By Moses Kay Fembeh,
Managing Editor Heroes Media Newspaper.
I first met Prof. Elvis Gbanabom Hallowell through his works in 2012, which was after I read his collection, titled: “When Sierra Leone Was A Woman” and the “Dinning Table” which the latter talks about his experiences of the civil war in Sierra Leone. Since then, I became one of his secret admirers because his artistic nature was appealing to me. Prof Gbanabomwas not only a veteran journalist and a literary guru but a mentor and a friend that one can easily confide in. It was difficult for one to meet with Prof. Gbanabomwithout him talking about poetry to him/her. He was very much familiar with poetry to the extent that even in his conversations with people, there were some mixtures of poetry.
I first had the opportunity to meet with him face-to-face in 2014 at his office, when he was the Director General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC). He has been a few of the nicest men I have ever met in this literary journey. He was very approachable and had a sense of humour and very accommodating.
He was a member of the Sierra Leonean Writers Forum, a Forum he created with the sole aim of promoting writing and a platform for writers to meet, write and discuss national issues. I had the opportunity again to meet with him in person at his former Congo Water, Wellington residence in 2019, during the fifth memorial service for his late father Rev. Jacob Hallowell. It was there he introduced me to some of his family members like Mr. Prince Hallowell and others whose faces I could not remember and since then our relationship continued till his death on the 20 September 2022 at 7:39 p.m. in the presence of his niece, nephew (Alieu) & I. We started Prof’s health challenge and we sadly ended up in tears.
Prof. Gbanabom Hallowell was offered a lecturing position at Tubman University in Liberia where the university gave him the title of Associate Professor of Literature and Drama. He got his appointment letter from the University in January 2020 and before his departure to Monrovia in February, of that same year, to take up his new assignment, I was the one he contacted to check for him for a ticket price and I did. I sent him the update, a few days later he messaged the Sierra Leone Writers Forum that he was travelling to Liberia and we joyfully bided him farewell and today we bid him farewell in tears.
Before his death, He continued to send more poems and updates about his new environment in Liberia. By July 2020 he stopped sending in poems and essays to the Sierra Leone Writers’ forum but most of us thought that he was too busy with academic workloads, little did we know about his health condition at the time. By September of that same year, he was sent back home to seek medical attention.
However, the message of his illness was told by Mrs. Elizabeth Kamara, Mr. Mohamed Sheriff & Mr. OumarFarouk Sesay and a few others. When Prof. arrived in Freetown in September 2020, Mrs. Elizabeth Kamara author of “Stolen Laughter” told me to accompany her to pay a visit to Prof. Hallowell.
By January 2021 there was a committee was set up to serve as an intermediary between the association (SWF) and the family. The association continued to send their monthly support to Madam Aminata Esther Sesay the mother of the late man’s eldest son.
Prof. Osman Sankoh directed us to take the late man to Dr. Dan Yokey at Connaught hospital but since Doctor Dan had a stroke project for people suffering fromstrokes, he referred us to Dr. Thompson. Prof started treatment with Dr. Melvina Thompson in January 2021 and she (Dr. Melvina Thompson) referred us to Choithram hospital for X-rays and the results were out but with a little favourable interpretation.
Later when the writers’ association was planning to take another dimension, a special therapist in Ghana DrPatrick Bankah advised that we do an MRI of the brain test in Freetown. We went to EcoMed where the MRI test was done and Dr. Bankah ordered the MRI test results to be sent to Ghana, which we did as directed. It was truly unbelievable when Alieu and the young woman who happened to be Prof’s., niece called me and said “Moses cam see Doc e done die, Doc done die.” Since I was a bit skeptical about it, I said to them “NO, he is not dead, let’s give him some time.” Yet, I didn’t believe and I had to tell Alieu to stop calling family members but it was not too long before we hadto call an experienced person from the neighborhood to testify to us about Prof.’s health and the response from the neighbor was “let thy will be done”.
Indeed Prof., let thy will be done, as you joined your ancestors rest assured that your impartation and the great books you left behind, shall live after you.
And to you, our established writers, both home and abroad and young aspiring writers, hold your pen tightly for it shall live after you.
Our literary guru is gone. Prof. Hallowell, sleep on, sleep on, our dear beloved HERO; take your rest.
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