ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Desmond Luke. We will remember him forever.
Posted by Ronke Luke on April 10, 2021
This tribute posted on behalf of Olu Luke
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Tribute to Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke
From his nephew
Oluremi Fashole-Luke


I owe Uncle Desmond a great deal for creating the opportunity for my parents to meet.

My parents first met in 1961, at the wedding of Uncle Desmond and Aunty Florence at St. Georges Chapel, Westminster. So without much ado, my siblings and I owe our existence to that special occasion, so let me say a big thank you to you.

For us, our fondest memories are perhaps from childhood. Uncle Des was unlike any of our other uncles, and indeed there was a unique sense of mystery and intrigue when he was around. Of course, this was probably because he was traveling so much, first as Ambassador to former West Germany and later as foreign minister. He would literally appear for one or two days, or a week if we were lucky, and then disappear for a period of time. This of course meant that when he was around, there was a sense of excitement. He was a great giver of gifts, and took us out to interesting places; the Atlantic at Lumley Beach (in its heyday), being one of such places. Ice cream and soft drinks served to our hearts content. There were no limits with him. In fact, compared to our father, who always seemed to have his feet well planted on the ground, he was certainly more indulgent.

In 1973, Uncle Desmond ran for and won the seat for Wilberforce, West 3. As a 9yr. old I wasn’t too aware of the politics of the day; however, I remember that he always emphasized that he was an independent candidate. For the kids in the family, the campaign was like Christmas every day for months. There was plenty of food and drink available, as visitors to the house at 85 had to be fed and watered. I remember family members rallying to his aid; the vibrant campaign rallies, the songs, dancing supporters; this meant that the atmosphere was charged with excitement.                   

In my mind the ’73 campaign was more fun than the later one in ’77.

Uncle Des was the reason I got to visit State House for the first time, when the family paid a courtesy call on President Siaka Stevens after his successful election campaign. One of the more intriguing aspects of being the Minister of Foreign Affairs , was that he got to use the Presidential helicopter on a number of occasions to catch his flights at Lungi Airport, and it was not unusual if he was running late that he demand that they hold the flight; something unheard of at the time.

As teenagers we spent a lot of time at The Freetown Aqua Sports Club, Aqua for short. Uncle Des was a charter member of the club. He was a keen boats man then, and kept a speed boat at the club. Once in a while, he would take us for a trip to his beach house at Godrich. On these rare occasions, he would pack a luncheon hamper prepared by the Armenian Restaurant and we would spend the day out there, returning in the evening.

I don’t ever recall him scolding us, and in many ways it was an ideal relationship.

In the 1980’s we had a diminished contacts as I went to Nigeria to finish my secondary schooling, and later I moved to the US for higher education.

During the war years I wasn’t surprised about his principled stand against military rule or the chaos and anarchy represented by the RUF, and he paid a high personal price for his opposition. However among the many stories of that time; I like the one of him celebrating his narrow escape from Freetown by sharing a bottle of red wine with the captain of the fishing trawler. I met him on a few occasions when he came to the US, either in Washington DC or in NY where I lived and he would give me an update on his efforts to get the western alliance and the UN to back the Tejan Kabba government.

As adults we developed a different relationship to that experienced as children. This of course was inevitable, for as grownups we took measure of each other. He was interested in our lives and what we were doing; and curiously if things appeared to be going really well, you could be subject to what I call the LUKE SWITCH UP. This was when he would invite you to dinner at a fancy restaurant or his club, The Royal Overseas League; wine and dine you and then have the waiter present you with the bill. Talk about a baptism of fire; let’s just say thank God for credit cards.

In many ways he remained an enigma, hard to pigeon hole, or place in a box; and difficult to truly understand. Over the last ten to fifteen years he became quite religious. I accompanied him on a few occasions to his weekly bible study group. We had discussions about the power of prayer, its ability to heal and to ward off evil. He was delighted to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the first time he returned to the state of Israel since the late sixties. At this point he had no interest in material things and lived simply.

We are grateful to his wife Monica, who has been at his side throughout the years, and was present at the time of his demise. We remain grateful for all you were able to do for him.

Uncle Des celebrated life lived to the fullest. He stood on principal, took on the country’s most serious challenge and helped to deliver democracy and civilian rule.

The sweep of his life was truly amazing.

God bless and Rest in Peace.




Posted by Ronke Luke on March 28, 2021
The tribute posted on behalf of an Anonymous mourner

Chief Justice Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke was a phenomenal person and one of the world's legal mavericks! Sierra Leone was lucky and privileged to call him her son. He is a bonafide National Hero who left his footsteps across the national landscape.

Though gone he will never be forgotten, his inimitable legacy is branded in the collective national consciousness.

May God Almighty grant him eternal rest and perpetual peace.

Anonymous
Posted by Ronke Luke on March 28, 2021
Uncle Desmond always evoked mystery and wonder for me. Maybe it’s because these were my first childhood impressions of him. He was unlike any other uncle I had.

As a child, it seemed that he would appear and disappear unannounced. We would wake up some mornings and he was there. He’d spent the night in the guest room. When did he arrive? And there was no guarantee he’d be there that evening. Where did he go? What did he do?

At some point, I learned that he was Ambassador. Well that was glamorous. And he looked fine in the photos I saw. Like James Bond. Elegant. Good looking.

