Remembering Mimmy Kallon

Good Afternoon CeOSA family,

It is with great sadness that I report the death of one of our great teachers Madam Mimmy Kallon. For those of us who were at Centennial in the 70’s, we considered her one of the best in her field. She was our Home Economics teacher. When she left the students, and the school suffered a great loss.

For me I found her humility worth emulating. I learned so many skills from her that have proven invaluable to me in my professional life today.

She passed away in Maryland. Funeral arrangements are under way and we will post updates on this forum.

I also want to let everyone know that she was an aunt to our sister Hannah Rogers-Kaisamba. Hannah actually lived with Miss Kallon at her staff residence on campus whilst attending Centennial.

Please let us keep the family in our prayers

Sincerely,
Comfort Macauley-Kabay (1358)
Secretary-General CeOSA North America

REMEMBERING MISS KALLON 

Calm on the bosom of thy God,

Calm on the bosom of thy God

Young spirit! Rest thee now,

Even while with us thy footsteps trod.

His seal was on thy brow.

Dust, to its narrow house beneath

Soul, to its place on high!

They that have seen thy look in death

No more may fear to die.

Lone are the paths, and sad the bowers,

Whence thy meek smile is gone;

But O, a brighter home than ours

In heaven is now thy own.  

A POEM BY FELICIA HEMANS

To the blessed memory of our dear Teacher, Sister, Mother and friend I dedicate the above poem by Felicia Hemans

In times of mourning, it is appropriate to drown our sorrows with a hefty dose of happy memories to assuage the deep feeling of loss that death imposes on us. Speaking strictly from my perspective, Miss Kallon entered Centennial in the 1968/69 academic year, which I believe, was the greatest year in the chronology of Centennial’s achievement in the academic sphere. She succeeded the wife of the former Vice Principal Mrs. Becker, as the Home Economics teacher.

Her advent at Centennial coincided with that of Mr. Lavalie as the Principal of Centennial. At this point, it is appropriate for me to quote the following line from Jane Austen’s Novel Pride and Prejudice, which was one of GCE  literature textbooks in for two consecutive years commencing 1972.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in need of a wife.” Jane Austen went on to say that the members of that community in which such a single man resides, will always assume that as an eligible bachelor he is most certainly destined to marry one of the single girls’s in that community. Jane Austen

This statement was apt and precise in the case of Miss Kallon and Mr. Lavalie. As is customary in any African society facts are irrelevant in matters such as these. Tongues started wagging, and in no time at all without their knowledge, the entire Centennial population and beyond had paired up Miss Kallon and Mr. Lavalie. With not so much as “by your leave Sir,” Mr. Lavalie was said to be going out with Miss Kallon. The fact that no one ever saw them together outside the officially designated areas was irrelevant to the rumor machine. They both had apartments on the opposite sides of the campus. Mr. Lavalie’s quarters were close to the girls’ area while Miss Kallon lived close to the boys’ area. As far as I know, Mr. Lavalie never visited her apartment neither did she visit his. However, they were always seen chatting in the breezeway that is the area between the staffroom and Mr. Ekpo’s office. To most people that were sufficient evidence that they were lovers. An Old Yoruba proverb says that “the frog is not a drummer but its sitting position makes it look like one. There was no evidence of any amorous relationship, but for most people evidence is irrelevant in matters such as these. Their minds were made up that there was a romantic liaison and that was that.

The following academic year (1969/70) Miss Millicent Gbonda who later became Mrs. Lavalie made her dramatic entrance at Centennial. Her arrival put paid to the above rumors within a matter of months. Well, that is another story.

Miss Kallon was a beautiful and friendly woman, who was down to earth and very approachable. Most of the lads used to hang around in front of America dormitory just to have a chat with Miss Kallon. You couldn’t help but notice her beautiful smile, and soft voice. Twin assets that gladden the heart of any man. So on most afternoons after school you were likely to see guys like Osman Kabba,  Moses Kainwo, Abdullai Fofana, Bockarie Conteh, Emmanuel Young, Mohamed Kemokai, Keselibah Demenwu and much more whose names have escaped me, strolling around that area waiting for Miss Kallon to pass by. As I said she always stopped by, said hello and had a few minutes chat with the lads before heading off to her apartment.

She always used the path close to America and Banta dormitories to and from her apartment. In her company were her little daughter Mimi Kallon and her niece Hannah Rogers. Mind you, in those days; it was forbidden for girls to come anywhere near the boys’ dormitories and vice versa. However, this rule did not apply to the teachers. So under the protection of Miss Kallon Hannah Rogers had earned the reputation of being the only girl in those days who traversed through the boys’ area with impunity. Sometimes even when she was not in the company of Miss Kallon, she will still walk close to the boy’s dormitories. At one point some senior boys tried to stop her, but she just sucked her teeth walked right past her official assailants without saying a word.

My fondest memory of Miss Kallon pertained to the Independent celebrations of April 1969 when I was in Form 2 together with guys like Ronald Macauley “Quashie” Alvin Davies, JC Kekura, Alfred Syl-Turay, Solomon Tucker, the late Solomon Conteh, the late Jearl Walters, Robert Abdullai,  Moses Keifa. The school had organized a variety show in which anyone who had the guts could get on stage and put an impromptu act. Midway through the ceremony, the stage opened, and there was Miss Kallon in all her feminine glory. This was a heart-stopping moment for most of the lads present because she was wearing a leotard which had the same Colour as her skin tone. For one heart-stopping moment, I thought she did not have any clothes. We were all young boys with our hormones raging, and this was a fantastic treat for the eyes. She did a ballet dance that lasted for five minutes, but it is forever ingrained on some of our minds.

In our most recent meeting on 11/06/2017 here in the UK, some of her past pupils spoke fondly of her. As part of the home economics curriculum, Miss Kallon imparted her culinary skills to her students in the Home Economics Laboratory. For those of you who don’t remember where the Home Economics Lab was just imagined hat you are standing facing the Principal’s office. It is located in the building immediately on the left-hand side.

It was a sad event for me when I entered the Home Economics Lab. during my last visit to Centennial in May 2016. The room was as bare as a football field. There was not even a single item of furniture. In this connection, I must appeal to all concerned to support your regional branch of CEOSA so that we can endeavor to restore this great institution to its former glory.

May her soul rest in perfect peace.

By Emmanuel Young, Chairman, CeOSA-UK/Ireland

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