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Archive for April, 2007

45 Years of Independence: Where is Sierra Leone Going from Here?

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

By Joseph S. Sherman, Washington, DC

 Thursday April 26 , 2007

 Sierra Leone was among the first African nations to break lose from the shackles of colonialism. The peaceful transition from colonialism to independence became a beacon of hope for many other African nations in their struggle against colonial masters.  The period between 1962-1964, under the leadership of Sir Milton Margai, Sierra Leone first post-independence prime minister, the country was groping in dark for stability and direction, as the government soon realized that new state of nationhood meant much more than just the creation of the national flag, the composition of the national anthem and the election of a prime minister.

 SIERRALEONEMAP

From the early 70’s to the present, like many post- independence African countries, Sierra Leone is going through tremendous socio-economic and political challenges.  This is due mainly to years of misrule, corruption and a dreadful civil war that pillage the entire socio-economic and cultural sector.  The deteriorating economic and social sector has also created a huge vacuum for any political leader or enterprising organization to revitalize. 

 

The question now is, where is Sierra Leone going from here?  In order to answer the question we must honestly ask ourselves where we are now.  In the 45 years of existence as an independent nation the gun has ruled intermittently and a devastating civil war engulfed the country for nearly a decade.  Poverty, disease, high rate of unemployment, corruption, inadequate schools is where we are.  Governments after government have never been able to deliver or fulfill promises.

 

When Sierra Leone won its independence in 1961, it was the second wealthiest nation in West Africa.  On the contrary, today it is the world poorest according to the U.N.   For 45 years of existence, the nation reliance on foreign support continues to soar unabated.   Sierra Leone politics has also been transformed to polytricks to the detriment of the entire masses. 

 

The crucial question for the present government and incoming government is how to promote and revive the economic and social sector of the country through people’s participation in the strategies, policies and programs that affect their lives. Participation means contributing to and benefiting from and taking part in decision making about development.  The high poverty and illiteracy rates in the country have prevented the people from developing their full capabilities and from participating in the socio-economic development of the country, consequently, the vast majority of the poor and illiterate in the country, contribute little, they benefit little and have no influence over decisions that affect their lives.  They are therefore, prone to receiving little respect and recognition, and the tendency arises of been sidetracked in the democratic process and development of Sierra Leone.

 

Government also needs to empower communities and their representatives if urban or rural development strategy is to be achieved.  Women should play an active role in the reconstruction process.   Supporting grass-root organizations and leadership among Sierra Leonean women will guarantee that their interests are adequately defended.  The nation reconstruction process also requires cooperation between the central government and its local representatives, as well as community and tribal leaders in the provinces.  These relationships based on mutual interest devoid of partisan affiliation needs to be adequately pursued if growth and development is to be realized.

 

 The government should recognize the existing challenges, including those of providing livelihoods for all Sierra Leoneans.  Curbing corruption, extending reconstruction to all the provinces, attracting foreign investors in a safe and secure environment, freedom of the press without intimidation, should remain the top priority of the government.

 

Sierra Leone at this period of nationhood celebration must be born again.  This rebirth must start with the leaders entrusted with the mantle of authority.  At 45, the question still remains, where do we go from here?  The road is uncertain, and the answers illusive, but faith in the future will get us to a promising destination.

 

 

LACK OF MORAL LEADERSHIP SUNK SIERRA LEONE- 46th Independence Anniversary of Sierra Leone : My Reflections.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
First Name:  Alphajoh
Last Name:  Cham
Email Address:  alphajohcham@yahoo.com
Address:  2372 Bankside Circle
City:  Decatur
State:  GA
Zip Code:  30035
Comments:  46th Independence Anniversary of Sierra Leone. My Reflections.

Before, and shortly after independence, Sierra Leone was known as the “Athens of 
West Africa”. Today, just after 46 years of independence, Sierra Leone is one of 
the poorest in the world, at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index. I 
will not go into the statistics here, as most of us are familiar with them. But 
what I would want to focus on here is the question: what went wrong, and what 
can we do about.
As a country, we have abundant material resources require to put Sierra Leone on 
the path of development for economic and social prosperity, and yet can not 
deliver.
As a people, we have the human resource with the knowledge, experience, and if 
you will, the wisdom to manage our natural resources for the benefit of our 
people, and yet we still can not deliver.
As a nation, we have the democratic and educational institutions, at least to 
our own standards, for good governance, and yet we still can not deliver.
So what went wrong? The simple answer, in my humble opinion, is the lack of 
moral leadership not only at state house, but in all government ministries.
•   A leadership with wisdom, moral character and integrity
•   A leadership that understands the needs of its people and provides for their 
welfare
It is said: “A society that is morally bankrupt is hollow, and is bound to 
collapse. This is where we are, a collapse nation with no sense of direction.
I cannot imagine, not with any sense of moral conscience: How and why our 
leaders will drive in Mercedes on pot holes in a dark city, while our kids go to 
school on foot with no shoes on.
I cannot understand, not with any sense of moral conscience: How and why our 
leaders will live in “glass houses” with light and running water, while our kids 
go to bed hungry, and sleep in the dark.
I still cannot comprehend, not with any sense of moral conscience: How our 
leaders will despise the most needy in our society like the amputees, the 
victims of the war, and seen as a burden to society.
The sad truth is that we can afford to provide the basic necessities of life: 
shelter, food and water. But we are just too greedy and selfish to provide them 
for all.
If there is no light or water, let there be light or water for nobody. Then we 
will understand that we cannot afford them as a nation.
Now, is all being lost? The answer is no. I think we still have the energy, 
vision and opportunity to put Sierra Leone back on the track of economic 
development. It is said in the Qur’an (in interpretation) that: 
“Allah will not change the plight of a nation until and unless its people are 
ready for a change”.
The question now is: Are we ready for a positive change? This challenge is 
especially for the youth of Sierra Leone, for our fathers have failed us, and we 
cannot afford to fail our own children. Just as we are holding our fathers 
accountable today, so will our children hold us accountable tomorrow if we fail?
So let this year’s anniversary be a year of reflection for a renewed energy and 
determination to put Sierra Leone back on its track to economic development and 
political stability. In whatever we do as individuals, political parties, civic 
and non-profit organizations, let it be first in the interest of Sierra Leone, 
and then it will ultimately be in our individual interests. One thing we should 
have learnt from the decade-long rebel war in Sierra Leone, is the fact that we 
can only survive as a family, a community and a country. Let us all work 
together irrespective of our political philosophy and aspirations, cultural 
diversity, and above all our individual differences.
Together we can get to the Lion Mountain, the land of Peace, Unity, Freedom and 
Justice, and we will leave no Sierra Leonean behind.
May Allah bless Sierra Leone.
Alphajoh Cham
Earned B.SC (Hons) in Zoology at FBC, and M.Sc. (Eng.)in Environmental 
Management at University of Technology in Germany.


