By Karamoh Kabba :
Mrs. Alice Rosaline Koroma, commonly known as Mammy Alice, truly and truly lived a life befitting of her moniker. She was indeed ‘Mother of the nation’. Whereas the foregoing statement is a symbolic one, because of her kindness, open-mindedness and accommodating attributes she was known for, as well as her love for humanity, she was indeed literally mother of the nation.
Mammy Alice was a self-motivated, self-determined, unassuming and kindest elderly woman I’ve ever known. I first met her in 2008 when I went with Hon. Mabinty Daramy, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry to visit her in her very modest home in Makeni City where she also lived a very modest life until her graceful passing away on that blessed and magical Friday, 6th July 2012.
The indelible and greatest impact Mammy Alice had on me as a person is her modesty, humility and simplicity. She also had a great sense of recognition of people she had met and appreciation for their deeds. I went back at least ten times with Minister Daramy to visit Mammy Alice because I loved it. Each time, without fail, in a very soft and relaxed tenor of voice, she said “Kamor…,” she paused, “Una Tenki for woke”. Her words awakened memories of motherly love of my mother, a Kono woman who is now thousands of miles away from me and who also calls me ‘Kamor,’ the same way Mammy Alice called me. So I loved going back to Mammy Alice for the proxy motherly love I felt from her kind words to me on those visits.
Minister Daramy always stuffed her bag with little personal items such as tubes of lotion, bottles of perfume, canisters of deodorant spray etc. each time we went to Mammy Alice. Hon. Daramy is fond of commenting on everything she does and I was therefore privileged of over-hearing her saying “Ah! Da mammy, pursin nor de ker money go for ram. Na den thing ya nor mor ee lek,” before she urged me, “Karamoh, leh we go.”
Simply, money was not a source of motivation for Mammy Alice. I am not personally privy to her philanthropy that is much talked about, but it goes without saying that Mammy Alice was indeed a great philanthropist who took care of other less privileged mothers and children in and outside of Makeni according to testimonies from those who knew that warm side of her and beneficiaries of her spirit of giving.
On that magical Friday, I went to drop off some members of my staff who were bound for Makeni City to deliver some print materials. One of the staff members was fond of Mammy Alice and he told me that “ah the pass to Mammy Alice, ee go lek for read this stuff,” he said before they left. We had worked all night that day to hit our target of making the print materials reach Makeni City on time that Friday morning. I returned home from Shell Company where I had dropped them off to take a public transportation. Hoping to catch-up on sleep, I was awakened to the announcement of the death of Mammy Alice.
If only I had left with my staff that morning, I would have probably witnessed the beginning of the ending of a great mother, a long-term mother-activist of feminism and children affairs with an unwavering commitment to humanity in Sierra Leone.
There is no good time for a parental death even at age 80, but there is good timing for gracing the graceful passing away of a great mother. Indeed, Mammy Alice passed away at the climax of her days on the stage of life. The death of Mammy Alice has triggered memories of some words of condolence I offered a bereaved friend of mine who had just lost a mother. Very disturbed then, he lamented that “death has become rampant”. In my consolation, I told him that it seemed so, and drew his attention to the fact that the occurrence of death also increases in our lives with age – and that it could also mean that we are actually coming closer towards death.
But for President Koroma, he has every reason to find solace in the fact that Mammy Alice had achieved the highest climax in her commitment to serve humanity. Through her careful nurturing and skillful child-upbringing, she gave us the greatest president ever in the history of Sierra Leone. And indeed, death waited patiently until Mammy Alice completed her Godly assignment on earth, relaxed in her sofa, reading her book and awaiting death to take her peacefully.
And no one could have changed that – not money – not the presidency – not the authority – not even the prerogative of mercy could have changed it. And like in the words of Hon. Alhaji Alpha Bakarr Kanu – Minister of Political and Public Affairs, in consoling a distressed bereaved friend somberly told a Biblical story of a king, who had sent his servant in Samaria to hide from the Angel of Death before going to the market place to rebuke the Angel upon his servant’s complaint that the Angel was threatening to take his life only to learn from the Angel of Death that, “I am shock at your rebuking me for threatening your servant. I was surprised to see your servant at the market place in the first place. We have an appointment tomorrow at Samaria,” where the servant had gone to hide from the Angel of Death. The story is befitting to the fact that nothing could have changed that graceful passing away of Mammy Alice. She had prepared for it all her life of being good to humanity and of serving God.
And indeed Mammy Alice was faithful to her desire as activist, Christian, wife and widow before her death. Mr. and Mrs. Koroma, even before the presidency of their son, were already household names in Makeni. Together, they had served as role models and had influenced the lives of many youngsters who have all become grown-ups and very successful adults today.
Mammy Alice was a tremendous example of a woman with a servant’s heart. At her old age, she was still part of a crew of God’s servants for the improvement of the lives of women and children in Sierra Leone until that graceful passing away on that blessed Friday morning. And some of her legacies include the many grown-up adults she and her late husband had impacted and influenced to become successful members of society and most notable amongst that breed of protégés of God’s servants is His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
And as we mourn the passing of a great mother as a nation, there is every reason to find courage in her work and her gift to humanity in Sierra Leone, and forever and ever celebrate her life for the simple reason that courage is not the absence of fear but the act of overcoming fear. We shall overcome the fear of the graceful passing away of a great mother.
May her soul rest in peace
Your son by proxy and great friend,