October 30, 2017 By Ophaniel Gooding
At a banquet organized by Lebanese businessmen, Ali Basma, Adnan Nassim, Tanious Changoury and Hussein Bazzi, the outgoing Ambassador of Lebanon to Sierra Leone, Nidal Yehya expressed his appreciation for cooperation between the Lebanese Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. “I very much value working with your esteemed person, and in this beloved brotherly country Sierra Leone,” he said.
Speaking at the farewell dinner, at the Lagoonda Entertainment Complex, Ambassador Nidal, expressed felicitations to the newly selected flag-bearer, Samura Kamara and said, “I also want to take this opportunity to recognize the excellent support you rendered to me and in promoting the bilateral relations between Sierra Leone and Lebanon to higher levels, which contributed greatly to the success of my mission here in Sierra Leone.”
Ambassador Nidal, who would be leaving Sierra Leone for Japan, added, “It is also worth mentioning your support to the Lebanese community and the diplomatic corps at all times.”
Quoting a statement made by Vice President Foh on behalf of President Ernest Koroma on the opening of Sierra Leone’s first permanent consular office in Beirut, Ambassador Nidal said Sierra Leone and Lebanon shares a lot in common. “Lebanon was referred to as the ‘Switzerland of the East’…. while Sierra Leone was referred to as the ‘Athens of West Africa.'”
In his speech, the outgoing Lebanon Ambassador to Sierra Leone quoted a letter of invitation by the President of Lebanon… to the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.
“The good relations between Lebanon and Sierra Leone derived its vitality from the presence of prominent Lebanese community in your country that contributes in all aspects of life to it with sincerity and respect, and belief in the promising future of our bilateral relations…” the letter reads.
The outgoing Ambassador also quoted Lebanese Al safir newspaper’s interview with President Koroma which highlights: “On the issue of bilateral relations between Sierra Leone and Lebanon there has been a Lebanese Embassy in Freetown since independence and equally true there has been a high profile Sierra Leonean Consulate in Beirut…”
Also, “Some high profile Lebanese officials have roots in Sierra Leone and one such prominent Lebanese citizen is Speaker of the House in Lebanon, Nabil Berry, who was born in Bo in the southern Province of Sierra Leone.”
In his statement Ali Basma, said, “We are here to bid farewell to His Excellency, our brother and friend after his tenure in Sierra Leone. We are very proud of him in his achievement and elevation to Japan.”
“Let me take this opportunity to inform you that we are in the process of forming the West Africa Lebanese Businessmen Association (WALBMA) and we will keep you informed after all the formalities are concluded,” he said.
Commonwealth Judge, Vivian Solomon recounted the encounter she had with Ambassador Nidal in 2014. Vivian explained that she was visited by the Ambassador. Noting that after their discussions she was giving an invitation by the Ambassador to visit Lebanon for the first time.
She thanked the Ambassador for his invitation in which she was invited to attend the Lebanese diaspora conference in 2014, but was unable to attend but however when in 2015 and 2016.
However, the visits “gave me the opportunity to visit Lebanon for the first time and particularly… gives me the opportunity to visit our ancestral home for the first time in Akar.”
Since our encounter you have shown that you hold no barriers to race, sex and religion. You have been the voice of the voiceless. You have visited our brothers and sisters in the provinces and took consular services to them, which shows your sense of duty and humility. It did not matter to you the status of the person you would always intervene when the need arose.
Representing Samura Kamara, Minister of State 1, Mohamed Gibril Sesay noted that being a Lebanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone is quite a difficult task in mediating tensions between Lebanese and Sierra Leoneans, notwithstanding the history of Sierra Leone could not be written without the history of Lebanese in Sierra Leone.
In his statement before awarding the outgoing Ambassador with a golden Cedar Tree lapel badge, Tanious Changoury, said the outgoing Ambassador was instrumental in rallying support in Lebanon to help Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis.