Sierra Leone’s first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Baba Sulaiman Timbo has died this morning at the 34 Military Hospital in the West End of Freetown, according to family sources.
His Excellency Ambassador Sulaiman Timbo served from 1979 to 1987. He was also accredited to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Syrian Arab Republic, the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Jordan, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Yemen. Under the NPRC, he also served briefly as Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Benelux countries, France and the European Union.
Being the first envoy to the Muslim Monarchy, Ambassador Sulaiman Timbo was charged with the uphill task to cement both the diplomatic and bilateral ties between his country, Sierra Leone, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Fortunately as a seasoned diplomat who worked at UNESCO in Paris and Nairobi before his ambassadorial appointment and an astute gentleman, he was glaringly successful in winning the hearts of the Rulers of the Kingdom in particular and the Saudi nationals in general and made them understand the significance of Sierra Leone in terms of history, religion, and natural resources.
It was during Ambassador Sulaiman Timbo’s tenure that Sierra Leone’s first Executive President, His Excellency; President Dr. Siaka P. Stevens paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia. That high profile visit took place in 1982 during the reign of late King Khaled bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and it helped immensely to strengthen the Sierra Leone, Saudi diplomatic relations.
After that visit, Sierra Leone started benefiting from Saudi Arabia in the areas of Health, Education, Infrastructure, Human Resource development, amongst others.
The late diplomat served his country with distinction and dedication, and left so many identifiable diplomatic achievements and landmarks, that had served to enhance the image of our nation today. At the levels of multilateral cooperation, both nations continue to stand by each other. He left Saudi Arabia at the end of his tenure in 1987 after he had firmly established the diplomatic and bilateral relations with the host country.
At the Chancery, I was told when serving as Sierra Leone’s Information Attaché in the Kingdom, he was a role model in terms of diligence, commitment and discipline. He was a disciplinarian par excellence. He made both his diplomatic and local staff conscious of the fact that serving the interests of Sierra Leone was paramount. He made sure that staff members discharge their duties according to their job descriptions.
Availing himself of the opportunity of being in the cradle of Islam, Ambassador Timbo proved how truly committed he was to Islam. Perhaps no two Sierra Leoneans resident in Saudi Arabia would argue the fact that, he was a very religious and prayerful envoy. His religion and official duties were undoubtedly his top priorities. As a resident of Jeddah at the time, (the nearest city to the holy city of Makkah) prior to the transfer of all diplomatic missions to Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Makkah was his next neighbourhood. He spent most of his weekends in the grand Mosque in Makkah to perform his religious duties. He made the best use of every religious occasion throughout his 9-year stay in the Kingdom.
Born in Rokulan, Sanda Tendaren, Bombali District in northern Sierra Leone in 1938, Ambassador Sulaiman Baba Timbo attended Bo School and graduated at Durham University (now Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone). He was a former student union Leader.
© MB Jalloh