By KABS KANU : Published July 27, 2012:

I was enjoying my sleep at precisely 5 : am  yesterday when,   as she also  did when the First Mother of the Nation, Madam Alice Rosaline Koroma,  and APC Deputy Leader Chukuma Johnson passed away,   the All People’s Congress ( APC )  Iron Lady and boss of the Attitudinal and Behavioral Change Secretariat  at State House , Mrs . Nannette Thomas, woke me from my sleep  with a phone call to announce with  solemnity   that  ”We have another funeral  ! ! Hindolo Trye  has just died “.  There was deafening silence and then  she continued : “He died a few moments ago while being conveyed to the Choitram’s Hospital for treatment “.

HINDOLO TRYE

The sad and shocking news hit me so hard that  I screamed loudly and disturbed the sweet slumber of all members of my family, especially my wife ,  who was  sealed in slumber by my side. My sons  came scrambling to find out what had happened. Without being told, though, they suspected that it must have been  another death. It has happened once too often. People living in the U.S.  with extended families in Sierra Leone could  tell you how they dread that call from Freetown  that comes in at dawn. It is almost always to announce a death or some bad news  . It is as if most people  die during the night or just before dawn. I could not believe my ears that HINDOLO TRYE had passed away.

A friend, brother, compatriot, motivator and a giant in every sense  of the word , whom I adored and respected  so much –Mr. Hindolo Sumanguru Trye–had become the latest casualty of the stream of  dawn-time death news that always destroy your day and launch another era of mourning. He has gone to  reunite in eternity  with other former FBC student activists  like the  Marxist Leninist doctrinaire ,  Boubaccar Njai-Bah,  who actually  sowed the seeds of the 1977 students Action against the system , Saidu Sowa (Who was the Vice-President of the Students  Government); Mr. Abu Mansaray (The Attorney General ), and other strong campus advocates for  change Sangster Sesay, Claude Wright, Nicholas Momoh , Valerie Bankole-Jones , Cleo Hanciles , Olu Gordon , Sam Tumoi and others, who have gone to rest.

Hindolo Trye was an imposing influence on my life as a student political activist and journalist at Fourah Bay College during the heady days of the mid -1970s. It was indeed  during this  most active and difficult period of student activism on campus ( 1972-1976 )  that I came to know and interface  with Hindolo Sumanguru Trye.  It was the time  of profound  Student disenchantment with the archaic  college administration and the government downtown  and Hindolo Trye was to  play a commanding role in the maelstrom of dramatic events.

The  once stoic, sleepy  and lethargic FBC campus was rife with student political activism. The late Hassan Kamara (1971-72) , who first started using the word “Revolution” and other socialist terms like “Comrade’ , “The Reaction” , “The struggle” , “In the cause of the people “ etc.    on campus and his successor , the late Kemoh Sulimani , had in the eyes of the students  failed to provide the robust leadership the students requested to rattle the college administration and the Shaki Government. Boubaccar Njai-Bah, who fed himself on a regular diet of  Karl Marx, Lenin,  Fidel Castro, Walter Rodney , Franz Fanon, etc had  thrown his hat in the ring and set the campus on fire with revolutionary rhetoric. The restive students who were tired of the succession of “fixity”  governments that they considered  weak and ineffectual,  were  rejuvenated and a new hero and a new cause  were  born.

Every where on campus, students’ diction suddenly became “revolutionary” and socialist. There was no want in propagators.  Hindolo Trye , Sangster Sesay, Charles Caulker (now Paramount Chief ) , Claude Wright, Donald Browne-Marke , this writer who had started publishing the radical student newspaper , Cocorioko , Duramani Sawaneh, Kwame Fitzjohn, Larry Domingo ( a feared student lawyer )  Saba Tumoi, students from the Zimbabwe,  some members of the Auradicals like the late Emmanuel Campbell , the Cyclades members like  Alpha Wurie , the late Festus Hanciles ,  Lati Hyders (who played a commanding role in effecting the change that came ) and the Gardeners became ready adherents. Talk became  rife about a students “revolution” .

