Oh Lord, my God when I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee! How great Thou art, how great Thou art! – “How Great Thou Art,” Carl Boberg, 1885
Just as I was prepping up to commemorate the super sad one-year anniversary of my professional best friend Felix Mponda, another professional best friend on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, answered the call to glory. Gail Farngalo came to the Liberian Mission in New York in 2008 and quickly she, Lindy Mndebele, and I became best friends in the corridors of the United Nations and outside. In time she effortlessly turned into a grand and much-appreciated destiny helper. When our mutual colleague Isaac Raoul informed me on Wednesday morning of Gail’s passing, in Lindy’s words, I was NEVER ready for this!
Like Felix taught me without fear, jealousy, or envy all the ropes of journalism, so Gail taught me without fear, jealousy, or envy all about collaboration, networking; she always phoned me when she saw that Malawi was not present in an important session/meeting at the UN.
She caused me to be a good friend: on snowy days, she would call me to ask how I was getting to work and if I said I was planning to take the train into the city, she’d tell me to look outside. It was snowy or raining. The change to using my car usually meant giving her a lift since she lived en route to the city. This eventually led to Gail being a regular passenger. During the year of the fierce November 2012 Sandy snowstorm, Gail and I had driven to work together, and we were together when the UN dismissed us from the buildings so we could safely get home.
It took us two hours to get home, diverting through the longer RFK bridge to Queens; and the toll fee Gail rummaged through her bag to let us pass and ride safely to our homes. In time, Gail, Lindy, and I bonded and were together in the UN corridors, meeting rooms, and the social circuit. Concerts like Taylor Swift and Rihana (in New Jersey), Stevie Wonder, Ziggy Marley. In August 2016 Gail and I attended the Spike Lee sponsored block party, Brooklyn loves Michael Jackson Tribute.
The most awesome and highly appreciated memory I will have of Gail, is that after the expiry of my diplomatic contract, unable to return to my home country for fear of personal harm (from mainly non-state political zealots), Gail housed me twice (6 months in 2015 and again 4 months in 2017). This led our relationship to transform to a close family friend, connecting me to her family and her friends.
Her elder sister Aggie called every day; she knew almost everything about me, it was a joy to know there was an elder sister somewhere in Washington DC. One New Year’s eve night, Gail, her son Mahdi (which she pronounced Mahadi), and I attended the New York Times Square Ball Drop event. Being late, parked far away, there were barricades everywhere – the place was filled with police presence. Gail approached one police officer and told him we were diplomats, and it was her last tour of duty. We got a police escort to as near the stage as he could.
As I continue bawling over the passing of this true-blue friend, everyone paid tribute to Gail Farngalo in the GA Hall and social media platforms. She truly embodied the UN community.
· Mario von Hoff: Liberia lost a great diplomat, the UN lost one of its most charismatic figures, and I lost a sister. We worked together, we partied together, and definitely, we laughed a lot together. Thank you Gail Farngalo for your joy, for your energy.
· Paul Ballantine: You will be so missed, Gail. Thank you for all the positive energy you brought to all of our lives. You were an incredible advocate for your country, the multilateral system – and your friends. You made a difference in the lives of your friends and colleagues from every corner of the globe
· UN PGA (President of the General Assembly): Today, my office lost an invaluable staff member – Gail Farngalo, a well-known Liberian diplomat. Her untimely departure has left a deep void. Her rich experience, affable nature, friendship, warmth & exuberance is something we will cherish.
· Colleagues: Even in the midst of tough and important discussions, she was there, with her bright smile.
· This is, indeed, shocking and devastating news. Truly hard to believe. Gail had always been the one with the greatest of energies and the biggest heart; always so full of life and laughter to share. She will be truly missed. May she rest in eternal peace.
· Very, very sad news about Gail! A very good friend of all colleagues! She was pretty nice and positive!
· Gail was a gentle giant, with a ready smile in all situations.
I am devastated by this news. I console with the Liberian Mission, the PGA, & all those who have shared her fun laughter, her son, and the entire family.
· Lindy: I do not even know where to begin. My dear friend, a sister, colleague: always kind, always smiling, full of life, and when we had any reason to celebrate we would do just that, whether it was at the UN or elsewhere, even at my house with one or two caipirinhas, which our brother Mario Von Haff introduced to us. Our last chat was on 14 January: just last week, when I said next time you are on the mother continent pop down south for a few days, to which you gladly agreed. Then we had a good laugh about a video of Boris Johnson dancing up a storm (during COVID lockdown).
How do I even imagine that you are really gone? My sincere condolences to your family, colleagues particularly at the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the UN and the PGAs Office. Goodnight dear Gail Farngalo. I was NEVER ready for this!
As I mourn Gail Farngalo. My destiny helper, I remember for Christmas in 2015, Gail gave me a big pearl necklace, like her big heart. Rest in God’s eternal loving peace.