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Tribute to William Juana Smith, a True Loyalist

By  | 19 May 2014 at 04:29 | 898 views

I was downcast and very sad when I watched on TV the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) news of the death of my friend William Juana Smith who I had always described as a true loyalist not only to Ernest Bai Koroma but to the All Peoples Congress (APC).

In my teens, I had known William Juana in the APC and since then I have never
known him for any other party. He was one of the “early youths” in the party and a contemporary of Sorsor Conteh, Alfred Akibo-Betts, Hassan Gbessay Kanu, Pa Issa, and many more who I knew by faces but not by name.

When the going got tough in the APC, especially when it was overthrown in 1992 by the NPRC junta, he was among those invited to the CID and told to report every day. The party died slowly but by 1995 there was a meeting to resurrect it and Juana was among the enthusiasts to see the APC come back to life. Many a time when we argued about the Party he would dismiss me by saying; “Bo, Jalloh keep quiet. You nar borbor. Wetin you sabi bot APC?” Sometimes I would jokingly tell him that we were of the same age group. He would just laugh.

Juana was perceived to be a fanatic of Ernest Koroma during the struggle for the leadership of the Party. People perceived him to be a fanatic because he would not tolerate any criticism about Ernest, not even critical issues suggested to be put before Ernest. He would shout and jump saying; “Noh! Ar noh gree!… for wetin..” and would continue till those who made the suggestion got scared and dropped the issue. There were times when he would end up quarreling with people who said Ernest should not have done this or that. It came to a point
when people planned to meet Ernest and say critical things to him and on arrival if they saw Juana they would just keep quiet. One day somebody confronted him and said; “Juana, nor to you normoh lek Ernest. We all lek am, but if tin wan pwell, we for tell am, bicos, if he fail nar we all fail."

One day, when he went to visit Momoh Konteh at Lamina Sankoh Street, he met me outside the office. I decided to pull his leg. I said, thumping my chest, “Me ar noh lek Ernest.”He caught the joke and laughed. He replied, “Go meet am en tell am so.” Then he went closer to me and said, “Jalloh, oll di iya dem wei ar don suffer na APC, na Ernest normoh draw me closer to ram. Day lek tiday, ar noh get job ar nor get money, without Ernest mi nar natin”.

But that was not apparently why he was fanatic about Ernest. I knew him well. He was not the man to support today and be gone tomorrow and that was what he and the likes of Kainde Bangura , late Sorsor Conteh and others proved in the party; that even in worse times stay where you are. He served in several capacities in the party and worked with E.T. Kamara for a long time in administering the party office. He was kind and gentle and was known for his courtesy in the office, which was not common among other party members. The party was notorious for vulgarity, flippancy and discourtesy among those who
held offices; almost each and every person you met had raray boy mentality. It was even worse among women. But Juana was a different breed within the party. I grew to like him and would prefer to talk to him whenever I visited the office those days even as a journalist. It was he who proved to be human.

Today he is gone, and like Shakespeare would have said, “Time has run its clock”, but I will even borrow from Shakespeare and add: “Death is a necessary end for every man and will come when it will come." We wish him God’s blessings. Farewell loyal soldier of the party!. He grew up in the APC and died in the APC.