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Archive for April, 2006

Sierra Leoneans in the United States to honor former Ambassador John Leigh

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

JOHNERNESTLEIGH2

Press Release:

 Sunday April 30, 2006

 In celebration of the 45th Independence Anniversary of Sierra Leone’s Independence from Great Britain, members of the Sierra Leone Community Association in Chicago will honor Mr. John Ernest Leigh, former Sierra Leone Ambassador to the United States of America by awarding him the association’s highest honor:

 The Distinguish Public Service Award.

 In announcing the Award recently, Mr. Alie Kabba the Association’s President, declared that the Distinguished Service Award to Mr. Leigh is a very special honor in recognition of Mr. Leigh’s exemplary leadership, honesty and patriotism in the service of Sierra Leone.

 In a letter to Mr. Leigh, Mr. Kabba stated that “as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States, your passionate commitment to the noble mission of public service as an instrument for positive change inspired many Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad in our collective yearning for a new Sierra Leone. 

 “Without doubt”, Mr. Kabba stated, “your inside work within all branches of the United States Government, your tireless outreach efforts and your impeccable use of mainstream media during your tenure as ambassador brought honor and respect to our country and persuaded the American Government to intervene, not only to terminate the reign of the AFRC/RUF Junta but also to restore the duly elected government back to power in Freetown as well as support the United Nations peacemaking efforts in our country.”

 The Award will be presented to Mr. Leigh in Chicago, State of Illinois on Saturday, April 29, 2006 during the Association’s Annual Banquet.Mayor Daley of Chicago is issuing a Proclamation to declare April 27, 2006 as SIERRA LEONE NATIONAL DAY.   The Governor of the State of ILLINOIS is also expected to issue a similar Proclamation.

 

President Kabbah ‘s Independence Anniversary Message pinpoints “Sierra Leoneans and the Image of Sierra Leone”

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

PRESIDENTKABBAH 6

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Fellow Citizens:

Let me first of all extend best wishes to all of you, my compatriots who are celebrating your birthday on 27 April, the forty-fifth anniversary of the independence of our beloved country.

I should also like us to remember and pay tribute to those who laboured and even sacrificed their lives in the struggle for freedom and independence everywhere in the world. We are all beneficiaries of their vision, their courage and steadfastness to ensure the full realization of the inalienable right of our people to self-determination. This is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women who stood firm and defended our right to live. We remember with gratitude those who resisted, in many cases at the expense of their lives or limbs, the determination of a misguided minority to destroy this nation and its people.

Sisters and Brothers, this independence anniversary almost coincides with the fourth anniversary of the formal end of the rebel war. So, let us be thankful and celebrate not only forty-five years of self-determination but also four glorious years of uninterrupted peace and political stability. Let us celebrate our freedom from armed conflict. Let us celebrate our renewed dedication to democratic governance, in particular the conviction that governments should be changed by ballots, not bullets.

In law and fact Sierra Leone is an independent sovereign Republic situated within defined geographical boundaries. Its symbols of nationhood include a public seal or coat of arms, a flag, a motto and a national anthem. However, and more importantly, the principal characteristic of Sierra Leone is its people – all of us. Yes, all of us, irrespective of the region of our birth or our mother tongue, and irrespective of our religious affiliation or social status we are all Sierra Leoneans. Sierra Leone belongs to us all.

And this brings me, sisters and brothers, to the principal theme of this independence anniversary message, namely, Sierra Leoneans and the image of Sierra Leone.

No institution, no State, no organization, private or public – its deficiencies and shortcomings notwithstanding – would like to see its reputation and public image tarnished. Many spend millions of dollars in promoting and portraying a positive image of themselves.

One of the richest resources we have at our disposal for portraying a positive image of Sierra Leone is the people of Sierra Leone – we ourselves. It is one of the responsibilities of being a Sierra Leonean. In this regard, I should add that the responsibility to protect the public image and integrity of Sierra Leone is even more obligatory when Sierra Leoneans are abroad.

Those who travel abroad with a Sierra Leonean passport, whether as Government officials, business people, tourists, sportsmen and women or visitors, are all goodwill ambassadors of your country. A Sierra Leone passport is not just a document to facilitate travel. It represents a solemn pledge that by his or her actions and comportment the holder of the passport would at all times uphold the values of the nation.

Today, on this our national day I call on all Sierra Leoneans, including those who travel abroad to be aware of their responsibility, indeed their obligation to refrain from any act or activities that will tarnish the image of the people of Sierra Leone. Promoting a positive image of your country is not merely a demonstration of patriotism. It is a duty and a service, a national service.

While public acknowledgement of certain shortcoming has its place, especially those that themselves tend to tarnish the image of the country, such as misappropriation and squandering of public funds it is also the duty of every citizen under the supreme law of the nation, namely the Constitution, “to enhance the power, prestige and good name of the State and to render national service as may be required…” Paraphrasing the late John F. Kennedy, I should like to emphasize that while any Sierra Leonean is entitled to ask others, including those holding public offices, what they are doing to solve this or that problem, it is equally necessary for each one of us to ask ourselves the question: “What else can I do to make Sierra Leone a better Place”? Let us not emulate those who prefer to trade on the alleged bad name of Sierra Leone.

Throughout my term of office I have reaffirmed my commitment to the freedom of the Press. My Government, despite provocation has allowed the Press a free hand to publish with a sense of responsibility. But we all must understand that unwarranted negative stories of our country that are reproduced in the internet do great harm to the image of our country.

This question has a special significance at a time of unprecedented levels of indiscipline in our society and growing politicisation of almost every aspect of our nation’s life. Each of these developments is causing serious harm to our nation. The responsibility for correcting these ills rests with all of us – government, the opposition, civil society and the media in particular. Let me assure you that government is fully committed to playing its part. We are heartened that some members of the public are making a meaningful contribution in this effort through their cooperation with the police in their community-policing scheme.

