By Solomon Sesay :
The Kanu family not only used today ( FATHERS’ DAY ) to thank COCORIOKO Publisher , Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , for being a great father but they organized a dinner to congratulate him for helping to bring pride to the family through the awards he has been receiving for excellent journalism. Thus, Fathers’ Day in the Kanu household was a double dose of celebration today as the family used the occasion to celebrate the LEADERSHIP AWARD Kabs Kanu won three weeks ago for his Journalism abilities during the 50th Independence Anniversary Banquet and Awards Night in Washington DC. It was a memorable dinner during which the Publisher heard encouraging words from his family.
Thanking them for the honour, Rev. Kabs-Kanu today told his family that he owes his success to all of them because they have all contributed one way or the other to his successful Journalism career. He said he will use the dinner to name all those who in one way or the other helped to motivate him to fulfill his ambition to be a journalist for which he is receiving awards now and again.
- His elder brother Max Kanu, FBC graduate and former Producer of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service ( SLBS) , who encouraged him immensely when the Publisher started his Journalism career as a young boy while they grew up in Freetown and later Bo. The Publisher said that the affirmation he received then from his elder brother motivated him and helped him reach the present height where he is a proud holder of 5 journalism awards in all. He recalled those days when Max would go all out to ensure that he possessed copies of the SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL or foreign newspapers and magazines that reported significant events he knew his younger brother who loved Journalism would like to see. Those were the days when reading the Daily Mail was all a Sierra Leonean needed to be abreast of events in the country. Today, there are so many newspapers and yet you read nothing substantial about Sierra Leone. Kabs Kanu also credited his elder brother with introducing him to the cream of Sierra Leone’s journalists in those days. Another effort Kabs Kanu thanked his elder brother for was for ensuring that he never missed a single copy of Sierra Leone newspapers while he lived in Liberia from 1978 to the time Max himself left for the U.S. in the late 1980s. ” My brother made sure that I received Sierra Leone newspapers on a regular basis in Liberia ” , the Publisher recalled . “Anybody who went to Liberia in those days could recall the bundles of newspapers they always had to deliver for me in Monrovia. My brother would never know what those bundles of newspapers meant to me. They kept me in touch with my country and the political, social, economic ans sporting events there. I was in Liberia only in body but in spirit I was in Sierra Leone because I was following up everything going on there.I was so au fait with events in Sierra Leone . I remember in 1981 when the offices of the TABLET newspaper were attacked. I had heard it earlier before going to visit a schoolmate, Desmond Mensah-Coker, a CKC alumnus as well, who was an associate of Pios Foray, Kposowa and Hindolo Trye. He had just arrived on a visit to Liberia. During our discussions we started talking about the TABLET and I told him about the attack on the paper’s offices. Desmond denied the story ferociously and asked me where I got it because he just came from Freetown and did not know about it. The next day, however, Desmond heard the news himself and was really amazed how I got the story before him who had just left Sierra Leone. Through my brother I had established a network of sources who briefed me regularly about events in the country, just as it is happening today “.
- The Publisher also praised his wife, Mrs. Tigidankay Kanu, a Director of Nursing, who has been a lifelong partner for 38 years, and who has endured with him all the pains, frustrations, disenchantment and dangers of the profession . “I thank her for enduring all the sleep interruptions when scoops comes in by telephone in the dead of night. ” He also thanked his children , especially Freddy Will, the artist, who makes him proud of his achievements.
- Also commended for motivating him were his inlaws, Alhaji Sheikh Abdul Gardie and Mrs. Patricia Gardrie ( A former U.S. Peace corps volunteer in Sierra Leone ). “They will never know how much they motivated me with their support ”.
- His younger brothers , also FBC graduates — Joskyn Kamah Kanu, now living in the UK and John “Joe Cool ” Kanu of the Gambia. They too lived in the reality of a brother who loved Journalism and had an insatiable appetite to read newspapers and magazines. They will go all out to make sure that they got me something to read. If they visited friends whose fathers were literate and bought newspapers, they would make sure they borrowed the papers to bring to an elder brother, who, they knew, would be interested in reading them.
- Much younger brother Bassie (Boss K ) Kanu , also an FBC Graduate and now member of the editorial board of the COTTON TREE news media in Sierra Leone. His words of encouragement will not be forgotten.
