Friday, January 9, 2015
A GREAT AFRICAN STOOPS TO HELP HUMBLE STUDENTS: DR. RICHARD KELFA-CAULKER OF SIERRA LEONE
Sierra Leone Albert Academy Freetown Ambassador London
Sierra Leone is in the news, and rightfully so, on account of the Ebola epidemic. Recently, I’ve posted a lot about the medical saints and the Ebola sufferers, but I want to turn attention to one of the great Sierra Leoneans I’ve had the privilege of knowing: Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the U.K., Ambassador Dr. Richard E. Kelfa-Caulker.
This story is from the fall of 1960 when my travel partner and I landed in London. We were travel neophytes at our very first stop on a seven month trip to Western Europe during the Cold War and on to West Africa during its historic independence period.
We needed help obtaining passports to Sierra Leone, one of the countries we were considering visiting. London was the obvious place to get a visa because of the relationship between the two countries, England and Sierra Leone. We went to the office of the High Commissioner of Sierra Leone, thinking that he would have the authority to grant the visas.
After the receptionist greeted us at the front office desk, the Commissioner himself stepped out from the inner office and introduced himself as Richard Kelfa-Caulker. He heard our stories (just out of college, looking to learn about the world) and surprised us by inviting us into his chamber.
We spent time with him and learned that he, known variously as Commissioner Kelfa-Caulker or Dr. Kelfa-Caulker, had given up his long career as Headmaster of Albert Academy in Freetown in order to take on the London post as Ambassador to the U.K. He spoke of his great love of education, his commitment to students, and regaled us with stories about his own college education in Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio. He also interviewed us about our own purposes in travel, in general and in wanting to visit Sierra Leone.
Then he surprised us again. Actually, he said, he couldn’t give us the passports we needed. We had to obtain them from a British office since Sierra Leone was technically still a colony. But to assist us, he’d have his chauffeur drive us across London to the correct destination! We rode like royalty in the Hummer limousine.
Since then, I’ve learned much about Kelfa-Caulker and other great Sierra Leoneans. I feel privileged to give you this story of a great educator, diplomat, and friend to many like ourselves who needed his help. There’s more of the Kelfa-Caulker story at the Albert Academy website at this link.
This is just one of dozens of stories of inspiring people in Straying Home, the e-book that’s featured on this website. I hope you'll take time to read and ferret out stories of inspiring people that load the pages of "Straying Home."