Every where , there was chaos on campus . The most notable was the student action against the  once high and mighty  Principal,  the late Professor the Rev.  Canon Dr. Harry Sawyerr , who had to be escorted out of the Mary Kingsley Theatre by security  officers after he angered students by giving  them off-handed answers to their grievances during a heated meeting (He was to be replaced later by Professor Eldred Jones ) . There was another student action against the Catering Officer, a very beautiful but insensitive  and verbally-abusive lady called Mrs.Leigh (who was then replaced by the hugely popular and efficient Mammy Greene who became the idol of students for her delicious meals in the dining halls. More student actions followed , even against the then ruling ‘Fixity’ Government ,  led by another gentleman of profound self-respect  , the late Mr. Kemoh Sulimani ( who,  though I criticized his government day and night on Chuks Press,  recommended  me  for my first award in Journalism,  by the FBC Student Union during the handing over ceremony to the incoming “Revolutionary” government, led by Njai-Bah.   Also , memorably , was the demonstration downtown to protest  electricity blackout   that was supposed to have been led by Njai-Bah  after he came to power but he developed cold feet and  “had to be dragged along” ,  in the words of Ernest Ndomahina ( Now Professor ).  Al Hassan “Toujours ” Kamara , another radical student , stepped in and as Njai-Bah literally shook like a leaf infront of the late Vice-President S.I. Koroma at his Tower Hill office , seized the microphone from him and told the V-P in strong and uncompromising terms that if light was not restored immediately, the students will stay downtown and will not return to campus. Not ready for any students protest in an already volatile city, S.I. Koroma faithfully promised that light would be restored by the time we got back to campus .And he lived up to his promise.

In all fairness to President Siaka Stevens and VP S.I. Koroma,  the APC  Government did not deserve all the knocks it got from the FBC students in those days. When you consider how students welfare came to be criminally neglected by the Momoh , NPRC and SLPP  governments after Shaki  and when one honestly looks back at the enjoyment on campus at the time–regular electricity, water supply,  full scholarship , living and books allowances , and dining halls that fed students  free and stupendously  three times a day , including  regular breakfast that consisted of  sardines, luncheon meat, corned beef, baked beans and toasted bread in addition to lunch of steaming  eba, meat stew, cassava and potato leaves , bitter leaves  and dinner that often comprised even cous-cous– you know that Pa. Skaki got a raw deal, where truth is concerned . The APC Government addressed  many of the students’ needs but probably what Pa Shaki lacked in those days was a very strong, vibrant and virulent media AND government officials who spoke to the students  on a regular basis and wooed them. If President Stevens had seen it fit to have a very pervasive media network to propagate his achievements, most of the misconceptions about his government would have been avoided.

This is  one of the lessons  I have learnt in life after also living in Liberia and suffering  the effects of an unnecessary  military coup against  the William Tolbert Government. Tolbert scored many achievements and was an outstanding and exemplary  leader . It is an insult to compare him to many  African leaders of his time  or the murderer Samuel Doe , who killed and  replaced him or the human butcher Charles Taylor, but the good man  was demonized by so-called reformers who used the media  very powerfully against him  and took advantage of public gullibility to paint an excellent  President  black. If life’s tape  was to be rewinded ,  and I had  the opportunity once again , I would never have participated in any protest  action against Dr.Siaka Stevens, given the experience I have accrued in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the U.S. Shaki had his faults but he also contributed to the development of Sierra Leone  and was a victim of his own neglect of the media and the arrogance of some of his officials who treated students with disdain.

But back to my story, Hindolo Trye thrived in this “revolutionary atmosphere ” that was set adrift on campus by Njai-Bah and followers. I worked with Hindolo Trye and other “radical”  students  during this turbulent era of student activism . A master strategist and planner, Hindolo’s hand was in every student endeavour designed to get the administration to take students complaints seriously. He even worked with some of us in the press to  plan and structure stinging articles on CHUKS PRESS against the student union government led by the extraordinary democrat, Mr. Sulimani;  the college administration and the national government. Though we had to deal with thorny issues, Hindolo  was always gentle and civil and  he accommodated your views even if he disagreed with your line of thinking .