- Also , not forgotten in the litany of praises , of course, were the parents , who, though now dead, gave the Publisher a great start in life by sending him to good schools. “I remember how mum would sacrifice to make sure that I had extra money for lunch because she knew that I would definitely use part of the money to buy the DAILY MAIL and if she did not add an extra I would go hungry whole day in school because I would prefer buying a newspaper than eating . I also will never forget how I harassed Mammy Yeabu every Saturday morning for money to go buy the Daily Mail and read Zac Humphrey’s or Khalil Kamara’s preview of the big matches in Freetown during the weekend .I loved their analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and players before the games. Those were the days of real sports writing in Sierra Leone ” , the Publisher recalled.
- The Publisher also praised other family members “like the Uncle Dissas,Uncle Sories, Uncle Saibas , Kotor Musas, Kotor Kapries, Kotor Hassanas , Kotor Johns and the like who , though men of modest means, also would be thoughtful enough to bring me something to read wherever they found one ,an old magazine or newspaper. No newspaper or magazine was ever old for me to read “.
- The Publisher also expressed thanks to his schoolmates and college mates whose encouragement helped to motivate him. He mentioned names like Pios Foray, Sigismond Massaquoi, Felix Risk, Wurie Kai-Samba, Joseph Nyalley, Sylvester Foday of CKC and members of the Auradicals Club of FBC during college days, his roomate Abioseh Porter (Now a Professor and Head of Department of English at Drexel University ) Francois Parker, Emmanuel Grant, Souley Daramy, Andrew Bangali, Abdullah Mansaray, Freddy Keita, John Karimu etc . “Their words of encouragement whenever I wrote a nice article gave me what is known as self-belief and the necessary staying power.” The former Student Union Presidents of FBC like the late Kemoh Sulimani Sr , Boubaccar Njai-Bah , Foday Kallon and Hindolo Trye were also commended for the recognition they provided which was a source of motivation.
- Teachers were not left out. Messrs Kaye (SLC, Bo), Mrs.Paris (SLC, Bo) , Gaima, Sheku , Morrison , Lumumba Rogers , K.P.Jackson, Murray Kelly , Father Lambe (CKC) and Dr. Eustace Palmer of FBC also motivated him highly by recognizing his writing abilities at one time or the other . Dr. Palmer’s words of praise during an Auradicals Party at Aureol Sub where he served as Guest Speaker helped motivate him after he left college.
- THE LEONENET (UMBC ), which prepared him for the hard knocks of the profession , got praised too. “Whenever I was slain by bitter attacks or caustic criticisms by the intellectuals of the forum for my articles or analyses, it helped me to learn to avoid the pitfalls of writing and to also learn to be thick-skinned when the heavens appear to be falling because of an article or comment that did not go well with people. Leonenet was my training ground for developing the panache and thick skin needed to survive a profession like Journalism “. The Publisher said that it was one of his one-time critics, Dr. Cecil Blake, a world-famed Mass Communications Professor, who ultimately recommended him for the NOSLINA AWARD he received in 2008. This was one of the reasons the NOSLINA Award meant so much to him.
- The Publisher also thanked President Ernest Bai Koroma for recognizing his ability to serve his nation . He also thanked diplomats like Ambassadors Shekou Touray, Bockarie Stevens , Rupert Davies, Ibrahim Conteh , Osman Kamara etc. who also motivate him from time to time to give off his best in his assignment as diplomat.
- He has already praised those working with him while receiving his award at the banquet.
- The Publisher of NEWSTIME AFRICA , Mr. Ahmed Kamara , who has been a valuable help , was also highly commended.
THE AWARD WON BY KABS KANU FOR THE 50TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY
The Publisher stated that all of these people and some he may have inadvertently failed to mention–and will name in another article when his omission is manifest and to whom he expresses apologies — one way or the other motivated him either by words of praise, recognition or deeds of support and his conscience will not be clear if he did not mention how they contributed to his success , however minute. “Nobody achieves anything in this world without help fron others .I have praised all these people and given them the credit they deserve for helping to shape my professional growth which made win such a very important award to show you that I appreciate every little thing people do for me in life. If anybody ever accuses me of ungratefulness , tell them that it is a lie ” , the Publisher affirmed .
He then thanked his family for honoring him and prayed God’s continued blessings and protection on them.