Fellow citizens, here is our challenge. The prosperity of our country is in our hands. We have the capacity to turn things around. Let us accept the challenge and continue to uphold our national values – resourcefulness, excellence, tolerance, good neighbourliness, generosity, honesty and self-esteem.

I wish you all a pleasant Independence anniversary celebration.

A. P. C. GALVANIZES TO WELCOME THEIR LEADERSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES IN MAY, 2006

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

ERNESTKOROMA2006

APC LEADER ERNEST BAI KOROMA

From Alimamy Kargbo

Monday April 24, 2006

 Members of the ALL  PEOPLE’S  CONGRESS (APC) PARTY,  North America Branch are jubilantly preparing to welcome a delegation of their leadership headed by the Party leader, Chairman and Presidential Candidate,  the Honorable Ernest  Bai   Koroma.  The delegation will arrive in Washington, DC, the Headquarters of the APC Party, North America Branch during the first week of  May, 2006, where a great number of events have been planned.

 The purpose of this visit is to sensitize the Sierra  Leonean  Community as well as to provide an International Forum for the APC  National Leadership to espouse the “NEW VISION OF THE APC  PARTY  FOR  SIERRA  LEONE”, focusing on National Peace & Security, Democracy, Human Rights, Transparency,  Accountability and Good Governance;  Economic &  Social  Developments, encompassing Rural & Urban  Areas; Appeal for United States and other International  Donor  Assistance on the conduct of  Transparent, Free and Fair elections, vis-à-vis our impending  Presidential and Parliamentary election in  2007.

 The leadership will visit the following APC Chapters outside of Washington, DC: Philadelphia, PA,  Somerset, New Jersey, New York City,  Atlanta, GA and California.

 We appeal to all Sierra Leoneans, Friends of  Sierra Leone  and  well wishers  to come  and hear the message from our leadership.     

 Bank of America Building, 6475  New  Hampshire Avenue, Suite 350 P, Hyattsville,  Maryland, 20783

                        Tel/Fax: (301)  270-5436  Chairman: (703) 725-9103  Sec. Gen. 240-354-7966

                        E-mail:    bash@apcpartysl.org    website:   www.apcpartysl.org

SLPP (UK and Ireland) Hosts the First Diaspora Party Workshop

Monday, April 24th, 2006

 

Monday April 24, 2006

Under the auspices of the national leadership of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party, the UK and Ireland branch will host the first Diaspora workshop on the 29th. April 2006. The key objectives of this all important event are to discuss and consolidate the relationship between the Diaspora branches and the parent body, as well as proposals to avail the national elections in 2007.  

The workshop will be attended by the National Chairman, Alhaji U.N.S Jah, National Secretary General, J. J. Saffa, The Finance Secretary, Mrs Thompson, National Publicity Secretary, Victor Ryder, the National Women’s Leader, Dr. Bernadette Lahai, the National Young Generation Leader, Sahr Nyama, and the SLPP Parliamentary Representative as well as a cross spectrum of the UK and Ireland Branch Membership.

Over 200 participants are expected to attend with a wider coverage of the Sierra Leonean and African Press in London. The Workshop will be preceded by a grand independence reunion evening on Friday, 28th April 2006, in the South London Borough of Southwark, the home of 25% of Sierra Leonean residents in the UK.

The UK and Ireland Branch Executive have extended warm invitation to notable UK politicians, Sierra Leonean Professionals and business men and women to join in the workshop and reunion evening. Chairman, Tamba J. Lamina has intimated that, an event like this was long overdue, but the restructuring of the party and huge task of reconstruction after the war in the country has not made it easy.

For more information contact:

Harold Bundu Saffa, Secretary General, UK & Ireland Branch- 07950271429

 

BEREWA WILL MAKE AN EVEN BETTER PRESIDENT THAN KABBAH

Monday, April 24th, 2006

 

Monday April 24, 2006

First_Name:  Foday Musa
Last_Name:  Daboh
Email_Address:  fmdabo@yahoo.com

Comments:  I am troubled by Hashim Daboh’s piece aimed at President Kabba and President Berewa come May,2007.It troubles me because Hashim’s hatred for President Kabba and VP Berewa has blinded him to the numerous achievements of this SLPP administration.I am not saying everything has been perfect but definitely it has not been as bleak as Hashim paints it.

I know for sure it is almost a decade since Hashim left Sierra Leone but I know he talks to people in Sierra Leone and I am sure if those people are fair they should be telling Hashim the strides this government is making to restoring our basic social needs and infrastuctures.There is no chiefdom in Sierra Leone that can not boast of a school,hospital or market.Hashim,mind you the war only ended in 2002 but today we talk of an economic growth of more than 6%,one of the highest in the world.Ours is probably not noticeable because of the size of the country and the economy.

Hashim,I want to know if you and other PMDC supporters would be making the same comments against Kabba and Berewa had Charles won the party’s nomination for president.The answer I know is a big no and if this is so then I smell hypocrisy and personal agrandisement.

It is not just enough to talk about government officials being corrupt,there has to be physical evidence to corroborate such allegations.There is what you call in government collective responsibility which makes your man Charles culpable of the same corruption he now accuses the Kabba administration of because he was part of that administration for a couple of years.And I know he resigned from the cabinet not because of the gargantuan corruption as you now alleged but because he wanted to run against president Kabba at a time when President Kabba’s rating was over 70%.

