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Salone soccer fan honoured at birthday re-union in Canada

14 January 2008 at 07:06 | 1548 views

By Abayomi Charles Roberts in Edmonton, Canada.

It was quite a birthday bash in this North American metropolis(Edmonton) late last year. Sierra Leoneans on Saturday December 29, 2007 joined US-based Haja Jeneba Saal as she she marked one more year of her life. Yet it was her deceased father who stole the show, if only in spirit.

Pa Gibril Saal passed away about seven years ago but he could have been at the party thrown by his loving family that night. It was more like a re-union while much of the Sierra Leonean community partied with Haja and her family and in-laws.

At the helm of the host family was Mrs. Salimatu Clarke and her husband Bill. She is fondly called ’Jaja,’ the fulani word for sister - in deference. Bill and Sally Clarke who have three kids, invited Haja to Edmonton as a treat.

Clad in a maroon dress, Haja was the centre of attraction. However, her father’s name and spirit lingered, especially during the formalities.

Daniel Oldfield, a former journalist with SLBS Radio/TV, rose to the occasion when called upon to pay tribute to the old man. He was one of the few at the party who knew Pa Saal personally. That was understandable as Danny was a sports journalist while Pa Saal was an avid soccer fan who - at different times - held executive/advisory positions in three big clubs, Blackpool, EE Lions and Real Republicans.

Oldfield, dressed in sport gear as a sartorial tribute, quickly made the many guests familiar with the good deeds and legacy of the late man. He described Pa Saal as a devout muslim and caring husband/father while he lived. "He was respectable and respectful of others," Danny recalled. He noted that the man was a winner. "When his team loses the whole household feels it," Oldfield remembered.

Family members who were at the party included the Clarkes, along with their kids Olive, Jamie and Joey; and siblings Mohamed and Aminata Saal. Both Mohamed and Aminata spoke during formalities anchored by Mrs. Patience Paris as MC.

Mohamed’s partner Cindy Moreira (with whom he has a daughter Ciera) was also at the party. Mr. Augustine Marah, an educationist of note in the community, gave the keynote speech. Disc Jockey Ivan Jackson spared no CD in spinning for the show.

Photos: Jeneba Saal and her brother, Mohamed(top),Jeneba dancing with her younger sister Aminatu at the party(middle)and Mrs. Sally Clarke, Jeneba’s elder sister, speaking at the party.

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