Letter to editor

Praise for PV’s Anthony Kamara and Gemina Archer-Davies from Professor Jonathan Peters

13 August 2009 at 02:57 | 1040 views

Mr. Anthony Kamara:

I’m quite capable of superlatives but I try to be very sparing in using them for writers so that there will be room for heaping more praise for improved results. In the instance of your tribute to Gemina Archer-Davies, I find it impossible to be guarded or to offer faint praise: your homage to this gem of a lady is an exceptionally remarkable tour de force (yes, Gemina, it’s time to begin brushing up on your French) for a remarkably exceptional national treasure. I’m sure that many who read your assessment will be tempted to think that it borders on flattery, but that is what is perhaps the most remarkable quality of your presentation, that it is honest and true. Indeed, as extraordinary as is your writing, it still leaves room for more to be said about Gemina, which I will now offer.

One of the attributes I find very compelling about Gemina in addition to her poise and equipoise, her grace and charm, her hard work, etc., etc. is a quality that must have been with her throughout her career, the ability to take risks. She did that for me in what seems like a small way when she was at the Joint Library and I needed something that a fellow male Sierra Leonean would not help with but that Gemina took the risk in getting for me, a calculated and not a stupid risk, but it is the kind of thing that you have to be able to do to get to the top in what was for long at the Fund a men’s club, read men-other-than-black for a long while, let alone speaking of women and black women at that. Gemina is a trail blazer not only on account of hard work and faith, two extremely important qualities, but because she is smart, savvy and learnt how to play the game.

Gemina, I’ll be looking forward to welcoming you and Eefa in Freetown when you retire from Tunisia, but please don’t wait too long. I know you will be rooting for her and her extensions to Western Area and Sierra Leone as a whole at the ADB but it will be important to make a contribution on home ground itself. To celebrate your extraordinary career at the IMF as you make the transition and hone your wings to fly homeward, let me offer a small token from my 2005 collection (still not published in print), Homecoming: Poems now dedicated to you in the form:

Homing Pigeon

(For Gemina Archer-Davies)

Far, far away from home
Far, far away from my own
In a strange land that I grew to love
Surrounded by people and things
High up on a mountain where
I can look down at the throng below
My Owner released me and, all alone,
Goaded by the yearning for home
I use my inbred instinct
And, flapping my wings of memory,
I begin the solitary journey
Guided by love of hearth and home.
I hear the wind gushing as I fly,
Through clouds and rain I hone my wings
A steady course I take
Light and full of longing I glide
Looking for familiar signs that would
See me safely back to the smells
The touch, the sight of landscape
Homing my path to the point
Of arrival within the circle
That I call home.

Editor’s note: Professor Jonathan Alexander Peters(photo) taught English for many years at university level in the United States before returning home to Sierra Leone recently.