I know you have still not recovered from the shocker that Charles like other ministers dished out contracts to relatives and cronies.Charles went further than most of the other ministers by ensuring his wife got contracts in a ministry which he headed.That is an absolute conflict of interest.You know that is not possible here in the States.You remember the Halliburton contract in Iraq.Vice President Cheney had left Halliburton long ago to serve in his present capacity but he was still blasted for that.So you see Charles’is more serious.Die hard supporters like you Hashim may pretend not to be worried by this but those sitting on the fence right now,the undecided majority will definitely go back to the SLPP because they have no guarantee Charles will be any different.

Please be assured that Berewa is going to make an even better president than Kabba.

There is still a place in the party for those of you that I know regretted leaving the GOP in the first place.

The internet in Sierra Leone : The way forward

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

The Internet in Sierra Leone: The way Forward? 

by JOHN ABDUL KARGBOAbstract
The Internet which contains untold riches of information and access to people world-wide has been launched in Sierra Leone. This article discusses the potential benefits the country stands to derive from this relatively new technology.

Content
Introduction
The Internet in Sierra Leone
Impact and Uses of the Internet in Sierra Leone
Issues of Concern
Conclusion
Notes

Introduction< a?>
The growth and maturity of the Internet market in Africa is being signaled by growing international activity in the continent. Of late multinationals are moving into Africa’s Internet service. Though such developments are taking place mostly in South Africa, interest has also been shown in Uganda, Tunisia, Egypt, and Kenya. For instance, PIPEX Internet Africa – partially owned by PIPEX UK – has continued to develop its relationships with its newly found agents. So also Ixchange, a Johannesburg-based information exchange company, is implementing Mail-Ixchange, an electronic post office in the Ivory Coast.

It is apparent that the Internet is part of an on-going commercialization exercise, aimed at developing services for both businesses and private individuals. Many Africans see these moves by multinationals into their territories as ideal opportunities to bring affluent buyers and sellers together efficiently and conveniently.

The Internet in Sierra Leone< a?>
In Sierra Leone, the Internet has been launched by Sierra Leone Telecommunications Limited (SIERRATEL), the country’s main telecommunications provider. Over the years, customers have complained about anomalies in the telecommunication system. Quite often, they have challenged inaccuracies in their call units, demanding printouts of calls for disputed periods in order to correct problems. Some customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the duct system and card phone installations on the streets. SIERRATEL, in an attempt to improve the company’s image and customers’ satisfaction, launched its Internet service by declaring July 26, 1996 as The Internet Day in Sierra Leone. Presently, customers can only transmit messages or images by means of fax or telex, time-consuming and expensive options if large documents need to be transmitted.

The Internet – relatively a new technology for Sierra Leone – is perceived as being faster and cheaper compared to the conventional fax or telex. According to SIERRATEL management, the Internet facilities will be developed in two systems. The first system will be a local area network in which subscribers can hook onto the Internet, to communicate and disseminate information within institutions such as the university, hospitals, and the private sector. The second system will provide a gateway outside of Sierra Leone to the Internet’s international community whereby subscribers can communicate with others world-wide.

Impact and Uses of the Internet in Sierra Leone < a?>
Sierra Leone is only emerging from a civil war. There is the problem of appropriate balance of available resources devoted to immediate critical human needs such as food, health, shelter, and basic literacy compared to the resources required for the Internet. Given this situation and the importance of the Internet, what does the country stand to benefit from utilizing this technology?

To decide and not to decide the benefits the country shall derive from the information superhighway are essentially decisions in diversity. Most countries of the developing world see this new technology rather more of a bypass. Poorer countries in sub-Saharan Africa, of which Sierra Leone is no exception, have seen only a few benefits of this global communication. But the crux of the matter is that most of these countries lack sustainable growth.

Indeed the benefits the country stands to derive from the introduction of the Internet can no longer be second guessed. The Internet could prove as useful to Sierra Leone as it is in the more developed countries. It could help change Sierra Leone society. In communications, the citizens of Sierra Leone could be provided with a faster and more reliable means of contacting each other to exchange news and views as well as receiving updates on rapidly changing political, social, economic, and environmental events. It could provide a very useful means by which aid organizations such as CAUSE Canada, CARE, ACTION AID and peace-keeping forces, like the West African Community Monitoring Force (ECEMOG), would keep in touch with their colleagues outside Sierra Leone.

Even the chronic postal problems of mail delivery and pilfering would be eased. Messages and mails could be sent directly to the users through electronic mail with ease.

The Internet could become a key part of research and development in the community. Journalists, for instance, would use the Internet to cover topics in the computer industry; some could even conduct interviews electronically. Medical researchers could share information on widespread diseases, such as polio, AIDS, lasser fever, tuberculosis, and leprosy, to name a few.

The current state of the library system in the country calls for significant use of information resources on the Internet. With the few exceptions of libraries operated by the British Council and the United States Information Service, the financial base of most libraries in the country is weak. Funds allocated to most libraries in Sierra Leone are small and do not keep pace with the inflation of book and journal prices. The economic situation of libraries has led to a considerable deterioration of services offered, and forced libraries to rely heavily on donors like Book Aid International, African Book Collective, and the World Bank Book Project. Unfortunately, most donations are not only irrelevant to the needs of the clientele but are also not made on a regular basis. With the introduction of the Internet, people in library and information work could find the Internet useful since it could:

  1. enable them to retrieve useful copies of reports, public domain software, or shareware,
  2. search online catalogues of hundreds of libraries around the world,
  3. gain access to multi-purpose interactive bulletin board systems,
  4. participate in on-going professional and topical discussions via electronic mail,
  5. communicate with network users worldwide, and
  6. allow librarians and information scientists who studied abroad to keep in touch with their universities, colleges, professional associations, and colleagues.

