Tribute: Farewell to Arouna Jalloh-Timbo (Vistro)

18 June 2008 at 08:23 | 757 views

By Joseph Cabineh Howard, USA.

Rest, just rest my dear friend. The wind shall no longer blow in your
face, nor shall you any longer wake up every morning thinking about the
pains and difficulties each new day unloads upon the hearts of men.

Rest, just rest my brave friend, they that perform their role with
honor and dignity shall have nothing to fear when the roll is called up
yonder. Rest, you were only a little guy given a little time to try
and you tried your best. Rest, the angels will hold your hand and lead
you till you kiss the face of God.
Father George Trybu, head of the Catholic High School for boys in
Little Rock Arkansas for fifty years used to tell his students this:

It is my opinion that the first question God will ask each one of you
on judgment day is not about the Ten Commandments, although he will get
to that later. The question He will ask each one of us is this: “What
did you do with the time and talent that I gave you?”

When I heard the sad news that Vistro has passed away I was completely
devastated, angry, mad, and confused. The question that I asked
myself immediately was, “Why do people who bring so much joy and
happiness in the lives of others are sometimes given so short a time to

As I usually do during such moments, I retreated into a quiet
reflection about the man - his nature, character and values, and above
all, his role in the scheme of existence in the world.
To me and indeed to so many others Vistro was an invaluable source of
inspiration and hope. Yet that was only a microcosm of the man’s
larger arsenal. He was a free man in the true sense of the word - to
the extent that he succeeded in liberating himself from the thing which
continues to destroy our country.

It is egotism or what psychologists
call inferiority complex - that sinister monster that makes people feel
insecure and intimidated by the progress and well-being of others -
that makes people feel they are better than others - that the only way
they can be recognized is to deny others the opportunity to live the
same life they cherish for themselves.

Not Vistro! He was always
eager and ready to help others in the pursuit of their own dreams.
The first day Vistro and I met on Fourah Bay College campus we talked
for about half an hour. The heart of the discussion was the future of
our country , Sierra Leone, focusing on corruption, injustice, human
rights and democracy.

His views on those issues were well-grounded,
forceful and satisfying to me. Those topics continued to be the
centerpiece of our subsequent conversations and the binding force of a
friendship that lasted for nearly twenty years. Ironically they were
the same topics we discussed during our one hour telephone conversation
three weeks before he went into surgery. It was the last time I heard
the Wusum lion growl. What a way to meet, yet what a way to say goodbye!

On campus Vistro quickly attached himself to some of the finest minds
and got actively involved in the activities of the students union
government, a platform we used to question our national leaders about
the way they were running our destiny.

Later to become student
minister of education, Vistro stood his grounds at the risk of
expulsion, that the authorities bring down the astronomical tuition
fees to an affordable level for the majority of students. After one
month of strike and boycott of lectures the authorities backed down and
reduced the fees.

In another development, Vistro compelled the
authorities to increase student allowances - which they did from Le
6,000.00 Le 16,400.00. He was a man who believed in fighting for
others. If Vistro knew about any good thing he will show others the
path to get it too.

Yet there was another side of this great man - I call it the Vistro
magic. He was a very sweet and charming personality. The main
ingredients to this charm were these: he was extremely brilliant and
hardworking, generous and warm -hearted, lively and always a bundle of

I never saw him angry for once, except against unjust
authorities. And God gave him a voice that was unique, metallic and
musical, as though for a special purpose - to gravitate others towards
him. After knowing him too well all those years I have every reason to
regard him as a perfect gentleman, and one of the most remarkable men
of our generation.

Vistro is now quietly resting in an obscure grave in a foreign land,
but that is Vistro -never a foreigner anywhere he found himself. He
was a man for all peoples because the values which were dearest to his
heart were as universal as they were timeless.

Justice, freedom,
equality are the issues that have made men and women great or small
across the centuries - depending upon how they think and act upon them,
in what ever measure. We need no monument over Vistro’s grave, for he
has established an everlasting memorial in the hearts and minds of all
who knew him and what he stood for - his love for his country, his
concern for the common man, and his faith in democracy as the high road
to man’s political salvation and final freedom.

And if asked by God
what he did with the time and talent that He gave him, the answer is
simple: he was only a little man given a little chance to try- and I
guess he tried his best.

My sincere condolences go to his family, his numerous friends at home
and around the world for such an irreplaceable loss. As we nurse our
wounded hearts individually and collectively, let us renew our faith in
God and ask that theAlmighty smiles at his face when he stands before

Till we meet again I wish you, my great friend, a sincere
farewell. Rest! Rest! Just rest!
Faithfully Submitted by
JC Howard