By Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Information Attaché, Saudi Arabia :
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 take over
the organization of the Muslim pilgrimage (hajj) in 2010.
That year, the Government formed the National Hajj Coordinating
Committee headed by the Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Sidique Sam
Sumana and Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray (Current Minister of Mines and
Mineral Resources) as the Chairman of the Hajj Committee to Saudi
Arabia. In 2011 and 2012, Alhaji M.S. Kargbo and Alhaji Sheka Kamara,
both of the Office of the President led the Hajj Mission to Saudi
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 Leone pilgrims are
unified under one banner.
As destiny would have it, Hon. Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai, Minister of
Social Welfare Children’s and Gender Affairs was also appointed the
Chairperson of this year’s Hajj Committee. The primary responsibility
and functions of Hajj Chairmen are 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.
Why Kaikai and team deserve accolade?
As one who have been on the scene and closely following up the phases
and sequence of hajj rituals as they unfold, all the above-named
Chairmen performed remarkably well and Kaikai’s chairmanship is very
exceptional. My conviction is due to the following undeniable facts:
In June this year, Minister Kaikai led a three-man delegation to Saudi
Arabia on a pre-hajj arrangement. His visit to Saudi before the hajj
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 Leone pilgrims which
must be properly addressed, if they are to perform the hajj rituals in
a comfortable and smooth manner. Come October, now as Chairperson of
the Committee, Hon. Kaikai 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 Leone pilgrims) are better served, and comfortably enabled
them to carry out their hajj duties accordingly.
Arrival of pilgrims is the first test for any hajj official. Here,
Kaikai didn’t leave the premises of the Hajj Terminal of the King
Abdul Aziz International Airport on the day of his arrival, until all
the Sierra Leone pilgrims who came on the final 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 the Minister
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 care of. He was
oftentimes seen distributing food among the pilgrims himself to ensure
that everyone got their ration. And what was more overwhelming was the
fact that he was seen doing this on a daily basis.
He manifested the same attitude and high sense of commitment in all
the holy sites of Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah, Makkah and Madinah. 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 safe and
sound until they were taken back to their tents in Mina.
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
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.
What a devoted and exceptional leadership!
If things are to be called by their right names, the Chairperson of
2013 Hajj mission has set a number of good records which, I hope,
should be emulated by future chairpersons. Without any exaggerations,
for the first time we have seen a chairman so physically close to
pilgrims at all times.
Further, he never made himself distinctive in whatever form, except
for the fact that he would call a spade a spade whenever he felt or
saw that rules and regulations were not being respected accordingly.
That was the only time he would demonstrate that he was an authority,
and that was for the sole purpose of keeping the situation in an
orderly manner. And I believe that is part of the job of a responsible
Another indelible impression Hon. Kaikai left on the minds of the
pilgrims was when he seen carrying their luggage on his shoulders. I
guess nobody could tell the exact number of bags he carried the day
pilgrims were to leave Mecca for Medina.
That was one of the most hectic and frantic days for Kaikai. He was
all over the place to render help to those who were in dire need of
it. And, at the end of the day, he felt honoured to have part of his
mission accomplished. That was indeed a rare but an admirable quality
one could hardly find in today’s leadership because leaders would
normally delegate such physically demanding tasks to others. But truth
to tell, it is only a leader of a special breed that would display
such an outstanding and selfless leadership quality. Hence, Hon Kaikai
deserves all commendation and accolades on our part and on the part of
President Koroma’s Government as well.