October 6, 2015 By Alpha Rashid Jalloh
This seems to be a belated tribute but it indicates that something must have held me back in writing it, which is nothing other than shock, frustration and disillusionment.
“Do you know that Ahmed Kanneh, editor of The New Storm newspaper, is dead?” somebody asked me one morning. “No!” I retorted. I felt shocked and gaped. I and Kanneh had been friends for decades and our friendship had never reached the point of quarrel and later reconciliation, which made it so unique. To be friends for decades without having any cause for complaint against each other is a sign that both friends love each to the point of just swallowing any observations that cause any negative perception or judgment of issues. In a profession which is characterized by bigotry, mischief-making, belligerence, hypocrisy and betrayal, I found this man to be unique because there had been times when I had been haunted and hunted in this country, but he always stood by me to prove to the whole world that contrary to what I had been portrayed, I am the sort of man who society should emulate. I sometimes looked at him in disbelief. This was a man who when his colleagues would have different excuses to give and feign ignorance of issues that had been used to destroy an exemplary man in society, he would take the straight path or remain neutral. But when I looked at Kanneh and looked at others, I see the difference and notice it. Because, if he had not taken a different stance there would not have been any difference between him and them. Ahmed Kanneh was reliability personified.
I and Kanneh knew each other since when we were reporters. That was a time when the likes of I.B. Kargbo, Sogie Thomas (late) Vandie Kallon (late) Foday Kandeh, Rod-Mac Johnson, Christo Johnson and other editors at the time were the young men in the media and we were the young boys coming up. We struggled to report for papers that came out once in a month and the “regular” ones came out once in a week. The computer was unknown to the Sierra Leonean journalist and we relied on what we dubbed “cut and paste”. We grew up in the media little by little until our own turn came to be called “editors”. Those were days when journalists had to go through the rudimentary stages before they step their feet on the uppermost rung that give them the status of editor.
Throughout his career I had known Kanneh to be a man who was consistent. Even in politics he never swayed from his path and would sincerely let the public know where his sympathy lied. Many a time he had politely told me that he would not publish my articles because they were against his party. We would agree to disagree and our friendship would still remain intact. I grew to respect him each time he disagreed with me and would love him more when he stood by me in trying times. That is what true friendship should be. Politically, we stood on different horizons but we all looked at the same object and that was Change. Our interpretation of the object (Change) was different but there was a consonance on our perception on its relationship to us. It was that Change that instilled the idea of progressivism into us. It was progressivism that linked I and Sheku Saccoh, who was the first Sierra Leonean to register an Anti-Corruption Company (ACC)), a private institution established to fight corruption, and recruited me to fight that enigma. It was also progressivism that linked I and Olu Gordon and other radicals at the time. But alas! All of them are dead. Kanneh was not one of us but through my relationship with him he shared similar ideas. God has called all of them. Oh, how sad and frustrated I am when I think of Kanneh and wonder whether the likes of him are many when it comes to consistency! He may have his own negative side, so I beg those who look on the negative side of him to forgive me and urge them to look on the positive side of him. No man is perfect and so was Kanneh.
When the news reached me that Kanneh was dead it took me time to recover from my shock. It was this same man who, not long ago, informed me of the death of a dear colleague, Mohamed Jaiah.
Today, Kanneh is gone. Oh Goh Kanneh! Are all thy struggles, triumphs and lofty dreams fallen so deep? Fare thee well. We love you but Allah loves you most. May his blessings shower on you. Time has run its clock.