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Freetown: Sofla Declared Best Iranian Diplomat

By  | 15 April 2014 at 20:36 | 1002 views

The outgoing Iranian Cultural Chancellor Mohamed Reza Ghezel Sofla (photo) has been described as the best and most approachable and humble diplomat ever assigned by Iran to Sierra Leone.

At a farewell ceremony organized at the International Institute of Islamic
Studies on Wilkinson Road west of the capital, Freetown, which attracted people
from all walks of life including students from Fourah Bay College, Milton Margai
College of Education and Technology, Institute of Public Administration and
Management and secondary schools, speaker after speaker paid glowing tribute to the Iranian diplomat and some shed tears as they showered praises on him.

Among those who paid glowing tribute to Sofla was Sheikh Ahmad Tejan Sillah, Chief Imam of the Freetown Central Mosque and Director of the Ahjl Uhl Bayt World Assembly, Sierra Leone Chapter and Chairman Of The Board of Directors of the Voice of The Quran (Free Radio) in the capita,l Freetown.

Sheikh Tejan Sillah, like other speakers, described Mohamed Reza Ghezel Sofla
as the best diplomat ever assigned to Sierra Leone by the Islamic Republic of

“He is a man known to everyone in our society because of his simplicity
and kindness”, the Chief Imam said. Sofla during his tenure visited almost all
the twelve districts in the West African country and sometimes was hosted in
remote villages where he spent time praying and helping poor people. He
speaks several indigenous languages,” Sheikh Tejan Sillah said.

He recalled that several diplomats, especially cultural chancellors, have been assigned to the country and withdrawn in the past but none has been so outstanding and popular among the people like Sofla. “Since his tenure in this country no diplomat could be compared to him”, he said.

According to him, Sofla is very much au fait with the geography of Sierra Leone because of his extensive travel across the country. “I sometimes envy him” he joked. Sheikh Sillah said he had never heard people speaking evil of Sofla and added that Sofla has also been well known for his Islamic radio programs in which he enlightened people about moral, religious issues, religious history and philosophy. “We are not losing Sofla because we do not know what God has destined, but we are surely missing him”, Sheikh Tejan Sillah said.

He recalled that Sofla had also been in Ghana before he was assigned to Sierra Leone where he had been before his assignment to Ghana. “So he has been in Sierra Leone twice’ he said adding that the Ghanaians also missed him like Sierra Leoneans when he left them.

Sheikh Tejan Sillah used the occasion to present an African carving to Sofla,
which he said would be serve as remembrance of his days in Sierra Leone. He also presented one hundred Duau that could be read for one hundred hours to Sofla.

He gave him a recording which he said contained the life history of Salman Al
farsi, one of the close followers of Prophet Muhammad (pboh) . He described
Sofla as an African and also an Iranian.

“I would be right to describe him as a Sierra Leonean, African and Iranian because he fits into all these descriptions”, Sheikh Tejan Sillah said. He urged Sofla to remember his brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone when he returns to Iran. The jamaat of the Freetown Central Mosque also paid their respect to Sofla and recalled the help he had been giving, his preaching and collaboration with the mosque during his tenure in Sierra Leone.

The event was every emotive as people from all walks of life expressed sadness
in missing Sofla who had been perceievd as a source of hope to the poor. He use to make donations to mosques, schools, organizations, help students pay fees, assist people with personal problems and visit poor people in villages across the country.

In his farewell speech, Sofla told the jam-packed hall that he was
leaving Sierra Leone with a heavy heart because he loved the country and its
people. He praised them for their hospitality, simplicity and religious tolerance. He urged them to discard all vices like backbiting and malevolence which he said
undermined the cohesive foundation of the society.

“There are many things for which I admire and love Sierra Leone and its people”, he said. He said religious tolerance was one virtue which the people of Sierra Leone possess as Christians and Muslims live side by side and worship side by side without any problem.

“Tolerance is a tradition in Sierra Leone”, Sofla said and added: “Sierra
Leoneans are very simple”. He said the other virtue Sierra Leoneans possess is
forgiveness. He was apaarently referring to the reconciliatory disposition of
the people after ten years of civil war in which many were victims of torture and
killing and the country’s economy weakened. He also expressed his admiration for the country’s folklore. Sierra Leone, he said, is a country of diverse ethnic groups with similar folklore and culture which sometimes make intermarriages very easy.

Sofla also expressed admiration for the country which he said is endowed with not less than ten minerals, abundant flora and fauna, marine resources and a fast developing economy.