Appeared in Awoko newspaper on Tuesday 25 September
Massah Kaikai went missing sometime between 4 – 8 August 2018, and has not been seen or heard from since. Prior to her disappearance, Massah was in touch with her mother and two sisters in the US every other day. Massah also had friends with whom she kept in constant contact. But, neither family nor friends have heard from her in more than six weeks.
Kaikai returned to Sierra Leone in 2014 to work on development projects with women, the disabled community and children. She set up a small business and made connections with local NGOs and funders. “She is a confident, world traveller who’s independent, smart and caring,” said her mother Ayodeji Babalola (nee Ademu-John).
Massah is a 40-year old American citizen born of Sierra Leonean parents. She lived on Lower Pipeline Road, off Wilkinson Road and had a workshop on Manfred Lane, off Kissy Road in the east of Freetown. The Sierra Leone Immigration Department said there was no record of Massah leaving Sierra Leone on any flight or across any overland border.
Massah’s mother said, “I missed a call from her on 7 August 2018 and when I returned the call, her phone was off. I used to text her and send her messages on WhatsApp but I haven’t heard anything from her. This is not like her.” Ayo arrived in Sierra Leone from New York on 9 September 2018 to personally take up the search and investigation into her daughter’s disappearance.
Massah’s father is Ansu Kaikai, former SLPP Member of Parliament from Pujehun and former Deputy Minority Leader of Parliament. Massah and her father are not on good terms and are estranged. In fact, Ansu complained that Massah had blocked his phone number on her iPhone. He left the country very shortly after Ayo arrived and did not file a missing person’s report prior to leaving the country.
Ayo reported her missing daughter to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) upon her arrival. She contacted ASP O.C. Lebbie, who interviewed her and has begun an investigation. The Head of CID is involved and overseeing the police efforts.
The CID have arrested Massah’s boyfriend, Ibrahim Mansaray, a driver, and are holding him in custody for further questioning. Mansaray was found in possession of Massah’s iPhone and had cleaned out her apartment. He sold many of the household belongings and Police have tracked several items. Massah’s landlord said Mansaray returned the keys to her apartment, three months before the lease was to expire, and told the landlord that Massah had traveled and was not returning.
Gladys Quee, a family acquaintance, said she met Massah on 8 August 2018 at Bliss Restaurant and gave her some money for a job Massah had done. Quee may have been the last person to be with Massah before her disappearance.
Annmarie worked for Massah a couple of days a week as a house-helper and cook. She said she hasn’t seen Massah since early August. Interestingly, Annmarie moved into Massah’s family home on Manfred Lane on 3 August 2018, just around the time Massah disappeared.
The Regional Security Officers of the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone are aware of the situation and are currently investigating the missing woman. Two U.S. Embassy officers have visited ASP Lebbie and officers at the CID on several occasions. The Security Officers could not comment on the ongoing investigation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the U.S. and West Africa have been notified and are monitoring the ongoing search and investigation. Massah’s sister in New York notified the FBI and Ayo, who used to work at the United Nations, has notified the Secretary General of the UN.
The Sierra Leone Representative to the UN, Francis Mustapha Kaikai, is also aware of Massah’s disappearance. Before Ayo came to Sierra Leone, the mission told her “we are working on it.” And, the mission in New York suggested to her “… not to travel to Sierra Leone just yet.”
But Ayo traveled to Sierra Leone and has been diligently investigating and assembling information on Massah’s disappearance. “We are calling on everyone and anyone to try to find my daughter,” said Massah’s mother, Ayo. “I’m contacting everyone I know who might be able to help,” she said.
Ayo sent three e-mail letters to State House in Freetown and met once with Keketoma Sandy, the Presidential Secretary, who said he “would work on it and tell the President”, about the missing woman. Sandy has since not returned Ayo’s e-mails and will not answer her calls. “I’m sure nothing was done,” said Ayo. “But, I want the government to be aware and I want the President to be aware,” she added.