But the use of the Internet in business is perhaps what will be of more relevance to Sierra Leone. Those in the business world could use the Internet to make sales and promote their products. Large industries and corporations such as the Sierra Leone Brewery, the National Confectionery Company, the Aureol Tobacco Company, the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, and local insurance companies would be able to advertise on the Internet. Because of this advertising space on the Internet, customers will be able to consult online catalogues of suppliers. They can also place orders for items of their choice electronically. The ultimate result is that the Internet could enable them to gain timely and significant insight into overall market trends and competitive pressures so as to increase their overall business contacts.The Internet has the potential to promote arts and culture in the country by disseminating information about entertainment events such as sports, football matches, cinema, theater, and even dances. It will make it possible for visitors and users to look on screen for necessary information about week-end entertainment opportunities. It will enable Internet users to buy tickets for any event from the comfort of home or office.

Of particular relevance to Sierra Leone, the Internet can facilitate education and training. Owing to the lack of indigenous publishing and book distribution agencies, information materials are imported and paid for in “hard currency.” When available, the Leone (local currency) equivalent is paid thereby making the cost of materials very high. The Internet could be of tremendous assistance – if not relief – to this problem since Internet users could use the Internet to access information normally difficult to secure by any other means.

In research and teaching, especially at the tertiary level, most of relevant materials are lacking. Often university professors and lecturers have to make do with a single up-to-date text in their respective disciplines. With the Internet, it will be possible to get relevant materials for students on a daily basis. Students no longer will have to turn in their lecture notes for reuse to their lecturers during examinations.

In labor, the Internet could be a promising tool for employee recruiting. In Sierra Leone, the Labor Congress and the Public Service Commission (PSC) play a major part in recruiting personnel for the civil service and general labor force. Employment procedures involve collecting gazette advertisements and taking passport-size photographs for labor membership cards. All these efforts are costly and waste time and effort. With the Internet, jobs could be advertised electronically, avoiding some of the traditional costs and middlemen. Companies, big and small, could look not only for customers but also a labor force across the nation as well as overseas.

Issues of Concern < a?>
Indeed the Sierra Leonean community will benefit from this new technology. Though the Internet will be very beneficial, it is a long way from being fully implemented at present, with several roadblocks still in the way. Funding for the development of the Internet by SIERRATEL still requires urgent attention by the SIERRATEL’s management. In his keynote address during the launching ceremony, the Managing Director of SIERRATEL noted that “the Company has limited resources and they have to date not received any funding from external agencies. It is from the resources collected from telephone, facsimile, telex, and some few special services such as leased and direct lines offered that they have sponsored all their programs.” Considering the tremendous costs involved in making the Internet possible in Sierra Leone, there must be a basic financial commitment to the project in order to make it sustainable.

Most importantly, the success of the Internet program depends on having a group of enthusiastic users. Since the Internet is a relatively new technology in the country, there are not a large number of experienced Internet users. To date, those identified for participation in this new network are quite small group. Until a sufficiently large user group is established, the success of the program will remain doubtful.

Related to developing a user base is the sheer cost of using the Internet. To participate, one needs a computer with telecommunications software, a modem, and access to a reliable phone line or Internet connection. Hardware and software are costly considering the rate of exchange for the local currency (Leone) to the dollar or pound sterling. It is no hidden fact that most organizations and institutions in Sierra Leone operate on tight budgets and cannot tolerate the costs of the Internet even if the desire to use the Internet is there.

There are considerable costs for training users as well as for technicians to ensure that the network is reliable and easy to use. It is critical that these economic factors have to be considered at each stage of planning and implementation.

Human resources development and training of personnel are vital issues. Expertise will be needed to run the system. It is essential then that relevant target groups and appropriate individuals be identified for training. This training should include a broad overview of the functionality of the technology before delving into its usage. Seminars and hands-on demonstrations during installation are essential. Such training should also be continuous. Since SIERRATEL management has only limited resources, it is hoped that management has considered all of these factors for sustaining the Internet on day-to-day basis.

It would be useful if there existed a comprehensive record or database of institutions, organizations, and personnel interested in the Internet in Sierra Leone. SIERRATEL should embark on compiling a list of interested customers for their Internet services. With this information, SIERRATEL would then know its potential customer base for digital services.

The unreliability of power supply in the country creates potential difficulties for the success of the Internet. At present, the country cannot boast of a dependable power supply. Blackouts are frequent, and some provincial parts of the country lack access to the power grid altogether. If the Internet will work for the entire country, the situation calls for an improvement in the services of the nation’s power service. Without additional generators and infrastructure, portions of the country will be left out of this telecommunications advance.

Leadership and participation need to be considered at various levels of the project from planning through implementation. There must be a basic commitment on the part of SIERRATEL management in order to make the project work. Bureaucratic tendencies must be subsumed. Leadership should be vibrant and committed with clearly defined functions that would address critical issues like ownership, access, training, pricing, and regulations. Only through committed leadership will the new technology be successfully implemented and sustained.

Conclusion< a?>
With the launching of the Internet in Sierra Leone last year, the country is gradually joining the “information technology bandwagon.” This is done with the sole aim of using the Internet as the means to improve communications both within the country and internationally. But the successful implementation of the Internet will require a shift in resource allocations in the country and require the SIERRATEL management to provide outspoken and dynamic leadership to implement and sustain the network.

Author
John Abdul Kargbo is in the Institute of Library, Archives, and Information Studies at the University of Sierra Leone. Mail can be sent to him at the Institute, Private Mail Bag, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

 



SLPP did not bestow political pluralism : The people of Sierra Leone did

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Thursday April 20, 2006

First_Name:  Acim
Last_Name:  Baio
Email_Address:  acimbaio@yahoo.com
Address:  CEMARE
City:  Portsmouth
State:  UK
Zip_Code:  PO13LJ
Comments:  SLLP Did Not Bestow Political Pluralism; Like All Other Political Parties, It’s a Fruit of Political Pluralism Demanded and Achieved by the People of Sierra Leone

Attention: The Editor, Cocorioko International

Dear Editor,
Reference:  Editorial – “Encouraging signs from erstwhile Heart of Darkness” (Tuesday April 11, 2006)
I must mention how beholden I feel to your ?information outlet’ for the comparatively timely, balanced and good quality information on our country.

