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Farewell dear friend and brother, Col Kingsley Mfon Samuel, aka Haba Jama’a

In the tapestry of life, some threads shimmer with an irreplaceable brilliance, and my great friend and brother, the late Colonel Kingsley Mfon Samuel (rtd),…

In the tapestry of life, some threads shimmer with an irreplaceable brilliance, and my great friend and brother, the late Colonel Kingsley Mfon Samuel (rtd), was one such thread, woven with the utmost care and adorned with the virtues of friendliness, kindness, and unwavering loyalty. 

His departure from this world leaves a chasm in the hearts of all who were fortunate to know him – a void that cannot easily be filled. The news of Kingsley’s passing on Monday 1st April 2024, struck me like a thunderbolt, a cruel reminder of life’s fleeting nature. I had wished it was a prank associated with a date of this nature, April’s Fool. But the magnitude and the person that conveyed the message could not joke with such a grievous matter. 

Myself and Kingsley came a long way in life and career. Our journey together began at the Nigerian Defence Academy, where fate intertwined our paths during the Direct Short Service and Direct Regular Commissioning Board Interviews in 1992. From that moment on, our lives became entwined in a bond forged through shared experiences and unwavering camaraderie.

As we traversed the landscape of our military careers over time and subsequent voluntary retirement, Kingsley’s presence illuminated even the darkest of days. His infectious laughter and easy-going nature were a balm to the souls of those around him, radiating warmth and kindness wherever he went. Whether sharing a cup of tea and bread or regaling us with tales of his escapades at the Nigerian Military School, Kingsley’s spirit shone brightly, leaving an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing him. Colonel Kingsley Mfon Samuel was a beacon of humour and camaraderie, illuminating even the most mundane moments with his infectious wit and zest for life.

From the then Nigerian Army School of Education (NASE) in Ilorin, where we attended Basic Arabic and French courses, to the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana, Kingsley never failed to keep our spirits high. It was during our time at NASE that we christened ourselves “Haba Jama’a”, a moniker born from his youthful antics with the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) at the Nigerian Military School (NMS) Zaria, much to the bemusement of all.

Kingsley’s penchant for mischief knew no bounds, as evidenced by the uproar he caused during breakfast one fateful morning. With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he regaled our fellow students at the breakfast table with tales of our visit to the notorious Nima area of Accra, leaving them bewildered and amused in equal measure. And who could forget his passionate plea for larger teacups at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Officers Mess, a demand met with incredulous stares and raised eyebrows among all those present.

Kingsley’s journey as a military officer took him to the far reaches of our nation and beyond, including Sierra Leone, where he selflessly contributed to peacekeeping efforts. Similarly, our adventures together weren’t confined to Nigeria alone, as Kingsley led the charge during our peacekeeping mission to Sierra Leone in 2002, were we served as Military Information Officers for Nigerian Battalions 13 and 14 respectively. His boundless energy and irrepressible spirit uplifted the morale of our comrades-in-arms, turning even the most challenging situations into opportunities for laughter and camaraderie. His immense contributions to the Nigerian Contingents’ Night on Radio UNAMSIL in Freetown will never be forgotten. 

He was so pragmatic and down to earth. His dedication to duty was matched only by his boundless generosity. He was determined to take jobless youths off the streets through Scrabbles – a game he was so passionate about. Kingsley embodied the ethos of service with every fibre of his being, always willing to lend a helping hand or offer sage advice to those in need. His selflessness knew no bounds, and his legacy of compassion will continue to inspire generations to come. 

Indeed, the loss of Kingsley reverberates not only within the confines of our close-knit community of friends and colleagues, but also across the nation and beyond. His departure leaves a void that cannot be measured—a testament to the profound impact he had on the lives of all who had the honour of crossing his path.

In the annals of the Nigerian Army’s storied history, and in particular that of the Directorate of Army Public Relations, Colonel Kingsley Mfon Samuel (rtd) stands as a paragon of dedication, valour, and professionalism. His illustrious military career spanned various formations and units such as Office of the Chief of Army Staff, 7 Division and many other military units and appointments, where his unwavering commitment to duty and exemplary leadership left an indelible mark on all who served alongside him. In every mission and assignment, he exemplified the highest ideals of service, demonstrating courage in the face of adversity and compassion for those in need.

Our bond with Kingsley extended beyond military service, transcending the confines of duty to a friendship that was forged in the crucible of shared experiences. So close were we that my children affectionately dubbed him “Uncle Same Ice Cream,” a testament to the warmth and affection he exuded in our midst.

His contributions to the Nigerian Army’s Directorate of Public Relations and in particular its newsletter, the Soja Magazine, stand as a testament to his meticulous attention to detail and unwavering professionalism. Under the leadership of Major General CO Onwuamaegbu (rtd), then a Colonel, alongside colleagues like my humble self, Colonel AA Yusuf (rtd) and Major Sabiu Abba (rtd), Kingsley played a pivotal role in repositioning the publication, ensuring it served as a beacon of information and inspiration to the officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army and beyond. Our paths last crossed at the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations Annual General Meeting, where Kingsley was rightfully honoured with the prestigious NIPR fellowship – an accolade befitting his exemplary contributions to the field of public relations and beyond.

As we bid farewell to our dear friend and brother, let us take solace in the memories we shared and the lessons he imparted. Though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit will endure, a beacon of light guiding us through the darkness. Rest in peace, dear Kingsley, knowing that your legacy will live on in the hearts of all who were touched by your boundless love and friendship. Until we meet again, may your soul find eternal peace in the embrace of the divine. I also take comfort in the knowledge that his legacy will endure as a shining example of service, integrity, and camaraderie. Though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit will continue to inspire all who strive for excellence and selflessness in service to our great nation. Similarly, the memories of Kingsley’s laughter and antics will continue to bring smiles to our faces for years to come. Farewell, dear friend, and may your laughter echo through the halls of eternity.

Rest in peace, dear Haba Jama’a, knowing that your friendship and legacy will live on in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing you. May you find eternal peace in the embrace of the divine, KM Samuel!

 

Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman (rtd) mni fnipr, is a public relations and security consultant and was Director of Army Public Relations and Spokesman for the Nigerian Army from 2015-2018

 

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