When he came home from Germany we were swept up in his first campaign for office. That was another wonder. He was magnetic. Wilberforce loved him. The atmosphere was charged excitement. No other uncle took me on a ride like this. The campaign rallies, the songs, the supporters, the dancing, the posters. It was a thrill to victory night!

Between Ambassador, political campaigns and Foreign Minister duties, he found time for lots of fun. He would swing by the house in 3901 (we referred to his car, a blue Mercedes, by the license plate), swoop up us children and take us to Atlantic on Lumley beach. It was always Atlantic. Ice cream and soft drinks to our hearts content. No limits with Uncle Desmond.

No one threw a beach party like Desmond! I never knew when we were going. But when my father came down the stairs in his yellow pants, sporting wrap around gold rim glasses looking like a GQ man, I knew we were headed to the beach. Destination? Uncle Desmond’s beach house at Goderich?! Ooooo! What a party. Hours of fun in the sun. While most of us drove to Goderich, sometimes Desmond came by speed boat. Because that’s how he rolled.

He threw all sorts of parties. We watched Rumble in the Jungle – the heavyweight bout between Muhammad Ali and George Forman in Kinshasa, Zaire at Uncle Desmond’s house. It wasn’t live, but the next best thing. Somehow, he had a film reel of the fight flown to Freetown within days of the event and threw a viewing party for family and friends. No other uncle did that!

But he was also serious man. I’ve never seen him look as solemn as he did over his decision to resign as Foreign Minister. The newspapers blared Desmond Luke Resigns. A class mate told me my uncle was in trouble now! I was indignant. Not my Uncle Desmond.

In the war years, I had deeper experience with the serious side of him. I heard of his activity as I sought information about the state of affairs at home. I would track him down. I never knew when the call would come. Day or night. “Ronke! Uncle Desmond.” “Uncle Desmond! Where are you?” I appreciated those conversations. Speaking to him allayed my worries for a moment. Seeing him during those years, were treasured moments. The conversations were deep. What the stakes were. What he hoped for. What the risks were. “Are you afraid?” I asked him. “No.” “Isn’t it risky?” “Yes. It is.” And he would explain why somebody needed to take a stand. I was immensely proud of him. My childhood wonder remained.

Uncle Desmond celebrated life. Lived it to its fullest. Stood on principle. Took on Sierra Leone’s serious challenges. And delivered the country back to her people. The sweep of his life was amazing. He took us on a remarkable, sometimes exhilarating, ride. Then he left us as he lived. With a bang! This time he left forever. I’ll miss you Uncle Dez.

Rest well. Your race is done,

Love

Ronke

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A childhood friend, Edmund Williams, said my tribute reminded him of the words of the Lebanese poet and mystic Khalil Gibran. So I finish with this quote:

“The Master has left this world of matter, attired in the garments of glory, and has gone to another world free of hardships and afflictions. He is now where our eyes cannot see him and our ears cannot hear him. He dwells in the world of the spirit, whose inhabitants sorely need him. He is now gathering knowledge in a new cosmos, whose history and beauty have always fascinated him and whose speech he has always striven to learn. His life on this earth was one long chain of great deeds. It was a life of constant thought; for the Master knew no rest except in work. He loved work, which he defined as visible love.”
Posted by Violetta Luke-Decker on March 28, 2021
Desmond was a very dear cousin i had tremendous admiration for. His undeniable astuteness and stately personality made for that rich combination which could only be described as CLASS. Refined in every aspect of the word in speech and mannerism, listening to him reminded me each time of his dad, our late uncle Emile who together with aunty Sarah and his siblings he has reunited. Desmond was a rare gem. May he rest in perfect peace with the Lord. Sleep on Desmond and take your rest.
Posted by Ronke Luke on March 27, 2021
This tribute is posted on behalf of Edward Fashole-Luke


Tribute To The Honourable Justice Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke
B.A. (Hons) OXON, B.A. Hons (CANTAB), M.A. (OXON), M.A. (CANTAB)
Barrister-at-Law, Lincoln’s Inn
By His nephew Edward W. Fashole-Luke II


Full of urbane authority with a certain presence that signifies the hallmarks of a very distinguished personality. This description very aptly describes my dear departed Uncle Desmond. Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke was born in Rawdon Street, Freetown on the 6th October 1935. He was my favourite Uncle. I hero worshipped him. He was an exceptionally handsome man who oozed loads of class and style, but more of that later. He had tremendous panache, was gifted with elan, integrity and remains one of the few patriots who stood up to Siaka Stevens.

He attended the Prince of Wales school in Freetown and then proceeded to the famous English Public School of King’s College Taunton. It was there, that he was to develop and nurture his extraordinary ability as a sports man. Uncle Desmond made history by becoming the first school boy to ever jump six feet in England in the High Jump. That extraordinary feat, made him an instant celebrity in England. His name was plastered in the Times of London and several other newspapers in England. He went on to win several prizes in the long jump, athletics, hockey, rugby, cricket and several sporting events.
In 1954, he left King’s College for Keble College, Oxford University where he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

While at Oxford, Uncle Desmond excelled in his studies and as a brilliant sportsman. He won several trophies and awards at Oxford and was extremely famous. He was an Oxford blue at many sporting events. After graduating with a B.A. Hons PPE from Keble College Oxford, he stayed on for a year to read Medieval History and then went on to Magdalene College, Cambridge where he studied Law. He graduated from Cambridge University with honours in law in 1961 and then went on to the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn where he was called to the degree of an utter Barrister-at-Law in 1962. He was also a Cambridge blue.

