“We have lost over 1,000 people and this is not a mudslide but a landslide, pure and true, of rockslides and two/three storeyed concrete buildings” swept away through waterways. We cannot decipher the exact number now. It may well be over 1,000 Sierra Leoneans we are mourning now,” says Right Reverend Bishop Emeritus Arnold Temple, of the Methodist Church in his address at the Church Service of prayer, “But why should about 1,000 of our compatriots’ lives end tragically like this?. We are saddened by their departure. Who should we really blame? . We are bound at a point in the blame game to attribute blame so that corrective measures can be put in place and never again should we allow this to happen in our country..”
Reverend Arnold Temple added “our Nation has had so many calamities, from the rebel war to ebola and now landslide. These are not acts of God and neither can we say NAR SO GOD SAY, NAR WE SEF SEND THIS PAN WE SEF.”
Continuing Reverend Temple said “each and every successive Government since Independence, one Government after another, should carry the blame. We have been destroying the ecosystem of this country. The Church at times is afraid to speak the truth: Speak the truth,” he exclaimed. ” The Church has been too silent on some issues of national concern. The blame is squarely on failed governance, especially those responsible for issuing building permits. I pray that this disaster will teach us a lesson and the Government should take the right actions. How can God bring calamity on His people?’ It is the sin of mankind that has brought this suffering on us. God stands with us during our sufferings.”
First Lady Mrs Sia Koroma, wife of President Ernest Bai Koroma, wearing a black lace dress, as a sign of mourning for her compatriots, in her statement said “I stand here with a heavy heart. We have been through many calamities in our country. This is a devastation that is unprecedented in our country . It is difficult and sad. We should all do self examination and learn to be obedient to man-made laws especially when the Government plans to take action for the development of the country. We must be disciplined and committed Sierra Leoneans”.
Prayers were offered for the Nation and for those countries in other parts of the World which are experiencing similar calamity like Sierra Leone, As the Reverend Christiana Sutton Koroma, who conducted the Service pointed out, “Sierra Leone is not alone in experiencing such a disaster; see what is happening in Houston, Texas in the USA. We have done things that we ought not to have done. God should help us to change our ways for the better.” She prayed for as she put it “a better governance system and for Law and Order to prevail in our country”.
She called the Government’s attention to, as she pointed out , “the crack at Samba Gutter”, west end of Freetown, following the heavy downpour of rain on Saturday night, August 26, 2017 into Sunday morning, which she described as another disaster waiting to happen.
The Bishop of the Anglican Church Right Reverend Thomas Wilson recalled the incidence sometime ago when one senior Government Official of the Ministry of Lands and the Environment Mr. Moore, who went on a field trip to prevent some people from constructing dwelling houses illegally and in an unregulated manner in prohibited area, as Bishop Thomas Wilson put it, “he was brutally murdered”. He prayed that the attention and resources, the numerous donations which the disaster has attracted locally and internationally “would benefit those who have suffered.”
At the end of the service, the band of the Sierra Leone Grammar School led a procession of the galaxy Clergy from several churches who participated in the Church Service, lay members of the Christian community, of the Council of Churches , hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims and survivors who also attended the service of prayer from Down Town Freetown, including this Writer, from the playing field where the service was held along Kowa Drive where the incident actually happened, to the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf through a deep slope to the site where the hill gave way and washed away several houses and residents through the waterways, for the wreath laying ceremony on top of a large boulder of rock which rested on the foot of the hill.
Lady Sia Koroma joined in the procession to the wreath laying ceremony at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf.
The hymns “”O God our help in ages past”, “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you”, “Lead kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on”, and Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin,’ were sung accompanied by the Grammar School band.
The Bible Reading was from Romans Chapter 8, selected verses. Particularly verses 37 & 38.”
Prayers were also offered for in particular the Youth Rescue Team Volunteers, the Media whose members were urged to continue to “open their mouths “constructively on national issues of concern but to “close their pockets”, as was stated in the prayer.
It rained heavily for part of the Prayer Service and wreath laying ceremony.