Tribute to the late Sam H.M. Jones (1923 -2017) Friend, Teacher and Mentor

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Delivered at thanksgiving service, St. Mary’s Cathedral Church,30th January 2018

On the morning of Christmas Day 2017, I received the shocking devastating news that Sam, my life-long and respected friend, had passed on in the UK. I wept.

He had been a family friend for more than six decades in spite of our separation (not excluding contacts) during the 1950s and 1960s when I attended university in England, and some 17 years when I worked abroad. It was one of those rare, solid and beneficial friendships which I will never forget.

In the 1940s, Sam taught me geography at the Methodist Boys’ High School (MBHS), for long The Gambia’s prestigious secondary school.  He was a most capable and supportive teacher. I gained one of the best standards in geography at the Cambridge School Certificate Examination. Thus, Sam represented the motivation for continuing my education at the Bathurst School of Science to enable me to study agricultural science at university.

Our conversations over the years covered a wide range of issues including governance, democracy, departmental administration in the Public Service, and the rate of development in the country, and were always comforting and educative. When political coalition was mooted, he worked hard albeit behind the scenes to mobilize efforts for its implementation.  A year before his passing on, it must have been gratifying for him to know the outcome of his much appreciated contribution to the political changes expected to usher in the transformations for the overall well-being of Gambians.

Late Sam gave back more than enough to The Gambia. His contribution to the development of quality education was unrivalled. He was an effective teacher and first Gambian Director of Education whose exceptional contribution to the expansion of education with impact on quality, at a time when resources were highly limited, would never be forgotten.

He rightfully recognised the importance of certificate and equivalent higher national diploma qualified and skilled middle level workers for accelerated and cost-effective national development to complement university education. Hence, his significant support to the founding of the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) and the upgrading of Gambia College prior to the establishment of the University of the Gambia.

Apart from the similar positions he held in the Public Service, he was Representative of the West African Examination Council, based in London, after retirement.  He diligently and successfully served to strengthen regional collaboration for the development of quality education to meet the vital development needs of the Council’s members including The Gambia.

I have learnt a lot from Sam’s life which was characterised by religious belief, serenity, humility, kindness, industriousness and uprightness. He has left us but will eternally remain in our hearts.

I profusely thank him posthumously for everything and pray that Almighty God forgives his sins and grant him paradise in heaven. Sam immensely loved his wife and surviving children. May God grant the children long life (as his own), good health, happiness and prosperity. May they have the fortitude to bear their major bereavement.

May Sam’s gentle soul rest in perfect peace Amen.

Finally may the Almighty bless and protect all of us (Amen).

Dr. Lamin J. Marenah