#Article (Archive)

A tribute to Martha Joko Thomas Senghore (RIP)

Jul 25, 2013, 1:17 PM

How does one begin to grief for an only sister? For me, you were my only sister. Yes we had others; but, they all died so long ago, some too young to make a mark on me. You stayed on. You were also there at the beginning; my Alpha and my Omega.

Joko Thomas Senghore and Yamide Thomas Renner – Daughters of Mama Kainday Wilson and Pa John Thomas. We were together from childhood. We shared so much – happiness and sufferings. We went through all, bonded by that true sisterly love which nothing could break; not even Marriage, not even Death. Yes we did have our share of disagreements and disputes. We would not have been human if we did not. But deep inside we both knew that there was only us; that nothing had changed. It was only our love for each other that mattered. Though sometimes it was threatened with suffocation by unwanted elements, we always managed to keep the spark burning and never hesitated to enkindle it, when situations arose, to become the roaring flame of love it was always meant to be.

Thank you, Joko, for being there when I needed protection, comfort and sympathy. Thank you also for being there to share my jubilations and celebrate with me. Growing up, you played the role of mother, sister and advocate. And you did so perfectly; making sure of what I ate, what I wore, what I learnt. When I took the first steps into womanhood, you were there to see me through, to support me. And oh, all the escapades we shared! Sometimes I was frightened, but always knew I was safe because you were there. There were experiences, some bitter and some funny. And we cried together and laughed together. You were a pillar of support throughout.

No matter what, for me, yours was the only love that was genuine, that I could rely on. I could trust you with my life. I could trust you with my children when I had to go abroad for further studies. You loved them and took care of them as your own. Thank you for being their when Eugene died. You were the only one who understood the depth of my grief. And you stood by me, physically for forty days and forty nights; and spiritually for years and years after.

Then you decided to sever the bond we had shared for sixty-six years – You died. Thank you for letting me be there, holding your hand and saying your favourite prayers as you breathed your last. Yes, you died. And I was stunned. I went around helping with the arrangements, like a zombie. I was alive, yet dead.

I sat at your Wake-keeping and listened to people trying to eulogize your good works. I cried silently knowing that nobody will ever be able to itemize the good you, Joko, did in this world – The good you did to your pupils as a Primary School Teacher; to your patients, as a Nurse at the RVTH; to your colleagues, as a Staff of Standard Chartered Bank; to your friends, as Yayi Compin of Muna Dem and Mami Compin of Vous Cathy; to your neighbours as a true Christian; to your in-laws as a dutiful Aunt, Sister and Daughter-in-law; and to your family members as a dedicated and loving Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Aunt and Sister.

I should have delivered a Tribute on that day, 5th February, 2013. Would it have made any difference? Would it have stopped you from lying so stately and serene in your coffin, oblivious to what was happening around you? Or were you aware of the drumming, the praises, singing, the wailing, the sorrow and the void you were leaving in the lives of those who truly love you? Would my Tribute have prevented the final ultimatum when you were lowered into the grave and sealed forever from prying eyes, wagging tongues and a world full of deceit, pain and trauma? If it could, you would have been celebrating your seven-one birthday on the 27th of this month. But for you, it was all over. Nothing mattered anymore. You had fought the good fight and had won the race. You were at peace with your Maker.

And today, July 25th 2013, marks the sixth month from the day you said your final good-bye. Six months, and it seems like yesterday. Nothing has changed. The grief might be hidden, but not abated. The pain of parting is as poignant as it was on January 25th 2013. And the void, if anything, has grown wider.

Joko, ‘you de true world, we de na di lie world. Now all tin plain to you’.  Sleep my dear sister. Sleep and take your rest. We are praying for you. You also must pray for us. Rest in the Bosom of The Lord, a place you have carved for yourself and truly deserve.

Adieu, till we meet again.

Sister Yami