Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s barely five months ago that I gave a befitting tribute to my late mother at St. Philip’s Church in Freetown.
Today, one of the worst things that could happen to any parent or family has just happened to me and my family. On Monday September 13th, 2010 at about 9.45am at the Choithram Memorial Hospital, Hill Station, we lost our 26 year old son, Leonard Balogun Koroma Jnr during surgery for appendicitis. Balogun Jnr had returned to his native land from the United States of America, 3 weeks earlier to explore the possibility of returning home finally to join me in my business and take over as my eldest son and heir. You could see the happiness and relief on his face on his homecoming. He was robustly healthy and strong, at least outwardly and showed no signs of illness. I wanted him to take over my business so that I could have more time to engage in what I love most; Politics and helping the less fortunate in society. However, God had a different plan for him.
On Sunday evening while in Kono on a trip, my wife called to inform me that Balogun had complained of severe stomach pains, which interestingly he had never experienced during his 18 years stay in the United States of America. I told her to take him to the Choithram Memorial Hospital where he was diagnosed for appendicitis and slated for surgery the next morning; Monday the 13th, yes that unlucky number 13. The rest is history. My dear son, a complete replica of myself passed away on the operating table and never came out alive from what was supposed to be minor surgery.
|Leonard Balogun Koroma Jnr
When an event like Balogun’s death happens to other people, we think perhaps that these sorts of terrible things should not happen to us. We convince ourselves that these are tragedies that happen to other people; even though we know that accidents do happen and misfortune visits many families in the world. Yet there is something that prevents us from thinking that such a tragedy can befall someone we know. We take it for granted that fathers will pass on their inheritance to their sons. That is how we assume, it is supposed to happen. A son will take his place and read the eulogy for his father. He will extol the virtues of a long life and maintain his father’s name. A son will grow older. He may have children of his own. To them he will in turn pass on what he has learned. He will grow up to be a man and fulfill his father’s expectations of him. When things don’t happen in that order to fit our expectations, we are left trying to make sense of what happened. What then is the point of life if we cannot read the road map or fulfill our destinies? Why we are not prepared for the unthinkable?
Perhaps we will never know the answer to those questions, at least in our lifetimes. What we do know is the pain and the frustration that we have felt over the last 2 weeks. We know what it is to feel anger and impotence in the face of a loss that we find difficult, if not impossible to comprehend. Yet we know that even today we must find a way forward
If we are to continue with our lives and pay tribute to Balogun Jr., who has been taken away from us so suddenly.
Balogun has been taken from us; We as a family, and I as a devout Christian and as a Mason accept it as the will of God and have accepted the unthinkable and inevitable.
When I met my wife Mrs. Hawa Logus Koroma about 34 years ago in 1976, we had no guarantee that God would bless us with children or a son we would name Balogun Jnr. God then gave us Balogun and now God has taken Balogun away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
Scientists’ over the centuries have tried unsuccessfully to create life. The closest they have come are robots, clones and human cells; but they have never been able to synchronize things and produce a human being and I am sure they never will, because that secret belongs to God and to God only. We will therefore blaspheme and sin if we start asking questions about Balogun’s death and advance reasons why it should not have happened. We are therefore not asking any questions, except to thank God for his life and 2 years old daughter, Leah Marie Koroma who I now want to introduce to you together with her mother Kristin and her parents who are here from the United States of America for the funeral.
Balogun is gone, but will always be a part of us. His only daughter, Leah Marie will never replace our child, but will remind us of him whenever we see her, reminding us of his gesture, his looks and his very nature. She is a legacy to us and we will always cherish the legacy. Thank you Kristin and family and we hope that you will continue visiting us whenever you can. As we console ourselves, we also console Kristin and her family for this great and irreparable loss.
Balogun’s achievements were many. He lived his life to the best of his ability and we must draw comfort from that. We must remember that he is in another place where the things that consume us perhaps do not matter.
Today we are remembering our son and what he meant in our lives. Put simply he enriched our days. As we say our final goodbyes we ask for the courage to go on without him. Someday, somehow, sometime we will come to terms with our loss. Time will; we are told; help heal the wound but today it is a raw and aching wound.
I will not conclude without giving thanks and appreciation first to the Almighty God for his short life, President Ernest Bai Koroma and First Lady Madam. Sia Nyama Koroma; Vice President Sam Sumana and Lady Kadia Sumana for their tremendous support; and all our family friends at home and abroad too numerous to mention for their assistance in so many diverse ways in giving us the strength and courage to face these challenging period in our lives.
Let me close by reading this eulogy verse:
Nature it seems stands on its head
When you mourn the loss of a son
Today we remember his life with us
The years of laughter and fun ,
We’re thinking of all the times that we shared
And though we are bowed with grief
Today we celebrate the son we once had
Because it is our firm belief
That his life enriched us in so many ways
Brought sunshine and happiness into our days
And though we are heartbroken and very sad
Today we admit that we’re also glad
That we had him, if only for too short a while
Not yet but sometime we’ll remember and smile.
MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE.
GOODBYE BALOGUN, SLEEP AND TAKE YOUR REST TILL WE MEET AGAIN.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.