Thereafter, he read in the Chambers of the famous Sir Dingle Foot Q.C. at 2 Paper Buildings in Temple in London. He came back to Freetown after pupillage and established a very flourishing and successful practice as a Barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone. I gather that his speciality was setting aside judgments on appeal. Uncle Desmond never lost an appeal. He also had the largest law library in Sierra Leone.

In 1969, at the very young age of 33, he was appointed as Sierra Leone’s ambassador to West Germany and later as ambassador to France.
In 1973, his term as ambassador came to an end and he came back to Freetown. He then ran for the seat at Freetown West 3 and won the election. He was then appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was at that time that I met him at his father Sir Emile Fashole-Luke home in Wilberforce.

As a boy aged 13, I was immediately struck by his mellifluous Oxbridge accent and the way he carried himself. I remember I was outside playing football with my cousins Olu and Gelaga when he drove in with his silver E type 4.2 litre Jaguar. He had on a blue pin stripe Savile Row suit and Hilditch & Key Jermyn Street shirt.

It was Uncle Desmond that gave me my first pair of clock cuff links at age 16 and then on my 21st birthday. He was a unique and one-of-a-kind person. I learned a great deal from him, for which I will be forever grateful. When I was a student at Fourah Bay College, I enjoyed driving his E Type Jaguar and his one in town Alfa Romeo car which I enjoyed showing off in.

He introduced me to the finest champagnes and wines and taught me that to be a brilliant lawyer, you must prepare, prepare, and prepare. It was he who told me that it is vitally important that you get the judge and court to listen to you. He took me to the brilliant tailors in Savile Row and introduced me to his shirt makers at Hilditch & Key and Harvie & Hudson on Jermyn Street instilling in me the need to look like a million pounds at all times. He was a brilliant networker and I was always in awe of his immense network of contacts.
I recall Uncle Desmond introducing me to the famous grocery store, Fortnum and Mason and how they would deliver his groceries to his suite at the Waldorf Hotel in London by horse and carriage. He was also a lavish entertainer, throwing fantastic parties at his suite at the Waldorf Hotel. The Who’s Who of British aristocracy came to see him at his suite, and I would sit and listen. He would send me to Trail Finders in Earl’s Court to pick up his first-class tickets and Concorde tickets to New York. Uncle Desmond only flew First Class.

Uncle Desmond was exceptionally handsome man and I met several of his lady friends in London, including the very beautiful Mary Wilson, former lead singer of the Supremes, God rest her soul. Uncle Desmond had character and a great sense of integrity—lessons he passed on to me. I was very close to Uncle Desmond; he was like a father to me. I vividly recall his 50th birthday party held at his suite at the Waldorf Hotel in London. He came up to me at one stage and said, “Professor Eddie Fash, you are not doing justice to my champagne.” Meaning that I had to drink more of the fabulously delectable bottles of Fortnum and Mason Champagne that were chilling on ice in his bathtub. He was an extravagant man and enjoyed the most opulent things in life.

In March 1998, he came to visit me in Botswana. He had just been appointed Chief Justice of Sierra Leone and it was such a joy to introduce my very famous Uncle to the then President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire. I was honoured to have him spend my birthday at my home where we took luncheon and then dinner at the finest restaurant in Gaborone.

Uncle Desmond taught me to enjoy and appreciate the finest things in life. It was he that got me to join the finest gentlemen’s clubs. We also had a great reunion in Botswana with his good friend Steven Horton, who had been a Minister in the Liberian government at the same time as Uncle Desmond was Minister of Foreign Affairs. Steve had cooked up a marvellous feast and was a gourmet chef; Uncle Desmond being a great lover for fine food, naturally did justice to his food. It was wonderful listening to them reminisce about their days as ministers in their respective governments. 

In 2013, my cousin Ronke called me to advise that Uncle Desmond was in Washington while I was at a conference at the resplendent offices of Baker & McKenzie. I then called Uncle Desmond and told him that I was delighted to hear he was in Washington D.C. and that I was going to leave my conference to come over to see him forthwith. I then left my conference, and drove over to see uncle Desmond at his hotel in Maryland. I spent the whole afternoon with him and in the evening I suggested that we go to my club in Washington D.C. Ronke came and picked us up and we had a gourmet dinner with exquisite wines from South Africa. We had a terrific evening. After the restaurant closed, we moved to the Taft room where I brought down several wines from my room. We were later joined by my cousin Emile and his girlfriend Tijana, and we had a rollicking time together until way after 3 am. It’s an evening I will never forget. Uncle Desmond was really great fun. He was an amazing story teller. We also enjoyed smoking some very fine cigars together.
I am grateful I spoke to Uncle Desmond on the night before he died when he called me. He lived an extraordinary life. He lived life to the fullest. He was one of a kind. He was extraordinarily successful. His greatest attribute, I believe, was his great faith in God. Whenever I called him, he always said, “I am fine, thanks to the good Lord and how about you” in his elegant Oxbridge accent.
I will miss you immeasurably. You made a very considerable impact on my life. 

