Journalists pay tributes to departed colleague
MONDAY JULY 22, 2013 – Members of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) paid shimmering tributes to their fallen colleague, Mr. Jon Z. Foray at a condolence signing ceremony organized by SLAJ at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall in Freetown. The ceremony was also graced by the Foray family led by the proprietor of the Democrat newspaper, Pious Foray, former SLAJ President Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, as well as well-wishers and family friends including former Education Minister, Dr. Alpha Wurie and former National Ombudsman, Mr. Francis Gabiddon.
The ceremony was officiated by Rev. Rex Johnson of the Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN).
Mr. Foray died on Monday July 15, 2013 after a long illness. He had worked with the New Citizen and We Yone newspapers, and until his death with the Democrat newspaper. He was born in September 1957 and died at the age of almost 56 years.
In his ‘declaration of purpose’ statement, SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis described the late man as a “very good friend” who entered the field of journalism in the 1980s. “We are here to honour a colleague who had practiced journalism for almost three decades,” stated the SLAJ President. “He was a man who knew no other profession than journalism; so we are here in the journalism fraternity to express our sorrow and sympathy with the family.”
In his tribute, former Information and Communications Minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo – who was speaking both as founder of the New Citizen newspaper (which the late man had worked with) and as a family friend – said Mr. Foray could be remembered for “disseminating the truth fearlessly” and as “one who fought for freedom of expression”.
“I first knew him while he was a pupil at the St. Andrew’s Secondary School in Bo where I was serving as a senior teacher,” recalled Mr. Kargbo, a former President of SLAJ. “When we established the Tablet newspaper, Jon Foray was our Bo correspondent. He was a great writer and a fearless one at that.”
Kargbo said the late journalist was a ‘Prince’ who came from a chieftaincy house in the Bo District, Southern Sierra Leone, and that during his time as a journalist, he wrote several articles for the We Yone newspaper. “Being very close to the Foray family for decades, and also being Jon Foray’s former teacher and editor, I can vouch for his honesty and respect for the tenets of journalism. He was a man that was always satisfied to be what he was,” Mr. Kargbo concluded.
Speaking on behalf of We Yone newspaper, Editor Cornelius Deavaux reminded colleagues and the bereaved family “not to mourn as people without faith” as stated in the scriptures. He nonetheless paid tribute to the departed colleague for his contribution in revamping the We Yone newspaper to its present status. “Unlike Kelvin Lewis and I.B. Kargbo, I did not have the excitement of working with Jon Foray but knew him as a senior colleague while I was working with the Wisdom newspaper,” noted Mr. Deavaux. “Jon had served as Acting Editor and Editor of We Yone; we tried convincing him to rejoin the editorial staff of the newspaper but he preferred freelancing. On behalf of the We Yone management and the All People’s Congress, we express our sympathy with the bereaved family.”
Making a statement on behalf of the Veteran Journalists Association, Fallah Ensah N’Daema said they are remembering their dead colleague as a fallen soldier who fought for the truth. He however attributed the deterioration of the late journalist’s health to his incarceration in the late 90s at the dreaded SS Camp. “Every death has a background, and Jon Foray’s death started when he was incarcerated at the SS Camp in 1999. He went for treatment in Ghana and later, I was told, in South Africa; he returned home to continue his work as a journalist but was never the same again,” Mr. Ensah N’Daema recounted.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Pious Foray said his late brother was a fervent Christian, a Catholic who had prodigious talent. “He was consequential and controversial but very consistent,” said Pious. “J.Z. read a lot more than so many PhD holders in this country; he was well educated. When Dr. Alpha Wurie was singlehandedly handed the responsibility of writing the manifesto of the SLPP in 2002, he trusted no one but Jon to work with him. He was sometimes annoyingly confident and was never the same after he came back from his incarceration at the SS Camp. Jon died in the line of duty. I’ll rather have this as a thank you from the family; but especially for this fitting and solemn ceremony.”
Former Education Minister, Dr. Alpha Wurie, formally opened the Book of Condolence.
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