Tribute to my brother Alexander Kashif Garley – rest well

This is one of the most difficult essays I will ever write – to bid farewell to a brother. And even as I am writing, I still don’t believe that Kashif is dead. I am still refusing to commit the scene to my imagination or memory. I still can’t imagine Kashif being a dead body!

On June 9 when Kashif send me a message and said “chief, COVID got me mehn.” My response was “F-uck! U lie mehn.” I went on to say that you might be sick from something else but not COVID. And then for a few days, I never heard from him. I called Joseph Crayton and he confirmed that Kashif was indeed sick.

I didn’t believe Kashif because he (Kashif) is one of the most careful persons that I have ever met when it comes to issues of health. I remember during the EVD epidemic, the guy stayed far away from Liberia even after I encouraged him to come back to Monrovia. He said, “no chief. I will come when it is over.” So to have learned that he had COVID, it was difficult to believe.

Then on June 28, around 1:37 am CST, I got a message from Crayton that says “Kashif didn’t make it.” I decided to call Crayton to make sure he didn’t type the wrong thing. When Crayton answered and confirmed, I cut the phone off and took to my bed! I still can’t believe that it is true but it seems that the world has accepted it to be true.

Kashif and I have not been friends for the longest. There are many other friends who and I go way back from the late 1970’s. I first met Kashif in October or November 2004 when we were enroute to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to meet with then Ambassador George Weah regarding CDC and FOGOW (Friends of George Oppong Weah). Kashif was a guest of FOGOW and I was a devout proponent and ideologue of the Liberia National Congress (LNC) turned CDC (Congress for Democratic Change). We were on opposing sides of the “divide”.

Because my colleague Dtweah was delayed in arriving in Florida, I was the only person in the room to stop the onslaught that was coming from the army of the FOGOW. I think those in the room on that day would say that I held my ground and disrupted the meeting. I was able to cause sufficient confusion that made the Ambassador to say that you guys need to go work things out. This meant that we needed to go back to Minnesota and work things out between the CDC and the FOGOW.

When we got back to Minnesota, we were invited to an office owned by Kashif. This was the second time I met Kashif. I am not sure I ever met him again since 2004 until we met on Thinker’s Village beach in late 2010.

I remember one day Dtweah told me that Kashif was asking him about “why your man Kollie doesn’t like to smile?” Kashif told Dtweah that “if your man Kollie doesn’t learn to smile, when we get the chartered plane to go to Monrovia for the campaign, he won’t get on it.” This was vintage Kashif! He was a guy with big dreams and aspirations and he worked hard. Nothing scared Kashif! He always believed in himself and pushed himself harder to get whatever he wanted.

When I met Kashif in 2010, it was difficult to find a business that he was not involved with or thinking about. He was always thinking about the next venture: sometimes partnering with others and at times going it alone. But if Kashif wanted something, he went for it.

He loved his mother, his wife and his kids. He would do anything for them. In fact, he told me that he works as hard as he does so that his family would be “comfortable.” I couldn’t find anyone who worked as hard as Kashif. He came to work very early and went home very late. Not only did he work hard, he loved every bit of what he did. He was passionate about starting and growing one venture after the other.

For the 10 years that I was in Liberia, Kashif and I grew very close. From rivals during our 2004 political encounter, we became brothers. While in Liberia, apart from my day job, I spend most of my waken moments with Kashif. We spend lots of time together. I had come to admire him and respect him for his diligence, commitment and hard work.

Ever since I got the message from Crayton that “Kashif didn’t make it,” my life has not been the same. I have been trying to hold it together but it is impossible.

All I can say is that God knows why. Kashif was so much promise and hope to many. I haven’t spoken to his mom but don’t even know what to tell her. This is so so unfair.

Kashif, wherever you are, I need you to know that we all loved you and will miss but we will NEVER forget you.

For me, you were a brother and I am sure you knew that. The time we spend together was short but you had a lot of impact on me and I hope I did as well.

Brother, until we meet on that great-getting-up-morning, take your rest