Good-bye Uncle Tom My Inspirer
By LeRoy S. Nyan
I started knowing Tom Kamara in 1993 as a 21-year-old when I was employed as office attendant in his office of Director of Communications during the Interim Government of National Unity.
Uncle Tom was a very diligent and dutiful boss who led by example, inspiring his employees by always arriving at office as early as 6: 30 am and he never shared his work with pleasure.
There was a particular secret about Uncle Tom that many could not understand. Even his friends, both old and new ones, became ambivalent about this tendency. It is this, which I hold as a secret for which many detractors antagonized him.
Tom Kamara was a principled driven personality. He was very strict with people on issues—even many of his employees found it difficult to comprehend most of the things he expected of us. He set very high standards in a society like ours, where people masquerade with eroded characters as statesmen, leaders and ordinary people. Hence, many of such people disliked Tom whose news organ defended the rights of the ordinary and little people.
Though he is no more, Tom’s legacy shall endure forever. Tom lived by example; he lived by what he advocated and championed during his lifetime—probity.
His death is not only a loss to the Kamara family, and the New Democrat family, but has created a vacuum in journalistic practice in Liberia.
Good-bye Uncle Tom, my inspiration. Though your death pains us and saddens our hearts, we are happy that you lived a fulfilled life and you left us with a cherished legacy—a legacy that defines the accomplished life you lived.
We are proud of you, even in death, for you made us fearless and patriotic; we shall miss you for making us to always be objective and performers with high standards.
You made us to cherish being selfless and independent. Sleep on, Uncle Tom, for your life was a rewarding one.
A Eulogy To Tom Kamara
By Varney Kamara
I knew him at the mercy of time soon after
We came in contact face-to-face
While some have bullied themselves in
Subservient kingdoms, and bowed their heads also in shame,
His bluntness in analyzing life’s situations
And his thinking beyond the ordinary was firsthand introductions
To a man that I knew called Tom Kamara
His bold feelings about life’s expectancies often accompanied his
Philosophy that “the best way to empower a man
Is to teach him how to fish for himself, and no wonder why a place
Of Heavenly triumphs have already embraced him as a potent
Henry Van Dyke once said: some people are so afraid to die
That they never begin to live and therefore Uncle Tom did
Not die, but has found a secured place of respite
I am almost certain, that the wisdom of the ‘Good gods’
Currently protect him will have no regrets for keeping his company,
For he will always be considered for his mighty pen power
Which have sponged the frontiers of society
Uncle T, as he was affectionately called by loved ones,
Will forever be kept in mind for standing upright in the world and
Will be recorded in the pages of history for his critical and prolific
Writings that created a space for the voiceless and set the stage
For changing democrat patterns
As he takes permanent leave of this evil planet, his thorough,
Yet critical inscriptions will always stand as societal mirror,
With the caveat that good will always prevail over evil
My heart mourns not his death but fencing that great heritage
Like George Carlin said: death is caused by swallowing
Small amounts of saliva over a long period of time
I swallow not the bitterness of his demise today, but
Holding on to his bravery in speaking out against ills of
A cruel and jealous world, whose yesterdays frequently judged
Us by the advent of the future
Not only was he an independent free thinker, but his meticulous
Eyes and determination in gathering facts left no boundaries
Truly, he was a man of great moral rectitude;
His ideas were never short of accurate and palatable actions,
To the extend that all but everyone knew him for being
Very tough, astute, hard working, creative, independent in thinking,
And most significantly, a devoted Christian
Indeed “Uncle T” was a loving father; a son, a brother and a nephew
To all persons that he came across on the phase of the human race,
And if the historical account of Aristotle that the ideal man bears
The accidents of life with dignity and grace,
Making the best of circumstances are made manifest, then,
‘Papa Tom’ has truly left a legacy for generations to cherish and
Henceforth, he did not die
Oh yes he did not!
His inheritance lives on.
My Fallen Comrade Tom Saah Kamara
By: Joseph H. Farkollie (Farko)
Comrade Tom Saah Kamara was my uncle and elder brother. We grew up and resided on the Camp Johnson Road in the Tommy Bernard Community in 1960s. The late Tom was then a student of the Government Junior High School situated on Broad Street, where the National Museum is currently located.
Upon completion of his junior high education, he enrolled at the William VS Tubman High School on 12th Street in 1969 and became editor of the institution’s newspaper, known as “The Monitor”. Due to his fearless reporting on issues confronting students, Comrade Tom Kamara was suspended from the Tubman High School by the late A. Nanu Manly, principal at the time. He was suspended for a newspaper story that landed him into trouble with the school administration that had to do with the refusal of students to adhere to the directive to cut their Afro hairdo low. The school newspaper publication of a contrary opinion on this issue under his editorship led to his immediate suspension.
