From the Editor’s Keyboard

The Passing of a Great Lady

13 July 2012 at 19:20 | 799 views

By Titus Boye-Thompson, Freetown.

Whensomeone asked the other day what happens when the mother of the President dies, I am sure the question was directed at whose responsibility it was to direct the affairs of dealing with her funeral arrangements, her burial and all other traditional and cultural rites that we have to observe as an African people.

What was not expected was the obvious answer that in such a situation,really, there is no clear cut answer. On the face of it, there are three main agents at play; firstly, the President as Head of State and Father of the nation is bereaved hence his immediate affairs continue to be the concern of the State meaning his Aides and Associates must pull all gears to ensure that he deals with his loss in as private a manner as he can be allowed to while at the same time managing his time and visibility to the Diplomatic Corps, Senior Civil Servants, Heads of Institutions and all those people of eminence withinthe state.

Secondly, there is the President’s nuclear family, wherein his Wife and children are thrust firmly into the public domain as well wishers come to pay homage to the family and to sympathize with them at this time of their loss.

Thirdly, there is the wider family of the deceased, the children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews - the traditional African extended family of the late and revered Mother of the President. Within his family circle, the President may not necessarily be the first son or child of the Mother as in this case where he has older sisters but undoubtedly, this is a man who has always taken pride of place in his family as one of the most accomplished throughout his life, setting such lofty examples for his younger brothers and sisters and at the same time being duly respectful and admiring of his elder sisters.

Finally,there are those from within the general public who in one way or the other have been influential in the life of the President and or those for whom his late Mother has had a strong and sustained relationship. In this instance, the late Mrs Alice Koroma was a pillar of her society who in her time played a very strong supportive role in bringing up her children in a loving and conducive atmosphere. Being a strong disciplinarian and a devoted mother shows through the love and meaningful relationships her children have formed with a diverse array of people and communities. For these reasons, these people from across the country may well wish to show their appreciation and hence will plan numerous activities throughout this period to show and demonstrate their last respects to her and to her family.

So as President Koroma mourns, the correct answer to the question of what happens now is simple, we as a nation are all equally and collectively responsible to ensure that he mourns with the dignity that is characteristic of his late Mother’s life; we must grieve with him at this time of loss and comfort and console him as best we can. As we do this, the multi-level arrangements will proceed in the background with untrammeled ease. The family no doubt will have to ensure that their kith and kin are given the space to express their own personal and private grief, they should be allowed, even after the vast crowds have come and gone, to be able to come together as the first family in the land to heal their rifts, mend fences and build a togetherness that the late Mother would have cherished.

This is a usual admonition of Christian Priests officiating at funerals, that unity and a stronger bond prevail after thepassing of one such great pillar of strength in any family as the sorrows of parting are long ingrained in our collective consciousness. The state apparatus should move into gear to ensure that the little things such as how to manage the crowd that would descend on Makeni for the funeral, accommodation, refreshments and other needs are met; that visiting dignitaries are given the right kind of access to pay their last respects to the family and also that well-wishers generally are allowed to conduct themselves with the dignity and honor that befits the occasion.This will mean additional policing of Makeni, monitoring of area boys and their nefarious activities and a general supervision of those who may come in large groups needing some kind of attention including managing their engagement with the visiting crowds.

On such occasions, the inevitable Masked parades and other cultural and traditional masquerades cannot be ruled out. Makeni will be transformed in the coming days and the focus rightly will be on the passing of a great woman, a tower of strength, an influential and kindly person, who it can be said, had the ultimate mandate to demonstrate but more often than not gently nudges her son to her way of thinking on matters of importance to her community and her people.

Mrs Alice Koroma will be missed by all who knew her, but none more so than by her son the President. His is an unbreakable bond with his Mother, unashamedly fond of her and so watchful of her every discomfiture. At this time of great loss for him, President Koroma may well cry and the Nation sympathizes as our hearts go out to him. In his grief, he must be consoled by the Christian belief in salvation, that death has no sting, no victory over the Christian and that theLord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed is he who dies in the name of the Lord.

May her soul rest in perfect peace!

Video credit: Patrick Sesay, Vancouver, Canada.

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