Mallam O’s early Journey from Warima to Songo, from Muslim to Christian: Embracing Change in Sierra Leone*


Bongolistically by

Mallam O.

In the heart of Sierra Leone, in the small but bustling village of Warima, lived Mr. Alimamy Wusu Sankoh, a respected fuel tanker owner and the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union. His son, Osman, a bright-eyed boy on the brink of his fifth birthday, became the catalyst for an educational revolution in Warima.

The absence of a primary school in Warima and its neighboring villages posed a dilemma for Mr. Sankoh. With determination, he constructed the first primary school in Warima, ensuring that Osman and other children in nearby villages had access to education. The Church of God Primary School, a product of Mr. Sankoh’s friendship with the Secretary of a Christian mission Mr David Longstretch, became a beacon of learning.

Mr. Sankoh’s generosity knew no bounds. He appealed to families in the smaller villages of Makabu, Maseri, Rogberay, and beyond, offering free education and uniforms to encourage enrollment.

His fuel station and provision store, famously known for its ‘BUY YOUR COLD DRINKS HERE’ sign, became a community hub, frequented even by notable figures like his good fried the late President Siaka Stevens who would stop for a meal. The village would be crowded by motor cars on the president’s entourage.

Osman’s early education was a blend of Islamic and Christian teachings. After school, he would join other pupils around a fireside, reciting verses from the Quran, though not fully grasping their meaning. As he grew, his intellectual curiosity led him to excel in academics, eventually passing the selective entrance exam for secondary school.

To keep Osman grounded amidst the distractions of life in the capital city of Freetown where he had secured the Prince of Wales school, Mr. Sankoh collaborated with Koya Chiefdom authorities to establish the Tomlinson High School in Songo, closer to Waterloo about an hour’s drive from Warima. Osman, with admission number 003, embarked on a new educational journey, one that unexpectedly steered him towards a spiritual awakening.

At Tomlinson, Osman began exploring the Bible, attending evening sessions that illuminated its teachings. His newfound fascination with Christianity led to a profound personal revelation during a weekend visit to Warima. He expressed a desire to embrace Christianity to his father.

In a village where respect and understanding transcended religious differences, Mr. Sankoh convened a meeting with the elders. The decision was unanimous: Osman’s wish to convert to Christianity would be honored. It was a testament to the harmonious coexistence and religious tolerance in Sierra Leone.

Osman, however, made a heartfelt choice to retain his name Osman, even as a Christian, a tribute to his beloved grandfather, Pa Wusu. His decision reflected a deep-rooted respect for his heritage and the values instilled by his Muslim family.

The story of Osman, transitioning from Islam to Christianity even at his early age, is a beautiful narrative of religious tolerance and the freedom to choose one’s path in Sierra Leone. His journey symbolizes the nation’s embrace of diversity and respect for individual beliefs, a shining example of unity in diversity. Shouldn’t this be extended to ethnicity too?


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