The Head of Project Design and Delivery at the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation (DSTI) in Sierra Leone, PJ Mandewa-Cole has reportedly died of cancer.

His wife, Pilona Nylander announced the death of her husband on social media.

“This is a challenging post to share, but I want to ensure the word gets out. With sorrow, I have to announce the death of my dear husband PJ, who passed away in my arms surrounded by our family from Cancer this morning,” she stated.

“I am mourning the loss of my best friend and companion, who made an impression on everyone he met.”

Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), David Moinina Sengeh also reacted, stating that, “My brother PJ Mandewa-Cole was love. And even in death, he is love.”

“Today we mourn the loss of a great brother and friend Pj Mandewa-Cole in the creative and innovation industry. He was a genius in the innovation space. With him we were able to navigate within this space with much ease for the growth and development of policies, programs and activities for young people,” Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura stated.

“As Minister of Youth Affairs, we collaborated, coordinated and partnered on many development projects that are innovation driven with DSTI .He was a key designer of the said project to ensure it fits into the New Direction way of doing business.”

Activist, entrepreneur, and blogger, Vicki Remoe posts that, “PJ was a true diplomat. He could and would work with anyone. A skill that myself and many of the people I met at DSTI did not have. What I’ll remember about him was how quick and willing he ALWAYS was to resolve conflict. If you make palava you could always count on PJ to be the bigger person. As a colleague he was open to feedback, eager to learn and grow. Once when I told him he should leave the writing to me, he went on holiday to the UK he took writing classes. He wanted to be better.”

“PJ’s passing is a loss to his family and friends but equally devastating for Sierra Leone. He was a servant driven by his Christian faith which means he was on a lifelong journey to serve his community and our people,” she added.

PJ was an Associate from the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and worked as the Lead Technical Strategist with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI).

He was working shoulder to shoulder with the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), leveraging the expertise and network of TBI and supporting the CIO from within to make the most of his position for Sierra Leone’s development.

Prior to joining TBI PJ and during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 PJ led Lifeline Nehemiah Projects to develop strategies for frontline support, through: community education programmes to over 100,000 people; provided food and psycho-social support to over 12,000 quarantined individuals; and in partnership built an Ebola Clinic which treated 271 people. He also worked as Governance advisor and Business Development for national charities in the UK. He has over 10 years’ experience working in the UK and Sierra Leone on award winning education and training programs. He was Governance and Policy Advisor to a UK based organization, providing support to a network of over 1000 organization.

PJ was a One Young World Ambassador, Queen’s Young Leader, a member of the Queen’s Young Leader Advisory Panel, Royal Commonwealth Society Fellow, member of the Lifeline Nehemiah Projects board, and with the Lifeline Nehemiah Projects he had 32 young people living with him, the youngest being 3 years old.