ďDaudis is deadĒ. This was the shocking text message I received from one of my Reporters, Dauda Koroma, in the afternoon hours of Friday 29th¬†April 2011, at exactly 1:30pm.
Dauda must be joking, I forced myself to believe, but speedily dial his number with the hopes of confirming my conviction. ďI am dead serious. The news is everywhere. Mohamed Daudis Koroma has died,Ē I was told on the phone.
I immediately hang off without further queries and telephoned the Managing Editor of the African Champion Newspaper, Ibrahim Sillah, who happens to be a very close relative of Mohamed Koroma. Sillah confirmed to me that he was just ending a telephone call he received from London informing him about the sudden death. It was at that juncture that my conviction that my dear friend was still alive began to fade. This canít be true I consoled myself while pondering on my next option.¬†
Few minutes later, I telephoned my boss, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden. She had been frequently monitoring the illness of Mohamed Koroma with grave concern as the two of them had tremendous mutual liking and respect for each other. She was astounded and told me she was going to immediately phone up a relative of the late man in London to verify the news. Few minutes later, Blyden told me that the news has been confirmed by the late manís brother. She was so devastated and so was I.
I cannot describe how I felt but shortly noticed that tears were dripping from my eyes.
Mohamed Champion, as he was widely known, was my closest elderly friend in Sierra Leone. I came to know him personally in February 2008, when I was introduced to him by my boss, as a friend of the Awareness Times Newspaper. The relationship continued to record a speedy growth from strength to strength as a result of the friendly nature of Champion. I called him The Champion Minister and he always referred to me as the Professional Journalist.
He confides in me and has not for once hurt me. He is always concerned about my wellbeing and cannot go for a week without talking to me, either on telephone or face to face. I served as an exemption to the protocols involved in visiting him both at home and in the office, which speaks volume of how close we were. I will telephone him whenever and wherever and he has never rejected my calls.
I became passionate about promoting his activities not because of our closeness or financial considerations, but because of his zest to see things done accordingly. He might not have all the education you will expect, but he always delivered wherever or whenever he was assigned. He believed less in being the boss, as evident in his on-the-spot and unannounced visits to various locations in the country, including hospitals and the mental home. He was always at the forefront to respond to distress calls. Under the hot burning sun, during odd hours of the night and even amid heavy downpour, Mohamed Champion was always present wherever and whenever he was needed.
At one time when I was struck by typhoid, Mohamed Champion drove all the way from his Youyi Building office to my motherís residence at Wellington, where he picked me up and took me to the Choithrams Hospital at Hill Station for medical checkups. From Choithrams, he again drove me home and assigned a special doctor to monitor my situation.
Since I met him, he was always ready to run to my rescue whenever the need arose, which was why I was very protective of him. He was never hesitant to draw my attention to my excesses and proffer elderly advises. He taught me patience, hard work and perseverance.
At a time like this, all I owe him is prayers. God knows best why he snatched our Champion from us at a time we needed him the most. This is surely an irreparable loss and the entire country will always miss him.
The Champion Minister, I will always remember you. May your soul rest in peace.
¬© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.