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Sierra Leone News: TRIBUTE TO SMAUEL JOHN (JUNI JUNI/D PA)

late-smauel-john-bernard-manikaComing to know you is something I will forever cherish in my life even after you left me Mr Samuel John Jr, commonly known as ‘Juni Juni or De Pa.’
I can vividly remember your comment on my first news item published in Awoko Newspaper relating to an alleged corruption matter at the Freetown High Court Siaka Stevens Street.
While reviewing the news items on the paper during the normal editorial meeting the following day, you said “I think we can now rely on this young man for good court stories.”
That statement inspired me to write and submit at least one court story a day until I was assigned to cover Parliamentary debates mid last year.
The short time I spent with you ‘De pa’ means a lot to me both in terms of building my journalism career and maintaining as well as protecting my home as you always give me advise on how I can convince my wife about my long stay at the office everyday.
Your side comments about our stories, headlines and introductory paragraphs helped transform and improve some of our writing skills despite being angry with you for openly bashing at us for writing very long sentences but after reading over one would realise you were saying the right thing.
I recall when I informed you about my plan to get married the questions you put to me even before I discussed it with other people. You were always open and ready to help others realise their dreams despite your initial refusal due to some self imposed pressure which I believe everyone at Awoko newspaper was aware about.
De Pa I know you to be very short tempered, but you also quickly forgive and forget especially on issues that have to do with staff at Awoko. We most times accuse you of negative things but will later definitely change our minds after receiving some advise from you about our work.
One thing that I will forever be grateful to you for, was your willingness to accept blames from Mr Lewis on our behalf for our wrong doings. Mr John you are such a great and wonderful boss that I am sure it will take time for the Awoko family to find a replacement to fill your deep and wide vacancy.
Whenever I am out of the office particularly when I am in the provinces for work you will be monitoring my family and keep me updated on activities in the office and will be chasing me for exclusive stories on a daily basis and further push me to submit stories for awards.
Even when I am out here In China on a daily basis you were checking on me to know about my wellbeing. Thinking about our conversations during your last week on planet earth ‘D Pa’ gives me the impression that you are just trying to play games with me by asking others to inform me that you are gone.
I recalled chatting with you last week Thursday, Friday and Saturday and when I informed you that I will join you very very soon, your response was “I am waiting to receive you to join the others in disturbing me”.
On Saturday we spoke about Eid-ul-Adha and you promised to surprise me though you refused to disclose the kind of surprise. I was patiently monitoring my phone during the Eid day just to receive your usual Eid messages, which you’ve never failed to send since I joined the Awoko family some years ago.
I went to bed angry that day with the intention of quarrelling with you the following day for not fulfilling your promise only for me to be awakened by a distress call asking me if I had heard any information from Home. A minute later I was informed about your departure, which was further confirmed by Mr Kelvin Lewis who refused to pick my calls but rather preferred to send text message.
You indeed surprised me ‘De Pa’ as I never thought you will leave me at this material time. I can’t believe I will return home without seeing or continue working with you from where we stopped. Your absence is a very big space within the Awoko family even among those who have left the office.
We love you but Allah need you now and there is nothing we can do to stop that. Go and have your rest Boss. You will forever remain in our memories. I will never say goodbye to you Sir.
By Alhaji M Kamara in China
Monday September 19, 2016

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