Raissa Malu

A Deserved Tribute

A personal view of Smoon Kalambayi's talents as a teacher and inspector, as he has just passed away.

I learned this Tuesday, 4th August, 2020 in the late afternoon a very sad news: the death of one of my secondary school teachers at the school group of Mount Amba (Kinshasa, D.R. Congo), Mr. Smoon Kalambayi. I would like to tell you about our longtime relationship.

Smoon Kalambayi has been the teacher of physics and descriptive geometry for several generations of students at the Mont-Amba school group. He was the teacher of my older sisters and brother. He was my teacher, my younger brother's teacher, and the teacher of those who followed us in this application school at the University of Kinshasa perched on the "inspired hill" (as it is called).

A demanding professor

About him, we will probably all tell the same story. Professor Smoon terrorized us (laughs) because he was demanding and liked unexpected tests (on a quarter sheet) with only two possible results, 0 or 10! Fortunately, he compensated with humor and knew how to recognize merits.

When I returned to Kinshasa in 2014 to prepare the first edition of Science and Technology Week, I naturally went to my former high school to present the concept. It was there that I met Professor Smoon who announced to me with a delighted face that he had become Inspector. Now we had to call him "Inspector Smoon"! (Smile)

A good reception

Inspector Smoon was delighted with my project. With a good heart, he took the time to introduce me to the 5th and 6th secondary classes of the math physics and biology-chemistry options so that I could invite the students to participate in the event. I remember that day walking down the hallways with him and I can still hear him introducing me to the students and teachers as he reviewed the "highlights" of my family members (laughs). At the time, I could not have guessed how our relationship would turn out.

Collaboration on curricula


Two years later, I became the coordinator of the Education Project for Quality and Relevance of Secondary and University Education (PEQPESU), and during a restructuring, Inspector Smoon joined the technical team in charge of the modernization of science learning curricula. Imagine, the former student became the boss! I think Inspector Smoon was delighted and proud. I was happy and reassured that he was the one in charge of the physical science programs.

A rigorous and creative inspector

Over the past few years, I have (again) witnessed the dedication and commitment of Inspector Smoon. He was rigorous, critical and creative. He could sometimes annoy his colleagues because he never seemed to stop the work (you almost had to "rip" the file to stop him making changes).

But fortunately he was like that. It made everyone beeing more attentive.

Lyrical reports

Inspector Smoon was a cultured man. He spoke several languages and I think he would have liked to be a writer.

His mission reports were interesting to read, lyrical. I discovered the deep Congo through Inspector Smoon's pen. He recounted with force and detail the difficulties encountered, but always with humor and delicacy.

The videos

For the past three months, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Inspector Smoon has been working directly with me on the validation of the physical science video from the Learning at Home program. Let me share with you one of his messages that reflects his personality and style quite well.

A message

"Hi Mrs. Raïssa!

I saw the videos and praised your very entrepreneurial spirit. Where did you find these beautiful ladies? Knowledge, elocution, oral expression, charm... For a try, it's really a masterstroke! We have here a very high quality product that everyone will envy.

Expression (oral and written), we know, does not matter in the eyes of so-called scientists. But, it is always those who write and speak badly. Your ladies give them a masterful lesson. These videos will go around the world.

In spite of all this praise, I still made some remarks, not without encouraging each of them... "

Here are two of the videos he reviewed for the occasion:

Paving the way

Crises and deaths are moments that force us to stop and look back. The Democratic Republic of Congo celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence on June 30th.

The first two decades may have been the best, but what followed was a slow descent into hell. Life has been hard, especially for teachers and professors. But despite this, people like Inspector Smoon have kept their hearts and minds open, their smiles and their desire to share, teach and train.

Inspector Smoon is one of those people who paved the way for us to be here today. I say THANK YOU and may his soul rest in peace. We will continue on the path and like him, we will pave it for others who follow.


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