By Kwame Cumalé, USA.
THE EARLY YEARS
At the end of the summer holidays in 1966, my brother, William Fitzjohn Jr., and I traveled from Moyamba on the Harford School Bus with a young-looking boy, almost as young-looking as I was at the time, called Samuel Hindolo Trye. This was our first acquaintance with him, as the three of us headed to the Albert Academy (AA) Boarding Department in Freetown.
Hindolo was transferring from Koyeima Secondary School. At the time we met, he was in mourning for his Dad, Samuel Ado Trye , who had just passed. Hindolo and William hit if off almost immediately and became friends.
To our surprise, this young-looking Hindolo enrolled at AA in Form 4 with our eldest brother Dwight, Alex Cotay (of blessed memory) and others. His best friends at AA were also his classmates: Charlo-mama (Charles Caulker, Paramount Chief of Rotifunk today) and Jongopie Stevens (current Sierra Leone Ambassador to Germany).
Hindolo was not one to make much of his being my senior once we maintained a mutual respect for one another – it remained that way through his lifetime – from AA days on to his time in sixth form at SL Grammar School (where he became best friends with Desmond Wright, a UK-based dentist), right through our years at Fourah Bay College, where we both became Student Leaders, and beyond.
THE 1977 STUDENTS DEMONSTRATION
In 1976, Hindolo, until then a “socialite”, was elected president of the FBC Students Union. His fiery revolutionary speeches, his articulate style and charismatic appeal attracted the mass of the student body to his side. It was at FBC, as we became socially conscious, that he took on the nomen Sumanguru; Samuel Tumoe, of blessed memory, assumed Saaba; Cleo Hanciles, also of blessed memory, became Sundia; Pios Foray identified with his birth-given ethnic Munda; I added Cumalé as my nom de plume; and so on.
In 1977, the students under Hindolo’s leadership rose up against the excesses of the Siaka Stevens-led APC administration during convocation. The FBC remonstrance spread like wildfire to the city and the nation, culminating in the popular “No College, No School” movement. Hindolo was thrust into the limelight and became the talk of the town and an overnight sensation!
My beef with him (probably the only one I had with him in life) was on the occasion of his nationwide broadcast to students telling us to return to class in the heat of the moment, when we (the students) had not given government an ultimatum nor had they rendered any water-tight guarantee they would act on our resolutions; all we had were mere promises. It was later made public that Hindolo was coerced to make that release with a gun held to his head (though authorities denied this) in a document that was captioned “Gunpoint Statement”.
Whatever transpired, Hindolo, in my estimation, should have remained steadfast even at the cost of his life, akin to a Sir Thomas More (we recall More refusing to recognize Henry VIII’s divorce and the English church’s break with Rome on the basis of his convictions, resulting in More’s execution) or at the least, Hindolo should have stepped aside to allow another to fill his shoes. Now, we will never know whether our then-Sierra Leone Spring would have borne fruit.
On the strength of Hindolo’s deeds, post-1977, I put our differences behind us. This is a man that answered to the call to serve his country above and beyond expectations.
Hindolo and I became colleagues in the media world in later years. Possibly because of our activism, I became the closest to him of all the Fitzjohn boys. He was my host in Flushings, Queens when I would visit New York; we would also stay in communication on visits to his wife in the Washington area, where I reside.
Receiving a hero’s welcome on his return from exile in 1992, in the wake of the NPRC coup, Hindolo, there and then, could arguably have carved a path that may have even led to him, some day, assuming the mantle of Leader of the Nation – had he wanted it! I, for one, would have put all my muster and might behind such a plan had he, my incorruptible friend of the man on the street, sought to see it through to the end.
His immense contribution to the Struggle for a better Sierra Leone will remain forever embedded in the annals of that country, for which he made a tremendous sacrifice – his entire adult life was devoted to this movement. This one-liner by Sourie Turay (at whose wedding Hindolo was best man) perhaps says it all: “Probably the one minister who would have died in office poor and that makes his passing a huge loss for Sierra Leone!”
By all accounts, this was a good man and a hero! I will miss him and his jocular ways. I know he loved me as his own brother. He is now prayerfully at peace.
Kwame “Cumalé” Fitzjohn is the host of Conversations with Kwame Cumalé at www.globalafricanmedia.com
Hindolo photo credit: Wilfred Bankole-Gibson.