By Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Saudi Arabia—
His sudden death was announced to us here in Saudi Arabia just after the Friday Muslim congregational prayers on the 29th April, 2011 – that date is still fresh in my mind. It was a shocking piece of news that fell on the ears of the nation on that day.
It was the death of the former Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mohamed Daudis Koroma. Three years have gone. I am still struggling with the pain and shock of my friend’s sudden death. He was a close friend for over 12 years. In this piece, I am not singing his praises, for he rightly deserves much more than that, but to remember him.
So when the sad and shocking news of his passing away was announced to me, the third painful loss of loved ones I have had to endure in just 2 months; losing my dearest Uncle, Chernor Gandor Jalloh who lived and worked in Baoma Station for many years and a childhood friend, Lansana Kamara, a broadcast Journalist in Kono, I was deeply troubled, for the three deaths painfully reminded me, again, of my own mortality and also left me wondering why I should lose three such good people in so short a time. But Allah knows best.
I need not tell you that Mohamed Koroma’s death is a huge loss for his family, the APC Government and his numerous friends and acquaintances all over the world. I first met with the late Mohamed D. Koroma in 1995 when he was working for the Independent Point newspaper and later we became close friends when he was working for The Champion Newspaper owned by a Nigerian national, Umaru Davies and edited by a Ghanaian Journalist, Nana Kofi Sarpong Smith.
In 1998, Mr. Koroma left The Champion and established The African Champion. He invited me to work with him. He was the Proprietor and Managing editor of that newspaper. Few years later, he offered me the position of Acting Editor which I accepted. In 2003, he went to the United Kingdom for further studies. Upon his arrival in 2005, I also went to the United States. I returned from the States in 2007. Along the way, he made me aware of the great admiration he had for the then presidential hopeful, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma. He asked me to join him in his support of Ernest Koroma’s Presidential campaign for the vision that he had for Sierra Leone.
What was more, we expressed our support not only professionally, but more importantly we did it constructively knowing full well that we were doing the right thing. And thanks to Allah, until now, the nation has not been disappointed by President Koroma.
Mohamed Champion, as he was fondly called, was the first person who formally introduced me to the then Minority Leader in Parliament, Honourable (Hon) Ernest Bai Koroma at the latter’s Goderich residence in the West-end of Freetown. He made him to know me for what I can do, and the principles that I stand for.
Shortly after his victory in 2007, it pleased His Excellency the President to appoint Mohamed Daudis Koroma as Honourable Deputy Minister of Information and Communications. In his new capacity, Mr. Koroma made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was there to institute palpable changes with his boss, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo. Indeed, both men made sure that they revamped the communication and postal services. The late man was not the kind of minister who would ensconce himself in his office; rather, he was a field worker who would like to closely follow up and see things with his naked eyes so that he could make informed recommendations related to workers’ as and when required.
In March 2009, H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma transferred Hon. Daudis Koroma to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation as Deputy Minister of that Ministry – a position he held with competence until the substantive Minister of Health, Mr. Sheku Koroma was relieved of his duties. Mohamed Daudis handled the affairs of that ministry with maturity under the supervision of the Hon. Vice President, Alhaji Sahr Samuel Sumana. He also proved his mettle in that ministry beyond all reasonable doubt. In the December 2010 reshuffle, the Minister of Information, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, who made the announcement said, “Mohamed Daudis Koroma has been elevated to the status of Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.”
In that capacity, Mr. Koroma once again manifested his mettles and patriotic qualities. In so short a time, he started his regular and unannounced visits to hospitals, public health centers and pharmacies to check the services and the status of medications dispensed. And those surprise visits indeed paid dividends. He held that position until his death. He was an exemplary public servant who served his country with duty and honour.
Like many successful and enterprising people everywhere who often leave behind a legacy of some unfinished business in the annals of their lives’ agendas when they exit the world stage, Mohamed Champion have had his fair share, and sadly died with some unfulfilled dreams. Such of his dreams might have included performing the fifth pillar of Islam (Hajj) ; build a Mosque, Islamic Center, a Technical Institute in his native home of Mathoir in the Tonkolili District or elsewhere; do more philanthropic work for humanity; and so on and so forth. But who does not die with some unfulfilled dreams?
As I lay tossing in my bed that Friday night after receiving the tragic and painful news of Koroma’s passing away, I couldn’t stop thinking about the quality time we spent together. I will forever remember the Prayer or the Special Grace he offered in his Morgan Street residence in the East-End of Freetown in front of the assembled select group of families and friends during my departure to Saudi Arabia to assume duty as Information Attaché and the friendly goodbye of the traditional handshake, often done with the left hands so that you see each other back soon. That handshake preceded our warm goodbye embrace before I entered my car for Lungi International Airport.
I would vividly recall those days I used to spend time with the late man. He and I used to stay together for very long hours not only at work, but in outdoor activities. It was bed time that used to part us most often. I would also recall the strains he and I underwent at the early stage of our professional life at No.1 Short Street in downtown Freetown. We used to work in an office where no materials and equipment were available. In those days, it was such a struggle for us to get our work published, but we steadfastly endured all the hardship and were able to successfully get through.
On a personal note, almost four years ago when my wife was in the Delivery Room at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) in Freetown, Mr. Koroma made it a point of duty to go to the hospital himself, meet the attending doctors and nurses and made them aware that he was to be personally contacted and given reports regularly pertaining to the condition of my wife’s health. He also asked them to forward the hospital bills to him for payment. What else can a friend do for you to earn your love, respect and friendship? I will forever remain indebted to him for being the true and great friend he was.
The demise of my late brother, Mohamed Daudis Koroma and my dear uncle and friend within so short a space of time, I must admit, not only reinforced but also tested my faith, driving me to conclude for once that I would one day come to an end at a time and place of my Maker’s choosing. As difficult as that day may be, I am trying hard to prepare myself for that. May the Almighty Allah make it easy for me when that time comes – Ameen.
I can say without any hesitation that Mohamed was as dear, loving and kind brother to me. He was a very honest, trusting and selfless human being who always wanted his cadre of friends to excel and be close to him, and so spared no pains and efforts in trying to achieve that. Mohamed would be remembered for the righteous things he did for his nation. May he be placed on the history plaque of the honourable men who guarded our freedom and secured our liberty through Public Service. May his memory shine on the children and mothers he tried to help along the way. May his legacy continue. I hereby implore Allah, Our Creator, to forgive him all sins he might have committed during his 44 years stay in this world. Rest in perfect peace, Mohamed!!
I want to end this piece about my kind and loving brother, Mohamed Daudis Koroma with this quotation from Shakespeare: “…Be not sad my love for with every parting comes a meeting…” One day, we will meet again on the right side of our Maker. May Allah grant Mohamed eternal peace and rest in Paradise – Ameen.