In January 2008, our personality grabbed all serious newspaper and radio headlines in Sierra Leone when she became the third woman in Africa to ever be appointed to act as her country’s Chief Justice. Again in December 2008 when she finally was unanimously approved by the House of Parliament to be Sierra Leone’s very first ever Female Chief Justice, she was hailed throughout Sierra Leone and internationally.
|Her Lady the Honourable Chief Justice of Sierra Leone
Our Personality, the Honourable Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Her Lady Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh was born in Sierra Leone to two illustrious Fula citizens who were household names themselves in their own right. Chief Justice Tejan Jalloh attained her secondary schooling at the Harford Secondary School for Girls in Moyamba and the St. Edwards Secondary School in King Tom, Freetown before she travelled to study at the United States of America’s prestigious Columbia University and later at the School of Advanced Legal Education, University of London. In November 1974, she was called to the Bar and became a member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn.
Upon getting her qualifications as a Barrister, she returned home in 1975 and entered the Government service as an ordinary State Counsel from whence she became Senior State Counsel and then Principal State Counsel before being appointed as a High Court Judge in 1995. She was a dedicated High Court Judge who quickly attained a reputation for applying the law judiciously without fear or favour. During her time as a High Court Judge, she was assigned to the Provinces to provide much needed judicial services to parts of Sierra Leone that were then caught up in the civil crisis. She experienced harrowing travels through risky Highways under threats of rebel ambushes to ensure she held Court in places up North but she never abandoned her assigned postings; always serving her people.
As a High Court Judge, she further developed her academic credentials and in the Year 2000, she became a Fellow of the Commonwealth Judicial Institute in Halifax, Canada.
In 2004, after almost thirty years of meritorious service to Sierra Leone including nine years as a High Court Judge, she was duly promoted to become an Appeals Court Judge. She excelled in the Appeals Court thus in January 2007, she became one of the very few women in Africa to ever become approved by their Parliament to be a Justice of their highest Court; Her Lady, Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh became Supreme Court Judge.
Interestingly, Fate had already decreed that even higher heights had been destined for this great woman. So it was that, in January 2008, she was appointed to act as Chief Justice. Justice Tejan Jalloh comported herself and the Office of Chief Justice so well during the tenure she was acting, that she won even more admirers both in and out of judicial circles. When on December 10th 2008, she faced Parliament, she was not only unanimously approved but all the aisles of Parliament took turns at pouring glowing accolades on her. However, it is not only the Parliamentarians. Sierra Leoneans, from all works of life hold similar views and approval of the newly sworn in Honourable Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh.
Indeed, during her brief tenure, there has been an increasing confidence in the independence of the Judiciary so much so that the Bar Association, well noted for being one of the foremost critics of problems in the Judiciary, recently dedicated their Annual 2008 Dinner & Dance to be in honour of the laudable achievements of Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh.
Her Lady the Honourable Chief Justice Tejan-Jalloh is well travelled around the world and already holds numerous meritorious awards both locally and internationally. She has been appointed to share citizenship with former President Bill Clinton of the USA when, a few years ago, she was made Honorary Citizen of his home city; Little Rock. Following this, she was appointed to be a Goodwill Ambassador of the American State of Arkansas.
Here in Sierra Leone, she has received numerous National Honours including one of the highest in the land; Grand Commander of the Order of the Rokel (GCOOR).
Hon. Chief Justice Tejan-Jalloh is a unique woman; a great African woman of substance and a pride to Sierra Leone. Hon. Justice Tejan Jalloh is a gem who encapsulates everything that AWOL admires and stands to give awards for. It is rare to meet a professional who climbs from the lowest rungs of their profession to the pinnacle without collecting at least one or two reprimands along the way. However, AWOL’s diligent research clearly indicates that our winner for tonight in the Category of Judicial & Legal Personality; Sierra Leone’s First Female Chief Justice, the Honourable Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh, has served this country devotedly for the past 33 years without picking up a single reprimand from her superiors for any unprofessional act. For all of the above and for being a role model to us all; especially for our women, she has been nominated and overwhelmingly approved to be AWOL’S PERSONALITY FOR THE YEAR 2008 IN THE JUSTICE & LEGAL SECTOR.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.