Mrs. Mariatu Florence Bobson Bangura, the Women’s Leader of the Washington DC Chapter of the reigning All People’s Congress ( APC ), was laid to rest last Saturday after a tearful and emotional funeral ceremony in Virgina.
Mrs. Bangura, the wife of Pastor Bobson Bangura, passed away on Sunday August 23, 2015 at the INOVA Fairfax Hospital, Virginia, after a short illness. Her shocking death traumatized the Sierra Leone community at large, which she impacted during her life time, and this was indicative of the massive turn- out at her funeral. Held at the very expansive and capacious Lincolnia United Methodist Church at Little River Turnpike , Alexandria, Virginia , it was perhaps the most crowded funeral service in the Sierra Leone diaspora in recent times. The whole church was crowded to capacity and as the crowds kept coming they were directed to the upstairs balcony , which also quickly became jam-packed. Mourners came from Sierra Leone, Britain and all over the continental United States to give their final respects to a woman who positively impacted the lives of multitudes of people during her life time. Among the galaxy of dignitaries who attended the ceremony were Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Bockarie Stevens , who represented His Excellency President Ernest Koroma ; Deputy Ambassador Mr . Ibrahim S. Conteh, the Minister Counselor/ Head of Chancery, Mrs. Isha Sillah and the Minister Plenipotentiary to the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu. Also present was the special APC delegation from Freetown, consisting the National Women’s Leader, Mrs. Elizabeth Mans and Mrs. Emma Simbo.
The funeral was also attended by executive officials and members of the various chapters of the APC in the U.S, led by the Interim Chairman of APC-USA ,Mr. Ibrahim Kamara ; spiritual leaders and lay-members of various churches from many parts of the U.S, representatives of social and cultural organizations and of course the United Sierra Leone Sisters ( USLS ) , of which Mrs. Bangura was a member. The officiating clergy included Pastors Mustapha Konneh, Abdul Sesay, Thomas Bai-Kamara, Thomas George, Sammy Conteh, Alaba Max-Jones and Issa Turay.
Delivering the funeral oration, Pastor Mustapha Konneh sought to calm the fears of those who dread death by describing death as a stepping stone to eternity and the beginning of another life .He however warned the congregation to live in the fear of God. He preached against the pompous displays of titles , positions and riches and said that whatever one attained on this earth his final destiny “is that box” (Pointing to the coffin bearing the mortal remains of Mrs. Bangura ) , which he said is waiting for everybody . He described death as the only equal opportunity deal , because everybody would benefit from it . He therefore asked , “Why not be at peace with your fellow man ? Why not be at peace with God ? Why gossip, backbite and fight ? ” The Preacher said his message to the congregation was “Prepare for death “.He lamented the fact that people prepare for retirement by building homes, subscribing for 401k , pension and other retirement benefits (which he said are perishable ) but they do not prepare for death. “Why not prepare for the imperishable ?” , he asked. He told the congregation to prepare for eternity by making Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour.
The Man Of God praised the late Mrs. Bangura for her love of God, and devotion and generosity to the church. He narrated that after a breakaway from a precious church, his church faced dire financial straits and did not have money to pay its $6,000 monthly rent. It was Mrs. Bangura who chipped in and paid for two months before the new church found its feet.
The late woman’s husband, Pastor Bobson Bangura, in a moving eulogy , lamented that he had lost his best friend in life. He said that his wife was prayerful and loving and he called on Sierra Leoneans to be united and stop tearing each other apart. He also asked Sierra Leoneans to stop blaming the victims of death that they did not take care of themselves .Everybody will die when their time comes, he warned. He said that God gave his wife a dream and they had a premonition of death in the family but little did they know that it was his wife who would die.
Other speakers who paid tearful tributes to the late Mrs. Bangura were her brother, Joseph Sallu Conteh , Mr Joseph Conteh jr, Mr. John Murray Bangura, and representatives of the USLS and the APC. Special musical contributions were made by gospel singer Vicky Fornah and Jimmy Wisdom, Pastor Momoh and Gospel Diplomats.
At the graveside, the committal minister was Pastor Abdul Sesay and the final prayers were rendered by Pastor Sammy Conteh.
More tributes were paid to the late beloved woman at the Repass and financial contributions from the APC National in Freetown and the APC-USA chapters in the U.S were presented to the family.
The most moving part of the Repass was the playing on an improvised screen of a video of Mrs. Bangura, in joyful mood, celebrating her 50th birthday last year with her church , family and well-wishers. In the video, she was seen celebrating life and paying tribute to her husband, family friends and her elder sister, APC Washington DC President, Mrs. Beatrice Conteh , for the part they played in her life.
Mr. David Vandy, a broadcaster, served as Master of Ceremony of the Repast.
The vote of thanks was given by Mrs. Beatrice Conteh who thanked all those who sympathized with the family and provided moral and financial support on their irreparable loss.
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