Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kalilu Lavalie Foday: Death of An Ally

                     Kalilu Lavalie Foday (SMOG)

It was with the utmost shock that I learnt yesterday of the death of my brother, ally and friend, Mr. Kalilu Lavalie Foday, alias SMOG. 

Kalilu was born in the early 60s in Segbwema to the late Mamie Jajua and Njaluahun Chiefdom Speaker Chief Foday. He was born into a family of chiefs on both his maternal and paternal side.

I came to know SMOG when I went to back to Segbwema to complete secondary school and we both became school mates at Wesley Secondary School. Though SMOG was my senior, we soon became close friends as both of our mothers were life long friends and I developed a fascination for SMOG's radicalism and unconventional ways. In a society bound by customs and traditions, SMOG was the perfect radical. Even as a student he was fiercely independent and nonconformist. During the holidays he will buy used books from other students for resale and each holiday he will have a thriving black market business for used books by the old railway station. 

In many ways, SMOG cultivated in me my life long love for reading and books. On slow days when we were not selling much, I will lie in the shade and read from the many books he had to sell. If I saw a really interesting book, I would convince him not to sell it and since I help him pack his books at the end of each day, he always let me keep those books I wanted that were not in high demand. Those days people only bought textbooks. Segbwema did not have a culture where people bought books that were not prescribed reading.

When I was promoted to form five, SMOG decided to retake his GCE 'O' Levels and we formed a study group and moved into the room of another brother John Baimba, alias Johnny Bianda. Each morning we will walk up the long Kabalun hill to Wesley school for the school day and in the evening we either went to play bingo, hang out at Bockarie Ansumana's store to help him with his insurance business paperwork or I will go to Konotown to join Alex Mansaray and Vanni Bockarie practice for our local discorama group where I used to mime Michael Jackson songs as a hobby. At night we would take out the long table and study till 12 midnight, ready to repeat the same sequence of events the following day.

Some weekends John Baimba and I would join SMOG to walk the three or four mile distance to Njaluahun girls secondary school at DarunJunctiom to visit his fiancée Alice Jimmy who was a student school at the time. We would all dress in our Sunday best to impress the girls.

During our fifth form at Wesley, we were lucky to have some excellent teachers; Senesie Samai (Late)-Biology, Adonis Kanneh-Chemistry, Alex Dauda Coker-Economics, John T. Jusu(Late)-Mathematics, Ansumana Jorwulor Gbonnoh-Agriculture/Chemistry, Mohamed  "Rasta" Mustapha (Late)-Statistics, Jusu Lahai-Physic/Additional Maths. Almost all our teachers were Wesley Alumni most of whom had just graduated from university and as a result the 'O' level results that year were excellent.

When we graduated from Wesley, I went to Freetown to do sixth form at the Sierra Leone Grammar school and SMOG moved with our mentor Mohamed Rasta to Kenema to teach. I completed sixth form and moved to Fourah Bay College. In my honors 1 year at Fourah Bay I prevailed on SMOG to give up teaching and go get his university degree. He applied and was accepted to do a honors degree in Economics at Fourah Bay College at the height of the war in the country. He went to FBC in my senior year and was our illegal roommate "gorilla" that year. SMOG persevered and was able to graduate from Fourah Bay College, following in the footsteps of his elder brother, the late Honorable Ibrahim Kalilu Foday, alias IK, three time MP for our constituency.

When I left Sierra Leone I lost contact with SMOG until I came to USA and tracked his cellphone number. I was glad to learn that he had joined the civil service and was doing extremely well before the APC purge of southeasterners which ultimately led him to lose his job and sustenance.

Kalilu Lavalie Foday was a radical, a teacher, an inspiration, an example and a friend and it is a real tragedy that he had to leave this world so soon, as he still had so much to offer. He was a treasure and a real blessing from God to us. Segbwema descendants will miss SMOG and his death has made me realize that I need to get in touch with friends and talk to them more often, as you never know what tomorrow may bring. All my close friends who read this and would like me to call them up for some old time talk should email me with their names and numbers. My email is segbwema@gmail.com

My Sympathies to OG's wife Yama and the rest of the Foday and Jajua families.

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