Hindolo was an undisputed champion of students’ rights even well before he became student council president. I  first saw  the no-nonsense “Hindolo”  streak in  the GURU one night  when the Warden of students , Dan Diddo,  turned up at Block  G and stood before the gate to deny students the opportunity to the take their invited guests from the city into the dorms before a Freshers’ Dance. It fed into students’ perception then  that the college administration was denying students  their rights  and that presumably adult students were being treated  like  schoolboys  and schoolgirls . Hindolo, having been  tipped off  that  the warden was at Block G denying students their rights , materialized on the scene  and engaged in verbal theatrics and a war of words and wits with  the much-feared Dan Decker. In those days, one had to really choose his words well when speaking with Mr. Decker . However , that day, Good, old Dan Diddo , unable to withstand the fiery lecture delivered by Hindolo Trye,  gave up  his quest and students poured into the dorms with their female  guests.  Dan Decker was fond of threatening dissenting students with rustication,  but did not even reprimand the GURU because the college administration was awakening to the reality that trouble was looming underneath on the campus . Students hailed the GURU and you had a sense then that Hindolo Trye was an uncompromising and fearless student leader in the making. Whether in the dining halls, or the bookstore or in the administrative building or students union complex (When students went to collect their allowances ) or in the library or lecture rooms, Hindolo was a stout fighter and advocate for students’ rights and dignity. He was not afraid to confront any member of the college administration whom he perceived to have treated students unfairly. He soon became famous on the campus as a student radical and fighter.

Our relationship became even tighter and more congenial when we both  formed part of the  FBC Students Union Government , led by Njai-Bah , that was invited by the late President Ahmad Sekou Toure to Guinea to take part in the anniversary of the ascension to power of his Democratic Party of Guinea ( PDG ) in 1974. In that delegation were  the student leader, Njai-Bah, Attorney General Abu Mansaray, Propaganda Minister (This writer ), Larry Domingo, Sangster Sesay ( Sango .Also known as Goostay ) , Charles Caulker ( Charlo Mama ), the sweet and charming Catherine Kamara, Hindolo Sumanguru Trye , Sam Mundoma (A radical Zimbabwean student ) and some Guinean students studying at FBC at the time, another sweet-spirited lady called Saran Diakite , Kebbey (Surname forgotten ) and another young man whose name I have forgotten completely.

We spent two weeks and  had a wonderful time in Sekou Toure’s Guinea and were treated as state guests. We were hosted at the then first-class Gbessia Hotel by the international airport  and taken to many parts of Guinea like Dalaba, Fria, Pita and Labe (Where we met very light-skinned Arab-like Foulahs who never joined the exodus to Sierra Leone ). People lined the routes to welcome us wherever we went and town hall ceremonies and receptions were held in our honour. Hindolo was a very close buddy  to me during the trip . His friendly jokes and conversation and his ability to affirm and empower his associates were just remarkable. We met President Sekou Toure at the People’s Palace in a historic and momentous meeting on the eve of our departure . Toure  gave us a long lecture about  why and how he came to power and the evils of colonialism and neo-colonialism. The “revolutionary” President supplied us  translated versions of many of his books  and the military uniforms that were the national dress then in Guinea. Sekou Toure  also gave us a military helicopter to fly us back to Sierra Leone and we had the opportunity for the first time to fly over Freetown and savour the breathcatching beauty of the Freetown coastline , towering mountains and beautiful forests. We were expecting that when the helicopter landed at the Brookfields Recreation Grounds, we would have been arrested because we learnt later that Pa. Shaki was not aware of the trip. However, though a team of ISUs watched and presided over the landing of the helicopter  and our disembarkment   from the craft, they kept their distance and we grabbed our luggage, went to the main road and hailed taxis to take us home. We wore our military uniforms in the safety of the college campus , though some pro-APC students then warned us that we could be arrested because we were not army personnel.

As one of the leading campus journalists  at CHUKS PRESS  and publisher of the then radical COCORIOKO  newspaper and SPOTLIGHT , my relationship with Hindolo Trye was to become testy after the Auradicals  resigned from the so-called revolutionary students government over the the Kabs Kanu/Emmanuel Grant Vs Mary Fowlis / Lati Hyders  clash  that was largely blown out of proportion by opponents of the Auradicals. The conflict was caused by a fiery clash that ensued between this writer and Mary Fowlis ,  a Gambian student, in front of CHUKS PRESS over some devastating articles she had written to blast the President of the  Economics students organization, AIESEC , Mr. Tamba Borbor ( The present Deputy Health Minister ) who happened to be the Minister of Security in the Njai-Bah students Government. As the Minister responsible for defending other ministers, this definitely brought me in direct conflict with Miss Fowlis . The quarrel went on to be  exaggerated by those who did not like the Auradicals .We came in direct contact with dirty politicking for the first time in our lives . The conflict led to defections from the government by Auradicals serving it :  Minister of Housing , Soule Bashiru Daramy ( Today the Chief of Protocol at State House ), Minister of Sports  Andrew Gbebay Bangali ( Today Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the AU and Ethiopia ),  Permanent Secretary , Information Ministry, Abioseh Michael Porter, who was infact the Dictator of Auradicals,  ( Today Head of Department and Professor of English at a U.S. University ) and this publisher who was then Minister of Propaganda. The other Auradical, Emmanuel Campbell, who was Information Minister, refused to resign and was expelled from the Auradicals Club.

