The season for Muslims to undertake the pilgrimage here in Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam, is here again. And Muslims from Sierra Leone have not been left out of this all-important religious obligation. The Sierra Leone Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has received over 700 pilgrims from its country in different ports of entry in the Kingdom. Majority of them were received at the Prince Mohamed Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, Medina and the others at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah.
The first batch of 234 pilgrims led by Alhaji Salieu Mansaray, Secretary General of the Sierra Leone National Hajj Coordinating Committee (SLNHCC) who also doubles as Technical Advisor, Office of the Vice President, arrived at Medina last Saturday, 13th October, 2012. The second batch led by the Deputy Chairman of the 2012 Hajj, Sheik Abubakar Conteh, with the same number arrived at the same airport the following day. The third batch of 237 led by Alhaji Sheka Mansaray, Chairman of this year’s Hajj who also doubles as Personal Assistant to His Excellency the President on Social Affairs, Alhaji Sheka Kamara arrived Monday, 15th October.
Earlier, 23 arrived at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah. SLNHCC officials said 80 pilgrims to be led by Sheik Kallay, Publisher of the Muslim Journal, are expected shortly. As of Tuesday, 16th October, 728 pilgrims had arrived in the holy land to undertake their religious mandate. In all, over 800 Sierra Leoneans are expected to perform this year’s Hajj – it’s believed to be the highest number in the Hajj history of the country.
Reports say, over 300 Sierra Leoneans from across the country, including, 149 Imams in the entire Chiefdoms nation – wide, benefited from scholarships offered by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s government. Unlike previous years, this year, the pilgrims successfully went through medical and immigration checks without any hitch.
Speaking to the pilgrims shortly after his arrival, the Chairman, Alhaji Sheka Mansaray on behalf of the SLNHCC charged them to be good Ambassadors of Sierra Leone in Saudi Arabia. He appealed to them to be to be law-abiding throughout their stay in the Kingdom, so that they can have the opportunity to achieve the objectives of the pilgrimage. He wished them a successful Hajj and Kamara also appealed to them to hold the flag of Sierra Leone aloft throughout their stay in the holy land.
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