An SLPP giant is gone but not forgotten – Tribute to Alhaji Khalil Bun Mustapha

Harold Saffa

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 November 2015

Alhaji Khalil Mustapha

It will be unimaginable to call the name Alhaji Khalil Mustapha (Photo) without mentioning SLPP in the same breath. Apart from his strong Muslim faith and love for his family, the SLPP was his next greatest passion.

Born on the 8th of September, 1948, Alhaji Mustapha entered Bo government secondary school in Sierra Leone, on the 14th September, 1965. His registration number was 2214 Mustapha Kalilu.

The end of his secondary education coincided with the turbulent post independence politics of Sierra Leone, with the two dominant political parties – APC and SLPP fighting for supremacy.

With the fall from power of the SLPP in the late ’60s, Alhaji Khalil Mustapha along with other young supporters of the SLPP, was left with the burden of rescuing and resuscitating a once dominant political outfit.

parliamentary history - siaka stevensWith the political tolerance severely curtailed in Sierra Leone at the time, and the SLPP all but asphyxiated, Alhaji Khalil Mustapha arrived in the United Kingdom to join others to find ways to resist the Siaka Stevens dictatorship.

Khalil will be remembered as one of the very few who planted the seedling of a palm tree, that would grow to what became the United Kingdom and Ireland Branch (now a Region) of the SLPP.

During the intervening years, Alhaji Khalil Mustapha played a major role in ensuring that the SLPP remained a vibrant political organisation abroad.

He did not only help broker peace at critical moments in the life of the party branch, but also acted as an interim Chairman, and later as Chair of the Council of elders. He would remain loyal to the party until his last breath.

Brixton MosqueBut Alhaji Mustapha was not just a political activist. He had other equally important passions. For example, he was also a deeply religious and learned man, who rose to the prestigious status of an Elder in the Brixton Mosque in London, UK (Photo).

Alhaji Mustapha was also a broadminded man, whose contacts went far beyond the confines of his own immediate environs.

He was one of those who can genuinely be described as a national figure, with the ability to communicate in several languages include Arabic, Temne, Limba, Krio, and of course his native Mende. He saw the country as one broad family.

It is inconceivable not to describe his approach to life as a true embodiment of the SLPP core value of One Country, One People.

Alhaji Khalil Mustapha also had a deep passion for social justice, and wherever possible, he never hesitated to come to the defense of the weak in our society. Such passion did not only manifest itself when Alhaji Khalil Mustapha was already a prominent man. His school mates would recall that whilst they were in school, Alhaji Khalil was always defending those who were picked on by others in school.

He was also known as GARTH, named after the famous cartoon comic character which was popular among school children in the 50s and 60s’ Sierra Leone. Alhaji Khalil earned this name for his stature and resilience in standing up for the venerable pupils in Bo School at the time.

character sitting on the top of book's heap
(Photo: Character sitting on the top of book’s heap).

Alhaji Mustapha was also a community activist. He was the founder and director of the Southwark Charitable Trust. This was an organisation that worked with African grandparents and African nannies caring for children in the UK. Its aim was to teach basic functional literacy skills to enable them to support the learning of their grandchildren and other children in their care.

The Big Lottery Fund and the UK National Basic Skills Agency supported that education program.

Through his commitment and hard work, the project was showcased as an example of good practice in promoting literacy among black and ethnic minority communities in the UK

Alhaji Mustapha was also a vibrant community leader and mediator. He was an active member of various community Advisory boards, including the North Lambeth Islamic Community Centre and the Southwark African Community Forum. This forum was set up to promote community cohesion, following the gruesome murder of the young African teenager, Damilola in Peckham, nearly two decades ago.

When Alhaji Mustapha left his job at the London Transport, he followed his passion for helping others. For many years, he helped people with immigration problems to regularise their stay in the UK.

He too housebound – mostly elderly members of the Sierra Leonean community, to important events like funerals in his car, and at his own expense.

Alhaji Khalil Mustapha was a family man who showed love to his children. Such was the bond that he had with his children that they remained by his bedside throughout, till the Almighty God peacefully called him home.

He has now passed on to the great beyond, but he will forever live on through his children who survive him. His is survived by his children Khalil Junior, Khalifa and Khalid Abubakar.

May Allah in his infinite mercies grant peace to his soul. Insha Allah. Gone too soon.

1 Comment

  1. The works of Khalil Mustapha in the political and community environments are far greater than anyone can express in print or say in words. He is one of Sierra Leone’s FINEST SONS who bonds across tribal and political restrictions. I can describe him in a very deep way: ‘A GREAT MAN’. May the Mercy of GOD be with you, Amen.

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