This month the Sierra Leone charity project dedicated a tree in memory of Dr Ahmadu Fadlu-Deen, late husband of Kitty Fadlu-Deen, who co-founded the Ballanta Academy of Music in Freetown. The Ballanta is the only music school in Sierra Leone and where our specialist musicians spend many happy, hot hours teaching music as part of the annual trip. The tree, a Cork Oak, was chosen by head-gardener, Paul Barnett, and is an evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean and north Africa, with very thick bark. Like the Cork Oak, Ahmadu was a man who needed a very thick skin of his own on many occasions! Ahmadu passed away in May 2015 and it was felt appropriate to incorporate a memorial into the wider Cedars Hall project.
Principal, Elizabeth Cairncross, described Ahmadu as “distinguished, most notably in his service to his country. In matters of health, of sport, of inter faith relationships (as a Muslim so happily married to a Christian), of sheer, principled leadership and skilled diplomacy his influence was everywhere, and displayed both in Sierra Leone and internationally in other African countries, in the USA, in the UK and elsewhere. Sometimes the news of a death means that, for a moment, the world seems to be a duller and more grey place. That was the effect for us of hearing that Ahmadu had died; it’s difficult to believe that he’s not still here somewhere in this world. We’re proud and humbled to have met and known him a little, and we will cherish his memory and try to follow his example.”
We are sure that the tree, which is part of the contemplation area being developed at the top of Cedars Field, would have pleased Ahamdu, where it enjoys a beautiful panoramic view of Cedars Hall and the cathedral. It also feels as if he will be looking over us as both tree and school continue to grow annually.