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Is Hon. Minkailu Mansaray’s Appointment in Place?

Is Hon. Minkailu Mansaray’s Appointment in Place?

In his unflinching pursuit to institute meaningful and palpable changes in every sector within Sierra Leone, His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Government deemed it necessary to restructure the just concluded ‘Hajj’ by forming the National Hajj Coordinating Committee headed by the Vice President, Alhaji Chief Sahr Sam Sumana. (Photo: HE President Ernest Bai Koroma, widely acclaimed for this year’s Hajj)

One of the objectives of the Hajj Committee is to effectively handle the Hajj program in a transparent and responsible fashion and to ensure that all the Hajj affairs of the Sierra Leonean pilgrims are unified under one banner.

As destiny would have it, Hon.  Alhaji Mikailu Mansaray, the newly nominated Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources was also appointed the Chairperson of the 2010 Hajj Mission.  Indeed, Minister Mansaray’s primary responsibility and functions were to reform and bring sanity to the entire Hajj program in a manner totally different from how things used to be done in the past.

Hon. Minkailu Mansaray, Chairman 2010 Hajj Mission

In my humble opinion, as one who has been on the scene and closely following up the phases and sequence of Hajj rituals as they unfold, I believe Minister Mansaray has been the right person for the Chairmanship of the Hajj Mission. This conviction of mine is due to the following undeniable facts:

In the pilgrimage of 2009, Hon. Minkailu came to perform Hajj, which is the fifth pillar of Islam on his own. He mingled and interacted with Sierra Leonean pilgrims as an ordinary man, while his colleagues, (other ministers) lived in the guest palace as Royal Guests. His interaction with the ordinary pilgrims enabled him to see things in a clear perspective as this gave him the opportunity to better identify the areas of importance as far as the improvement of the welfare of pilgrims for performance of Hajj is concerned, and to know the actual needs of Sierra Leonean pilgrims which must be properly addressed, if they are to perform the Hajj rituals in a comfortable and smooth manner.  His Hajj experience of 2009 made him part of the problem as well as part of its solution.

Come 2010, now as Chairperson of the Hajj Mission, Hon. Mansaray has proven his mettles and clearly manifested his determination that under his Chairmanship, he would leave no stone unturned until he has ensured that his compatriots-Sierra Leonean pilgrims-are better served, and comfortably enabled them to carry out their Hajj duties accordingly.

Sierra Leonean female pilgrims praying for their leader, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on Arafat day

Arrival of pilgrims is the first test for any Hajj official. Here, Minister Mansaray didn’t leave the premises of Prince Mohamed International Airport, Medina, November 1st, 2010, until all the 500 Sierra Leonean pilgrims who came on the first batch had completed the arrival formalities and peacefully left to their accommodation. Thereafter, he closely monitored the welfare of the pilgrims to ensure that they were all accommodated and fully fed with their three daily meals. What was more admirable was the fact that Minister Mansaray categorically refused to have any food or rest because, according to him, the affairs and well-being of the pilgrims are his paramount concern. He would only have time for food and other things after making sure that his compatriots are well taken of.

Chairman Mansaray manifested the same attitude and high sense of commitment in all the holy sites of Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah, and back to Makkah. It’s indeed worthy to note that Muzdalifah, the next point after Arafat was another test case for the Chairman. Having learnt that some of the Sierra Leone pilgrims were stranded as they got stuck in the extraordinary traffic jam, the Chairman forced his way through until he reached the stranded pilgrims and made sure that they were safely taken back to their tents in Mina.

Hon. Minkailu with the Sierra Leone flag, allocating accommodation for the pilgrims

On the other hand, the Chairman has always made sure he looks in no way different from the ordinary pilgrims by wearing the same attire (Ashobi), and living in the same place of the pilgrims. He has been seen many a time physically catering for the disabled and sick people. As a matter of fact, the status of the weak among the pilgrims has been his priority as far as dispensing services is concerned. He would spend out of his pocket as and when he feels the need to do so, thereby proving the generous aspect of his personality.

Notwithstanding the fact that this was the first experiment, I would not hesitate to term the pilgrimage of 2010 as the most successful as far as managing the Hajj affairs of Sierra Leone pilgrims is concerned. With my due respect to previous organizers, this is unequivocally the first time the affairs of Sierra Leonean pilgrims have been effectively and smoothly catered for without any major hiccups and unnecessary suffering of pilgrims. Come and see the high spirit the pilgrims were enjoying. Whoever you speak to would express their gratitude and appreciation to the Government of President Koroma, but they would also cite and commend the great contribution of Chairman Mansaray for the overall success of this year’s pilgrimage.

In years to come, I believe, His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma would be gleefully remembered by Sierra Leone Muslims and the country at large for the spiritual legacy he has bequeathed to his nation.

With his excellent performance as the Chair for the 2010 Hajj Committee  and the extraordinary commitment and patriotism he has demonstrated this time around, I personally believe, and I believe a large portion of compatriots here do, too, that Minister Mikailu Mansaray deserves an accolade.  Sierra Leone needs such officials who are selflessly committed to serve their compatriots at all levels and under any circumstances. Chairman Mansaray has embodied the saying of Prophet Mohammad (May peace and blessing be upon Him) that goes, “The leader of people is their servant”. That is exactly the sort of leadership the Chairman has endeavored to practice during this year’s pilgrimage. I therefore, believe that Hon. Minkailu Mansaray’s appointment as Chairman of the 2010 Hajj Mission is no mistake by the Government of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and it is quite in place. Thank you Mr. President, thank you Hon. Minkailu for your good job and many thanks to the pilgrims for their co-operation and support given to both the Hajj Mission and the Embassy of Sierra Leone in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Information Attaché, Sierra Leone Embassy, Riyadh – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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