Finally, let me end with a story. In April 2013, I met Lord Judge, the then Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales at the Commonwealth Law Conference in Cape Town. After we exchanged business cards, he looked at my card and said that he had studied law at Cambridge University with Desmond Fashole-Luke. I then said that’s my favourite uncle. He then said, that cannot be, since you are from Botswana and he from Sierra Leone. I then told him that I was originally from Sierra Leone. He then turned to Lord Dyson, the then Master of the Rolls of England and Wales and said that Edward’s uncle Desmond was a very very naughty man when we were at Cambridge University together.
I just received the following email from the Right Honourable Lord Judge, former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales which says inter alia the following and I quote: “Dear Edward, I am very sorry to learn of Desmond’s death, and very grateful to you for letting me know. I remember him well; a good friend who seemed to me to live life to the full. He will be missed.” This very aptly summarizes Uncle Desmond’s extraordinary life very well-lived.

Requiescat in pace, Uncle Desmond.
Posted by Chidi King on March 27, 2021
The loss of our beloved Uncle Desmond is not only a keenly felt loss for us - his nephew and nieces - but a loss for our beloved nation. Others will speak eloquently of Uncle Desmond’s unparalleled contribution to Sierra Leone.

For us, our fondest memories are perhaps from childhood. Uncle Desmond means laughter. He was infected with the family charm. Visiting Uncle Desmond on weekends as children, we would be treated to a full English breakfast, served up with stories that would make us squeal with laughter, all told in a lazy drawl, with a twinkle in his eye and a deep chuckle.

His illustrious career took him all over the world. We were always excited when Uncle Desmond came to visit. It meant treats, visits to glamorous restaurants – or indeed room service in a hotel room, where we were always encouraged to order what we wanted. Spaghetti Bolognese always featured somewhere. We had the good fortune to visit him in Bonn, when he was serving as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Germany. It was the year of the 1972 Olympic Games. An accomplished sportsman himself, Uncle Desmond was fascinated, giving us his own assessments of the athletes: who was likely to take Gold, Silver or Bronze. He was rarely wrong. And, no doubt, he could easily have been one of those standing on the podium, had he chosen to go that route.

He was fond of taking us shopping. There are memories of afternoons spent in PZ, where Uncle Desmond and “the boys” would visit the barbers. The girls got to go and find the latest toys and comics. His fondness of, patience and tolerance with children were probably a reflection of his own playfulness. Our fondest memories of Uncle Desmond are just that - of our Uncle.


Uncle Desmond has now gone to join his brother Egerton, sister Palmyra, Grandpa Emile and Grandma Sarah. We miss them all. Our love for them is deep and abiding. Uncle Desmond’s sudden passing means we no longer get the chance to sit with him, to listen to his musings, to hear his history. He has written his story. And what a story it is.

Rest in peace Uncle Desmond. You are missed.
Gelaga, Chidi and Sarah
Posted by Alex Taylor-Lewis on March 26, 2021
Creoles AND ALL of the descendants of Liberated Slaves who had been resettled in Sierra Leone, seem destined to continue to be denied a normal life. Desmond had been one of those (the Modernists) who truly lived ahead of their time, in not only wishing or merely desiring, but determined to work-for and achieve a NATION which was to be moulded out-of the groups of peoples who inhabit the geographical and topographically defined, Sierra Leone and so, join the several other Groups of peoples, as observed in other Nations of the World. He had dared and undertook to go into the Political Arena to mobilise his compatriots to achieve this objective and task, when He had created and launched the NUM -  National Unity Movement, which it was hoped then, among some Modernists, would grow to become a NUP - National Unity Party .                                               
I wish that despair does not continue to be considered as a way of life/living, by the inhabitants of THAT area of land.                               
My sincere and heartfelt sympathy for the demise of the Late Chief Justice Desmond Luke ( "Desi" ) and I send the same condolences to the Fashole-Luke and Luke Families everywhere.                         
May His Soul be granted Eternal Bliss by GOD ALMIGHTY !!!
Posted by Kathryn Leighton-Johnson on March 25, 2021
In memory of Uncle Desmond Fashole Luke who sadly passed away I have very happy and fond memories of you. I'm very grateful to have you be a part of my life you were always warm, smiling, full of laughter, very generous, welcoming and kind to me. Thank you for your gifts, treats, and quality time. You surely lived your life fully.
I recollect Uncle Desmond coming to visit granny at Congo Cross. We would pay visits to your lovely home at Hill Station appeared large in my child like eyes. I think I may have been 5/6 years when I stayed at your home for a period with lovely late Aunty Florence, Rugi and five dogs mainly alsatians. I feared those dogs who often chased me, guess their chasing made run faster. LOL. Rugi and Aunty Florence often came to my rescue. I loved visiting you, Aunty Flo and Rugi as it was filled with fun, excitement, playing with Rugi and her countless contemporary toys. I loved the bar, Rugi's own bathroom and play room. After seeing to our needs Aunty Florence would immerse herself with reading books, newspapers, large puzzles must have been 500 pieces or more and a cig. You doted on Rugi you gave her whatever she wanted cause you always said yes even when her mum said no.
In my teens living with granny at Crescent Road, Wimbledon, late Aunty Florence and Rugi came to stay
at ours, Rugi was being sent to boarding school in Oxted, Surrey. I was very excited in seeing Rugi coming from Ghana with her mum. Granny was very fond of Uncle Desmond I guess she was like their mum as they had lost their mum earlier than expected. He was always very generous I recall so many treats by Uncle Desmond to Hamleys Toy store or Harrods. Granny would insist we get ready as Uncle Desmond had arranged for us to go out often on Saturdays and on odd evenings. There were some Saturdays I would rather hang with my friends at the park but my gran was adamant I go.
You arranged for the chauffeur to come and pick us children (Rugi, Lesley, David, Sarah, Chidi and/or granny to be taken to see a number of plays at the West End such as Macbeth, Evita, Annie, Taming of the Shrew, pantomimes etc. I appreciated going to the theatre and still do.

