend, William Hart. Both knew instantly that this was something rare. The only previously existing image was a British Army sketch of a defeated looking Bureh. They coordinated their efforts so as not to bid against each other, but in the end, a professional document dealer in London placed the bid that won the photograph. Afraid that the photo would land in the hands of private collector who would never make it public and thereby deprive Sierra Leoneons of a national treasure, Gary sent an urgent message to the dealer and made a significantly larger offer. Happily, the new offer was accepted after a bit of haggling.
Gary has brought the rare photo with him to Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans will have a number of opportunities to view the Bai Bureh photo over the next two weeks, and learn more about its discovery. Gary will give a lecture at the British Council on Thursday, May 9th and also speak at other venues including U.S. Embassy. The most important event will be an exhibit at the Sierra Leone National Museum, called “The Face of Bai Bureh,” where the public will have an opportunity not just to view the photograph, but a very large blown-up version of the image created for this exhibit. There will be a small admission charge with the funds going to the upkeep of the museum.
Gary’s story speaks eloquently to the powerful and enduring relationships that result from Peace Corps service. The National Peace Corps Association congratulates him on his honor… but he’ll have to leave the ceremonial litter at home when he attends NPCA board meetings!