By Ibrahim Sillah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union in Riyadh, on Friday, November, 20th, 2015 held a Thanksgiving ceremony for the eradication of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leoneans in Saudi Thanking Allah for end of Ebola
The ceremony which took place at the Chancery in Riyadh attracted a good number of Sierra Leoneans across the capital. Considering the pivotal role played and salient contributions made by the Sierra Leone nationals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency, Ambassador Alhaji Mohamed Sillah Kargbo, viewed it as an opportune time to invite his nationals to the Chancery in order to express his sincere appreciation and profound gratitude vis-à-vis their invaluable contributions towards the long-awaited but happy ending of the ravaging scourge called EBOLA.
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Reacting to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union, under the proactive leadership of its president, Mr. Uthman Muhammed Kargbo, and under the supervision of the Sierra Leone Embassy, made it a point of national duty to converge at the Chancery on a weekly basis to offer heartfelt prayers for the swift and total eradication of Ebola. Sierra Leoneans residing in this Muslim Monarchy, which is the cradle of Islam, are of the firm belief that their supplications have gone a long way to redeem their country from the siege and ravage of Ebola, which is, by all means, considered as the worst calamity that has ever befallen Sierra Leone in its modern history.
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Honouring Ambassador M. S. Kargbo’s invitation of his nationals to meet at the Chancery last Friday, the Dawa Committee of the Union patronized the occasion by the full recitation of the Holy Quran, as they had done several times at the outbreak of the Ebola virus. At the completion of the recitation, Sheikh Mohammed Baila Bah, a senior citizen and Advisor to the Chairman of the Dawa Committee, offered most heartfelt supplications filled with emotions for the leadership of Sierra Leone, the Mission in Riyadh and for the citizenry of Sierra Leone.
In his remarks, Ambassador M.S. Kargbo, first and foremost, thanked and praised the Almighty Allah for finally redeeming Sierra Leone from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which has claimed thousands of lives in Sierra Leone and its two affected neighboring countries, Guinea and Liberia. He thanked His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government for the great efforts they exerted towards the total eradication of Ebola.
He also commended development partners, donors and friendly countries for their response to the Ebola fight. He extended his profound gratitude and appreciation to all the countries that sent healthcare workers and donated resources to Sierra Leone to fight the Ebola virus, making special reference to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud for the donation of millions of US Dollars to the Jeddah based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to support Ebola fighting program in the Ebola –affected countries. Similarly, the Envoy commended the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for mobilizing resources from member states for the eradication of the virus.
Then he thanked the leadership and the general membership of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union which answered to the clarion call of President Koroma from the very beginning of the Ebola outbreak. He further lavished thanks and praises on the Sierra Leone community in the Kingdom for their unique display of patriotism. He said he believes the numerous recitations of the Holy Quran and the fervent prayers made by the Sierra Leone community in Riyadh and the other cities in the Kingdom went a long way to getting us we are today. He furthered that, as Muslims, we believe in prayers and supplications because that is what we are required to do whenever we need the divine intervention of the Almighty Allah. He said Ebola has been an unprecedented experience for the sub-region, but the good thing about the scourge is that it has united the rank and file towards a national concern. He lamented the stigma Sierra Leoneans had to go through as a result of Ebola. He said it had been a most heart-rending experience for not only Sierra Leoneans within the borders of the country, but it also had another psychological impact on Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora where they were often made to go through screening machines at airports, regardless of their points of take-off. But with the end of the scourge, he noted, Sierra Leoneans will now hopefully enjoy their freedom of movement as they used to do prior to the Ebola outbreak. He intimated that President Koroma and his Government are fully aware and appreciative of the role played and being played by the Sierra Leone nationals in the Kingdom.
In his turn, Sierra Leone’s Press Attaché to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Mr. M.B Jalloh, praised the Sierra Leone community for their excellent show of nationalism. He said Sierra Leoneans in this Muslim Monarchy have really proven their worth. He encouraged the Sierra Leone community in the entire Kingdom to continue displaying the same national spirit.
The Information Attaché further informed his compatriots about a pledge made by the The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to provide financing worth $360 million in support of a sustainable Post Ebola recovery effort for Sierra Leone and Guinea. The announcement, he added, was made by Mr Sayed Aqa, IDB’s Vice President for Cooperation and Capacity Development on the occasion of the International Ebola Recovery Conference held in New York, United States in July this year.
Mr. Salamu Koroma, the First Secretary and Acting Head of Chancery, in his turn, highlighted the significant role played by the Sierra Leone community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and thanked them for the most fervent supplications they offered throughout the Ebola period until it has finally been eradicated. He also praised His Excellency, Ambassador Kargbo for his support and fatherly role.
It was now the turn of the President of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union, Mr. Uthman Kargbo, who thanked Envoy Kargbo and his able staff for their support to the Union. He then lavished thanks and praises on the general membership of the Union highlighting the pivotal role played by the Dawa Committee, which championed the numerous prayers the Union offered with the purpose of liberating Sierra Leone from the Ebola siege. Mr. Kargbo furthered that the Sierra Leone community has invariably proven that they can be a match to the task whenever a national concern arises. He recalled the rare commitment manifested by this community during the rebel war when they would converge weekly at the chancery to recite the Holy Quran and to offer most heartfelt prayers and supplications for that senseless and barbaric rebel war to come to an end. And, thank God, it eventually came to a peaceful end.
Both the Chairman of the Dawa Committee, Sheikh Omar Bah, and his deputy, Sheikh Ahmed Maroof Sesay, thanked His Excellency, Ambassador Kargbo for recognizing and appreciating the significant spiritual and religious role played by the Dawa Committee under the directives of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union. Sheikh Omar highlighted the importance of thanksgiving and recognition of another man’s good deeds, because this act would further encourage others to follow suit. On his part, Sheikh Maroof strongly admonished Sierra Leoneans to ensure that their hearts are cleansed from hatred and grudges against one another. He also advised them to love their country and their compatriots as well, as that is part of the Islamic faith.
For his part, Mr. Unisa Kanu (commonly known as UK) , a former president of the Sierra Leone Nationals’ Union and currently advisor to the Union’s president, thanked the Ambassador and his formidable staff for their support and recognition. He also thanked the Union’s president and his executive and the general membership of the Union for their steadfastness and commitment to the national cause. He said among the positive things this unwelcomed epidemic has revealed is that in times of calamities there is no place for ethnicity or tribalism in Sierra Leone.
He commended the collective responsibility shown and the concerted efforts exerted by both the Government of Sierra Leone and the masses in an aim to curb the Ebola virus and prevent it from spitting its venom at everyone. “United we stand”, he furthered, we can defeat our common enemy, no matter how gigantic it might appear to be, and consequently enable us to achieve our individual and collective goals to the satisfaction of all and sundry.
The meeting was then closed with fervent prayers for Sierra Leone and its nationals offered by Sheikh Ahmed Maroof Sesay.