I commend you for signalling the advent of “Encouraging signs from erstwhile Heart of Darkness” in your editorial of Tuesday April 11, 2006. I sense the delicate line of neutrality you should maintain in the service you are providing but I dare say objectivism must not be seen to be sacrificed at any cost. In that vain let me ask for your permission to disagree with you on the generative mechanism of ?.. signs from erstwhile Heart of Darkness’ in the context of Political Transformation of Sierra Leone
My centre of attention is on the mechanisms and actors at play that have culminated in what you have beautifully put as “the political renaissance that has swept Sierra Leone”. I am surprised and maybe uncomfortable when the invaluable input of the ordinary Sierra Leonean Man, Woman or Child in the streets of our country is functionally left out of the equation of the genesis of the political status quo that we have all worked hard to achieve. I submit that by so doing, the entire argument may fall flat on its face and disintegrate into unsalvageable inconsistent fragments that may not be very useful. This is because the ordinary man is the hub around which other actors including the international community and whatever Political Party is revolving. To omit that factor, seems to me, is like chasing the wind.

The intension of the editorial is brilliant (apparently intended to recognise the growing political tolerance and freedom of association in our democracy). However the reservation of compliments for the ruling SLPP Party as an actor in the evolution of political pluralism in your words – “However much we criticise the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), we must however not fail to pay tribute to the Grand Old Party that during its incumbency Sierra Leoneans became free once again to exercise their political franchise. In the past, dancing in the streets for another political party was an invitation for systematic KGB and Gestapo-like extermination by the powers-That-Be then” – as compared to “It is a new day in Sierra Leone and we all deserve a pat on our backs” – at the tail end of your article for the rest of mankind; may not be proportionate. This suggests that, the mechanisms and context in which the political actors have interacted to produce outcomes (registration of PMDC to stick to your example) is not as obvious as I tend to assume.

This is not to say that SLPP does not deserve commendation on some other aspects of good governance of our beloved country. But I will be derelict in my duty of service to the “land that we love” if it is not reaffirmed here that outcomes that we are witnessing now has been brought about by mechanism in which the SLPP is the weakest link. An unsophisticated example is when the people and the International community were battling it out with the AFRC; SLPP was leaking its wounds in some obscured location after publicly accepting knowledge of the imminent perpetration of the highest crime on our land (overthrow of a democratically elected government by force).

Had the people welcomed the Junta, I submit that the outcome would have been different. But we the people of Sierra Leone insisted on voting our leaders in or out through the ballot box and will never allow anybody to shoot his way to political power. When leaders were dining and wining with Foday Sankoh on the eve when that unforgivable criminal was planning to wreck havoc on our country, it was the people who confronted him. I will not shy to insist that had the people not intervened, the outcome would have been different with more serious consequences than the lives of our 22 brothers we lost. When people dived under the bed at the gun shots of the infamous ISUs, in the Siaka Stevens days, the fight was only postponed to be fought another day (as Mr Marley Philosophised) – again with more serious consequences of a colossal more than a quarter of a million deaths. On this, you will see me ?cautiously blaming’ us all (the people of Sierra Leone) for letting our country down during APC days in my succeeding take on the issue. Resisting Siaka Stevens’ negative power (see sections below) by then may have resulted in fewer deaths – but the generation had a huge capacity to absorb negative power because of the geo-political realities – thus my use of ?cautiously blaming’ above (see subsequent sections for contextualisation).

Power is a process that permeates and shapes the control one would have over his/her own life. You would agree with me that it could be positive – where people are empowered, included, encouraged, equity in distribution of resources, access to and ability to obtain services etc. Or it could be negative where people are robbed, marginalised, excluded, dismissed, used and misused etc. When, power is negative, the capacity to accommodate its vices changes with the orientation of the era and generation. This accommodative capacity shrinks as man evolves (now the Monarch is resisted in Nepal of all places as I write – something unimaginable in the not distant past).

This theory allows me to put it to you that, had the same Siaka Stevens been around today (with the same cabinet and with this population character as it is now – 2006), it must dawn on you now that; he would have been absolutely incapable of inflicting on our country, what he did in those dark days. At the other end of the spectrum, the capacity to hold positive power is insatiable as more is needed the more you give (Manifest destiny – Man was born free) – political economists would love to explicate this. All what SLPP has done, more for its own continued survival before being consumed by peoples’ aspirations, is to recognise the shrinking capacity of Sierra Leoneans to accommodate negative power – an attribute eloquently manifested in recent times (Resistance of NPRC, Civil Defence, AFRC show down, Sankohs’ arrest etc) – which as you known brought and sustained the SLPP at the central stage. Positive political power is achieved and not bestowed (Nelson Mandela believed in this position and (his first wife) Evelyn a Jehovah Witness believed God will find a way to save his people. Nelson believed in God – God was good and will not want bad things to befall his people – but he deferred that one have to work hard using God given talents for good things to come about.