Hindolo Trye proved to be an impressive peacemaker during the crisis . He  fought desperately behind the scenes to save the relationship between the so-called “Revolutionary” students government and the Auradicals . He was one of the many students that did not swing on the side of the Lati Hyders and listened to the Auradicals’ side of the conflict. The born leader he was, GURU always listened to the other side.  This was one of the things I admired most about him. GURU had the uncanny ability to get along with even those on the other camp. But the relationship could not be saved.  The Auradicals  fell out with the  Njai-Bah’s Government .

After this, my articles in Cocorioko and on Chuks Press started to be viewed with suspicion by members of the Njai-Bah Government and supporters. Many of my editorials and op/ed articles did not go down well with the Njai-Bah regime, which at the same time had started to be isolated by a significant number of former devotees who accused Njai-Bah of being full of mere revolutionary rhetoric and no spunk. As the so-called revolution began to fall apart seriously , with more defections from one-time loyalists, the press became very  unkind to the government and levied explosive allegations against it. Njai-Bah’s life became miserable on campus.

Many of my articles irked Hindolo Trye as Njai-Bah further hit vey low depths with one scandal after the other following his ministers , but unlike other adherents  who verbally abused me or challenged me to fist fights, GURU was always gentle to me. He never raised his voice or threatened me. He just expressed his displeasure with my views but he always ended up by commending my writing skills and predicting that one day I will go places through Journalism.

Despite our frequent disagreements over my views , Hindolo Trye remained a friend and brother and we found common grounds in other aspects of campus life , especially in the exposure of social evils on campus, which the Dean of Students , the late Dan Decker ( Dan Diddo )  himself also sanctioned.  Hindolo Trye was a remarkable gentleman and I will never forget his words of motivation to me.

Hindolo later  reconciled  me with Boubaccar Njai-Bah and ironically though he had appointed a new Propaganda Minister, Njai-Bah  and his ministers  always invited me to cover events for the government, leaving the ineffective minister in the lurch. Our reconciliation was negotiated by Hindolo Trye and Raymond Moshe Roberts ( Now head of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank ). Whenever there was a students union event, Hindolo Trye would come to my room to collect me to go and cover it for the Njai-Bah Government , though I was no longer their propagandist. I asked him if my replacement would not feel that he was being undermined and supplanted , but GURU always assured me that the students’body loved my writing and coverage far better and since Njai-Bah sanctioned it, he saw nothing wrong in what I was doing. I frankly did not want to do it, but lots of students  came to me also  and said that since I left, CHUKS PRESS had suffered extremely and so in the public interest, I had to comply.

Hindolo Trye ‘s efforts did not go in vain and in 1976 after I had graduated he went  on  to contest the students union elections, after the uneventful reign of the late Foday Kallon, who was not an offshot of the Njai-Bah revolution but  was in fact a reincarnation  of  ”fixity”  on campus . Hindolo  won  the elections by a landslide and became the next “revolutionary” leader after Njai-Bah. The remainder of the story is the stuff of legend.

Following the 1977 students action against the government, Hindolo, the leader and many students were arrested and incarcerated at Pademba Road Prisons. The government established a nexus between Trye and some of us his former associates , though we had graduated  from college  .  One morning, I was picked up by the ISU  in my classroom , accused of  seditious statements, and taken first to  the Commissioner of Police, Bambay Kamara ( who despite all that had been  said about him was a very nice and sympathetic man who frankly told me he did not like sending young men like me to jail for politics but since the order had come from the top, he had no alternative  but to have me detained ).I was driven to Pademba Road and locked up . I shared cell with the late SLPP political war horse Mannah Kpaka and the sons of the late Paramount Chief, Bai Makari N’Silk , who was executed at the same prisons two years before that after being found guilty of participating in the Mohamed Sorie Forna coup. We spent a month and a week in jail. By then , Hindolo and FBC students had been released .

