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Nov 18, 2009, 17:07
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The day before yesterday it was the air crash, yesterday it was the sea disaster and just the other day it was the tragic loss of a well renowned Sierra Leonean, loved one and a hero to many. Every now and again the nation goes through these kinds of shock waves either in part or the whole resulting in painful grief that endures perhaps for a life time. This time all of us, and more specifically, the justice sector in Sierra Leone have been hit a blow too hard to bear.

The late Mustapha Turay departed this world on the night of Saturday the 7
th of November 2009 at the tender age of 36! As a young college student he identified himself effectively as a leader preparing to attract the national stage in a formidable way. He took two degrees at the Fourah Bay College, the first one in the arts including English language and philosophy, the other in law. At the bar he quickly claimed his own space within the ranks of budding legal luminaries in the country. Shortly afterwards he assembled some of the best and brightest minds to establish the M.S. Turay and Associates Chambers to render legal services to the public as a whole. For scores of people in pursuit of justice this Chamber has been offering sanctuary, with a human face.


In the firm of M.S. Turay and Associates, Mr. Turay happened to be the head among equals. In that role he demonstrated great power of initiative; and an energy and enterprise that were extraordinary. Mustapha had the power to inspire his colleagues to service which in record time positioned that firm prominently to the respect of professional colleagues and the public at large. In their activities on the bench and in their offices he conditioned his partners to illustrate the fact that:

The heights of great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flights

But they, while their companions slept

Were toiling upward in the night


Obviously Mr. Turay had hundreds, perhaps thousands of acquaintants .We happened to be some of them. In spite of the services his firm continues to render society we were able to discover some personal dimensions of the man we came to admire. Francis Bacon said, reading maketh a full man, speaking, a ready man, and writing, an exact man Mustapha was all those abilities, and more! Whenever we visited him in his office, we found him always absorbed into his books, writing briefs or speaking eloquently on legal issues and in effect giving lectures to clients. We could not be with him for any moment without gaining some aspects of the law. Occasionally some of us nursed feelings of admiration adulterated by some amount of jealousy that we too could have studied law to be as vibrant and robust like our hero, Mustapha. But in life these equations do not always work out so mechanically. Even if we had studied law Mr. Turays ability to assimilate the vital elements of the profession and his dexterity to use these tools to the best advantage of his purpose were exceptional; they are not easily replicable talents!!

And sometimes as we sat in front of him absorbing those lectures some of us would wonder secretly about what horizons Mr. Turay would soar in the justice system by the time he reached the age of 60 years. But alas, one never knows when the Master will come. Watch therefore, for ye not know what hour your Lord will come (Mathew 24:42).

Mr. Turays sojourn was decimated just over a half of three score years. He passed away in the prime of youth! Sometimes life can be too cruel, and in situations like this we may ask ourselves the question posed by Mathew Arnold in the Rugby Chapel:

What is the course of life

Of mortal men on earth?

Most men eddy about

Here and there-eat and drink

Chatter and love and hate

Gather and squander, are raised

Aloft etc etc...............

Indeed it is all meaningless, all nothingness. Ecclesiastes 12:8 says, Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. In the end everything descends into the grave which seals our physical and perhaps spiritual lives. The poet Thomas Grey put it squarely in the Elegy to the Country Churchyard:

The boast of heraldry and the pomp of power

All the beauty all that wealth ever gave

Awaits alike the inevitable hour

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Surely Mr. Turay could have known these facts of life only too well. But his calling demanded that he fought the hard fights, sometimes the hardest fights to survive and prevail. However in the course of all those battles Mr. Turay showed profound respect for his colleagues especially seniors on the bench. Never did he impute the wrong motives in the activities of any colleague on the opposing side of the case. On the contrary he was always too quick to defend them even when conscious of transient human weaknesses. And through all the rumble and rustle of the law courts he demonstrated that his profession is worthy of respect, admiration and emulation because it is still replete with integrity and good conscience.

In many instances good conscience dominated his judgment. He often expressed concern about social injustices which could pose major threats to peace. Privately Mr. Turay also took delight to help the less fortunate in society. In this regard he believed strongly that for anyone to gain education up to the first degree in this country which provided the resources and the enabling environment should be grateful enough to put something substantial back into this system. In support of this view he once quoted President John Kennedy who said of America, Those to whom much is given, much is expected

Our encounter with Mr. Turay was brief. During that time he left an indelible impression on us about the quality of the man we came to appreciate. He was proud but not arrogant, radical but humble, impatient with institutional drudgery but enduring, bold but pleasant and affable, and fiercely determined to succeed but conscientious and God fearing.

Possibly, Mr. Turay meant a lot more to other people as a family man, a colleague at the bar, a social friend, benefactor and so on. To all of us and to the nation at large, this loss is as irreparable as it is grievous. The sea of mourners at the two services in his honour, (the incident itself one of a kind) bear graphic testimony that, it is better to die in the garden of youth on the chance of winning a noble name than to live long and die like a sheep unloved and unrenowned

What can anybody do at this time that we are so confused and perplexed. We can only turn to our good Lord for solace and comfort. We can be comforted that before his final departure Mr. Turay went much closer to our Lord. In the tribute of the firm M.S. Turay and Associates for their fallen colleague published in the Friday, 13th November 2009 edition of the Awareness Times Newspaper, they wrote He held closely to prayer sessions and emphasized his faith in God. He assured us of his communication with God barely 24 hours to his demise. He felt some unprecedented inner peace and experience he attributed to the closeness to God. Today we are consoled that he has received a graceful welcome into eternal bliss. This was no ordinary development in the life of that young man. And those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved(Romans 10:13) To believers this is a promise which will come to pass because the Lord is ever so faithful. No doubt Mr. Turay having been saved is now sitting at the right hand of God Almighty. Now on the legal platform, and with his Lord, he can boast as St Paul did by admitting that, I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course and have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.(2 Timothy 4:7-8) Otherwise, what does it pay a man to gain the whole wide world and lose his soul? (Mathew 16:26).

But comforted though we may stand at his spiritual salvation we shall continue to miss him dearly. Yes we will continue to weep for Mr. Turay, (actually A.K.A General Spancho) just as Mark Anthony wept when he saw the remains of his fallen emperor, Caesar:

Oh mighty Caesar

Dost thou lie so low?

Are all these conquests

glories, triumphs and spoils,

 Shrunk to this little measure?

Fare thee well!

Oh yes, family, colleagues and friends whose lives were touched by Mr. Turay will continue to mourn and miss him. After all, in him we found a solid professional icon, yet a good man and a fine Sierra Leonean. He was a hero to many, a flame whom we would have loved to see glow on and on to enliven the hearts of many more. But alas, man may have many desires but it is Gods purpose that prevails(Pro.l9: 21}.So it is well, it is well with our souls! Fare thee well, and rest in perfect peace, Mr. Turay!!



© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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