This irreversible positions lead to what history will now record as Nelson’s first divorce). So when people work for positive power the least to be done is to acknowledge it. The South African Government in the Apartheid era was not going to wake up one morning and transfer power to the majority. The huge hatred for PMDC openly showed by SLPP must indicate how powerless they are in the face of demand by our people for positive power. SLPP did not bestow political pluralism on the people of Sierra Leone – the people demanded and achieved political pluralism (from rebels and two brutal Junta – NPRC and AFRC regimes) of which SLPP like PMDC are only but fruits. Since reintroduction of political pluralism in 1996, more than 15 political parties have registered. Therefore, “…today we are free to form alternative political parties” was more pertinent 10 years ago when SLPP registered with other parties in 1996. That PMDC’s registration is different from all other registrations to the extent that SLPP should be credited is a mouth watering thesis which I will comprehensively resist due to time constraint.

We can congratulate ourselves for another credible force; but SLPP should be busy with whatever they choose.  My fear is that we easily and voluntarily create giant tormentors in our midst and end up being incapable to contain them from bringing untold sorrow to our people. Let me don’t gild this lily, I will embark on a more critical analysis of the PRINCIPAL role of people in political situations at any point in time when I join you in the ensuing analysis of independence and post-independence evolution of Party politics in Sierra Leone up to the registration of PMDC embedded in theories that could be publicly defended.
Having indicated the direction I am headed; let me continue with “why” I took that position. The popular dictum that “the people deserve the government they have” is accurately embedded in the elementary but valid principle that – outcome of an action follows from mechanisms acting in a particular context. The common example used to illustrate this principle is the question: Does gunpowder explode when a flame is applied? Yes if the conditions are right; is the answer. It doesn’t ignite if it is damp, or if the mixture is wrong, or if no oxygen is present or if heat is applied only for a short time.

The vital components of the principle outcome (the explosion) of an action (applying flame) follows from mechanisms (chemical composition of the gunpowder) acting in a particular context (particular conditions which allow the reaction to take place). Humans share 98% of their gene in common with Chimpanzee; but we are not Chimps. I am my fathers’ son; but I am not my father. We were born by different parents and the time we were born puts us in different context in which different generative mechanism will act and outcome is bound to be different. But I look so much like my late father though; the same name, lived in the same house, he loved and took good care of me, provided protection, we were good friends etc, but my father is my father, I am my father’s son. It is quite tricky to compare current and past events of a socio-political nature because of the brutal reality dictated by the above principle. That is why care must be taken before such statements “Three decades ago, it was virtually a crime to form an opposition political party in Sierra Leone.

The octogenarian politician, Dr. John Karefa-Smart, will never forget his ordeal at the hands of the then ruling All People’s Congress (APC) when he decided to form another political party to challenge the Siaka Stevens oligarchy…”  are made and used to evaluate a group of politician under completely differently circumstance. Smart lived in an era when hooligans were allowed to slaughter people with impunity. if Charles was President of Liberia in 1967, he would have wiped out the entire sub-region and retire to the balcony of the executive mansion before realising that there is nobody to give him water to drink. When the gunpowder was damp, who dared to arrest Idi Amin Dada and other dictators for the slaughter of our brothers? President Kabbah does not have the luxury to chase news papers out of town like Stevens did with Tablet. With Cocorioko International et al; around the world, running after people in the street of Freetown like a mad dog is not helpful. After all, Stevens did send an email until his death. But you can argue that Kabbah is harassing journalist and imprisonments and deaths here and there. I will agree with you that it is a good argument. But the generative mechanism is dynamic as there is tremendous pressure underway to repel the public order act that allows abitary arrest. This is in the manifesto of a number of political parties. Assume that act is repelled when some other person is in power. Will it be justified to suggest the current President then is so democratic that the public order act has been repelled during his incumbency? I beg to defer. Stevens’s resisted multiparty because of the context and mechanisms at work during his era. But if we had multiparty in 1996, is it because NPRC loved democracy? They could not have resisted because the demand for positive power (the people, international community and host of other generative mechanisms) could have consumed them. We are related to the former generation (same country, our fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts etc) but we are different as we emerged in a different context with different generative mechanism acting on us to steer our nation to a different outcome from those that Karefa-Smart went through. Your comparism thus, is only useful to see where we are coming from and maybe tell stories; but not to evaluate adherence to democratic value in retrospect. Some of these guys out there now (from all indications) would have behaved worst than Stevens if it where not for the iron jacket of context and generative mechanism they find themselves.

When APC went berserk in the late 60s’ and used force to cling to power against the wish of the people, it was dealing with a collection of peaceful, well educated and prosperous people highly respected by the rest of the world (Athens of West Africa) and receive independence by negotiation. Our country was rich and Stevens could fry us with our own oil without resort to outside help. Our fathers’ generation took a long time to get out of the shock that Stevens sent them into by the introduction of naked violence. The “Dog Police” had perfected violence in Marampa mines where he championed violent strikes. It was reported that he wanted to disrupt the Queens’ visit.

Most people where professionals alien to mass resistance which they did not go through to achieve sovereignty. Action was not contemplated; the gunpowder was damp and the mixture was wrong without oxygen for the type of action to take against Stevens who could not understand negotiations through which Sierra Leoneans were thought to resolve their differences. In fact; all avenues where closed for such decent activities with the 1978 One Party. Unfortunately, doing nothing about a situation is in effect; an action for some other mechanism to generate an outcome. The outcome was a collapsed state that bred discontents that became hopeless to the point of doing what they did between 1991-2002.

The generation by then had a huge capacity to accommodate negative power because they were novices to the challenge they faced (why I used “cautiously blame” above) and had to adapt by institutionalising subservience thereby abandoning their country to the wimps and caprices of a man who had so much energy and so adroit in bringing the country to her knees. When gunpowder was getting dry in 1977 (people (students) who grew and went to University under Steven’s maladministration and started learning the language he could understand) there was no oxygen (the intimidated older generation including labour congress did not support) and so the heat could not be applied long enough to generate mechanism. Since 1977, it was just a matter of time for the country to collapse as an outcome; once Stevens’ actions, mechanism and context where maintained.

