Catholic Priest Pens Colorful Tribute to Sierra Leone’s First Native Bishop

Fr. Peter Konteh with late Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Henry Ganda. Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh/Facbook

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Henry Ganda was a trailblazer whose legacy will live on among Sierra Leoneans where he was the first African Bishop, a Priest in the West African country has said in his tribute to the Church leader who died aged 91.

Archbishop Ganda died on Wednesday, August 9 after battling an illness. He was Sierra Leone’s first Catholic Priest and the pioneer native Bishop, starting off at the Diocese of Kenema in the Eastern Province of the West African country, and retiring at the helm of the Archdiocese of Freetown.

In a tribute shared with ACI Africa, Fr. Peter Konteh , the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown described himself as Archbishop Ganda’s “spiritual son”, noting that the late Archbishop’s leadership qualities are worth emulating.

“Throughout his tenure as Archbishop, Ganda left an indelible mark on the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone. His leadership was characterized by compassion, humility, and a deep devotion to the people he served. He tirelessly worked to strengthen the Church's presence, promote unity, and foster spiritual growth among the Catholic faithful,” Fr. Konteh said in his August 9 tribute.

He said that Archbishop Ganda was known for his pastoral care, reaching out to the marginalized and advocating for social justice. 


The late Archbishop Ganda, Fr. Konteh said, was a voice for the voiceless, standing up against injustice and advocating for the rights and dignity of all individuals. “His commitment to the principles of Catholic social teaching served as an inspiration to many, and his work in promoting peace and reconciliation in Sierra Leone will be remembered.”

Archbishop Ganda was born on 22 March 1932 in Bo District where he served during Mass. He entered Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu Nigeria and was ordained a Priest in April 1961, the same month Sierra Leone gained independence.

On 23 November 1980, Ganda was installed as the first native Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone. He retired on 2 March 2007, after over three decades of service in the Catholic Church. He was replaced in the Archdiocese of Freetown by Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles.

Archbishop Ganda is known for many initiatives that contributed to the growth of Sierra Leone. He will be most remembered for co-founding the Healy Foundation, a solidly grounded charity foundation that supports victims of the 11-year Sierra Leonean civil war that ended in 2003. These include widows, vulnerable children, amputees, and victims of gender-based violence that came out of the scars of the war.

Fr. Konteh has urged Sierra Leoneans to always remember the late Archbishop’s contribution to the development of education in the country, saying, “He recognized the importance of knowledge and the transformative power of education.”

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“Under his leadership, the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone made significant strides in expanding access to quality education, establishing schools, and providing opportunities for countless children to receive an education that would shape their future,” he said.

According to the Caritas Freetown Executive Director, Archbishop Ganda's life and legacy will be remembered with gratitude and admiration. 

“His dedication to his faith, his unwavering commitment to the Catholic Church, and his tireless efforts to serve the people of Sierra Leone will continue to inspire generations to come. May his soul rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing to all who were touched by his life and ministry,” he said.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.