On my  release, Hindolo Trye showed his concern for his colleagues and was very thoughtful to have visited me at my school to  sympathize with me and boost my spirit.  He told me that it was not a big deal to be jailed for politics because most of the people who later became leaders of Sierra Leone had also been jailed at Pademba Road before. “Name me anybody who became a leader in this country without first going to Pademba Road Prisons,”  he asked me as we shared drinks at the school  canteen. “Even Pa. Shaki has been there before “.  A prison officer, who served political captives  then, had the habit of telling  detainees that CLARKSON HOUSE ,where political detainees were incarcerated then at Pademba Road Prisons, was a training ground for leadership  in Sierra Leone.  ”You don’t become one of the leaders in Sierra Leone without first coming here to Clarkson House. I have been a jailer for over 20 years and most of the people ruling this country now first came here. ” It became one of Hindolo’s flagship sermons to colleagues he wanted to motivate.

The students at the school identified Hindolo Trye   and abandoned class to come and idolize him. That was how popular he had become.  He quickly called a cab and left to avoid creating a scene that would have led to us being arrested again.

Hindolo and I remained friends and he , along with Pios Foray and Frank Kposowa , invited me to become a member of the TABLET  newspaper when it was set up late in 1977. The one thing that fascinated  me about Hindolo Trye was that despite all he suffered at the hands of the government, he was not bitter at all . He remained the same happy-go-lucky Hindolo Trye of college days  and did not write bitter articles against the government. He even continued to have good friends within the government. In later life, Hindolo would even become a member of the very party he had fought.

The irony of Hindolo’s life was that he ended up being a fanatic of the APC, like many other former FBC students who took part in the 1977 students revolt.  Dramatically and unbelievably , the visionary President Siaka Stevens had predicted this that very 1977.  After our release from prison,  we were taken to him at State House  to receive  further chastisement and in a monologue at times replete with the vintage Pa Shakiisms  , including insults, the President made  one of the most prophetic statements  some of us have ever heard in our lives and  this  played a part in my decision (and Hindolo’s,I am sure ) to cap our political lives by joining the APC.  I am sure Shaki  told the Hindolo Group the same thing  when they met him at State House on their release . President  Siaka Stevens told us that we had a lot to learn .He said that we would learn one day that we were misguided and misled to protest against his government. He said that some people , who  wanted him to leave,  orchestrated the students unrest  but he would not leave as they want because they will not rule the country well  as he had done and also he had the formula for keeping the nation together. He said if he leaves the country  would be fragmented and nobody would be able to contain the chaos that will befall Sierra Leone. “Hence you people want the APC to leave. We  will leave one day , but when we  do,  some of you will  one day wish  for us to return.”

How prophetic indeed ! ! !

Pa Shaki’s prophetic words came true in the 2000s .  After the NPRC and SLPP  ruled the country for 15 years only to leave the nation in tatters, everybody, including this writer and Hindolo Trye   craved for the APC  to return to power. Pa Shaki made a lot of  mistakes and he had no media to help promote his achievements but many Sierra Leoneans realized that it was better the APC at the helm of power in Sierra Leone than the SLPP.  We in our respective ways fought to bring the APC  back to power.  Hindolo died a staunch believer in Dr. Stevens’ prophesy. While declaring for the APC in 2005, he said  that he had come to realize that only the APC  had  the ability to develop Sierra Leone. He stated that though he once tried to bring the APC Government down, he had learnt that the APC  was the only hope for Sierra Leone. He had  been a government minister since the APC  returned to power in 2007 and was one of the most honest and scrupulous government functionaries.

When he visited Mr. Lamini Waritay in Liberia in 1979 , Hindolo Trye , true to his love and concern for his friends, made sure that he visited me too at my home in Caldwell, outside Monrovia. He was delighted to know that I had settled down and was doing well. That was how much Hindolo cared for his friends and associates.

Hindolo Trye will be missed by all the people whose lives he touched , including me. We have lost a born leader, a visionary, a reformer and a freedom fighter.

MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.

 

© 2012, COCORIOKO. All rights reserved. – Discuss this and other related articles on the Salone Forum

2 Responses to “HINDOLO TRYE, the towering giant that never said no to a good fight ( A tribute by a member of the Fourah Bay College 1970s Brigade )”

  1. Dear Kabs,
    Your tribute brings back fond memories of my days at FBC.
    It is nice to read about some of the things going on behind the scenes at the time.
    It is sad to learn that many of my friends, now including Hindolo, have passed away.
    Ronald

    Reply
  2. Great tribute Kabs! Hindolo, Tumoi, Olu-Gordon (my favorite) all died having strived to put Sierra Leone firmly on a strong social domocratic footing. May they live foreever!

    Reply