By 1991 when Charles Margai and others hit the road to resurrect SLPP, (when it was not fashionable) the gunpowder was dry, the mixture was correct and there was enough oxygen (the era had changed and the current generation born and bred in resistance (multiple student strikes in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s) – took central stage while there fathers weakened by Stevens had long retired together with their tormentor). The country has been militarised (CDF in the 90’s) largely in self defence or else one will be killed in cold blood anyway. By 1992 an epitome of the shrinking capacity to accommodate negative power was manifested by the coup of young officers who took the APC by complete surprise. Most of these officers were actually born during Stevens’ rule and had nothing to do with the Westminster generation – context has changed. When Sierra Leoneans actually challenged gun toting boys to conduct multi party election in 1996 (that resurrected SLPP); they ushered in different mechanism fashioned on demanding positive power at the cost of even paying the ultimate price. Reminding you about the circumstances under which SLPP gained political power from the 30 year wilderness and locating the Sierra Leoneans (Bintumanni 1 and 2 conferences) in the process should allay your expressed fears “a chronically self-indulgent government would have preferred to fall out with stakeholders and donor agencies than play ball with them and change the country”.

It is difficult to glimpse SLPP – full of guys with packed bags ready to fly in thin air at the slightest “Maskita like bush shaking” – thwart political pluralism; hard won with blood and iron by our people who are watching closely and very interested at every twist and turn after they have been baptised with fire for ten and more odd years. The admiration of the Sierra Leonean by the international community for having championed democratic values and the expressed willingness to pay the ultimate price for it; is echoed on every corridor of the international community. They will stand by us to reinforce the generative mechanisms firmly towards stability as part of the correct chemical composition of the gunpowder to achieve positive power outcome for all. The global village with one super power is guarding the mechanism.

Cocorioko International on the information super high way is part of tens of thousands of the mechanism at play working towards prosperous and stable Sierra Leone.  For any one Party of the poverty stricken country to dream of reversing this forward match is foolhardy and I do not think if I have lost all the respect for SLPP and that they are so irrational with themselves as to attest to your fears above.  If any Party should know what the people of Sierra Leone and the rest of the world are capable of doing to achieve freedom; (from Bintumanni 1 1995, February 1996, May 25 1997, January 6 1999, to May 2000) it’s the SLPP.
SLLP Did Not Bestow Political Pluralism; Like All Other Political Parties, It’s a Fruit of Political Pluralism Demanded and Achieved by the People of Sierra Leone

Editor, having said this, when I sit down and look at what you guys are doing for your countries, I thank God for your lives.

Cheers
Acim Baio (Portsmouth, UK}

Sierra Leone loses out on debt relief again : Even Liberia considered

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

SIERRALEONEMAP

Thursday April  20, 2006

SIERRA LEONE  has once again missed out on debt relief. Even Liberia, the neighbouring country that only months ago witnessed a return to civil order , will be in line for debt relief ahead of Sierra Leone, who have enjoyed 10 years of democratic civilian administration.  READ THE PUBLIC RELEASE BELOW :

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nine Least Developed Countries in line for new debt relief

New York, 19 April 2006: The UN Envoy for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Anwarul K. Chowdhury, on Wednesday welcomed a recent decision by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to include nine LDCs among a group of 11 nations in line for new debt relief. 

A World Bank document released on Monday said the Central African Republic, Comoros, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Eritrea, Haiti and Nepal had met income and indebtedness criteria for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC). The countries will have to implement economic policies and follow reforms to qualify for debt relief at the end of three years.

“It is well-know fact that debt-servicing has been an enormous burden on the fragile economies of least developed countries. The world’s most vulnerable countries spend so much of their income paying off their foreign debts that often they are forced to cut back on funding essential health and education programmes. The recommendation of the World Bank and the IMF to consider nine LDCs for debt relief is indeed a positive step, and will certainly go a long way towards tackling endemic poverty in these extremely vulnerable countries,” Chowdhury said.  

Full release

Regards,
Ricardo Z. Dunn
Public Information Officer
Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS)

Tel: (917) 367-2471
Fax: (212) 963-0419
Email: dunn@un.org
Room S-770H
New York,N.Y. 10017

Internet:www.un.org/ohrlls

 

Will NEC be trusted in the coming Elections?

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

By Ibrahim P. Sheriff

Tuesday April 18, 2006

 This is the question that every Sierra Leonean both in the country and in the Diaspora keeps asking. The people are eager to ascertain themselves with this opaque reality because of the fact that the failed SLPP system is very confident with the election process and the manager of that process – NEC.

Whilst most of us in the Diaspora contemplates on the readiness of NEC to even register all Sierra Leoneans to vote during the 2007 elections; nether NEC nor the SLPP regime even consider the reformation of the NEC structure itself. To some of us, NEC is more important in our political process than anything else because it is NEC that finally manages the election process and reports to the people of Sierra Leone on who the next president of that country will be in 2007. Hence, we must start to check NEC itself to draw clear lines between logistical fitness to conduct the historical 2007 elections and its neutrality and genuineness in conducting that election. Oh yes, we are cautiously watching the distribution of constituencies – that is the political side of NEC even though it is raising concerns and threats of lawsuits by, for example Bonthe district. Now at least we can begin to figure out that NEC will be facing problems in the near future if it fails to remain clean.