You also treated us to fine dinning at the various hotels he stayed at The Waldorf, The Savoy, Capitol Hotel and restaurants. As an adult I really appreciate my granny's insistence to have these experiences at a young age.

Uncle Desmond was always impeccably styled with quality including his shoes not to name drop. I liked your voice, stature, very alpha-male, shoes and laughter. Yes let's not go without saying he was also good-looking a couple of my teenie friends did comment to me.

In October 2018 we went to lay our mum to rest in Sierra Leone, Kwame took David and I to visit him as we had been 'summoned' LOL. It was great spending that time and chatting with you although you were now mature you still had stature and was healthy. He was generous as per usual. I am pleased I/we saw him.

May you continue your life in heaven with the rest of our family members and close friends. May you R.I.E.P, Amen.
Posted by Dinnie Fashole-Luke on March 13, 2021
A Tribute to Desmond Edgar Fashole Luke   
                   
Sunday 5th February 1967 was a perfect day for a family picnic. Various branches of the Luke family met up at Goderich Beach. Once settled, Uncle Desmond took a few of us in turn for an exhilarating spin in his speed boat – evoking much laughter.  A group of us kiddies then decided to launch out in a paddleboat.  A little way out from the shore someone capsized the boat. The others swam to the shore. I was a newcomer; they did not know that I could not swim.  Although some distance away, when the alarm was raised, Uncle Desmond raced to the bobbing boat. He managed to locate me some few meters down and drowning. I recall coughing violently, spluttering out water repeatedly and shivering as anxious faces peered down at me. After some time working on clearing my lungs, Uncle Desmond wrapped a towel round my shoulders and pronounced that I was going to be OK - to everyone’s relief. Thereafter he was my hero. 

A few decades later I came across an article written about Uncle Desmond in his school magazine, when he was in his final year at King's College in Taunton, Somerset. The author praised his academic achievements, extolled his sporting prowess, and gushed about how proud the school was of him as he prepared to take up a place at Oxford University. Then I read the words that took my breath away: ‘he took lessons in lifesaving’.  I pondered that even in his youth he had the desire to serve others and I had been one of the beneficiaries of his early altruism. Not to mention the warm hospitality when I tagged along on family visits to his beautiful home, or the mirth at Sunday lunch when he visited, or his generosity when he accepted the request to be one of the traditional ‘godparents’ at my wedding.

Clearly, Uncle Desmond liked a challenge and his life had been full of challenges for which he was well equipped and prepared, each of which he bravely rose to whilst seeking to serve his country and other people.  Desmond Fashole Luke was indeed a ‘Big Man’ towering above his peers, both in Sierra Leone and in the diplomatic arena, but for me he was simply my ‘Life Saver’.  Dear friends and family, we say goodbye for now to a courageous, generous, kind gentleman of whom we are all immensely proud. Monica, my heartfelt sympathy goes out to you.

Thank you so very much Uncle Desmond. Your countenance said it all.

                 May your soul rest in perfect peace.


By Dinnie Fashole-Luke
Posted by Elizabeth Fashole-Luke on March 10, 2021
Desmond Edgar Fashole Luke

Ever grateful to you Desmond, as I remember October 1961, St George’s Chapel, Westminster, and the Liberal Club, St James; for I found a tall, handsome, smiling, elegant, charming son of the soil, standing by my side - your brother Egerton! A unique way indeed, to be introduced to my husband- to-be! And as they say, “The rest is history.”

What a privilege to have been part of your wonderfully exhilarating campaigns and journeys; rich experiences, legally, politically and non-politically, as you grew in stature and reputation as a barrister, diplomat and politician; using your skills of diplomacy nationally and international; challenging the status quo; standing firm on principles of fairness and right that you were brought up with; and culminating in your appointment as Chief Justice of Sierra Leone. 

So many memories come flooding back - of you being one of the principals who founded the still flourishing Aqua Club; the Medical Balls and Dinner Club Ladies Nights held during the Christmas season; all the family get-togethers; the various parties and celebrations with music of the day thumping out the beat; those special occasions at 85 surrounded by family, friends, and special guests; groaning tables of food; intense conversations on matters of the day and hearty peals of laughter. Remember the New Year beach parties when all branches of the family, young and old would gather at the Goderich beach house? Directions to Lungi to “Hold the flight!” come to mind, with Grandpa Emile saying “Desmond! Did I hear you correctly?”

Neither can I forget the many joyful occasions you gave your niece and nephews, Olu, Ronke, Kwame and Emile - my goodness Uncle Des was the best - as he would suddenly appear unannounced and bundle all into his car, driving off to somewhere different! What more could a kid wish for!

Thank you for enriching our lives, Des, as only you could do. Wow! What a wonderful helter-skelter ride it has been!

A long life well lived, always unpredictable, so your sudden call to Higher Service should not surprise, nor should we be devastated, for you would wish us to carry on. Your passing is our loss, but it is your time to rest; to relinquish the baton, having given long and faithful public service. It is the Lord’s will to call you home as your work here on earth is done.

