Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 April 2023:
This year’s independence anniversary celebration in Sierra Leone – 27 April 2023, was low-keyed and almost non-existent as the capital Freetown became a ghost town. People stayed off the streets, marking the Day quietly in reflection at home as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.
But for President Bio and his wife Fatima Maada Bio, it was a Day spent dining and wining with the international community and faith leaders at the courtyard of State House in what was described by State House media as a thanksgiving service.
According to State House media report, the event brought together religious Muslim and Christian faith leaders from across the country to pray for peace, stability, violence-free elections and also to glorify God for His mercies on the nation and the people, as well as for keeping citizens together.
President Julius Maada Bio, whilst reading the scriptures from the Book of Philippians 4:6–9, said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! … Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”.
Sheikh Ibrahim Barrie, while preaching on the importance of the country’s Independence Day celebration, said that Allah, in Verse 13 of Chapter 49 of the Holy Quran, emphasised the rationale and objectives behind creating many tribes, ethnicities, and nations.
“Allah said, ‘O mankind, we have created you from a single male and female. And we have made you into tribes and nations so that you may know each other’s’,” the Sheikh narrated.
The Sheikh emphasised – “so you may know each other, so you may interact, intermarry, and do transactions with each other so that you may as well help each other”.
The Sheikh said that multi-ethnicity, tribes, and nations, are a blessing from Allah, of which Sierra Leone is proud of.
He pointed out that “the tribe that we have is a major source of strength, wisdom, and compliments. It is never meant by Allah, as we see in the verse, to hate, divide, or fight each other. That is why human dignity is related to coexistence. The dignity that Allah measured and gave to mankind, is for mankind to use to like each other, and help each other, he said.
“One of the attributes of Allah is justice and equality, which are very paramount in Islam. So, as we mark this 62nd anniversary of our Independence Day, let us remind ourselves of these elements highlighted by Islam, which are human dignity and peaceful coexistence”.
“Let us strengthen our relationship, let us preserve our independence, dignity, and respect by strengthening the relationship between us, by avoiding that which has the tendency to disunite us as a nation,” Sheikh Barrie prayed.
Bishop Thomas Wilson in his sermon on ‘The Peace of God,’ said bringing God’s message to the country’s 62nd Independence Day celebration was important. He read from the Book of Philippians.
“Today is the 62nd Independence Anniversary of our country, Sierra Leone. We thank God Almighty for placing us on the West Coast of West Africa and for making us His special and peculiar people who are specially made, epitomising love, determination, and resilience.
“It is one thing to be grateful to God in good times, but how can we be thankful to Him for all He has done for us? Sierra Leoneans, as we celebrate our independence and as we go near to the elections, we need the peace of God to take over every region in the land that we love, our Sierra Leone.
“Our prayer with thanksgiving is that your request be made known to God. I pray that on this Independence Day, as a nation, we will make our request to God. Man will not solve our problems; only God will solve our challenges and our problems.
“Therefore, I call upon all of us to bring our issues and challenges to God, and God will intervene in His mighty name.” he concluded.
Also attending at speaking at the thanksgiving service was Dr Rev. Lucy Natasha from Kenya.