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Edmonton: Mother of newborn twins laid to rest

By  | 26 March 2019 at 16:44 | 3547 views

“When it rains, it pours.”
So it seems for the Sierra Leonean community here. There were two funerals in Edmonton on Saturday March 23 alone. They came as result of two deaths within three days of each other. One funeral was for the fianc้ of Sierra Leonean Dalanda Jalloh, while the other was for the wife of another Sierra Leonean Lawrence Davies.

Dalanda, who is now pregnant, lost her soon-to-be husband Solomon Osagiede on Thursday March 7, 2019. Osagiede was in a physical training exercise, to become an Alberta public security peace officer (PSPO), when he collapsed. He was pronounced dead soon afterwards. The late Solomon Nosayaba Osagiede was 39 years old.

Thirty-six-year-old Salla Patience Cole-Davies (photo) passed away on Sunday March 10. She was a Gambian with a Sierra Leonean Creole (Aku) background. Her husband Lawrence Davies is an IT professional who worked in the Gambia as a teacher. It was in The Gambia that the two met. Lawrence moved to Canada, from there, in 2004. Salla joined him here in April 2017 and the two got married about three months later.

On Tuesday February 26 this year, the couple was blessed with two bundles of joy. Twin babies Emmanuel and Emmanuella were born in Fort McMurray, where Lawrence works as a printer/technician. The family’s joy was short-lived, however. Salla started feeling complications from the multiple births. She passed away about 12 days after the babies were born.

Lawrence and Mama Florence

Lawrence’s mother Florence Rettew lives in California, USA. She arrived in Fort McMurray earlier in March this year; about nine days after her daughter-in-law delivered the twins. Mama Florence came to meet Salla in person, for the first time. She looked forward to welcoming her twin grandchildren, supporting the new parents, and sharing their joy. Salla passed away a few days after Grandma Florence joined them.

The late Salla Patience Cole-Davies was laid to rest at the Northern Lights cemetery in Edmonton on Saturday March 23, 2019. A Home-going Celebration (funeral service) in her memory was held at the Trinity Funeral Home, also in Edmonton, earlier that same day. The president of the Gambian Association of Alberta, Mohamed Njie, and his Sierra Leonean counterpart Dr. Abu Conteh, were among the many mourners at both events.

Clergy from the Fort McMurray church that Salla and Lawrence attended came for the funeral. Pastors Ayo Adejumobi and Kunle Oladebo officiated Saturday’s ceremonies. They had another church member Deacon Steve Orogundade to assist them. The organist, Funsho Bankole, also came from the same church. Mariama Jallow, who was quite close to the late Salla Cole-Davies, read the eulogy. The scripture was read by Regina Oppon, a Sierra Leonean who is also based in Fort McMurray.

Sierra Leoneans in Alberta are a fairly tight-knit community, especially those living in Edmonton where the Sierra Leone Association of Alberta (SLAA) has its headquarters. These two funerals are the third and fourth to have struck here since December 2018, not counting the many community members mourning the loss of loved ones far away in Sierra Leone, in the past few months. The pain and grief run deep, all around.

The late Solomon Osagiede and Dalanda Jalloh

To the extent that some people are appealing for special community-focused prayers. One notable voice in this context is Daniel Oldfield. A respected journalist and an active SLAA member, Oldfield articulated the calls on his Facebook page ‘Daniel Oldfield’s Corner.’

Oldfield wrote an editorial to make the case for communal reflections and prayers. He asks that Christians and Muslims come together and pray for positive tidings; fairer weather, so to speak.

“We’ve done this before; during one of our national Independence anniversaries and during the dreaded Ebola outbreak,” Oldfield’s post reads.

SLAA also organized such an event when the flood/mudslide disaster struck Freetown on August 14, 2017. That time, the community rallied and held a candlelight vigil for victims and survivors. Citing SLAA’s fundraising drive that went with community prayers, Oldfield contends that prayers and hard work are not mutually exclusive.

“In fact, they work very well together.”