President Koroma’s envoys impress Saudi lecturer
As this year’s Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj) draws nearer, a Sierra Leonean based Saudi Arabia Lecturer has commended President Ernest Koroma’s envoys in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the “professional and effective” handling of last year’s hajj to the holy land of Mecca. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma)
Ibrahim Yousuf Sillah, a Lecturer at one of the prestigious Universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Saud University, in Riyadh, the national capital of the Kingdom and former President of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ in the Kingdom made his observation in a popular special column in one of the Saudi dailies, The Saudi Gazette, titled: “Assessing 2009 Hajj and Preparations for 2010 Hajj”.
Here are excerpts of what he wrote:
It is an incontestable fact that the activities of the annual pilgrimage over the years had never been fully covered by our Embassy in a comprehensive manner as it happened in 2009.
Thanks to the enormous and selfless efforts exerted by the head of our Mission , His Excellency, Ambassador Wusu B. Munu and his staff. Those who followed up the sequence of activities of the Sierra Leone pilgrims last year from the day they arrived in Medina until the moment they departed after the completion of their Hajj rituals were indeed markedly thrilled and overwhelmed by the precise coverage and timely reporting of events as they unfolded.
A number of high ranking Government officials, including Haja Zainab Bangura, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, Alhaji Dauda Sulaiman Kamara, Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development, Haja Jenneh Kandeh, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, to name but a few had the opportunity to perform last year’s pilgrimage. These high level Sierra Leonean officials were guests of the Saudi Royal Protocol and so were accommodated at the Jeddah Royal Conference Palace Guest House, a zone under normal circumstances that cannot be penetrated by reporters.
The Embassy’s detailed oriented Press Attaché, Alhaji Jalloh was amongst the few pressmen who was allowed to meet his officials to conduct interviews with them, and also to know about their general welfare. That privilege helped Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad to be informed well about the welfare of their state officials, including other pilgrims who were here to perform the Fifth pillar of Islam.
Furthermore, the Embassy opened hotlines which were functioning on a 24- hour basis for Sierra Leoneans in any part of the world to call and enquire about their relatives and loved ones.
Notwithstanding the location of majority of the Sierra Leone pilgrims at different holy sites, the Embassy made sure that they monitored the conditions of the various groups of pilgrims as they were commuting here and there to ensure that they give a first-hand report about the pilgrims.
Those who have had the privilege to perform Hajj definitely know how demanding it was to move about amid a congregation of three million pilgrims composed of a wide range of nationalities, all assembling in the same vast areas of Mina and Arafat. Despite all the complexities, our Embassy was able to perform its duties accordingly and satisfactorily.
Their coverage of last year’s pilgrimage was not only unprecedented, but was also splendid in terms of quality and accuracy of the reports they sent to both the domestic and international press. And, it is worthy to note that the Embassy did all the above when it made brief necessary preparations before the commencement of the Hajj by setting up various committees for Hajj programmes, namely: Transportation, Servicing of Pilgrims, Care Takers of Tents at one of the holy sites, Mina and Stoning of the Devil at ‘Jamaraat’.
So, if they could perform so well within a short period of preparations, what would the nation expect them to do as officials who have acquired some in-depth knowledge about the entire procedures?
Having said that, I have no doubt that 2010 pilgrimage will be a great wonder. I believe Ambassador Munu and his able staff will put in place all the required mechanisms to ensure that the conditions of Sierra Leone pilgrims get improved year after year.
By Abdallah A. Sesay
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It’s good we put aside political affiliations, regional background and ethnic differences to call a spade a spade. Indeed, I support the learned Lecturer, Prof. Sillah for his wise and honest comments. I agree with him that last year’s hajj was different from the past ones. My father and mother in law were there and they said the same as the Professor. Besides, as he put it, last year’s hajj was accurately reported. We got updates on radios, newspapers and even news summary on SLBS TV on events out there as they unfolded. Readers may agree with me that when your relatives or loved ones go for pilgrimage, you always want to keep in touch with them to know their welfare, particularly when stampedes occur occasionally and, of course, last year we were not only fearing the stampede, but the H1N1 which was widely feared by even the Saudi authorities. So, kudos to Prof. Sillah for his piece published in the Saudi Gazette. We hope other Sierra Leoneans will emulate and that will help us to prosper as a nation.28th July 2010
Kenema – Sierra Leone