From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
A Special Tribute to the Late Rt. Hon. Dr. Salia Jusu-Sheriff
By Mohamed K. Gassama (Geneva, Swizterland)
Feb 15, 2010, 13:52

I like to enjoin the many friends and well-wishers at home and abroad who have made glowing tributes to one of Sierra Leoneís finest public servants of the 20th century. I am very proud to have known him at both private and political levels for the last twenty five years. He was the President of Sierra Leone, who was never was. He represented the hopes, thoughts and aspirations of many people of this country. And given the quality of leadership thus far, surely destiny has not served Sierra Leone well.

Maada Salia, as he was fondly called, was a towering personality in the political arena for over fourty years not only in his Kenema South Constituency, but also in the political life of Sierra Leone. He represented the finest example of how one could serve in the public interest with humility, rigour and due candor. He also lived by and demonstrated exemplary qualities of honesty, dedication and corrupt-free political life in the very mucky political environment in Sierra Leone. Indeed he was the ideal example of a truly national patriot for this and future generations of aspiring public servants.

I first met Maada Salia while I was President of the Kenema District Students Association (KENDSA) at Fourah Bay. I had gone to meet with the Kenema District Parliamentary Group, of which he was Chair, in 1980 to discuss the issue of the award of government scholarships for our membership during one of those dark days of yester years. He promised to lead the effort to resolve the issue and he surely did. We have been very close hence.

When I was appointed Minister of Employment and industrial Relations in the first SLPP Administration as member of the coalition government representing the PDP, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a very fatherly letter congratulating me and he was also present during our swearing-in-ceremony at State House.

Of course in the turbulent political history of our country, Maada Salia also experienced his bitter share of nation building. Since his departure to the UK for medical treatment, I have visited him anytime I was in London and I enjoyed his sense of humour during those visits. I had planned unsuccessfully to see him and Mrs. Jusu-Sheriff few weeks before I left Geneva for Sierra Leone.

I considered Maada Salia as my political mentor and admired him as an ideal example of how you could serve the public without being corrupt.

In my view, his finest hour came when he agreed, albeit after a long refusal, to serve in the Siaka Stevenís Administration as Minister of Finance and later in Joseph Saidu Momohís as Vice President. Only a true Statesman would afford to sacrifice his political standing for the common good of his country. While political parties are vehicle for contesting and acquiring political power, the call to national service transcends all individual political inclinations, no matter how longstanding.

So letís celebrate the life of our dear friend, elder brother and father for the national character in which his death was honoured by all is evidence of his fooprints on the history of Sierra Leone, and to Mrs. Gladys Salia Jusu-Sheriff, and the children and political friends and foes alike, you should be very proud of his sacrifice to our nation.

May the blessings of Allah be with him and may his soul rest in eternal peace. AMEN!



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