I was inspired to write and share my true life story with the public, particularly with my fellow Christians because of the miracle that God performed in my life when I was a 15-year old poor boy in my hometown region in Sierra Leone, West Africa. In the mist of my hardships and extreme poverty during which I was enslaved by a cruel cousin and while I was selling oranges at the National Diamond Mining Company (NDMC) headquarters at Yengema, I met a white man named Thomas Johnson.
I miraculously met Thomas Johnson, an American pilot from Milaca, Minnesota, who was employed to fly boxes of gems and alluvial diamonds, from Yengema to Freetown where a British Airways jet would fly the gemstones to London. This was two decades before the rebel war and the Hollywood movie BLOOD DIAMOND, which brought attention to that war.
I was inspired by Tom’s friendship and kindness, and his extreme altruistic generosity that opened a new life of opportunity for me, which eventually brought me to America. My story is about the power of God, and how He used a generous white man as one of His instruments and servants to literally rescue a black boy from physical abuse and bondage. Tom Johnson could have encountered any other African boy that day that I met him, but God chose me and He positioned Tom to meet me that day, which marked the beginning of my freedom from what I would call slavery and bondage.
At age 14, having never left my village, I was sent to live with a cruel and physically abusive cousin in the diamond mining squatter camp to continue school, but I soon dropped out because my mother and sisters could no longer afford my school fees. Not wanting to return to live in my village, I continued to live with my cruel cousin while I sold oranges with all the profits going to him and his wife. Tom changed the odds against me when he met me and chose to be my friend, and when he chose to pay my school fees at the Catholic boarding school, giving me the opportunity that eventually took me to America. With Tom’s friendship, I decided to give myself a challenge to prove to Tom that I was worthy of his continued support to America, so I set myself a challenge —going through the Sahara Desert to Italy on my own.
I was inspired among others, by my own travels and adventures during which I had many harrowing experiences, including crossing the Sahara Desert, which almost cost me my life. I was inspired by the challenges, risks, and trials and tribulations I encountered in Europe and other places, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, and in America. I was inspired to see how my deep faith gave me the courage and determination to keep moving forward during these experiences.
It was a white man, who out of his own goodwill and generosity befriended me, a poor black boy, and rescued me from poverty, abuse, and domestic slavery and gave me generous support and opportunity, a white man who paved the way for me to come to America, eventually brought me to America and voluntarily and generously paid my tuition, room and board at Springfield, Massachusetts so I could realize the American dream.
It is my hope that my memoir would appeal to fellow Christians in particular because of the very nature of my story; how a stranger, out of his own goodwill and kindness, randomly chose and decided to help a boy he met who was badly in need of education. I hope my story appeals to people who like stories about the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and the sustaining power of friendship, to travel enthusiasts, adventurers and people interested on other people’s cultures, and people who are working for racial justice and equality.
I was further inspired to write this book because of my sustained connection to the original School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), who opened the Girl’s section of Yengema Secondary School in Sierra Leone in 1973. As a student at Yengema Secondary School in 1976, I came to know Sister Rosanne Rustemeyer because Tom stayed in contact with her to take care of my school affairs at YSS. I stayed in contact with Sister Rosanne over the years since 1976 when I left Sierra Leone and when I reunited with her and others SSND Sisters in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 2014, I felt now was the time to chronicle my life experiences in a new Christian memoir book titled FRIENDSHIP: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance – available at Amazon.
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