Rest Peacefully, Des. You deserve it.
Blessings and love, my brother-in-law, Liz
By Elizabeth Fashole Luke
Posted by Peter Penfold on March 10, 2021
My birthday this year was saddened by the news of the passing of Desmond Luke - one of the finest Sierra Leoneans I ever knew and had the privilege of working with. What a contribution he made to Sierra Leone: from representing his country at athletics, to being one of Africa's youngest Foreign Ministers (a position from which he resigned with great dignity and integrity), to helping to bring peace and the end of the awful 11 year rebel war, and then custodian of the country's judicial system. Has any other Sierra Leonean contributed more?
When serving as British High Commissioner I relied heavily on Desmond's advice, especially in dealing with the rebel leader Sankoh and the RUF. Desmond could always be relied upon to speak his mind clearly and forcibly and I always made a point of contacting him on my frequent visits to Sierra Leone, even up until late last year.
My sincere condolences go to Monica and the family. May his soul rest in peace.
PC Komrabai Peter Penfold (British High Commissioner 1997-2000)

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Ronke Luke on April 10, 2021
This tribute posted on behalf of Olu Luke
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Tribute to Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke
From his nephew
Oluremi Fashole-Luke


I owe Uncle Desmond a great deal for creating the opportunity for my parents to meet.

My parents first met in 1961, at the wedding of Uncle Desmond and Aunty Florence at St. Georges Chapel, Westminster. So without much ado, my siblings and I owe our existence to that special occasion, so let me say a big thank you to you.

For us, our fondest memories are perhaps from childhood. Uncle Des was unlike any of our other uncles, and indeed there was a unique sense of mystery and intrigue when he was around. Of course, this was probably because he was traveling so much, first as Ambassador to former West Germany and later as foreign minister. He would literally appear for one or two days, or a week if we were lucky, and then disappear for a period of time. This of course meant that when he was around, there was a sense of excitement. He was a great giver of gifts, and took us out to interesting places; the Atlantic at Lumley Beach (in its heyday), being one of such places. Ice cream and soft drinks served to our hearts content. There were no limits with him. In fact, compared to our father, who always seemed to have his feet well planted on the ground, he was certainly more indulgent.

In 1973, Uncle Desmond ran for and won the seat for Wilberforce, West 3. As a 9yr. old I wasn’t too aware of the politics of the day; however, I remember that he always emphasized that he was an independent candidate. For the kids in the family, the campaign was like Christmas every day for months. There was plenty of food and drink available, as visitors to the house at 85 had to be fed and watered. I remember family members rallying to his aid; the vibrant campaign rallies, the songs, dancing supporters; this meant that the atmosphere was charged with excitement.                   

In my mind the ’73 campaign was more fun than the later one in ’77.

Uncle Des was the reason I got to visit State House for the first time, when the family paid a courtesy call on President Siaka Stevens after his successful election campaign. One of the more intriguing aspects of being the Minister of Foreign Affairs , was that he got to use the Presidential helicopter on a number of occasions to catch his flights at Lungi Airport, and it was not unusual if he was running late that he demand that they hold the flight; something unheard of at the time.

As teenagers we spent a lot of time at The Freetown Aqua Sports Club, Aqua for short. Uncle Des was a charter member of the club. He was a keen boats man then, and kept a speed boat at the club. Once in a while, he would take us for a trip to his beach house at Godrich. On these rare occasions, he would pack a luncheon hamper prepared by the Armenian Restaurant and we would spend the day out there, returning in the evening.

I don’t ever recall him scolding us, and in many ways it was an ideal relationship.

In the 1980’s we had a diminished contacts as I went to Nigeria to finish my secondary schooling, and later I moved to the US for higher education.

During the war years I wasn’t surprised about his principled stand against military rule or the chaos and anarchy represented by the RUF, and he paid a high personal price for his opposition. However among the many stories of that time; I like the one of him celebrating his narrow escape from Freetown by sharing a bottle of red wine with the captain of the fishing trawler. I met him on a few occasions when he came to the US, either in Washington DC or in NY where I lived and he would give me an update on his efforts to get the western alliance and the UN to back the Tejan Kabba government.

As adults we developed a different relationship to that experienced as children. This of course was inevitable, for as grownups we took measure of each other. He was interested in our lives and what we were doing; and curiously if things appeared to be going really well, you could be subject to what I call the LUKE SWITCH UP. This was when he would invite you to dinner at a fancy restaurant or his club, The Royal Overseas League; wine and dine you and then have the waiter present you with the bill. Talk about a baptism of fire; let’s just say thank God for credit cards.

In many ways he remained an enigma, hard to pigeon hole, or place in a box; and difficult to truly understand. Over the last ten to fifteen years he became quite religious. I accompanied him on a few occasions to his weekly bible study group. We had discussions about the power of prayer, its ability to heal and to ward off evil. He was delighted to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the first time he returned to the state of Israel since the late sixties. At this point he had no interest in material things and lived simply.

We are grateful to his wife Monica, who has been at his side throughout the years, and was present at the time of his demise. We remain grateful for all you were able to do for him.

Uncle Des celebrated life lived to the fullest. He stood on principal, took on the country’s most serious challenge and helped to deliver democracy and civilian rule.

The sweep of his life was truly amazing.

God bless and Rest in Peace.




