Inspirational scenes were seen at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) – University of Sierra Leone (USL) when a young bride together with her bridesmaids shocked students when they literally stormed the examination hall clad in their wedding attires to sit to an exam. This historic and first-ever event took place on Saturday 21st May, 2022, at the IPAM campus, Tower Hill in Freetown.

The bride, Mariama Sesay, a final year student in the Department of Financial Services, left many Sierra Leoneans dazzled over spontaneous act, courage and determination to succeed in her education considering the trauma that comes with examination and the celebration of her wedding ceremony.

Mariama Sesay and her partners were earlier joined in the afternoon by other colleagues and relatives at the Amin Central Mosque in Wellington where Sheik Abass Koroma officiated. To the amazement of her guests and the clergy, she abruptly took off the moment the ceremony ended. In her wedding attire, she headed straight for the IPAM examination hall together with her bridesmaids who are also in the same department.

In a brief interview with Mariama Sesay, she affirmed that she indeed considers marriage as one of the most important pillars of life which all women aspire for – especially in the Sierra Leonean society. She maintained however that she also believes that a well-educated woman is a powerful force to be reckoned with in any society.

She went on to say that the event was a coincidence, as she and her partners had have planned for their respective weddings a long while ago; setting the dates long before the university published the first semester examination timetable.

She added that in consultation with her husband, she decided to go along with both events on the same day. Mariama acknowledged that the pressure was enormous, because the wedding preparations were hectic in addition to the pressure the IPAM exams were bringing up. But, nevertheless, she noted that with support from her husband and loved ones, she was able to multitask and accomplish her objectives.

She concluded by thanking God for giving her strength and courage and urged her fellow women as well as students not to give up on anything in life, as her situation is a clear manifestation that Sierra Leonean women are strong, and can do whatever they set their minds to.

One of her best friends Marie revealed to the OWL press that Mariama is someone who doesn’t believe in procrastination and more especially when it has to do with education. She explained that this is the final lap of her friend’s gegree program at the University of Sierra Leone. She added that because Mariama had a crucial examination to take on the date of her wedding which date had already been slated, she rushed out of the mosque the minute the ceremony ended and dashed to IPAM straightaway to take her exam scheduled for the same date. She managed to reach the exam hall clad in her full wedding regalia because she could not afford to go home to change her dress otherwise, she would have been late and possibly could have not taken the examination, considering the fact that IPAM administration is a stickler for time and does not tolerate lateness when it comes to examinations.

The scene at the Institute of Public Administration and Management was a very cheerful and inspiring one, as students, traders, admin officers, lecturers, and so many others surrounded the bride as she exited the exam hall. People took photos and videos of the event to show love and support for such a strong woman.

Education as we have been told, determines the quality of an individual’s life, improves one’s knowledge, skills and develops personality and attitude. Most noteworthy, education improves the chances for employment and also plays a great role in the development of a nation.

Also, for everyone, marriage is one of the most important decisions in life; when one is choosing to live their life with a partner. Thus, when people decide to get married, they think of having a lovely family, dedicating their lives together, and raising their children together.

The story of Mariama Sesay is an indication that two forces can co-exist. You can acquire education and marriage at the same time; one just needs to be disciplined, focused and determined to succeed.

Mariama Sesay is now an inspiration to so many Sierra Leoneans, especially her fellow women as her story is one that has brought hope, courage and strength to every girl child in the Sierra Leonean society.

Many Sierra Leoneans who took to different social media platforms used words of support and congratulations to Mariama Sesay. Well-wishers as well as the social media community have sent positive messages and prayers for the bride and her family.

On the side of the IPAM Administration, the Dean Faculty of Accounting and Finance Dr. Duramany E. Lakkoh stated that “it is so sad when you have a public that can just run into conclusion and quick to respond to anything that is negative or even quick to change things to negative. Very interesting country!!”

He added: “On the IPAM issue, please note that students can always reschedule an examination by filling a form or writing a formal letter with copies of evidence (s). In this case a student can always apply to take the examination as igrade (not a reference), during the next examination or when reference examinations are taken.”

He further noted: “Again, please note that students can only ask for their examination to be rescheduled before the examination and not after. This is where the challenge is.

Dr. Lakkoh went on to state that students have always been rescheduling examination at IPAM in their hundreds, and that “if you do not succeed to have your examination rescheduled, you might have requested after the examination which is by policy very undone.”

He cautioned that some students will travel for months and come afterwards and complain that they were unable to write the exams. “BO MAKE THE PLACE GET SOME DISCIPLINE BO,” he asserted!

He maintained that students should note that if examinations are rescheduled without strong controls people will just use the opportunity to exploit the system.

“Universities are highly regulated. Every case is unique and do not generalize,” he said.

Just after the exams the newly-wedded bride and her entourage for proceeded to the Lumley/Aberdeen Beach for photoshoots and the wedding receptions which took place at at Njala Venue.

Wedding receptions at Njala Venue

Guests were impressed over the bride’s mood and it was a wonderful atmosphere as taking into consideration the fact that Mariama had succeeded at concluding a difficult but impressive multitask.

As Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In the same vein, Mariama Sesay is very determined to achieve great educational success and use education as a weapon to help change the narrative against women in the country.