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Marriage and Family

Sierra Leone Workshop on Marriage and Family

Freetown, Sierra Leone - UPF-Sierra Leone held a National Leadership Workshop on the theme of "The Significance of Marriage and Family in the 21st Century" on December 16 at the GGEM Conference Hall in Freetown.

The workshop attracted pastors, imams, university professors, and members of the media. In her opening remarks, the President of the Sierra Leone National Peace Council, Mme. Alice M. Kamara, said that members of the Federation recognize that family decline and breakdown lead to the social decline of any nation. She also stated that strengthening marriage and family is essential to world peace is a central pillar of the Federation's mission.

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The keynote speaker, Mr. Saeed Ur Rahman, quoted from the Holy Qur'an: “And arrange marriages for widows from among you, and for your male slaves and female slaves who are fit for marriage. If they be poor, Allah will grant them means out of His bounty; and Allah is Bountiful, All-Knowing” (24:33). Mr. Rahman went on to define the the word marriage from the Islamic perspective. The Arabic word for marriage is nikah, which originally means to “unify" or "tie.” Thus, according to Islamic teaching, marriage is a union between two souls which are basically one in their essence. He said that marriage is a social institution which perfects the human personality. It safeguards one against immorality. There is nothing like marriage for increasing love between individuals and family. Marriage creates a heavenly atmosphere in homes and communities, promoting harmony, love, and mutual understanding. Mr. Rahman said that gay marriage must be preached against as a detriment to future generations. “God created peace of mind in marriage,” he concluded.

Mr. John D.S. Samura, Secretary General of UPF-Sierra Leone, delved into his presentation entitled “Building Healthy Marriages.” He told participants that a successful marriage depends on the strong characters of the husband and wife, adding that the willingness to take responsibility, defer gratification, sacrifice for the sake of others, and help others are invaluable assets in a marriage.

The topics addressed during the workshop were as follows:

  • The Family as a School of Love and Peace
  • The Benefits of Marriage
  • Building Healthy Marriages
  • Social Challenges of Same-Sex Marriage

During the presentations, Mr. Samura told participants that marriage is the mutual commitment and sexual exclusivity of a man and a woman which allows them to invest for their children’s health, material well-being, emotional well-being, educational attainment, discipline, moral development, and protection from abuse both in and out of the home.

The workshop drew the attention of participants especially when Mr. Samura gave a presentation on the social challenges of same sex marriages. This is a topic that has been widely debated especially during the October Commonwealth Heads of States meeting in Australia, when the British Prime Minister warned that foreign aid may be curtailed to nations that do not uphold the rights of gay and lesbian marriage. This statement by the Prime Minister has sparked a big debate in many nations. Participants requested that concerns about the risks of redefining marriage be presented to more religious leaders and that UPF collaborate with religious organizations and other organizations with a similar viewpoint.

Mme. Maude Peacock, a university lecturer, delivered a brief statement on behalf of the National Chair of UPF, Haja Afsatu Kabba, the former Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources. She encouraged participants to take the workshop seriously and make meaningful contributions to the discussion; she wished them fruitful deliberations during the workshop.

The workshop was aired through the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation television and radio stations in three national languages. Apart from that coverage, the National Secretary General was interviewed by the same station during the "Good Sierra Leone" program commonly known as “Tea Break.”

The workshop ended with recommendations from participants to collaborate with religious organizations and other institutions in order to make a significant impact on the peacebuilding process.

Note: Between 1991 and 2002 a civil war devastated Sierra Leone, leaving more than 50,000 people dead and much of the country's infrastructure destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, many becoming refugees in Guinea and Liberia. Sierra Leone's civil war was related to the civil wars in neighboring Liberia between 1989 and 2003, and Liberian refugees remain in Sierra Leone.

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