From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Role Models
By Leonard Balogun Koroma (Logus)
May 19, 2010, 11:17

Before my recent travel to the United States of America, I told my mum that I wanted to give her a grand 90ft birthday celebration and requested her to choose any venue she liked for the party. In spite of my suggestion to hold the party at the Y.W.C.A. hall in Brookfield's or the Lagoonda entertainment complex in Aberdeen, she insisted that she wanted the celebration to take place at the St. Philips Church hall among her people. I immediately paid for and reserved the hall for Thursday June 3rd, 2010 to celebrate my mothers 90th birthday.


She told her Church friends how she would dance and enjoy to the fullest on that day. Little did both of us knew that she would not be around to celebrate her 90th birthday which falls on Thursday the 3rd of June, exactly 20 days from today. As the saying goes; "Man proposes and God disposes".



Towards the middle of March, my wife called to inform me that my mother had fallen ill, in Freetown. I did not take it seriously because since I was born and until now, I have not seen my mother fall seriously ill, ever. When I was told that one of my mother's doctors had told her to go and prepare her casket, I advised her not to seek medical advice from him anymore.


The second doctor they went to at The Choithram's Memorial hospital told my mother to come back in fifteen days. Her response was that the doctor knew she would be dead before fifteen days and would therefore not be coming back. In spite of all the above, none of us believed that my mothers time was up, because we did not believe she was that ill and were focussed on her 90tn birthday preparations which was not to be. Today, instead of celebrating her 90th birthday' we are saying a final goodbye. It teaches us that we are not in control of our lives; God is; and to God be the glory. Interestingly, her 40th day falls on what would have been her 90th birthday, June 3rd, 2010. We hope to observe that day in remembrance of her.



Every one of us in this Church today has a mother; either dead or alive. It is the only way to come into this world. You have to be born to come here, and consequently, the person who brought you into this world, your mother, is the first person you know, and is obviously the closest and dearest person to you as you grow up; she is your source of happiness and hope.


I have heard of father's denying their child, but I have never heard of a mother denying a child she carried in her womb for months. Poets and writers have tried through the years but nobody can understand the depth of a mother's love for her children. A mother is like a rock, always there to give you her support and her understanding. Whenever the world is against you, especially for no reason, your mum is always there to tell you that you really matter and should never give up.


A mother may be short or tall, beautiful or ugly, but to her child, her knee is the cosiest place on earth; to her child, she is the best cook in the world. Our mothers hold us in their laps when we are small, but they hold us in their hearts throughout their whole lives. "Can a woman's tender care cease towards the child she bears "? The answer to that question is a resounding NO.


That tender care and love is what makes a mother so special to all of us. There is no exception in our case. Without any offence to anyone, I want to state here that my mother loved me and my brothers more than anyone else in the world and was the closest and dearest person o us. To those of you whose mothers are still alive; God bless you. Today, I cease to become a member of your club and now belong to the club of those who have lost their mothers and who know exactly what it means to lose one. I don't care how old she is; the pain of loss and parting is monumental; and believe me, it's not easy at all.


As I said earlier, every one of us in this Church has a mother, but ours was definitely one of the best mothers ever. That is why today; despite our sadness we are also giving thanks and celebrating her life.


We are giving thanks and celebrating her life because her mission in life is fully accomplished; We are giving thanks and celebrating her life because our mother was precious; We are giving thanks for a mother who always put us first and made sure there was always food on the table; We are giving thanks for a mother who always loved us and showed us so in many different ways, and was always willing to listen to our sense or nonsense. More than that though, we are giving thanks for a mother who meant something different to every member of her family.


Just as each child is different, so too is the relationship a mother has with each of her children. All children are born different. Some of us are born sentimental, some reserved. Mum always knew just what way each one of us needed to be treated. If that meant flogging us, so be it. Mother's, she frequently told us are always right.


Hannah Baby Nellie Gadd was one of thirteen siblings born under wedlock on June 3rd l92l to Sonny Richard Wilson and Marian Wilson. Both parents- Mr & Mrs Wilson died in the prime of their lives leaving their young children to be cared for by their grandparents. The Grand parents were Hannah Shepherd who got married to Moses Mumbie Newton Grant - a West Indian Regiment Soldier who came to serve in Sierra Leone during the Second World War. As fate would have it, Grandma Hannah also died and Grandpa Mumbie had to care for the surviving children. Mrs Hannah Gadd - nee Wilson grew up at No. 74 Regent Road - the south end of Freetown and was cared for by my step grandfather, Mr. Moses Mumbie Newton Grant, the West Indian Soldier. She was nicknamed "baby Nellie" by the neighbours because her eldest sister who was called Nellie was always holding her hand and carrying her wherever she goes. So whenever the two of then appeared, they will say, "here comes Nellie and Baby Nellie". Her other brothers and sisters include Isaac, George, Nellie and Regina. With the exception of Regina, the former three had all passed away.

Hannah got married to Walter Gadd in the early fifties and the marriage was blessed with five children, 4 boys and 1 girl- Abidja had earlier passed away. Her husband Walter, Gadd passed away in the nineties. Her oldest son Balogun Koroma, who happens to be myself, has been caring for her. I sent her on vacation to the United Kingdom in 1980, and on her return stopped her from doing business at Bombay Street market where she was a popular trader.


During the conflict in Sierra Leone, I again sent her as a refugee to Banjul, the Gambia. On her return from the Gambia, I took her to stay with me in the United States of America for about 2 years before she returned back to Sierra Leone.


Hannah Gadd was a petty trader who toiled under rain and shine to care for us and educate us. Even with her meagre resources, she made Sure we had all what we needed to go to school. When my father, the late Sondifu Martin Koroma of Kangama, Ngorama Chiefdom, Kono District took me to attend school at Yengema, Kono in the sixties, she sent me provisions and much needed cash allowance through the post office on a quarterly basis. Our mother was kind, understanding and very caring. She was unselfish, humorous and totally committed to her family. She lived for her children and because of her children. She loved cooking and continued to cook in her old age.

She also loved to dress, as well as dancing and partying. I may have copied some of these traits except for the cooking.


Things were not always perfect between us though. There were times when she was the only mother in the world who would not let her children do as they wanted. She refused perfectly reasonable requests about staying out all night and was always fighting with our girlfriends. We were not very pleased with her for embarrassing us in the presence of a new found love but we always realized it was for our own good.


As we say a final goodbye to our dear mum, our hearts are full; we will miss her kindness and for all she meant in our lives; we will miss her dancing, her cooking and her company we will miss her smiles and her warmth. We hope we have inherited some of her traits. We will be as warm and welcoming as she always was. Only in that way can we show our appreciation for the best mother in the world.


I also want to thank God for the fact that I am burying my mum, and not the other way round, secondly for the fact that she lived a full life, and thirdly for the fact that, I have a clear conscience that I was able to fulfil my moral obligations towards her during her lifetime and in her death.


Nobody can ever replace her in our lives and that is why even though we are celebrating her life; we are also grieving today. We will always remember her. Sometime, years from now, we may get over her loss, but we will never, never forget her.

Mum had great faith in the afterlife. I pray that she finds peace and serenity which she always said awaited those who have a good life. She indeed had a good life and nobody deserves more.

We will miss her, but I know she'll be always watching over us. It was a habit of hers.

May her soul rest in perfect peace; Good bye mama until we meet again.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.