By Brima Michael Turay, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
There comes a time in a man’s private and political life when a thorough reassessment of his life needs to be done to establish or re-establish a true picture of his image. This usually happens after the political dust rises and falls; the accolades shine and dampen; the favours and praises reach their apex and subsequently degenerate while the light of his human spirit still remains bright inside but clouded externally by the skepticism of the pundits. This is usually called the moment of “Reality” and it is during this moment that the truth must be told so that it remains an indelible legacy for human neutral consumption. This moment of “Reality” and “Truth” cannot be more appropriate as in the case of Ambassador Alhaji Umaru Bundu Wurie.
Nicknamed “Alhaji Bond Wurie,” he has remained a symbol of great respectability in many corners of this great nation – politics aside. His generosity is unimaginable and cuts across political, tribal and religious lines. From very humble beginnings as the son of the late Alhaji A. R. Wurie in Gbinti, in Dibia Chiefdom, Port Loko District in Northern Sierra Leone, Ambassador Wurie started his career in the Civil Service in the late 1970s, securing two Bachelor degrees in Geology from the Universities of Virginia and Edinboro, in Pennsylvania, United States of America respectively, and a Master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Bedford in June of 2001. He has served in various capacities and accumulated a wealth of field experience serving in more than 34 countries as Sierra Leones’s Ambassador around the world. Upon his return home in September 2004 to June 2009, he served as Director General and Ambassador at Large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. From June 2009 to April 2010, he served as Permanent Secretary and Ambassador at Large in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Political Affairs and from April 2010 to May 2011, as Development Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in Sierra Leone.
He had also championed the move to attract development projects into Sierra Leone, especially the Bumbuna Hydro Electricity Project and the Lumley-Tokeh Road, from countries such as Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
He has also been a champion in humanitarian efforts in several parts of the world, serving as Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations in Iraq and a member of various international and local organizations.
Throughout his life, he has remained connected with his family and friends and his desire to help others is unmatchable. He gives generously with his right hand without the left hand knowing. He welcomes and appreciates everybody irrespective of tribe, party affiliation and religion. He has served this nation with distinction and did it with a clear mind and kind spirit. He connects with every facet of our politics because, as he always would tell people, his relationship with all Sierra Leoneans as a people of one nation is paramount and supersedes all else.
“I do not help people because we belong to the same political party,” he would say. “I do so because it is a national and moral obligation and a personal responsibility to share my blessings with others and leave the rest with God, our Creator.”
Ambassador Alhaji Umaru Bundu Wurie does not have to affiliate with any one political party in order for people to understand how much value he can add to our nation’s governance machinery. We only need to look at how much he has done for himself and for his fellow Sierra Leoneans to see what a patriotic Sierra Leonean he has been over the years. Any Government that would utilize his knowledge, kindness, expertise and patriotism would surely have done the nation of Sierra Leone a great service. Ambassador Wurie can choose to remain in the APC or continue in the SLPP. Either way, one thing is certain-that he would always be an asset to this nation and Sierra Leone would continue to benefit from him in many ways now and in the future.
When Ambassador Wurie was recently asked by a top official in the current APC administration if he would ever consider switching to the APC, he humorously responded, “Did I ever leave?” To Ambassador Wurie, the names APC, SLPP, PMDC UDM etc. are only nominal symbols. What matters most are his patriotism and his desire to see this nation succeed in all aspects of human endeavour.
It is therefore not surprising that President Ernest Bai Koroma, a very inclusive and appreciative human being himself, conferred one of the highest honours of “Commander of the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone” on Ambassador Alhaji Umaru Bundu Wurie on April 27, 2012 at the State House in recognition of his commitment, outstanding and dedicated service to the nation, particularly in the Public Service and Diplomacy.
I admire this great Sierra Leonean; and because I would like to be like him when I grow up, I would humbly call him, as of this day, “Alhaji BORN Sierra Leonean!”