British actor Idris Elba and his model wife, Sabrina Dhowre, have been awarded honorary citizenship in his late father's native Sierra Leone.
The Thor star made his first visit to the African nation this week, arriving in the capital of Freetown with Dhowre on Wednesday (18Dec19) in preparation for the special recognition.
The couple was invited to have breakfast with President Julius Maada Bio on Friday, when Elba and Dhowre were presented with diplomatic passports after accepting new roles as "brand ambassadors" for Sierra Leone, which is still recovering from years of civil war, which ended in 2002, and a massive Ebola outbreak, which killed nearly 4,000 between 2014 and 2016.
"(This is) the biggest honour I could get from my country," the actor tells the BBC.
"I'm no stranger to Africa: I've been in Africa, I've made films in Africa, I've championed Africa. But Sierra Leone, it's a very different feeling because it's my parent's home."
Elba continues, "The welcome has been incredible, and I've plugged straight into that energy that I think Sierra Leone is rising with. The son of the soil is coming back to fertilise the soil."
As part of the new gig, Elba and the Canadian model will help to develop the tourism and entertainment industries, with the actor keen to launch his own entertainment brand there: "America or England cannot house my ambition. Africa can house my ambition, I can create another Disney here (and) I can't do that in America," he shares.
While the trip marked Elba's first to Sierra Leone, he has previously travelled to his mother's homeland of Ghana, where he filmed 2015 Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation.
The 47 year old also shot the 2013 Nelson Mandela biopic, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, in South Africa.
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