The Death of a Mother is the First Sorrow Wept without Her

The people of Sierra Leone, and especially the president and his family have been hit by the death of Mrs. Alice Koroma, the mother of the President of Sierra Leone. My heart goes out to the President, his family and all those touched by the sad loss. I hasten to join the millions of Sierra Leoneans in prayers and wish her soul a peaceful rest. In unison and rightly so, the country and its citizens have expressed their condolences in various ways. Remarkably, the death of Mrs. Koroma seems to have silenced the political guns between both the APC and SLPP parties, marking a period of mourning, reflection and political truce. Although some media outlets have found it irresistibly difficult to muzzle their political howitzers, others like the Cocorioko, among others have decided that they “will not publish any political article”, “in reverence for the First Mother of The Nation”.

Maada Bio, the presidential challenger for the November elections, was pictured visiting President Koroma to register his condolences to the family. Some cynics might see this as a photo op, but beneath the veneer of all that has gone before, and in spite of the political differences, it demonstrated the best of Sierra Leoneans; that at times like this, we always return to the fact that we are all brothers, sisters and one people. The caption from the Cocorioko Newspaper, “Let peace prevail” says it all. It shows that as Sierra Leoneans, we can be united in times of joy and sorrow in equal measure. It is therefore not surprising that condolences have been flooding in from many institutions, communities, organisations, countries, heads of states and other dignitaries from all over the world. Others have held prayers in her memory and the tributes have been incessantly flowing.

Be it at face value or not, like many already know, a picture can be worth more than a thousand words. There is a seeming undercurrent that belies the picture. Reading through some online political forums, I couldn’t help but notice unfortunately, that some self-anointed body language experts have been trying to make party political gains from it. It is really sad that the connotation and the big picture have been lost on many; who for various political persuasions cannot rise above the situation. It is attitudes like those that need attitudinal surgery; when people fail to see the trees for the woods.

Napoleon Bonaparte once stated that “the future destiny of a child is always the work of the mother”. If this is anything to go by, then the country owes it to the late Alice Koroma for her son. While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. It is always advisable to wait until it is digested, and then the amusement will dissipate the remains of it. (S. Johnson). Like any other form of grief, time is the only physician that can heal it; for no one really dies “as long as they took the time to leave us with fond memories”. Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Since the death of Mrs. Alice Koroma, we have seen the best of humanity bloom again. We have seen how supposedly arch-rivals have come together in solemn unity, united by grief. It is proof that the deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual, something which is expressible, peculiar to him/her alone, and is therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost. Grief shared is grief diminished; hence the nation’s propensity to come together as one at this time.

There is a lot that can be taken from this sad state of affairs. We have seen how politicians and their mouth-pieces have been at each others’ throats for the past you know when. This might not be the best time to discuss politics, but it is important not to miss out on some of the lasting images or lessons that such a sad event has generated. The unspoken lessons that we have learnt from the picture of Maada Bio and the President, shaking hands and smiling in the midst of grief is one that is worthy to behold.

The hope here is that the media and other new vents, irrespective of their political colourations, will reflect this image as we come to cast our ballots for the man we think will do a better job for the country and its citizens. We must remember to “go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what PEACE there may be in silence (grief, in this case); and that in the noisy confusion of life, with all its sham and drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy” (Desiderata).

 May her soul rest in perfect peace.

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