Posted by Ronke Luke on March 28, 2021
The tribute posted on behalf of an Anonymous mourner

Chief Justice Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke was a phenomenal person and one of the world's legal mavericks! Sierra Leone was lucky and privileged to call him her son. He is a bonafide National Hero who left his footsteps across the national landscape.

Though gone he will never be forgotten, his inimitable legacy is branded in the collective national consciousness.

May God Almighty grant him eternal rest and perpetual peace.

Anonymous
Posted by Ronke Luke on March 28, 2021
Uncle Desmond always evoked mystery and wonder for me. Maybe it’s because these were my first childhood impressions of him. He was unlike any other uncle I had.

As a child, it seemed that he would appear and disappear unannounced. We would wake up some mornings and he was there. He’d spent the night in the guest room. When did he arrive? And there was no guarantee he’d be there that evening. Where did he go? What did he do?

At some point, I learned that he was Ambassador. Well that was glamorous. And he looked fine in the photos I saw. Like James Bond. Elegant. Good looking.

When he came home from Germany we were swept up in his first campaign for office. That was another wonder. He was magnetic. Wilberforce loved him. The atmosphere was charged excitement. No other uncle took me on a ride like this. The campaign rallies, the songs, the supporters, the dancing, the posters. It was a thrill to victory night!

Between Ambassador, political campaigns and Foreign Minister duties, he found time for lots of fun. He would swing by the house in 3901 (we referred to his car, a blue Mercedes, by the license plate), swoop up us children and take us to Atlantic on Lumley beach. It was always Atlantic. Ice cream and soft drinks to our hearts content. No limits with Uncle Desmond.

No one threw a beach party like Desmond! I never knew when we were going. But when my father came down the stairs in his yellow pants, sporting wrap around gold rim glasses looking like a GQ man, I knew we were headed to the beach. Destination? Uncle Desmond’s beach house at Goderich?! Ooooo! What a party. Hours of fun in the sun. While most of us drove to Goderich, sometimes Desmond came by speed boat. Because that’s how he rolled.

He threw all sorts of parties. We watched Rumble in the Jungle – the heavyweight bout between Muhammad Ali and George Forman in Kinshasa, Zaire at Uncle Desmond’s house. It wasn’t live, but the next best thing. Somehow, he had a film reel of the fight flown to Freetown within days of the event and threw a viewing party for family and friends. No other uncle did that!

But he was also serious man. I’ve never seen him look as solemn as he did over his decision to resign as Foreign Minister. The newspapers blared Desmond Luke Resigns. A class mate told me my uncle was in trouble now! I was indignant. Not my Uncle Desmond.

In the war years, I had deeper experience with the serious side of him. I heard of his activity as I sought information about the state of affairs at home. I would track him down. I never knew when the call would come. Day or night. “Ronke! Uncle Desmond.” “Uncle Desmond! Where are you?” I appreciated those conversations. Speaking to him allayed my worries for a moment. Seeing him during those years, were treasured moments. The conversations were deep. What the stakes were. What he hoped for. What the risks were. “Are you afraid?” I asked him. “No.” “Isn’t it risky?” “Yes. It is.” And he would explain why somebody needed to take a stand. I was immensely proud of him. My childhood wonder remained.

Uncle Desmond celebrated life. Lived it to its fullest. Stood on principle. Took on Sierra Leone’s serious challenges. And delivered the country back to her people. The sweep of his life was amazing. He took us on a remarkable, sometimes exhilarating, ride. Then he left us as he lived. With a bang! This time he left forever. I’ll miss you Uncle Dez.

Rest well. Your race is done,

Love

Ronke

-----------

A childhood friend, Edmund Williams, said my tribute reminded him of the words of the Lebanese poet and mystic Khalil Gibran. So I finish with this quote:

“The Master has left this world of matter, attired in the garments of glory, and has gone to another world free of hardships and afflictions. He is now where our eyes cannot see him and our ears cannot hear him. He dwells in the world of the spirit, whose inhabitants sorely need him. He is now gathering knowledge in a new cosmos, whose history and beauty have always fascinated him and whose speech he has always striven to learn. His life on this earth was one long chain of great deeds. It was a life of constant thought; for the Master knew no rest except in work. He loved work, which he defined as visible love.”
his Life

Let's start at the Beginning - Desmond's Childhood

Desmond was born on October 6, 1935 on Rawdon Street in Freetown. He was the last child and second son of Sir Emile and Lady Sarah Luke.

He went to primary school at Model Primary School in Freetown. As the second world war delayed Desmond's departure to school in England, he spent two years at Prince of Wales Secondary School where he made many lifelong friends.

He left Freetown for King's College in Taunton, Somerset (England) in 1949.

A Star at King's College

Desmond was a star at King's College in Taunton, Somerset, England.

His record-breaking, sporting  feats were written up in national papers including The London Times and the Daily Telegraph. Desmond excelled at individual events and team sports. He played cricket, hockey, tennis etc. 

At 18, he was the first school boy in England to clear 6 feet in high jump. The headline the next day read "Desmond Leaps 6ft. to Smash Record"

The article read "Luke drew the biggest cheer of the day from the 6,000 capacity crowd when he mounted the plinth to receive the winners medal ..."

When he left for Oxford University in 1954, the Headmaster's report mentioned him by name and noted that his last term paper, “The Conditions for the Expansion of Islam,” had “set a standard for the future that will be hard to maintain.”

