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Remembering a great matriarch: The late Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa

6 December 2018 at 02:20 | 2252 views

Remembering a Giant Matriarch: the late Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa (Mammy Sowa)

By Paul Duwai Sowa, Toronto, Canada

Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa (nee Sheriff) is our paragon of beauty and charm, a quintessence of propriety and an epitome of illustriousness.

Today December 5, 2018 marks exactly two years since the Sowa, Sheriff and Duwai families of Pujehun District were thrust into a chasm of grief so deep to bear, with the passing of their great matriarch, Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa.

Mammy Sowa battled with a short illness and passed away peacefully. She was predeceased by her beloved husband Patrick J. Amaa. Sowa, older sibling, Baindu, and parents Momoh Sheriff and Isata Sape Duwai. She was born in Bomu Samba, Kpanga Kabondeh Chiefdom, Pujehun District.

Beloved mother of Peter, Josephine, Thomas, Lt. Col. Vincent (RIP 2017), Timothy, Bridget, Esther, Paul and Fr. Robert Michael Sowa.

In 1953 Mamie Jitta Sheriff was baptized a Catholic and tied the knot with husband, Patrick J. A. Sowa of Geoma Jargor in the same year at Lunsar, Port Loko District. She became Mrs. Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa.

Mammy Sowa became a widow for 23 years until her heart beat its final beats at the Pujehun Government Hospital surrounded by family and friends on Monday December 5, 2016.

Our mother, Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa is our hero. She was a tremendous source of pride and inspiration to us her children and many others who looked up to her as a mother, sister, aunt and friend. Her strength and indomitable spirit to face life’s challenges with humility continue to empower us in our daily lives.

She was a proud mother from an impoverished community and became a role model as many watched her raise a family and become successful as lawyers, educators, military officers, civil servants, healthcare professionals and clergy men.

Our parents and especially our mother, Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa taught us that your life in a day begins with simple tasks such as making your bed. If you accomplished that, you are more than likely to tackle any challenge in life with a spirit of courage and the power to overcome. She also encouraged us to believe that there is no shortcut to achievement in life. It’s not something you can buy. You have to work hard for it.

We are a family of very humble beginnings. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Mammy Sowa and PJ – her loving husband of 40 years sailed through PJ’s teacher salary and her petty trading income. She did more with very little. There were moments whe she endured a recession raising her children and other dependants, but she managed to protect her pension benefits by investing in them. In her elderly years, she always pleasantly said to her community friends, “When you have nine educated children with careers, your bank account can never be empty.”

Mammy Sowa was a tough mother with an attitude of a consummate boarding home matron enthralled by some magical discipline in her voice. She only needed to call out your name loud and once and you could read between the lines. She instilled values that have helped to shape us into who we are today. Above all she always tried to ennoble family and even strangers.

She was a mother of uncommon gifts who always traversed her own misgivings to the aspirations of the bigger family picture.

From the far edges of southern Sierra Leone in her birth place of Bomu Samba, Pujehun District; to the Catholic village of Serabu, Bo District; to the ambitious village of Gbinti, Port Loko District; to the thriving township of Yengema, Kono District; to the hospitality township of Pujehun; and her final resting place, Geoma Jargor where she met her husband, Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa accomplished it all – a wife of a roaming educator, a mother and community role model. Mammy Sowa was well-loved and respected by her community

Mary Mamie Jitta Sowa was a giant matriarch. She left behind a massive family of 9 children, 30 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and counting.

Much loved grandmother to Officer James Pessima Kamara (RSLAF), Betty Sandy, Baindu Sowa, Officer Joyce Reid of the US Navy, Massah Swarray, Patrick Dao Sowa, Patrick Amara Sowa, Josephine Yatta Kamara of RADA, Bridget Kadie Kamara, Isata Sape Sowa, Paulina Sowa of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Thomas S. Sowa, Nancy Sowa, AJ Sowa, Maurice Nyakeh Sowa, Officer Thomas Sowa Jr. of the US Marie Corps, Sape Sowa, Lilian and Lizzy Brima (twins), Sam Maada Foday, Vincenta Sowa, Theresa Mamie Sowa, Hindolo Sowa, Wokie Kamara, Desther Songa, Marie-Paul Duwai-Sowa, Patrick Duwai-Sowa, Emmanuel Sowa, Bevei Sowa, and their children. Fondly remembered by her siblings, cousins, and friends.

In life challenges we remember her good counsel — it’s not how book smart you are, but it is how you manage your personal life.

We miss her because she had a dry sense of humour.

We miss her because she was cantankerous.

We miss her because she had solutions to every problem.

We miss her because she was smart.

We miss her because she was compassionate.

Her legacy is her children and all the relatives, and strangers who she helped over the years.

Our family has been supported by some great relatives and friends who made all or part of the journey with our mother and who will forever be remembered for their kindness and compassion.

A continued celebration of Mammy Sowa’s life will take place this Sunday December 9 at 10 a.m. at The Blessed Michael Tansi Catholic Church in Goderich, Freetown.

The author, Paul Duwai Sowa