Sierra Leone has lost a great patriot – Professor Eldred Jones

Prof. Dr. Eustace Palmer: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 March 2020:

Professor Jones was a Sierra Leonean academic and literary critic known for his book Othello’s Countrymen: A Study of Africa in the Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama.

He was a former principal of Fourah Bay College. He died at 1am today, Saturday 21 March 2020, aged 95 years.

Eldred Durosimi Jones was known internationally as being central to the establishment of the study of African writing in the new universities of Africa, Britain and North America.

The annual ‘African Literature Today’ of which he was founding editor in 1968, was a key marker of this growth. In addition, his book – ‘Othello’s Countrymen’ introduced Africa into Shakespeare studies.

Born on 6 January 1925, the account of his early years gives a vivid picture of growing up in Freetown in the latter days of British colonial rule. He was an exceptional young man who was able to take advantage of the unusual style of this city-state.

He studied in two of the historic institutions of Equatorial Africa, the CMS Grammar School and Fourah Bay College to which young men flocked from all over the region, earning Freetown the title -‘The Athens of West Africa’.

After further studies at Oxford, Eldred Jones committed himself to his own country and it was appropriate that for over thirty years he was successively – Lecturer, Professor, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College in Freetown, which had been set up in 1827 and was the first university college in Africa south of the Sahara.

He lost his sight in his middle years and this book, like all his later written work, has been brought to the page by his wife Marjorie Jones. Her gift for story-telling about their lives, as Sierra Leone was gripped by civil war, has added to this highly individual book.

Eldred Jones led a remarkable and distinguished life – personally and professionally, but also contributed to the social and educational developments in Sierra Leone over the best part of a century.

Eldred Jones was Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, recipient of the Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal, Honorary Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and joint winner (with Marjorie) of the African Studies Association of the UK Distinguished Africanist Award.

About the author

Prof. Dr. Eustace Palmer is retired Deputy Head of the English Department of Fourah Bay College.

9 Comments

  1. When great men like Professor Eldred Jones pass away, you could not believe the news and just become hesitant to even read about it. Can you imagine? My heartfelt sympathy to his family and may his soul rest in perfect peace. R.I.P. Professor Eldred Jones.

  2. We as Sierra Leoneans must thank God for giving to our country a man that brought pride and dignity to our country. Many of us never even met him, but the mention of his name was enough encouragement to aspire for higher educational pursuit. May God bless you and forgive your sins in this life.
    Rest in peace, Professor Jones and thank you Dr. Palmer for letting many of us know about the passing of this great man and literary icon.

  3. Professor Eldred Jones was a gifted and honourable man, and a true son of the soil. Althogh blind, he was able to identify the speaker from his voice. Sierra Leone has truly lost one of her greats. May his soul rest in peace.

  4. The empyrean ship that sporadically departs for the eternal shores, has reached our Sierra Leone once again and its angelic crew silently awaits in reverence, as a great Patriot ascends its immaculate steps and embarks for a long journey of no return, to the celestial domains of mercy, tranquility and peace. Farewell, gentle, illustrious traveller, we thank you with hearts full of gratitude for your tireless services to our beloved nation, and for your commitment to the promotion of knowledge in our ever changing world.

    Yours was a life full to the brim and overflowing with favors, graces and divine blessings. Custodians and keepers of the pinvisible, supernatural ways that lead to the Pristine shores of eternal rest, we ask that you grant one of our own, a peaceful and easy transition. Rest in Perfect Peace, Professor Eldred Jones, a man who was first among his equals; A true Regentonian, that strove for excellence; pursued, went forward and sought Knowledge.

  5. Having this kind of person in our society today is not an easy task. We join hands together today, and ask the Almighty God to please rest this gentle patriotic gentleman’s soul in perfect peace. My sympathy to the entire family of Prof. Dr. Eustace Palmer.

  6. Thank you, Eustace, for writing this piece on Professor Eldred Jones. I also found him a very pleasant person when I was Lecturer in Economics at FBC in the years 1969-74. I felt so sad for him when his pleasant wife, who was his caretaker in many ways, died before him a few years ago. May his Soul rest in peace.

  7. Sad to hear about the passing of the late Professor Eldred Jones. He was such a fine gentleman. Condolences to his family. May he RIP

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