30. 2016 - The earthly remains of a great colleague were
interred today in Freetown. Samuel John, Junior as he
was fondly called heeded the Lord's call on 12th
How do you begin to write the sad news of
a fallen colleague, brother, family man and someone who
would go the ends of the earth to help you out?
How do you begin to write such when
you still shake with incredulity when the news was first
made public that Samuel John, Mr Junior, Junior John was
It has been difficult, almost
impossible as we fought the tears and the shaking body
to take in the sad fact that our great brother, father
and family man has left us with our earthly suffering,
without giving us due notice as to when he would depart.
As one stupefied colleague stated - "How can he? And
without any warning?"
And so as we mourn the passing away of
the great man, let us bring you the many tributes paid
to a man who would easily give up an arm if that was
needed to make you stay alive.
This reaction on the Facebook page of
a colleague and brother sums things up we think. It's
from the one and only Babatunde Roland May former top
gun at the SLBS - "Finally, I can bring myself to fully
accept a fact that I am absolutely powerless to
overturn. For the past week I've been saying to myself
that it can't be true, willfully ignoring enquiries as
to whether I've heard.
Yes Aroun Rashid Deen, yes Kwame
Streeter I heard alright. Only I did not want to
believe, or better yet accept, that my friend, brother
and colleague Samuel Junior John had really passed on.
The truth is it's not easy to accept that someone who's
been with you in the trenches since school days through
adult life can just go away like that, forever.
Since last week, I've been
reminiscing, reliving, and fully appreciating the
precious and quality moments I had the privilege to
share with Junior John...But even as I struggle with the
pain of your departure I celebrate the wonderful and
fraternal moments we shared, assured by my faith and the
Bible that you are now where no pain or sickness will
As John Dunne says: "one short sleep
past, we wake eternally." So death, be not proud because
as painful as Junior John's passing is for some of us,
you've actually done him a favour, the same favour you
are slavishly obliged to do each and every one of us
when our appointed time is up.
My sincere condolences to the wife,
family and friends. Kelvin, this is tough my brother! As
you said where does one restart after such a momentous
loss? But you and I know full well, the Lord will
provide! It is well!
Requiescat In Pace, Junior! We will
Joseph Musa, like
the rest of us was taken by surprise - "This world is full of surprises; we live with them and
of course we die with things slapping you in the face
that are the least expected.
Sometimes you begin to
wonder what is it about this world that mankind can go
the extra mile to harm or even kill his fellow man.
Where for heaven sake are we going with all the vices we
have lived on earth with?
My own personal experience
continues to teach me often that good people can hardly
live long enough to share in the wretchedness of mother
Earth for the simple reason that the world is fast being
overcome by all the characteristics of evil in the real
sense of the word.
This is where I come down to a man who over the years
has made a notch in a profession that has earned him the
admiration of all senior and junior journalists in this
country. Starting from a quiet and an unassuming
background in journalism, he rose to become one of the
most admired Journalists in this country.
For those of my friends who know Late Samuel John of
Awoko Newspaper, it can take you time to find a likable
and conscientious gentleman who is always friendly and
appeasing to all who come in contact with him.
to see a man with a class? It is Samuel John.
to do business with a man of integrity?
Go closer to
Samuel John. You want to practicalize journalism and
come out as a fine product? Samuel John is of course the
man to mix with.
You can rate “Lord John” as I fondly
call him with the likes of any of the very senior
journalists in this country (a protégée of the Late Sam
Metzger, an icon in the field of Journalism in Sierra
Here was a man shortly before his great call on Monday,
12/09/16(Ed – Ul – Adda Holiday) was on Saturday
10/09/16 at his work place putting all stories in order
for publication in the Tuesday Edition, 13/09/16 of the
The following day was Sunday, 11/09/16
a holy day of rest. That Sunday evening “Lord John” was
head of the Awoko Staff to a Dinner where they had a
jolly good time with friends and colleagues. The man was
alive and kicking during the entire dinner up to the
time of their departure, not a sign of illness was
noticed by any one present.
