Pa Baimba Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 February 2020:
Chernor Ojuku Sesay was among five of us who returned home from overseas duty, having been sacked in 2018 as diplomats by the newly elected government of Sierra Leone. He was based at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels, also covering the Vatican as Press Attaché. I was at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing, China.
We had close and great working ties as diplomats. But our bond actually grew stronger when we arrived home, and he became our ‘Lead Voice’ in the quest for our end of service payments to be made by the government.
Chernor Ojuku Sesay demonstrated one of those very rare qualities – fighting for the general good. It was an appalling experience.
I was providing the technical support, collating and printing of documents of most, if not all recalled diplomats as and when requested by government through the ministries of foreign affairs and finance.
Ojuku was playing the very difficult diplomatic role of engaging relevant sectors in pushing for our payments, smiling where he should even get angry.
His journalistic disposition had immensely helped us as attachés. I saw it all and here is the story: We had an unpleasant experience; we both had worked on getting documents for all (well over 95%) of recalled diplomats. It demanded time and resources. But we did; and we were all waiting to hear news, that the government had paid our entitlements.
Ojuku, like me and the others was sniffing for information regarding progress. But he had his trusted friends and sources.
He was to later learn from someone at the finance ministry that we (foreign attachés) had been ditched, left in the desert to starve, with payment for all other diplomats but Attachés.
In fact. there were no documentation for attachés, including both of us, who were the ‘unofficial coordinators’ on the ground. This was soul destroying.
It also was fascinating but came as a surprise, given all that we had done for weeks – if not months. We both had to go back to the drawing board again and commenced the entire process of pushing for our entitlements. We were later joined by two other strong colleagues.
Ojuku was a fighter. He had told an official at the finance ministry that, if they refuse to pay our end of service payments, “we go die lef den money ya with una…” (meaning – “we will die and leave our money with you all”).
well, as predicted, 50% of our entitlements were paid, and indeed, Chernor Ojuku Sesay is gone – to come no more – and never to receive the rest of his end of service payment.
This battle of ‘chasing’ our legitimate end of service entitlements even brought my wife closer to the late man. We used to hang heads in my office together to discuss in frustration. We would meet and have ‘formal’ meetings at the shop and somebody (wife) in small corner would be teasing us.
At one point, Chernor called the country’s Financial Secretary and protested that: “what we are chasing is our legitimate dues and not a favour from government.”
Ojuku believed in pursuing a collective fight and bringing team result. He had got suggestions from three persons; two in government and one business man we had asked to help. Ojuku was to accept that payment be made to those of us (attachés) in Freetown. But for him, that was not a workable solution because it was like betraying those colleagues that were out of the country. We waited for months.
Chernor Ojuku was a good-humoured colleague, always good at finding ways to reduce tension or stress. He believed in getting results, telling you to “remain optimistic.”
He was a writer per excellence, like another late senior colleague, Sorie Sudan Sesay of blessed memory, who was also covering the UK as Press Attaché.
Chernor Ojuku excelled in his job in Brussels. Within years of dedicated service, he had learnt a lot and returned home with the persona of a true diplomat.
His trip to Ghana was the start of a long and sad journey of no return. His first option was Brussels. He didn’t go to Brussels and ended in Accra for medical care, as per God’s plan.
As colleagues, we (I, Alusco and Mariama) would converge at his house literally endlessly praying (by faith we were convinced he would be healed), encouraging him to remain strong.
He truly was very strong. He assured us he was going to get better and come home in good health. But God works in His own mysterious ways.
Death is inescapable. It is an adventure to the faithful. It however remains man’s vilest adversary, much as it comes distinctly as a means of returning to our Maker.
It is a tough end product of a long lasting path to eternity. But there is one beautiful lesson; life is lived once. But when well lived, once is enough.
Our colleague lived his life well and impacted society through his journalistic trade. His demise has surely left a gap.
Chernor Ojuku Sesay – our dear brother and colleague, as we take you to your final resting place, we say adieu and rest well, not forgetting how your journalistic instinct helped us collectively as colleagues. May we not forget that in a moment.