Fatmatta Kanu

Brief History of the Sheka Hassan Kanu Family

Introducing Fatmatta Kanu​

My name is Haja Fatmatta Rawdatu Kanu and as matriarch of a particular branch of the Kanu family of Port Loko, in Northern Sierra Leone, I would like to introduce you to my family. I was born, raised and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone and graduated from Milton Margai Teacher’s College in 1963.

Shortly after starting my teaching career, I met and married Sheka Hassan Kanu, a student at Fourah Bay College and part-time broadcaster at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service. We had our first biological child, a daughter named Kadijatu, in 1965, and quickly settled into life as a family of four, since we had already adopted my 4-year-old niece, Nimatu Rashida, when we married.

From Sierra Leone to Canada​

As fate would dictate, we left Sierra Leone shortly after Sheka’s graduation and traveled to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where Sheka had obtained an academic scholarship to pursue graduate studies. For the first four years, while Sheka worked on obtaining his Masters and PhD degrees, I worked, took part-time business classes and participated in a number of library workshops and seminars. I then took one year of full-time classes and successfully obtained a Business Diploma. In addition to our educational achievements, we also had three more children, Abas Ibrahim, Memuna and Musu, to add to our brood during the 5 years we lived in Edmonton.

Back to Sierra Leone and then to Europe​

When we returned to Sierra Leone in 1971, Sheka accepted a position as a lecturer at N’Jala University while I worked at the university library. One more child, Isata, was born in 1972.

After a year at the university, Sheka was drafted into the diplomatic service and we remained active and senior members of the diplomatic corps for the next ten years, based in the UK for one year, Germany for 5 and a half years and Belgium, for just over three years.

During this very busy period of our lives, we were blessed with two more children: Foday Amara and Yabome and I was also able to successfully complete an undergraduate degree in History and a graduate degree in International Relations.

Political Career of Sheka Kanu​

When we decided to return home in 1981, Sheka started a new career in mainstream politics and held senior cabinet posts for almost ten years. During this phase of our lives, we were also engaged in national development projects and philanthropic work to benefit numerous communities and individuals.

However, his political career ended on a disappointing note, as he was imprisoned following a military coup and then held under house arrest for a number of years. Unfortunately, he fell ill in 1997 and died a year later in 1998.

Return to Canada

The 1990s were a difficult and unstable time in Sierra Leone, following a full-scale civil war and successive military coups. I left the country again in 1999, following Sheka’s death, and returned to Canada where some of my older children had settled after completing university. I have lived there since then and kept busy on a number of fronts, working as a resettlement liaison officer and authoring several articles and 3 books.