Then came the bomb the following
Monday, “Mr. Samuel John is dead.”...My brother John you left an indelible mark of friendship
in my heart. Sleep well my brother till we meet again,
my condolences to your family and work mates at Awoko,
particularly your Managing Editor, Mr. Kelvin Lewis who
is still living with a heavy heart over your departure."
is a well-known journalist who does not suffer fools
lightly and has had quite a lot of experience of what it
means to be a colleague of the late man. "Today I cried, I screamed, I shook and a part of me
died. I got a call from my colleague telling me that
Junior John is dead; Monday 12th September at the
Choithrams Hospital where he was rushed to when he had
I’m just so shook up by the whole incident. Junior and I
go back to 1994 when I started reporting sports for Expo
Times. We were good colleagues and I was learning from
him as he had been in the game longer than me. He’s the
closest I ever came to having as a mentor and a brother
before I met Durosimi Thomas.
In a way, I admired him and his friends, the late John
Rock and Conrad Roy.
They had their sports paper and I
was a fan as I like talking sports. He could accomplish
anything he wanted to. He was one of the best in the
business I ever knew. He was smart.
Mr John would go the extra mile to assist you, or call
one of his many friends or brothers to do the same if he
can’t, just to make sure that you are comfortable. We
never heard him talk about other people. He believed in
fairness. When there was a conflict he had to deal with,
he used to say, “wan an bangle nor dae shake”, or “you
all are big people, try and work it out”.
Strife was not
part of his life.
He loved talking about his Lodge and always want to be
amongst people that will give him peace and tranquil.
Some of the oldies music was his favourite. He brought
fun and joy to us and others. He loved to share.
Someone once said “Time is perhaps our most precious
commodity, and once it passes, it is lost forever”
Mr Samuel John, there was indeed a time we hung out,
ate, talked, gossiped and emailed but all of that is
gone now and all that is left now are the memories.
Junior, as I loved to call you; you were born a star,
remained so and even died a gold star. You touched many
lives in many ways.
I admired you; I loved you and
adored you greatly. A call from you always brought a
smile to our face. Oh, I wish to see your caller ID on
my phone now.
Life is too short. Too short to accomplish everything
that you could want to do, to go everywhere you could
want to go, and to spend enough time with everyone you
love. Now that is the painful truth we all have to live
Today is Samuel John; nobody knows when he or she
will depart the stage.
Those who knew Junior, even just through the
journalistic circles or through other means genuinely
adored him. His inimitable wit, playful charm, and
positive attitude made him a friend and, to those of us
lucky enough to know him “in real life,” a cherished
Here's another veteran journalist
Sayoh Kamara - "I came to know Samuel John in late 1999 the days when
his energy, vitality and cautious exuberance as a
journalist were at its peak and would report all
sporting disciplines. He was among the knowledgeable and
experienced senior journalists selected by the Sierra
Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) to train us
selected amateur journalists or Cub Reporters.
coordinated by another veteran, P. Assadi also of
blessed memory. It was that training that cut my teeth
into journalism and one that placed me in good stead to
rise through the editorial ranks to become an Editor
even before darkening the wall of the Mass
Communications Department at Fourah Bay College. Samuel
John was there coaching us how to write sports and its
varied disciplines. That training, the most efficient
ever organized by SLAJ was the melting point for the 17
years of warm fraternal relationship between us.
charm is beyond imagination for he was too down to earth
and treats everyone around him as his equal. He was old
enough to be my uncle but when I started calling him
Uncle John, he insisted that I call him ‘John’ because
according to him at that moment, we were colleagues and
journalists do not address each other officially as
‘Mr.’ I learnt that from him, but because of my
upbringing, I have always found it difficult to call him
by his name direct.
Then I had to work for Awoko Newspaper, after I had had
talks with Proprietor and Managing Editor, Kelvin Lewis.
He wanted to know whether I have “good rapport” with Mr.
John and my instant reply was, “na me bra,” which summed
up my warm relationship and respect for him.
He is always an adviser. Despite my First Class Honors
Degree in Mass Communications, I will always refer my
articles and news items to him for perusal and most
times, his magic touches on structure, sequence and flow
of ideas have turned many of my articles published in
the Awoko Newspaper in masterpieces. The same role he
played as Editor for all who wrote for publication in
the Awoko Newspaper. I remember him advising me against
publishing a certain article I had drafted. “It’s not
that I am afraid to join you at the CID cells and
subsequently at the Pademba Road prisons; my only fear
is that you are very young and I am older, if anything
was to happen to us inside, you will be the greater
That was how he summarized his dislike of the
article because of its strong words and offending
journalese. He was a working encyclopedia of journalism
and sports journalism in particular.
