It is with profound sorrow that the National Progressive Democrats Party announces that Almami Cyllah, our esteemed Interim Leader and Chairman, died in Freetown on May 2. He will be buried in Makeni on May 14.
Born in Makeni to Mr. Sallu Cyllah and Haja Isata Nabie, he attended St. Francis Secondary School before transferring to the Bo School and then continuing his education in the United States of America. In 1980, he received a B.A. degree in politics and international affairs from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.. Soon after, he began his 12-year tenure at Amnesty International, where he was in charge of African affairs.
In 1994, Mr. Cyllah returned to war-torn Sierra Leone to serve as a member of the Interim National Electoral Commission. The next year, he was traveling in the Northern Province, for which he had responsibility, when his vehicle drew rebel fire. Some of his travel companions escaped into the bush but he was gravely wounded and his elderly uncle was murdered on the spot. After Sierra Leone’s 1996 elections, its first in 30 years, Mr. Cyllah was the only commissioner to decline a government position, electing instead to return to his work at Amnesty.
Based in Haiti from 2000 to 2005, Mr. Cyllah oversaw National Democratic Institute (NDI) programs before joining the staff of the International Foundation for Electoral Services (IFES). As IFES country representative, first in Haiti and then in Liberia, he supported national efforts in those and many other countries to pave the way for free, fair, and violence-free elections. He was named IFES regional director for Africa in 2008 and returned to Washington, D.C., from where, until his retirement in 2014, he supervised and monitored elections and provided technical and financial support to strengthen civil society all over the continent. During this period, he also served as a member of NDI-Carter Center election-monitoring delegations to Liberia in 2005, Nigeria in 2013, and Surinam in 2015.
A sought-after speaker and panelist, Mr. Cyllah testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health in March, 2010. He was also the author of much-cited articles in Africa Report, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Washington Post, as well as the editor of a 2014 book about electoral violence, Elections Worth Dying For: A Selection of Case Studies from Africa.
Mr. Cyllah’s death, as he prepared to campaign for the 2018 elections as our party’s flagbearer, is an incalculably untimely loss for Sierra Leone, which has been robbed of the vast knowledge, experience, and commitment to nurturing democracy that he planned to use to usher in a new kind of government–one driven by honesty, accountability, and transparency.
Mr. Cyllah will be remembered as a soft-spoken, dignified man of integrity, whose fine intellect, kind manner, warm laugh, and communication skills (he was fluent in English, French, Krio, Haitian Patois, Mandingo, and Temne) earned him admiration and respect wherever he went.
Before his sudden death, Mr. Cyllah was legally married to Mrs. Mariatu Cyllah, a lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone, and commissioner at the National Revenue Authority (NRA). He is survived by his three daughters – Kadia, Isata, and Halima Almatu ; and two sons – Salu and Almami Jr; his grandchildren, and by his siblings, aunts and uncles among the Cyllah/Sillah, Nabie/Nabay, Tunkara, Kuyateh, Conteh, and Kamara families.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.