By Sorie Fofana
I first met Momoh Konte on a flight from Brussels to Freetown around 2005. He came across to me as a perfect gentleman. A mutual friend introduced him to me, when we arrived at the Lungi International Airport. That first meeting was the start of a long and cordial relationship that lasted for fifteen years, this year.
We became intimate friends after I returned from diplomatic assignment in the United Kingdom in 2008. Momoh Konte helped me greatly to resettle after six years in the United Kingdom. He was always ready to give a helping hand whenever and wherever required.
I was on a family vacation in the United States of America when he drew my attention to a report about Sierra Leone on Aljazeera. I watched the report and advised him not to return to Sierra Leone as he was also on vacation in the United States at the time. He assured me that he had nothing to fear as it was just an attempt by some vicious people in the APC party to get rid of the Honorable Vice President, Alhaji Chief Samuel Sam Sumana.
True to his word, Momoh Konte returned home to face his accusers. He was charged to court on several corruption allegations. The court dismissed all the allegations and Momoh Konte regained his pride in society.
In 2015, I was in Bo, when he called to inform me of his new appointment as Chairman and Commissioner of NATCOM. I congratulated him and wished him well. He asked me to support him to succeed in his new role. I did give him my utmost support when he was appointed Chairman of NATCOM.
As Chairman of NATCOM, he once offered to travel with me on an official trip to the United Kingdom. I advised him not to travel with me because some of his party (APC) people would not take kindly to that. He agreed with me. He once told some of our mutual friends that the relationship between him and I had nothing to do with politics. He was perfectly correct!
When the APC was about to elect/select their flag bearer for the 2018 Presidential elections, Momoh and I had several conversations around that topic. He told me that he was prepared to support any of the candidates that the party chose to lead them. I later realized that he had a soft spot for VP Victor Bockarie Foh. He spoke about the advantages that VP Foh had over the other candidates.
When it came to the SLPP, he knew that it was a done deal. He was prepared to bet his life that Julius Maada Bio would emerge as the SLPP flag bearer. We both had no doubt over that.
In December 2016, Momoh Konte took me to Kabala for the second time. The first time was in 2013. Together with some of his Journalist friends, we stayed in his house. We had fun together. He was a charming guy. He was a man who cared more about public perception about him. He courted the press to his advantage. He became a darling of the press. He was a very generous man. He was a man with a tiger heart.
Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
I was on my way from Bo on Sunday, 5th July 2020 when news about the sad and tragic death of Momoh Konte in a ghastly road accident was reported on several social media platforms. I was shocked! The news was later confirmed to me by Kelvin Lewis, the former President of SLAJ. I was shell-shocked! I didn’t believe that Momoh Konte was dead until I arrived in Kabala on Friday 10th July, 2020 to pay my last respect to him. I stood by the corpse in his compound at Kabala and shed tears. I recall when four years earlier, we slept in that same house. That was the third time I went to Kabala in the name of Momoh Konte.
The people of Koinadugu came out in their Chinese number to pay their final respects to the man they called “The Bulldozer”. Tears flowed like sea in Kabala. It was pathetic! Women, children, old and young lined up the streets of Kabala to honour a true son of Koinadugu. Momoh touched several lives. He was an icon in Kabala. He had a celebrity personality. He was well-known in Kabala, Koinadugu and far beyond.
Momoh Konte was a successful businessman. But politics made him more popular. He was a kind giver. He never stopped helping people who knocked at his door for help.
Momoh Konte died at the age of 50. He was such a good man. Momoh Konte was a man who never stopped at making new friends and maintaining old ones. He always reminded me that your old friends are your best friends.
He was one of the first people to congratulate me when Julius Maada Bio was declared duly elected President of Sierra Leone on 4th April, 2018. He said to me, “You guys fought a very good fight…It is now time for the new President to unite the country especially after an acrimonious election campaign”.
When I was appointed Chairman, Board of Directors at SALCAB in September 2018, Momoh Konte advised me not to get involved in any procurement activity at SALCAB. He said, “The easiest way to get into trouble in this country is to be involved in procurement activities”. To date, I have heeded that piece of advice.
Oh death, where is thy sting?
Oh grave, where is thy glory?
Rest in Peace, Momoh Kemoh Konte! You lived a good life!