Salone News

Tribute: Martha Dissa-Kamara, ace golfer

10 January 2020 at 00:38 | 1620 views

By Daniel Oldfield, Edmonton, Canada.

Sierra Leone has lost a top female golfer with the recent passing of Martha Kamara (nee Dissa).

Believed to have been in her 50s, Martha (photo) died in Freetown on Friday 3rd January 2020, following a protracted illness.

The name Martha Dissa, without an iota of doubt, stands out in the annals of golf in Sierra Leone. Dissa was Martha’s maiden surname. She was the elder sister of former East End Lions and Leone Stars striker John Dissa. Martha Kamara was not only arguably the best female golfer of all time in the country, she was a pioneer for women and an advocate for the participation of more women and children in the game.

She was one of the first women, born and raised in Sierra Leone, to take up golf. Martha played the sport all her life. She competed at the highest levels, for years. Up to the time of her passing, Martha also taught the basic skills of golf to anybody who was interested to learn how to play the game.

The late Martha Kamara won many local and international trophies; mostly at tournaments played at the renowned Freetown Golf Club. Martha was such a successful member of the club that she served as its Lady Captain at some point. She was later honoured as a Lifetime Member of the prestigious club.

Martha (with white cap) and a group of young Sierra Leonean golfers

Outside Sierra Leone, the late Martha Kamara competed and won trophies in the West African sub-region, at international tournaments in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. With her death, Africa has lost a golf ambassador and champion for more female and youth participation in the sport.

I got to know the late Martha Kamara during my days as a sports journalist in Freetown. At the time, I worked at the then Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) Radio/Television. One of my news beats was the Freetown Golf Club in the west of the city. There I would often go to cover golf tournaments and other club events. Around the time I first met Martha, she was a club member. She played alongside other prominent club members like Mrs. Florence Bamin and Mrs. Anne Koroma

The late Martha Kamara was one of three golfers who personally taught me the rudiments of the game. She handed me her own golf club with which I took my first swing at a golf ball. “Put the pen/notebook down and relax, Mr. Oldfield,” she would tease. “Come and take a few swings. You’ll love it.”

Those interactions with Martha helped me understand the game from a player’s point of view. She was as skillful as she was sociable. In her, I sensed a big-picture outlook and optimism as she steadfastly encouraged people to start playing the sport. Martha was a dedicated coach too and it was easy to appreciate her patience with learners. Her golf lessons, tips, and tidbits gave me invaluable insight as a sports journalist. As time went on, Martha, together with then golf professionals James Lebbie (now based in the U.S.) and Bureh Kargbo (deceased), would help me polish my golfing skills.

Martha, training a young golfer

Martha’s love for the sport brought out the best in her. As a player she was a keen competitor. As a coach, she was an excellent teacher and mentor. Her advocacy was remarkable. Martha Kamara would urge me to get women journalists to join me in covering the game in Sierra Leone.

“Bring some female journalists with you. They would keep coming and maybe even play the game,” she would say.

Avid golfers Dauda Lebbie, and Derrick Momoh expressed grief at the passing of their colleague. They described her as a tower of strength to the Freetown Golf Club and the golfing community in Sierra Leone as a whole. Last year, 2019, Martha Kamara joined my Facebook group, ‘Daniel Oldfield’s Corner.’ Once she signed up, Martha kept sending updates on tournaments and other golf-related events. She kept our audience abreast with developments in golfing circles in the country.

As a fervent fan, player, coach, and promoter of the game, Martha would send colourful photographs to go with the updates she sent for publication. She really worked hard in promoting the sport among women and girls; always advocating the introduction of the sport at the grassroots level. Among these photos would be pictures of herself, together with the likes of professional players like Paul Bangura.

“Oldfield, I hope these pictures inspire more women and boys and girls to take up the beautiful game,” she would explain to me.

We send our condolences, from Daniel Oldfield’s Corner, to the Kamara and Dissa families, and to the President Mrs. Luba Johnson, Captain Ishmael Jabbie, the entire membership of the Freetown Golf Club, as well as the golf fraternity globally.
Martha was an ace golfer with an exemplary personality.
May her gentle soul rest in peace.