Let us keenly concentrate on the logistical preparedness of NEC to conduct an election in a country that is seen in the eyes of the world as an example of true democracy in West Africa after years of brutal civil war. Let us concentrate on NEC as it conducts election in a country that endorsed a court that brings war leaders to justice. In other words, failure, or the sight of dishonesty and rigging in the coming election sends very awful signals to the rest of the world. So, in order to maintain the clean legacy of James Jonah as he cleanly managed the very fearful 1996 elections, NEC must be ready to put more logistics into place to effect not only voting, but proper registration of eligible voters. NEC must be mindful of the fact that the election in 1996 is going to be different from the 2007 election: more people are now enlightened than before; more people have realized the political manipulations that have led Sierra Leone to decades of retrogression; and above all, technology has brought in so much that can uncover any hidden agenda.

In order to avert all of these negative suspicions about NEC, I am suggesting that NEC saves its head by adopting a system that is clean and hassle-free. I know that part of the statistics that NEC is going to use in the coming elections is the recent census report. Well, that is fine; but I think that NEC must do its own registration and perhaps compare its final result to that of the census report. And in registering voters, NEC must change its registration culture from just individual home visits to a simultaneous establishment of voter registration centers throughout every corner of the country to reach out to every eligible voter in that country. One way NEC can do this is by utilizing technology. Though I agree that because of ignorance, NEC doesn’t realize the essence of network technology in easing its work or at least reaching out to all eligible voters. It’s simple. Let us discuss it in a plain language.

The world has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Instead of simply dealing with local or regional concerns, many businesses now have to think about global markets and logistics. Many companies have facilities spread out across the country or around the world, and there is one thing that all of them need: A way to maintain fast, secure and reliable communications wherever their offices are.

Instead of using leased lines to maintain a wide area network (WAN) as a way to expand its private network beyond its immediate geographic area, NEC can create an Intranet using VPN (virtual private network) over a wide area network (WAN) to accommodate the needs of remote registrars, employees and distant offices. A typical VPN might have a main LAN at the NEC headquarters, other LANs at remote offices or facilities and individual users connecting from out in the field. Basically, a VPN is a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. Instead of using a dedicated, real-world connection such as leased line, a VPN uses “virtual” connections routed through the Internet from the NEC’s private network to the remote site or registrars and employees.

From the above analysis, the questions arise: Why do we need this sophisticated technology in a developing country like Sierra Leone? How easy it is going to be for registrars and other employees to understand the proper use of this technology? What is going to be on this network that will be used by the registrars and employees? Well, we must not be scared by the sophistication of the technology to think that we are incapable of affording it. To answer those questions – first, this network is needed because NEC will be able to easily reach out to voters by establishing voter registration centers where computer devices such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), Laptops and even desktops with remote access capabilities can connect directly to the servers at the private local area network (LAN) at the NEC headquarters. This way, NEC will avoid the duplication of voters registered and at the same time make voter registration sites easily accessible to the voters.

NEC is to create a secured database with backup copies of the database in an unknown location to the public into which all voter registration information is entered and queried for specific information. Let say an eligible voter who registered before at voter registration location A and comes to location B to register again will be spotted by querying the database to tell whether such individual registered before at any location; or the database will not even permit any re-registration of such individual into the system because each voter will be assigned a security number. Added to this system will be human interface software that will interact with users so that mistakes and errors are not imminent. Security against hackers or spammers should not be any concern as VPN uses secured remote access through encryption of data before transmission.

NEC will hence set up let say four remote branch locations in the four regions of Sierra Leone that will be joined in a single private network – this will be an Intranet VPN which will be password-protected.  Let us take a look at this network design below:

 

 

 

 

EASTER : SIGNIFICANCE OF DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

Sunday, April 16th, 2006
Sunday April 16, 2006
 
 
By Rev. Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu
 
 
Christianity would not have meant anything to you or me if Christ had not resurrected. If Christ had remained in the grave, our faith would have been a worthless exercise. But as we celebrate Easter once again, we thank God  for his profound goodness which is again manifested in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
 
 
The  Apostle Paul , in one of his most important teachings was apt when he said : “”Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from  the dead, how do some  among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no  resurrection of the dead,then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen,  then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain… For if the dead  do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in  your  sins! Then   also those who   have   fallen asleep  in  Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ,  we are of all men the most pitiable.  But now  Christ is risen  from the dead,  and has become  the firstfruits of  those who have fallen  asleep.  [1 Corinthians 15:12-20]. The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ showed that God was with him and was willing to fulfill his promise to redeem us through the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. And in this lies our hope and the strength and credibility of our faith : That if we have faith in Jesus Christ and die in the Lord, we shall live again. Death will have no power over us  “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us  up by His  power.”  [1 Corinthians  6:14].   This is clear demonstration of the fact that we are not serving a mediocre God. Rather, we are serving a God who is and will forver be the only power and  the only supreme being in this world and the world after. But ther is even more.
 
 
By the same power and grace that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, so is he going to raise us from the dead that we will be with him in eternity and enjoy life with him forever. Therefore you can see how significant Easter is to us, Christians,  and to everyone else in the world.
The resurrection had been prophesied thousands of years before the coming of Christ :”I will ransom  them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will  be your destruction!  Pity is  hidden from My eyes.”  [Hosea
13:14].   This is the miraculous power of the God we serve. And at EASTER we celebrate the fulfillment of this promise by God , who is always faithful .
 
 
Jesus Christ died on the cross  as a ransom for our sins. He gave his life for us so that our sin will be forgiven and so that sin shall have no more power over us. And God raised him from the dead to give us power over death and the grave, and the joy of life in eternal bliss with the Lord.   “But if the Spirit  of Him who raised Jesus  from the dead dwells in  you, He who raised Christ  from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies  through His Spirit  who dwells in you.” [Romans 8:11].
 
 
As we celebrate Easter, give your salvation thoughtful attention. Provision has already been made for your salvation.You do not have to pay a cent for it.  Just believe in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice on the cross and you will saved by the God who never lies and eternal life will be your’s forever. Sin and death shall have no dominion over you anymore .