He may have gone to his permanent resting a financially
poor man, but he went rich in moral and ethical
uprightness. Unlike some of our colleagues of his age
and sojourn in the practice of journalism, Samuel John’s
name is one you can call anywhere and to anybody and you
would not be embarrassed.
He made friends; he built
alliances and provided professional advice to his
I will miss his high sense of humor and his fatherly
Like it is said, good things don’t last long. Samuel
John was a human asset that was explored by those who
came closer to him. My being closer to him these end
days reinforced some traits in me and these include
tolerance, perseverance, humility and respect for all.
Thank you, Mr. John.
Sixty-three years is long, but not long for a life of
yours which you spent with such finesse and gentility.
Your memories will always linger in me. Adieu my
teacher. Adieu my editor. Adieu my Bra. Take your rest
until we meet on that beautiful terrace of heaven.
In a headline titled "No opportunity
to reset the time Mr John"
brings us to the reality of the situation - "On Friday
we will be following Mr. John on the last leg of his
journey on earth. He will not see us though so close. We
will be in his motorcade. He will be in the farewell
service hosted in his honour but not in the pew.
The tolling bell will not wake him up
to have one last look at the world, his family, friends,
and acquaintances. It will be completely different from
being in the same car as we headed to Bo for the Sierra
Leone Association of Journalists elective triennial
conference last June. It will certainly not be the
victory songs we sang after the announcement of the
Nothing similar to the cheers, the fun
we had at the dinner or even on birthday celebrations in
the office. It will be sombre, tear-flowing moment
accepting that you are going to a place where we will
not receive phone calls and emails from you. You will
not be in the office on Fridays to chat about mundane
things. No, no opportunity to reset your time.
I knew you for years as editor of
Awoko Newspaper but had a much closer relationship with
you less than a year ago when I joined the newspaper as
a business reporter. I wished you stayed longer so that
I can milk from your reservoir of experience and
knowledge about humanity.
Friday mornings were the best of times
we chatted about issues, not just story ideas but how
you moved on in life. How the media landscape has
changed. He was a workaholic, always wanting to be
behind his desk with his glasses on and fingers on the
keyboard of the laptop in front of him. He is most often
in the office before 9 am and would stay on after 6pm.
This was his routine from Monday to Saturday.
He was involved in a fatal road
accident along Lumley beach few months ago and he
survived it together with his driver. During that moment
the doctor demanded that he should rest for some time.
He went home for few days but there he was again, behind
his desk looking at the materials submitted. At one
stage the managing editor Mr. Kelvin Lewis asked the
entire staff to stop him from working for a while. He
left the office but few days after, as he kept saying
during that period, he was in the office to help Victor
the manager to handle some pressing issues relating to
As you always said, you have seen it
all from Australia to London, from continental USA to
China and from Athens to Ethiopia. Your maker could not
reset your time though you wanted it. You were hoping to
have a 10 day rest period in South Africa. It never
happened. Your clock was ticking fast to mark the end of
your earthly journey. I love you, we love you, and Awoko
newspaper misses you. You are no longer with us but
still lives in our memories. Your dreams and worries are
over. Adieu Mr. Samuel John and rest in peace. We shall
meet again where we will live to part no more."
We wish to express, from the bottom of
the heart our heartfelt condolences to the family, the
grieving wife and children and the staff of the
newspaper he so dearly loved - AWOKO whose editor Kelvin
Lewis still remains stunned, still unbelieving that his
great buddy and colleague is no more.
Rest in Peace Junior. You have done
that which the Good Lord wanted you to do. You have
accomplished His mission and has therefore called you to
rest. We shall mourn you brother and remember you for
although you are no longer to be seen hitting the
streets and paths of Freetown, Bo, Mattru Jong, Kono and
other places in Sierra Leone that you covered so well,
your presence will forever remain and be remembered.
(All pictures and some excerpts from
FB pages of SLAJ, Kelvin Lewis, Sportswriters
Association and special thanks to Kerifallah Janneh)