Desmond dazzled not only in sports but also in scholarship.

Sporting Glory continues at Oxford

At Keble College (Oxford University), Desmond studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He graduated in 1957. 

He stayed to do post graduate studies in African History. 

But Desmond still found time between studies to continue his sporting glory, setting records in long jump and participate in other sports.
Recent stories

A BBC journalist remembers Desmond Luke with fondness and respect

Shared by Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie on April 3, 2021
Let me share a story that the BBC World Service journalist, Hassan Arouni (a Sierra Leonean who cut his teeth at what was then the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service in Freetown), shared with me a couple of days ago. In the immediate aftermath of the 25 May 1997 AFRC coup that ousted President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and his government, the BBC World Service Focus on Africa program was keen to air Sierra Leonean voices opining about the coup. They struggled to get official comment from President Kabbah’s government, by then relocated to Guinea Conakry. Hassan scanned the BBC’s list of contacts and came across Desmond Luke’s name and contacts. He called him up and Desmond Luke immediately confirmed he’d be prepared to go on the record to condemn the coup.
Worried about negative repercussions for his safety at such a turbulent time in Freetown, Hassan asked Uncle Desmond if he was aware of the risks he was taking. He confirmed he was fully aware but he needed to speak out in the interest of Sierra Leone. 
Well, we all know that he did suffer serious repercussions and narrowly escaped death by slipping away to Guinea by boat after a tipoff from military insiders who disagreed with the coupists' dastardly acts. 
Years later, Desmond Luke contacted Hassan to request tapes of his BBC interviews during that era of Sierra Leone’s history. Hassan loaded them all onto a cassette tape and met Uncle Desmond at his club, tucked away discreetly in the heart of Piccadilly. Hassan said Uncle Desmond regaled him with tales of his time as Foreign Minister in the 1970s staying at the club with President Siaka Stevens. Apparently, President Stevens and Uncle Desmond would slip out of the club—at the President’s behest—to shake off their security detail assigned for their protection so they could go shopping in complete anonymity for upscale gentlemen's attire (to which Stevens was partial)  in the vicinity.
For standing up for Sierra Leone on a matter of principle at its time of greatest need,  at known great risk to himself, Hassan says he’s had an abiding respect for Desmond Luke. "He definitely sits on a pedestal in my heart as one of my most esteemed heroes." He wanted to convey his condolences to the family. 
Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie (grandson of Leah Fergusson (nee Jones)

Forget this conference! Uncle Desmond's in town

Shared by Ronke Luke on March 23, 2021
Washington DC
2014. I believe
August, or thereabout.
------------

I answer the phone. My cousin announces himself.
"Ronke! Edward the second"
"Hey!" I reply
"I'm in town for a conference."

He tells me which conference. It's a big deal. Hosted by one of the fancy law firms in town. We chit chat for a bit. Then I say "Uncle Desmond’s in town."

That stops Edward in his tracks.
"Where? Here? In Washington DC?"
"Yes," I reply. "I plan to see him later."

"Today?"
"Yes."
I give Edward Desmond's telephone number. We hang up.

 -----------
A couple of hours later. 

My phone rings. It's Edward. 
"Ronke! I'm with Uncle Desmond."
"Really!"
"Ah lef de conference!"
"Really!"

Then in unison they ask "When are you coming?"

"When are you coming?" That's Desmond's way of summoning us. So I figure, best if ah go see de Pa now.

I arrived to find Uncle Desmond, Uncle Roland and Edward in the hotel lounge, clearly a few drinks into the afternoon. In near unison, they say "Ronke!"

I took a seat with the boys but stuck to sparkling water.

A couple more drinks then, Edward suggested, "let's go to my club for dinner!"

"Sure! Why not," Uncle Desmond replied and left to change.

He returned dressed in a three piece suit, appropriate for a private club. 

Lucky for me I had a shawl to up my summer attire to match the venue.

Uncle Roland, sensing an escape moment, bowed out of the dinner invite. It would be a long night if he went to dinner with us. "Me dae go nah ohse."

Roland took his leave in a deep sonorous voice: "Desmond."
"Roland, tomorrow."

------------------------
Uncle Desmond, Edward and I headed for DC. It was a fun drive. Just talking and laughter.

When we arrived at the club, I called my brother. "Hey! I'm in town with Uncle Desmond and Edward. Join us?" 

The club was elegant. Dinner delicious. Edward introduced Uncle Desmond to everyone in sight. As he said, "Meet my uncle," and rattled off Desmond's accomplishments and past offices, Edward beamed with pride. Uncle Desmond was gracious.

Eventually the dining room closed and we moved to the lounge. Edward fetched some South African wines. Why go home when you're having a good time? :-)  My brother and his wife joined us. More reason to stay and shoot the breeze. It was a great evening of food and fun. Endless storytelling. Teasing and laughter. At some point we realized we needed to call it a night. Tomorrow beaconed and sleep needed its time before the next day's pursuits. But that night with Uncle Desmond remains a fond memory for Edward and me. On form and in his element, Uncle Desmond was always great fun.



Desmond presents his credentials in Italy

Shared by Ronke Luke on March 21, 2021
Desmond was accredited to the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the European Community.

Photos of Desmond presenting his letters of credential to the President in Italy are available in the archives of the Italian government here.



Used under fair use provisions. No copyright infringement intended