My Brother and friend–scholar, lawyer, communicator, journalist, public servant, passionate defender of your people, man of peace pushed into combat by historical circumstances, you who would only fight when the massacre of your people ruptured the embankment of gentility and quietude in your gentle soul–take this rhapsody from me as you begin your final journey.
Alhaji–friend, brother, companion and fearless comandante, I think back forty two years ago in my office at the Ministry of Education. You had come to see me to inquire if we the progressives were in charge of the process that began with the military coup. I told you that we were not in charge as we knew nothing of the occurrences and were only helping out. You squinted your eyes not out of fear but from alarming consternation that revolutionaries were not in control of a revolutionary situation. Your words came out sharply: “This is dangerous Boima, very dangerous.” You were right Alhaji as we were to find out later!
The years passed and there were historical accidents, tragedies and catastrophic developments, all intertwined with the follies of men! In the year 1991 I went to find you in Conakry as I wanted to inquire about rumors of preparation for combat. You advised that we eat first as my journey by road from Freetown would have been long and no doubt exhausting. Four of us sat at the table–your father, Brother Lansana (your older brother), you Comandante and I. After meals, the old man and Brother Lansana left us. I was blunt and asked why would you fight now–if the rumors were true–as the ECOMOG forces were already on the ground? You stared at me and the words came out as if rehearsed a hundred times, maybe a thousand times: “Liberia is a vast land mass and the Forces may not get around to cover it very soon. If we don’t fight, it is certain that we will die with thousands of our people, but if we resist, it is possible that we will survive together with our mothers, fathers and children.” I noticed the quivering in your voice, the moisture in your eyes, and the fixed gaze on me as if to ask: “Do you understand why we are forced to fight, to struggle and gave ourselves the choice to fight and defend the sacred shrines of our forebears or to die like cowards, trembling before the murderous hordes and watching our women and children waiting their turn to die?” I understood and told you so. We parted, hoping that this would not be our last meeting.
In latter years, we would fight interesting battles with our pens on the same side–relentless, uncompromising and merciless–against those pettifoggers who tried to distort our roles in the tragic history of our Republic. We met on numerous occasions after 2005 and I accepted the roles reversal: you, younger and lecturing as a man of letters and ideas; and I listening, asking the questions on law, the ethics of journalism, the historical evolution of your people from second- class citizens to subjects of their own destiny because of your guidance and teaching. I have always admired this evolution–men and women who had to change their names and religion to be accepted into a rigid class society to conscious citizens who transformed themselves into lawyers, doctors, public servants, ambassadors, engineers, etc., while keeping their names and upholding their religious beliefs! You were at the forefront of this transformation and history gave you no choice but to wade through blood, tears and great sacrifices!!
How do we encapsulate your life–from man of letters and ideas to a combatant disciplined by the trenches of war and struggle? How do we tell the world that you brought your people from the backwoods of marginalization and obsequious complexes to the forefront of history as makers and movers? We will tell them that you did it, not by trembling at the condemnation of those who arrogantly feel that they have a monopoly of truth, but by being true to yourself and your long suffering people! It is said somewhere that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter!, This is the squaring of the historical equation.
You came, you saw, and contributed your quota immensely. We can see where your people now stand: on the threshold of a new history in our Republic. You were a reluctant revolutionary–a man of ideas, courage and the will to transform man and society. History with its logic plotted your destiny and you fulfilled it.
Farewell forever Comandante!
I say together with all our people: May Allah be kind to him, forgive him his human indiscretions and grant him Jennatul Firdous. Amen Y Allah