Letter to editor

Aiah Gbakima Loves his Country

7 August 2007 at 19:19 | 4444 views

Dear Editor,

I am planning a trip to visit my friend Aiah this coming February. I first met Aiah Gbakima at Elon College located in North Carolina, USA in 1974. As students, he was in the biology dept. and I in the chemistry dept.

We spent many all nighters studying together and I learned a lot about this man from Sierra Leone. I have never to this day known a person who could compare to Aiah, in his love for his country and the desire to help his people back home. You see for Aiah, education is the most important tool he could acquire to accomplish this personal goal. After Elon College, Aiah completed his PhD in parasitology at the University of North Carolina. With this degree, he could now work to make a difference in the lives of so many people, not only in Sierra Leone but other areas of the world infected by River Blindness. Aiah worked hard in the areas most affected, taking both blood samples from villagers and DNA samples from the black flies that cause it.

In 2005 Aiah contacted me that he had been offered a position at the University of Sierra Leone and was heading home again. I remember thinking, after all this Country has gone through, it could not have chosen a better human being to take this most important position. He will be a person who will demand the best from the student population, which is no different than he demanded from himself. He understands that the future prosperity of Sierra Leone lies within the education of its future leaders, whether they are leaders in medicine, agriculture, education, business or politics’. The key, is that they will be the people who will put their Country and her People first above themselves, as Aiah Gbakima has done for his entire life.

When I contacted Aiah that I was going to fulfill a promise to visit him, I asked what he needed me to bring. He simply answered, “Computers for the University”. I live in British Columbia, Canada now and we are doing fund raising as I write this to fulfill his wish list for the University. We will do it, that I promise.

I know that the upcoming elections are at the forefront of your minds. I want to let you know, you are not alone in your thoughts. We too wish that your elections proceed peacefully and that your country can proceed on a course of prosperity that you so much deserve.


Wes Strickland

Photo: Professor Aiah Gbakima.