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BIOGRAPHY OF BENSON JONATHAN HEMIORNAJI STRASSER-WILLIAMS


Benson Jonathan Hemiornaji Strasser-Williams was born on 4th January 1933 to Makenie Strasser and Joe Williams of Wilberforce Village.  His mother hailed from Allen Town and Waterloo.  He was born in Allen Town as the first born to both parents. He grew up in Waterloo, Allen Town and Foulah Town in Mountain Cut, Freetown.


Molaji attended the Sulamania Primary School, Elebank Street and the Methodist Boys High School, Freetown.  On 12th November 1966, he got married to Waltina Grace Ekubolajeh Jones.  Before he got married, he was only using his father’s surname (Williams) but was told by his aunty, Aunty Eglent of Upper Patton Street, to add his mother’s surname otherwise; they will not participate in his wedding ceremony. He therefore added ‘Strasser’ to that of his father’s name to have the compound name ‘Strasser-Williams’.  He was blessed with five children; three boys and two girls.


Molaji, as most people called him was a very friendly and hard working man. When he left school he gained employment at an early age at the Sierra Leone Railway where he worked for many years in several provincial towns. He also worked at the United African Company (UAC), Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance (GREA), an Insurance company, as an underwriting Supervisor.  He was also an executive member of the Maritime Workers Union (Labour Congress) and he represented the Union in many Workshops and Seminars in several countries including Germany, Kenya, etc. When Aureol Insurance Company was set up, he was appointed as Underwriting Manager, where he worked till retirement. I was fortunate to work under him as an underwriter and it was a pleasure. He was never the man that could sit down idle, so after retirement; he got himself a job at a Polysynthetic Company at Cline Town as the Personnel Manager. He later retired when health could no longer let him continue.


In the early 60's, he was the leading Banjo vocalist in the West African Band together with Eddie Ewea. He also joined the Ticklers Band which gave him the opportunity to tour many parts of Europe and Africa. I knew him as a very talented singer. He never stopped singing when he's home on Saturdays. He sang in Vibralto (musical term for wavy voice). He was one of the finest Tenor singers I have ever heard, and a quick learner too. In my years of singing with him in the church choir, I discovered that he was always willing to volunteer. He did many special solos assigned to him because of the texture of his voice. He did encourage us to sing because as he said, "Music brings peace to the soul", that is more the reason why music runs in the family. Our elder brother Victor (Picket) is a bandsman himself, I manage to play the organ, conduct and sing, though not professionally, our youngest, Danny, once won a singing competition back home, and Benson can sing too, although he was never in the choir. His legacy lives on.


Molaji was strict, honest and friendly. He never holds back on the truth and will tell anyone as he sees things. He was very hilarious and will crack your ribs with laughter whenever he is around. He was a fine Mason in his right, that's why I followed his footsteps and became one myself.  Even when he was ageing, he never sees himself as old as the saying goes, "A man is as old as he feels".


He knew a lot of things; I wish I had asked more questions concerning our family. He will trace the lineage of our family easily and sometimes when he called certain names, I am forced to ask, "Who is that person?” And he will just turn round and say "you need to know more about your family". We missed him for his advices, his jokes, his generosity, his calmness to settle disputes. This does not mean that he never got angry because he sometimes did. He knew how to dress very well. He irons his suits, shirts, neckties, and polished his shoes on Thursdays, ready for church on Sunday. He planned ahead for everything.  On the Saturday before his death, I called him on my way to choir practice to talk to him about my impending Installation as Master and to check on his health as he has not keeping well. All he kept saying was "I am not well, I am tired, I just want to go now, I can't bear the pain anymore". As we were planning a surprise visit to celebrate his 80th birthday in January 2013, I said to him, "no daddy, just hold on there you will be fine", but he kept saying it again, then the phone went dead.  He was hoping to attend the funeral of his friend on Sunday 30th September 2012 but passed away peacefully at Midday.


The death of our father was a big blow to us as a family. If for any reason I knew I was talking to him for the last time, I would have bade him a fitting goodbye. As it happened to me so it also happened to the others, so we felt his death.


"When I die, don't cry, but celebrate. Don't darken my death with black or grey and not even white, wear bright colours to send me home to my maker, and don't mourn beyond seven days". These were his words.


We did keep to them. He is in a better place where sorrow and parting are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.


We love you daddy but JESUS loves you best, and may your soul continue to rest in perfect peace.