This is not a Bad Boy song of “I will be missing you” to the late Notorious B.I.G after he was allegedly assassinated by a rival rap gang group. This piece is a farewell to an American intern Yu Nakayama who spent about two and a half months with Awoko Newspaper. The description missing Yu is apt considering how he became part of us and almost made us forget that he was only an intern and shall in a not too distant future bid farewell to us.
It was on June 17 in the morning hours when a guy you will confuse to be either a Chinese, Korean or Japanese sat with us in our daily staff meeting. I guessed to myself right for him to be of Japanese parents born there and raised in the states. He was introduced to us by our managing editor, Kelvin Lewis as an intern from the Department of Communication, University of Washington.
Yu was assigned to me to cover Parliament and coincidentally that day, Parliament sat. I was impressed with both his intellectual curiosity and his enquiries about Sierra Leonean life. Yu was interested in parliamentary debates more so fascinated with the undertones coming from the minority Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) MPs.
Calling him Yu was initially confusing to us, so it became interesting to outsiders whenever he introduced himself as Yu Nakayama. I told him he had the most popular name in the country.
Internship is done as part of one’s fulfillment in completing his studies or to gain experience but I can tell you that the presence of Yu was vital to us as we shared valued skills and knowledge together. He was quick to adapt to our system at Awoko, provocation and our associations with the food we eat.
Yu has a special touch and affection for certain things and will always ask you questions in a rhetorical manner when it came to questions about his love style back in the states. We once asked him about that after he took a month that whether he had done it. He asked did what? We said whether he had had his first shot in Salone. First shot? But what did you mean he again asked. Then we demonstrated what we meant. Yu will hesitantly laugh swinging his hands like get rid of that. He told us he did not want to become a heart breaker in Sierra Leone because he hadn’t enough time in Salone and even if he had, he said he was not going to do it as he was faithful to his fiancé back home.
Yu traveled to Pujehun with Solomom Rogers to cover the health and other developmental stories in that district. Pujehun became part of him when he returned and he thought of them after he went back to the States to attend a friend’s wedding where he explained to some of his medical student friends about the plight of the Pujehun hospital. When he returned he donated a modest gift from his friends to the People of Pujehun. Yu’s affection for people was clearly demonstrated with his modest donation to the People of Pujehun.
Yu is also a socialite as me and Ophaniel Gooding exposed him to Paddys and Old Skool and when a mobile company Zain had their re-branding concert at the National Stadium, Yu became a new fan of Star Zero and we will always tease him of the coming of Star Zero to the office.
His column “in the eyes of Yu” is definitely going to be missed by our readers as our Deputy editor, Samuel John will badly miss him when adverts come in hard copies and Yu is not there to help him out with his electronic typing. Bernard Turay, our sport reporter will definitely miss him a lot so also shall he miss Bernard for his monkey style of laughing.
Perhaps what is most interesting in the eyes of Yu was how our news editor of the month, Saidu Bah presides and delegates responsibilities to us. Yu is fond of Saidu’s statement every working morning by calling the meeting to order by saying- good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome yet to another meeting. What will make him almost laugh his guts out is when the meeting is interrupted and Saidu is cautioning the disrupter – Please I am in charge of this meeting.
Also when Saidu Bah will bluff that during his reign, Awoko commissioned a four colored speed master machine and also during his reign there was 24hours uninterrupted internet service, under his reign our Deputy news editor went to the Beijing Olympics. Those were the most laughing moments of Yu as he will lazily call Saidu ‘Barrrr’.
Yu and John Baimba were always at it when it came to communication. Baimba always spoke Krio to him and Yu will say Baimba should I speak Japanese to you will you comprehend it? Baimba will answer if I was there I shall and Yu will remark “but I have not taken that time that will enable me speak Krio.” But Baimba actually caused Yu to meet me for some Krio lessons.
Also was between Yu and Solomon when it was typing time. Solomon will do his piece on a piece of paper and beg Yu to type it for him. Yu will definitely tell him that he’d be good at typing had he typed but Solomon should not make him his secretary or typist.
Pals or friends always at logger heads was between Yu and Ophaniel Gooding on American hip hop, basket ball, base ball and social commentaries. They will agree and disagree with each other. But Ophie had his largest dunk on Yu when he took him to have a hair cut. Yu’s head was a ‘tolon pepper’ and ophie was like the happiest when all expressed concern about his head.
The Awoko family will definitely miss Yu Nakayama and not only our readers for his colorful and creative column and if I was to grade him, I will give him an ‘A’. But we have told him that the next intern should be a female.
We miss you Yu and tell Mike Carter, the former intern from the same University that he is always remembered. Good flight back.
By Ishmael Bayoh