Brethren, I heartily welcome you all to this our Annual Communication and a special welcome to our distinguished guests, Bro. Dr D.J.O Robin Coker, Rt. Worshipful District Grand Master of the English Constitution and Bro. Hussain Fawaz, Rt. W. Grand Inspector of the Irish Inspectorate. Special welcome also to Bro. Farwell Spencer, Grand Superintendent of the District Grand Chapter of Sierra Leone. We are much honored to have you with us this evening and sincerely hope that at the end of this communication, the bond between us will be further cemented. Let me recognize the presence of our IPDGM and to express my condolences and that of the District for the loss of your dear wife. We pray that TGAOTU, will guide and comfort you.
Brethren, since our last communication, The District has continued to visit lodges at their installation meetings and we are generally pleased with the standard of work. We have continued also with the non-installation visits wherein the lodge’s books are inspected. This seemed to have yielded some positive results as there has been a marked improvement on the submission of returns to the secretariat. There has also been an improvement in the payment of Grand Lodge dues but there are a few lodges that have still not settled their indebtedness to the District and Grand Lodge. Brethren, these dues are statutory and there are consequences for not paying. I will again appeal to you to make good your indebtedness.
St. Mary’s Lodge, Banjul
Their installation was held on Friday 15th April 2016 at which Bro. Alfred Donaldson Thorpe was installed as RWM. We sent a two man delegation to the meeting led by W. Bro A. Wilson- Taylor SDGM. He was accompanied by Bro V. Hasting-Spaine, DGS. They fully participated in the ceremony and gave a good report on the meeting. There seem to be much of a general desire and renewed commitment by the brethren to keep the lodge going. This is a most welcomed report and we pray that the Most High, will continue to guide and support them.
Blue Diamond Lodge
This lodge is a cause for concern in the District. It has not met since the resumption of Masonic activities in 2015. I am asking members of the lodge to quickly come up with a proposal to resuscitate the lodge, otherwise I will have no alternative than to withdraw its charter.
Brethren, at the February communication, I reported that because of several complaints by brethren of the lodge to the District, the petition and complaints committee was asked to look into these complaints and report. They have since completed their investigation and given their report with recommendations. On receipt of this, I summoned a meeting of the lodge in which the report and recommendations were read. Included in the recommendations were, that the elections were not conducted in a proper manner and should be re-run, some disciplinary action among which was the suspension of the RWM, Bro Techman Kanu for three months. All but one of the recommendations I endorsed and I am pleased to report that elections have been held and their installation will take place tomorrow 25th May. The continuity of the lodge is now guaranteed, what remains to be done is to reconcile the differences that exist between brethren of the lodge. We hope that the past masters of the lodge will continuously work on that. We look forward to a happy and unified lodge.
Georgeacland Masonic Temple
The extension project is completed except for the planned area at the basement for the storage of regalia. This area is now free as the caretaker has moved to his new quarters at the lower basement. Work will commence as soon as structural work on the canteen is completed. The renovation of the hall will also commence as soon as the Harmony bar vacates the space they occupy in the area. This we expect to happen by 30th June 2016. We are again appealing to brethren to make meaningful contributions to enable us bring this hall to the status befitting our honorable institution. The appeal forms are out, please make a pledge and be counted amongst those who made it happen.
This Temple has been completed and was consecrated and dedicated on Saturday 21st May 2016. The building was opened by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma. There were several distinguished guests that graced the occasion and we greatly rejoice on this achievement. We congratulate brethren of Lodge Wusum for the great achievement. This is the first time in the history of Scottish freemasonry, not only in Sierra Leone, but in the district as a whole, that we have a temple that is 100% owned by a Scottish Lodge. Lodge Wusum has indeed made a mark in this district. What now remains to be done is for the members of the lodge to continue to build a moral temple that will attract gentlemen of the area to the craft. We all look forward to attending your subsequent meetings in that temple.
Brethren, I have a few proposals I want to make. I have observed that reigning masters do not enjoy the full honor they deserve. Henceforth when a reigning master visits a lodge, they should be introduced by the director of ceremonies, after which, the master will invite him to seat in an appropriate seat in the east. This will not apply at installation meetings because of time.
