Today, Saturday July 27, 2013 was another very sad day in New Jersey . We buried yet another Sierra Leonean, Mr. Joesph Wisman jnr of Bo, who was shot dead in Philadelphia three weeks ago. It was a most tearful funeral and I was one of the officiating clergy , with Rev. Tigidankay Kanu ( Both of us of the Covenant Child World Ministries ) and Bishop Sam Boyabi of the Champion International Temple.
The Wismans and my family were one family in Bo in the 1960s to the 1990s . Junior’s father worked for the Post and Telecommunications and lived at No. 13 Reservation , while my family lived at The Presidential Lodge, where my father worked. While The Lodge in those days was noted for a multiplicity of fruits ranging from oranges, lemons, guavas, plums, grape fruits , black-tombla , etc.etc in the special picturesque paradise-like fenced compound , with well-trimmed green lawns and dense forest created by the colonial governors (and a place Lady Dorman, wife of Governor Sir Maurice Dorman spent her weekends ), the Wisman compound was famous for red, fat berries —As kids, we were connected not only by other ties but our desire to feast on these fruits –That was with the older Wismans Francis, Juxon , Janet and Mabinti who were very friendly with me and my brother , Max.
Junior Wisman was born later just as I prepared to leave home for college. He and my younger siblings, Joe Cool and Joskyn grew up together and were great friends. Pa Wisman and my father were friends too and as an engineer at the Telecommunications, he helped repair my father’s radio whenever it malfunctioned. The mothers were also great friends and exchanged visits . THUS it was a family bereavement, especially as Junior’s wife, Fasia , is a devoted member of our church, and somebody very precious to my family here.
I am writing all these facts so that the other Wismans who were not able to travel to New Jersey for the funeral will know about family bonds that prevailed during the funeral and that the family was well represented by the Ngobehs and Moribas and people with close ties to the family in Bo . Many other families that were associated with the Wismans in Bo were represented at the funeral . I met Peter Bundu, Daniel Brewah,Mohamed Ngayenga and many other individuals whose names i recorded on the hymn sheet but left it in my car outside . All of these people had ties to the Wisman family too and there was a also visible participation by the CKC Old Boys Association ( COBA ). The community in New Jersey in general also came out in full to be with the sorrowing family here.
It was one of the most tearful funerals I have ever attended. During the viewing ceremony at the Anderson Funeral Home, grief-stricken mourners cried around the open coffin and some had to be restrained as they wanted to hug the corpse in the coffin and cry on it. Everybody was crying : “Ay, Junior. Why did you leave us so early ? ” and “Oh, God, why did he have to die ? “. There was so much grieving and lamentation that continued during the funeral service conducted by Covenant Child and Champions Temple , with Bishop Boyabi’s sermon and Sister Tigi’s closing prayers touching the congregation and drawing more tears. Even after the service, crying around the coffin by family and friends delayed the recession. Wails of agony rent the church as the lid of the coffin was being hoisted down for the final closing of the coffin signifying that Junior Wisman will be seen no more. Some mourners collapsed and had to be given attention. That was how mournful the funeral.
We then left the service in a long convoy of vehicles with lights flashing for the short drive to the St. Peter’s Cemetery on Somerset Street . The committal ceremony was performed by the officiating clergy Bishop Boyabi , Pastor Tigi and myself as tears also rent the hot afternoon air. When the committal was done, some time was given to family and friends to say their final goodbye to the man that many people had eulogized as a great friend and brother and a man so humble that he jokingly called everybpdy “MASTER” to the extent that it became his nickname. Again, there was a lot of wailing and his wife pressed herself to the coffin , crying and still wondering why this had to happen. The weeping and wailing grew even louder especially after the farewells when the coffin was being lowered into the grave.
At one point , the ropes easing the coffin down the grave began to malfunction and the undertakers could not have the coffin continue its downward move. One weeping mourner said it was a sign that even Junior did not want to go, signifying the untimely manner that he was snatched from us by that wicked murderer in Philadelphia. It was not his time to die and God will punish the person who killed him, she went on. That made it more sorrowful . Eventually, the ropes started working well again and the coffin slowly continued going down until it reached its final resting place. Junior Wisman was gone forever .
The Repass followed at the Portuguese Hall at South River. Like the church, the hall was jammed to capacity and tributes were read to the memory of the late young man, who was just about to start his PH.D when he was cruelly murdered . There were lots of foods and refreshments . The ceremony ended as the day had started : Tears and lamentation.
But again, as I said yesterday at the Wake (which I officiated) , and as Bishop Boyabi and Pastor Tigi too preached today, though sad the death of such a young and promising man , the family should take courage from the fact that Jesus Christ has conquered death by dying on the Cross for us and has prepared a place in eternity for everyone who believes in him and makes him his Lord and Saviour. Because of Jesus Christ, death has no sting or victory any more and those who die in Christ will be reunited with their loved ones at the Resurrection.
1 tHESASSALONIANS 4 : 14-18; JOHN 6 : 40; JOHN 11: 25; JOHN 14 : 1-7 ; LUKE 12 : 4-5; JOHN 10 : 27-29; JOHN 6 : 37-40.
Another funeral in New Jersey , another wake-up call that life is not permanent and whatever we do on this earth is useless if we do not have Jesus Christ in our lives.
Since I was officiating , I did not take photos when the ceremonies were on. I took a photo of Junior Wisman lying in his coffin but due to family sensitivities will not publish it until I obtain the permission of the family. Junior however looked good and majestic in his coffin and his face was not changed by death. He was the same handsome and lovable Junior Wisman even in death.
May his soul rest in peace.