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Sierra Leone News:A tribute to Mr. John

In circle Mr John during Chetanya Robinson send off dinner  few hours before he passed on

In circle Mr John during Chetanya Robinson send off dinner few hours before he passed on

I finished my internship with Awoko newspaper earlier this week, and my colleagues threw a celebration to mark the occasion. It was sad to say goodbye to my friends at Awoko, not knowing when I would see them again. But when I shook Mr. John’s hand goodbye that evening, I never thought it was anything other than a temporary goodbye. Perhaps I would come back to Sierra Leone, and in the meantime I could keep in touch with him and my other colleagues. Even as I said goodbye, I was comforted by the thought that after I returned home to Seattle, he would continue to be there working in the Awoko office every day, helping keep journalism strong in Sierra Leone. But on the evening I flew out of Sierra Leone, I was shocked and saddened to learn that this was not to be. He had passed on.
I wish I’d gotten to know Mr. John better. Reading the heartfelt tributes written for him by my colleagues and other Sierra Leonean journalists made me realize just how much I never got the chance to talk to him about. But from my time as an intern with Awoko newspaper, I remember him as hardworking, caring, humble and considerate. Mr. John was always one of the last people to leave the office, even on Fridays and Saturdays. He worked tirelessly to put out issues of the paper each day. His presence in the office was like a sturdy pillar holding up the newspaper.
He was always considerate and helpful on a personal level. I remember near the end of my internship, he helped me arrange an interview with his friend Paul Kamara for a story I was working on. A few times every day, Mr. John would ask me if I’d gotten the logistics worked out for the interview, offering to help make it happen in any way he could. It was in his nature to care.
The last night we all spent together was a lot of fun  we ate and drank, danced and joked around. People gave speeches, my colleagues presented me with a goodbye gift, and we all took lots of pictures. It was a great sendoff, a celebration of Awoko and the important work it and its hardworking staff do every day.
I’m glad Mr. John was there that evening. That celebration is how I’ll remember him  all of us happily celebrating the newspaper. Mr. John was taken from us far too soon, but I’m honored I got the chance to meet him. Rest in peace, Mr. John.
By Chetanya Robinson
Monday September 26, 2016

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