Tom was later employed by the late James Marshall, owner of Daily Star newspaper as a reporter. At the time Tom was a student at the People’s College School—a night school situated on Broad Street. When President William R. Tolbert, Jr. halted the payment of registration fees at all public schools in the country .The Principal of the William VS Tubman High School had earlier collected the amount of US$6.50 in 1972 as registration fee from each student in contravention of president Tolbert’s free education policy in public schools. Tom received this news and published it as a lead story in the Daily Star. The story sold like hot cake while Principal Manly was ordered by the Education authorities to immediately restitute the student’s money. A day following that, Tom visited Tubman High and was carried shoulder high as a hero. He left Liberia in 1973 to pursue higher education in the United States of America.
Tom later returned in 1980 to Liberia following the overthrown of 133 years of True Whig Party (TWP) rule by non-commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia in a coup. He returned to contribute his quota to the building of a democratic society. He was assisted with a plane ticket by Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, then serving as Education Minister to return home. His demonstrated prowess to push the pen so effectively won him this support from Dr. Fahnbulleh. I met Tom a week after his arrival and introduced him to some senior comrades, including Dusty Wolokollie, John H. T. Stewart, among others.
He got appointed to head the government newspaper. During his tenure as editor-in-chief of New Liberia, the official news organ of the Government unter military junta leader Samuel Doe erected a multi-million dollar mansion in his native village Tuzon in Grand Gedeh County in a relatively short time. Tom published the picture of the mansion against the hut where Doe’s parents resided prior to the coup, and wrote a commentary criticizing such swift metamorphosis, stiring Doe to be offended. He ordered Information Minister Gray D. Allison to fire Tom and the publication was labeled seditious. While Tom and I resided at Taylor Major compound in Caldwell, one morning we saw a group of heavily armed AFL soldiers headed towards us. They took Tom away. It was believed that the arrest was done on the orders of one senior PRC member.
Tom was taken to the Monrovia Central Prison on the grounds that he was allegedly heard saying head of state Doe was not educated. Tom was detained for months without trial and later released through the intervention of Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh and some other brothers.
Few weeks after his release we got evicted from the Taylor Major compound in Caldwell even though we owed no rent. We later heard that our eviction orders came from the government on the ground that Tom and the rest of us there were anti-government elements. The house we rented was among those seized and placed under the Bureau of Re-acquisition by the PRC Government. Since Tom failed to push the line of the government of the day, our belongings were thrown out by task force of the national police.
Later Tom got employed at the Constitutional Drafting Commission headed by Dr. Amos C. Sawyer as Director of Public Affairs. While there, Tom again got dismissed on the order of the government and subsequently re-arrested along with Dr. Sawyer and others on allegation of plotting a coup. They were later granted Executive Clemency.
Tom served as one of the incorporators of the articles of incorporation of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP). Tom was again arrested while in the office of a Commissioner at the National Elections Commission where we had gone to ascertain information on the party’s registration after series of arguments that ensued between a commissioner and us. On the team that fateful day were the late Dr. Bangali Fofana, John Karnwea and this writer. Tom was again bundled into a vehicle, taken to the National Security Agency (NSA) for several months without trial. Preparation to transfer him to the maximum prison Camp Belle Yella was concluded. But a downpour delayed his transfer for the first day. On the second day, assigned soldiers refused to take him on the flight to Belle Yella because of lack of commitment. The next morning Tom escaped around 2:00 AM from the NSA and sought refuge at the house where we stayed in Congo Town. We took off that same night to meet another comrade (Mulbah Bannie) in Margibi County and then on to a secret location where he remained for four months. With the help of Dr. Sawyer, Anthony Kesselly, Musa Kolacco Kamara, William Sandy and James Yarsiah, Tom was taken out of the country to safety.
While under detention, he wrote many articles on the ills in the society. These articles were smuggled out of the prison cell and published in major newspapers across Africa. Being a very close friend, my wife and I visited Tom in Holland in 1988 where he lived in exile.
Meanwhile, we used to stay together from morning to night, traveling from Monrovia to Lofa County as well as Monrovia to Margibi (Firestone) to visit our comrade Mulbah Bannie. We spent long time together during those days chatting about ourselves and other friends and brothers. The moments we spent together were rewarding and highly memorable. We moved around The Hague in Holland, Camp Johnson Road in Monrovia and Soduo in Foya District, Lofa County.
Tom will forever be remembered as a fearless and critical journalist. He was a loving and a caring man who did what he believed was right. He fought for social justice, peace and press freedom. Go and rest in peace, my dear Comrade, Tom Saah Kamara. You have done your part by doing what you loved doing without regret. You have set a standard for the Liberian press. Your mission on earth is complete Comrade Tom, my traditional uncle. May your soul rest in perpetual peace, good-bye.