I have also observed that some lodges do not process into the lodge. I am encouraging all to do so. It acts as a call to order and enriches our meetings.
It has also been observed that a lot of Directors of ceremonies and brethren are not very knowledgeable in masonic protocol. We are in the process of organizing a seminar to address this.
Brethren at this point, I will now give a short talk on the topic:
The relevance of Freemasonry in our society.
To address this topic, we must ask a few questions.
What is freemasonry?
Freemasonry has been described as a fraternal organization, that traces its roots from ancient stonemasons. The old definition is that it is a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Others describe it as one of the oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organization that teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. The members are expected to be of high moral standing. To some in our society, Freemasonry is about dinning and winning and is for the privileged in society. To others, we are a group of demon worshipers with Satan as our head. There are others who have a favorable opinion of our institution based on our outward appearance, like the way we dress and process at public functions.
But who do we say we are? This question posed to a number of masons, the response will most probably vary depending on the level of understanding and appreciation of our precepts. It is therefore important that we should first endeavor to understand our teachings and values before attempting to answer this question.
What are its principle?
We are taught that it is founded on purest principle of piety and virtue. We are recommended to study the VSL wherein we are taught the duties we owe to God, to our neighbor and ourselves. It inculcates the values of reverence and dependence on God, being kind and respectful to your neighbour and living a well regulated and disciplined life. We are also taught to pay due obedience to the laws of our country and be exemplary in the discharge of our civil duties. We are also described as a movement designed to fulfill man’s desire to coexist for the betterment of society as a whole. Our members are joined together in an association based on brotherly love, relief and truth. Derived from this definition are the virtues of faith, hope and charity. Brethren, you will agree with me that these ideals are lofty. The question now follows;
Is it relevant to us?
Let us first examine the state of affairs in our country. The biggest obstacle to development presently in our society is indiscipline. Indiscipline in all aspects of our society, in churches, mosques, schools, universities, governmental institutions, on the roads and unfortunately sometimes in some lodges within our District. The situation has not always been like this. There was a time when we could boast of high moral values, when a good upbringing was the yard stick by which you are measured in society and not by the wealth of your family. Corruption, cheating in institutions of learning and moral decadence is the order of the day.
Fortunately, freemasonry rejects all these negative attributes in our society. We are taught self-discipline. We are encouraged to practice good morality as the norm. The relevance of Freemasonry in our society therefore depends on us. Do we really practice its ideals? We may be law abiding but how do we rate ourselves in the non–legal virtues, chastity, truthfulness, kindness, cheerfulness, benevolence, prudence, temperance, and fortitude?
Brethren, we can only positively influence our society if, in our daily lives, we practice the ideals we claim. As we go to our places of work, recreation, worship, etc. let us be seen to be different. Our society is very much in need of these positive influences. To conclude, I will ask the question again, is freemasonry relevant to our society today? The answer is with us. Let us all collectively and individually endeavour to make it relevant.
Brethren, I have much pleasure in making the following preferment in the District:
Bro. Dr E Bundu-Kamara HON. SDGW
Bro. M.C. Thompson HON. SDGW
Bro. Arnold Mason HON JDGW
Bro. N.B Smith HON. DGJD
Bro. Rev. J.A Jarett HON. DGJD
Bro. C.O.A George HON. DGBB
Bro. D.F Faulkner HON. DG Marshal
Bro. C.B.S Dove HON. DG Snr.St. Bearer
Bro. Andrew Bangali HON. DG Snr. St. Bearer
Bro. J.N. Coker HON. DG Jnr. St. Bearer
Bro. G.O Dixon HON. DG Sword Bearer
Bro. T. Boye-Thompson HON. DGIG
Bro. B.J Baker HON. DGIG
Bro. D.A Nicol-Wilson HON. DGIG
Brethren, By the grace of the GAOTU, I will be one year in office on the 12th of June 2016. I intend to hold a thanksgiving service to which you are all invited. The DGS will furnish the details.
I also intend to attend the festival of St. Andrews in Edinburgh on the 24th of November. I hope as many of you who can make it, will accompany me. Details will soon be available at the secretariat.
Distinguished guests and brethren all, I thank you for your attention.