Mr. John

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On the night I left, just hours before I boarded the boat across to the airport, I learned that Samuel John, one of my colleagues, had passed away. I and many colleagues wrote tributes to him. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news, and I can’t imagine what my colleagues are going through, having worked with him and known him personally for years, as a friend mentor and so much more. Here are the tributes from my colleagues and many other Sierra Leonean journalists — click on the name below each quote to read the full pieces:

“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.” – Silas Gbandia

“For him the work should go on. That was his commitment, that was his life, that was what he lived for.” – Kelvin Lewis

“He is always the first to visit me when am admitted to the point that the nurses at 34 Military Hospital will ask me if is he is my father.” – Emmanuela Kallon

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“He was conscious and passionate about human interest stories, and he would literally slaughter whoever saw one and failed to report it.” – Poindexter Sama

“He was a father. This he demonstrated when I had a personal issue in life and he played significant fatherly role reflected in counseling advice that all fathers who mean well for their siblings can offer. Samuel John’s song is ended, but the melody lingers. I am grateful to God that he was able to do what he did for Journalism as a profession particularly given the challenging environment in which Journalists operate in the country.” – Adolphus. E.t. Beckley

“I was greeted with a hug and dragged to Awoko offices while all the time telling me that he had already told his Proprietor and boss Kelvin Lewis that I was back and should be drafted into the Awoko family.” – Jay Willie

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“One of sierra Leone finest sports Journalists in the 80s and 90s Samuel Alfred John will be laid to rest today Friday 30th September 2016.” – Bernard Turay

“Mr. John’s commitment to work takes very high precedence. When you call him while he is at work be sure you say the most important thing first otherwise he will say ok, ok, ok and the line goes dead. When he was busy, he was genuinely busy. He kept the small talk or chat when he had no pressing work… that was the man!” – Beny Sam

“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 juniors. I will miss his high sense of humor and his fatherly advice.” – Sayoh Kamara

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“As an Editor that cares for his staff, Mr. John emailed to say ‘I like the way you write. Why have you stopped reporting?’ The day I finished my exam, I dashed to one of the challenging internet cafes in Bo and looked at the incoming messages and I saw the message of the caring editor. I shook my head continually for about ten seconds and somebody sitting by me asked why I’m shaking my head. This never happened in my life since I started practicing journalism in 2002 – for an Editor to ask me, especially the editors I have worked for in the Print Media. For them to even call a reporter in the provinces to know about your health is a problem. But here was Mr. John who said ‘Aruna, I don’t know your number to call you that was what why I emailed you.’ Dad, I am missing you, you are gone but not forgotten.” – Aruna Kamara

“You want to see a man with a class? It is Samuel John. You want 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.” – Joseph Musa

“He was simple, down to earth and above all accommodating. He was a pillar at the newspaper. His demise has left a gap, one that could take a while to fill.” – John Baimba Sesay

“As I sat in the newsroom that Tuesday morning without the physical presence of Samuel John, we sprang in to action by recalling his antics. At least it drove for a moment the tears. Awoko needed somebody like him as deputy editor; he was very dedicated to his job, a master class in sports reporting and a reference point for us. He became so attached to the staff that we nick named him ‘Juni Juni’.” – Ishmael Bayoh

“Coming to know you is something I will forever cherish in my life even after you left me Mr Samuel John.” – Alhaji M Kamara

“We fought, we laughed, and we took walks, shared moments and worked under one roof.” – Ade Campbell

“I can’t recall the day I last cried but on Tuesday 13th September 2016 I cried. I wept like a baby and the uncontrollable tears were not only for missing a friend but bringing back all the years of our relationship.” – Jay Willie

“Today I cried, I screamed, I shook and a part of me died. 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.” – Austin Thomas

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