Your trusted place for Sierra Leone and global news
HomeFeaturedLooking back – reflections on my 80th birthday, 10 June 2010

Looking back – reflections on my 80th birthday, 10 June 2010

Looking back – reflections on my 80th birthday, 10 June 2010

I was born on June 10, 1930 to the late Paramount Chief Momoh Banya of Luawa Chiefdom Kailahun District. My late mother Kema Massah Marvor, nee Koroma was one of several wives of my late father. I was also one among over 50 brothers and sisters. From early beginnings I and my brothers and sisters especially those of my age group lived happily together in my father’s large compound in the centre of Kailahun town which is also the headquarters of the district of the same name.

I started my early education in the Methodist Primary school in Kailahun in 1937 before transferring to the Bo School on 15th March 1940. I had a very successful career, finishing in the school certificate class of Form V in December 1948. I was ‘Commissioner of Police’ in 1946, School Prefect in 1947 and Senior Prefect in 1948. I played football where I was a junior captain; I also played cricket for Bo School. I was a member of the school YMCA, the Science Club and a foundation member of the school’s Eastern Stars Association, one of the three regional clubs in school that staged concerts in the principal towns of our respective regions in order to induce our people to send their children to school. I was its honorary secretary in my last year in the school.

I entered the Preliminary science class of the Prince of Wales School in February 1949 to pursue a science course as Biology was the only science subject taught in the Bo school of my time. No foreign language or Latin was taught and I had to prepare for that before I could enter Bristol University in the United Kingdom. I played in the school cricket team as well as for the Old Bo Boys Association OBBA which won the championship trophy for five successive years when it entered the Sierra Leone cricket league in 1949. I was appointed a school prefect in 1950 and senior prefect in 1951. I was selected in the Sierra Leone cricket team that played the Gambia in 1951 and 1952, the latter while I was teaching in the Bo school.

In October 1953 Reginald Eleady-Cole and I joined other Sierra Leoneans in West Norwood Technical College in south London. I entered Bristol University Medical School in October 1955; I failed my Second MB ChB examination and moved to the West London Hospital Medical school where I completed my medical training with the Conjoint Diplomas of Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London. I joined the Sierra Leone Students’ Union in the UK and was elected honorary Secretary with late Salia Jusu-Sheriff as honorary President. In both Bristol and London I was invited to many English homes and was ‘adopted’ by many families which made my stay a “from home to home.” I was co convener and interim Secretary of the Anglo Sierra Leonean Society in London which brought together Sierra Leoneans living in the UK and people who had worked in Sierra Leone.

I returned home in August 1963 as a medical officer and was posted to the Bo Government hospital; after barely six months I was posted to the Kenema Government hospital as medical officer in charge. In December of the same year I was seconded to the newly established Njala University College where I established the University Health service which also catered for the people of the four chiefdoms surrounding Njala University. I was next posted to Makeni Government hospital again as medical officer in charge. I was back in Kenema in November 1966, promoted as acting Senior Medical officer and retired to private practice in Kenema in1969. While still attached to the Kenema hospital I raised funds to construct a children’s ward. In April 1972 I opened a 40 bed self contained Nongowa clinic and Emma Thompson Nursing Home, the late Emma Thompson being my sister.

In 1977 I was persuaded by the late President Siaka Stevens to join the team of educated young men as he called it which he was putting together to help him run the country. My entry into the 1977 Parliamentary elections ended in tragedy. One of my brothers and my cousin were killed in an ambush and I escaped with bullets in my head for which I was flown to the United Kingdom for surgical treatment. I entered Parliament following a by-election in March 1978, I was appointed Resident minister east in April of the same year and then as Minister of Development and Economic Planning. In August 1978. Took over the portfolio of Finance in January 1981 and after the “vouchergate” financial scandal six weeks later, I combined the ministries of Finance, Development and Economic Planning. During that period as the Finance minister I ranked fourth in protocol and acted as Vice President every time the position of Vice President became vacant which usually lasted no more than two weeks at any given time. In December 1981 President Stevens took over the portfolio of Finance in his words, “to allow me time to attend to my constituency in the 1982 elections;” I was left with Development and Economic Planning.

After the 1982 general elections I was given the portfolio of Internal Affairs. In June 1985 along with Dr. Abdulai Conteh I was thrown out of the cabinet for opposing a Private Member’s Bill to amend the constitution and allow the head of the Army to succeed President Siaka Stevens. I was also thrown out of the Governing Council of the only recognized APC political party under the 1978 One Party constitution which I had supported honestly and with great enthusiasm. I immediately set up a thriving Private Practice in Freetown. In the general election of 1986 “I was prevented” from winning what everyone agreed was for me a safe seat. I continued my Private Practice until the NPRC overthrew the APC government of President Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh in 1992. When the country returned to civilian rule I with four others including Alhajie Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah contested the leadership of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP which contest was won by Tejan-Kabbah.

Shortly after the overthrow of that government by the Armed Forces revolutionary Council AFRC, I was arrested along with visitors to my surgery by my distant nephew Sam Bockarie alias Maskita and detained at the Pademba road Prison. On my release I joined the many Sierra Leoneans including the deposed President Tejan-Kabbah. On the latter’s return to power I was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in March 1998. As Foreign Minister I travelled widely and took part in many conferences dealing with the restoration of peace in the country. The then Executive Secretary of ECOWAS used to refer to me fondly as the Freedom fighter. I was flattered when a very high ranking State Department diplomat told me at an ECOWAS Foreign Minister fringe meeting during a UN general assembly in New York that my interventions were always very constructive. In February 2000 President Tejan-Kabbah transferred me to his office as Senior Adviser with particular reference to the environment. As time went on I assumed the role of Senior Adviser. I have had lunch with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, French President Giscard Estrang, and Prime Ministers and heads of African governments. I have been a great advocate of environmental protection and maintenance of Biological Diversity for which I received the United Nations Environmental Protection Agency UNEPA Award. I have also received national awards for Environmental and Political activities and much earlier for my contribution to the health care delivery services of our country. I was elected national chairman of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party in 2002 and was replaced in 2005.

At an early stage in my life I developed an interest in newspaper writing, beginning with editing “The Log Book” in the Prince of Wales School in 1951. Writing a regular column under the title of in various newspapers has become an intellectual exercise and past time. Regular newspaper readers are aware that I take a lot of bashing with good humour from some journalists. I must say I also get a lot of satisfaction from often putting a pin in the pomposity of some editors. What I can’t stand is dishonesty, the tendency to malign and to defame and a lack of sincerity. As a convert to Christianity I have implicit faith in the Saving Grace of God and in the Redeeming Death and Resurrection of His Son my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I have been a Local Preacher of the Methodist Church for over 38 years.

I married the late Juliette Gulama in London in 1959; on her death I married the former Kadi Roseline Bangura with whom I have lived for the last 33 years. I enjoy reading, discussing current affairs and in music, both classical and dance music. I like to watch cricket and football. I exercise by walking for an hour every day wherever I am between 4 and 6 in the morning.

Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!

© 2010, https:. All rights reserved.

Share With:
Rate This Article
No Comments

Leave A Comment