Scholar Momoh Taziff Koroma Gone Too Soon


Kortor Kamara - Author

Kortor Kamara – Author

We first met in 1970 as Form 1 students.  We were 12 year-olds, when together with such men as Thomas Sowa, Thomas Kenah, Swakata Sannoh, Joseph Gbonda, Samuel Hilton, Augustine Fallay, Patrick Kaikai, Momoh Rogers, Sylvester Yankuba, Victor Robinson, PC Victor Kebbie and several others entered St. Paul’s Secondary School in Pujehun.

Momoh Taziff Koroma, your passing today has indeed left a void which shall not be filed among your St. Paul’s brotherhood, family, friends, and compatriots.

Even as 12-year-olds, you were able to exhibit such brilliance in school that soon even our European teachers, such as Adam Jones and Chapman, were compelled to seek your assistance with such scholarly research as Dr. Adam Jones book on the Gallinas, which earned your first mention as a contributor in 1976.

I vividly remember alternating interpretation duties with you on the back of Dr. Adam Jones motorbike, as we traversed remote villages in search of the oral history of our Gallinas areas.

Despite you were residing as a day student in town and I was living at the school’s boarding home, our love for liberal arts subjects and serving as student-Librarians with our teacher/librarian Adam Jones engendered such scholarly competition among us.

During those early days, that a lifelong friendship and brotherhood was created, which alas has been broken with news of your death today.

As an internationally accomplished Linguist and Lecturer at both Fourah Bay College, USL and Njala University, Taziff Koroma contributed significantly to scholarship and understanding of the history of Sierra Leone.

As a researcher and contributor on the fundamental Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC), published following Sierra Leone’s brutal 11-year civil war, Taziff shall forever remain our nation’s conscience in helping document the horrors of that era.

Taziff’s scholarly collaborative work with international scholars, such as with the American scholar Joseph Opala, identifying the linguistic connections between the Gullah in America and the people of Sierra Leone coupled with his translations of Gullah and Mende songs, is acknowledged in Opala ‘s book, The Gullah.

Following a lengthy interruption, we reconnected, this time, in California in 2008, when Taziff was on a sabbatical and researching at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Taziff was able to locate both Augustine Fallay and me and immediately drove down to Los Angeles to visit me.

We stayed a couple of sleepless nights discussing the civil war and how he and family had survived and politics not to mention our days in Pujehun.

I subsequently had to drive with Taziff from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and then to San Francisco, a more than 400-mile drive to visit Boss Fallay.

My dear brother, friend, and schoolmate, I bid thee farewell until we meet again. A giant tree has fallen, and the forest shall never be the same!