By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
At the end of the upstairs hall, officers noticed a rope of clothes tied together and hanging from a support beam. A shattered pane of glass and pieces of a nightstand surrounded Bongo, lying naked on the floor, dead.
Nat-George recalls feeling angry when he learned what had happened, he swore he would have nothing to do with burying Bongo. "Just let the government get rid of him," he thought. But then he grew concerned that Bongo's children would grow up wondering where their father had been buried and he wanted them to know.
At a meeting of the All People's Congress, Nat-George suggested raising money for a funeral, and members, including two of Bongo's Dallas cousins, took up a collection. Funds also came from fans spread across the U.S. and overseas. "If he had died under any other circumstance," Nate-George says, "he would have had a state funeral back in Sierra Leone." Instead on August 14, after a brief ceremony, friends and family buried Bongo at Golden Gate Funeral Home in southern Dallas.
Like others in the local Sierra Leone community, Sanpha Sesay is still trying to make sense of the crime, trying to figure out just what pushed Bongo over the edge. The prospect of again losing his children, of an uncertain future without Haggerty, of facing deportation, must have weighed heavily on him, Sesay says. And yet he can't discount the despair Bongo felt at the loss of his celebrity, which resulted in him "living in this country hopelessly." Sesay plans to continue his investigation, hoping to interview more sources for his stories, when he travels this winter to Sierra Leone, his first trip back since he fled the civil war in the mid-'90s.
In April, Nat-George says, The Professionals will reunite in Freetown for a show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Sierra Leone, which has been at peace since 2002 after the government and the rebels put down their weapons.
Joseph Edwin, The Professionals' founder, now 60, who has been working in restaurants since coming to America, says it's still hard to reconcile his old life with this one. He has trouble getting past the disappointment lingering from the way The Professionals fell apart, the gift for comedy he and Bongo shared, the way they once helped lift the spirits of a troubled nation. "I think about him every second. I see a little bit of him in me," Edwin says. "I'm still searching for help anywhere I can get it."
If only that kind of help could have found its way to Lord Bongo.