In a heartfelt farewell ceremony held on the 20th December 2023, Mr. Philip Tonks, the General Manager of Socfin Agricultural Company (SAC), bid adieu to the people of Malen Chiefdom and Sierra Leone after an impactful eleven and a half years of service.

His departure follows a call from the company to assume the role of General Manager in Ghana, replacing a retired counterpart.

Reflecting on his initial visit between 2011 and 2012, Tonks recalled the Chiefdom’s lack of several opportunities, including challenging transportation, communication facilities, and road networks. However, under SAC’s presence, substantial improvements have been made, particularly in road infrastructure, contributing to the overall development of the Chiefdom.

Acknowledging the company’s rocky start in the community, Tonks expressed gratitude for the community’s eventual support after overcoming initial challenges through dialogues and collaborations.

As Production Manager during the company’s inception, Tonks later assumed the role of General Manager, leading SAC to become the largest oil palm producer in West Africa, employing over 1,000 Sierra Leoneans including foreign nationals, and contributing significantly to the nation’s economic growth.

Tonks leaves behind a legacy of restoring peace in the Chiefdom, highlighted by the tributes offered by the Chiefdom stakeholders and staff at the company.

During the farewell ceremony, the Chiefdom Speaker, Chief Robert Shengbe Moiguah, acting as the Regent Paramount Chief, praised Tonks’ leadership and wished him success in his future endeavors, stating that they are deeply saddened by his departure.

Similar sentiments were offered by the Town Chief of Sahn Town, Chief Abu Gombu, who shed light on the historic start of the company’s operation in the chiefdom. He poured libation in memory of the fallen Paramount Chief, Brima Victor Sidi Kebbie III, acknowledging his pivotal role in bringing SAC to the Chiefdom.
Chief Gombu strongly pleaded with the General Manager to kindly encourage his successor to always work with the chiefdom authorities, particularly the Town Chiefs as they had been pivotal in the company’s operation even in times of conflict they stood strongly by the company as they knew its importance in the chiefdom.

Due to his remarkable and relentless work in the chiefdom and the country at large, Philip Tonks was offered gifts and dressed in colorful cultural regalia with very beautiful walking sticks mostly used by traditional leaders.

On the 15th December 2023, the company’s staff, as a way to appreciate the good work of the outgoing General Manager, made a beautiful avenue named, “Philip Tonks Avenue,” featuring the AKWASI Sports Complex named in respect of the Mill Manager, Akwasi Edubouhen and a street named honoring, particularly the construction manager, Bockarie Moiwo.

Speaking on the construction of the Avenue, the Mill Manager, Akwasi Edubouhen said, that one way to appreciate and make a great man happy and honored is to construct something in his name which will let everyone always remember him for his great services, hence the Avenue was constructed in the name of the outgoing GM, Philip Tonks. He said spanning over ten years working with the General Manager has been remarkable, stating that they are going to miss him but wished him all the best as he takes up another assignment in Ghana.

He assured the General Manager that they would continue from where he stopped and would always stay committed to let the company thrive as it has been under the leadership of Philip Tonks.

The Mill and construction workers offered a standing ovation as the GM walked into the avenue where the first farewell ceremony took place, organized by the Mill and Construction staff of the company.
In his closing remarks, Tonks emphasized the importance of collective efforts for the company’s growth and urged the community to prioritize peace. As emotions ran high, he reminded everyone of the symbiotic relationship between the company’s success and the well-being of the workers and the community.

Amidst tears and colorful festivities, the departure of Philip Tonks marked the end of an era in Malen Chiefdom, leaving a lasting impact on both the community and Socfin Agricultural Company.

Tonks concluded by urging all to unite in environmental conservation, emphasizing the need to protect the ecosystem for the benefit of everyone in the community and beyond.