 

Traders back on Freetown’s streets and they are naming pioneers of their defiance

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
….Is it  all politics, politics , politics ?

 

 Some time last year , the Inspector General of Police , Brima Acha Kamara,  declared  an operation code named “Free Flow ” to get rid of traders from the main streets of Freetown and violators were arrested on a daily basis and charged to court for street trading . Many  had their goods seized by police officers during the operation.
 
Now, traders are back on the streets . They have come out in their large numbers to sell along Garrison, Rawdon, Abacha, Siaka Stevens streets on the grounds that they have been told by the Chairman of the Police Council , Vice President Solomon Berewa to trade on  the streets.
 
Though police are always deployed at the PZ and other crowded areas at the commercial nerve center of Freetown, yet they don’t even attempt to arrest a single trader. Instead, traders have taken all over the city centres with flooded goods which have resulted to traffic congestion and pick-pocketing at places like PZ and Garrison Street.
 
 Victoria Park has also  been given to the all business men and women but  Mariama Sillah believes that since traders  have not been used to selling  goods at the park ,  if they take the risk of going there,  customers will ignore them.
 
Another street peddler along Kissy Road, Alimamy Fofanah , Friday told COCORIOKO that police is only allowing traders to sell on the streets because of want of their votes. Infact, this is the talk that has gained currency in the capital  : That OPERATION FREE FLOW  has become a victim of politics and the forthcoming General Elections. Unconfirmed reports claim that the traders were allowed back on the streets by  the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP presidential candidate, Vice President Solomon Berewa.
 
When contacted by COCORIOKO, SLPP officials vehemently denied the allegations. They said that the SLPP  does not need to woo traders criminally for them to win the elections. They described the lawless traders as liars and people just capitalizing on the situation . But the SLPP  officials could not answe satisfactorily why the Police are not going after the traders robustly and vigorously like last year.
 
As for some of the traders,  Sallamatu Bangura at  Guard Street said “Even  if the police ask us now  to use State House and Parliament as markets some of us are not going to vote for the SLPP.They have disappointed us badly “. Another trader , Mayallie Kamara asked whether it is only now that the government wants to appease them. “It is too  late,” she croned, craddling her baby and placing a breast into his hungry mouth. For their part, the SLPP  officials said that these traders are being used by certain politicians to stir up a conflict between them and the government.
 
 Up to the time of posting this article the Media and Public Relations Unit of the Sierra Leone could not be reached as their  lines were  not responding to  calls.   

SIERRA LEONE WATCH: A critical look at current political issues: Jan-Apr 2007

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
By Edie Vandy – ediepauljoseph@yahoo.com
• President Kabbah Compensate ‘Cronies’ with National Honors?
• IMF Predicts Election Victory for the SLPP
• Hinga Norman and the Special Court?
• PMDC Losing Steam, in the Wake of Running Mate Appointment
• Kanji Daramy Draws Blood with Maxwell Massaquoi?

President Kabbah Compensate ‘Cronies’ with National Honors
It’s now official: President Kabbah will mark this year’s independence on April 27, 2007 by awarding 151 National Honors to men and women, he considers haven ‘distinguished themselves in meritorious and outstanding service to the nation’.  A 151 accolades; come on. This is an astronomical figure, and smells of a desperation by a man yearning to pay back cronies, for supporting his failed policies throughout his tenure elongation? The President’s time is up, and he is using his last veto power, he knows nobody can contest, to bid a formal farewell, and convey to his trusted lieutenants that they are on their own.
These recipients (not all, but most) knows they are not worthy of such honors, and they are by large no strangers to us. We are familiar with their accomplishment, their failures, and their shortcomings. What we know for sure as sun rise in the morning, is that a good number of them making up the list, do not have the kind of resume’s that warrants such honors, for which they are being glorified.  
Such a misplacement of our awards has not gone unnoticed, which has left many quarters talking, including SLAJ (I mean the majority) who now weighs in on this, and have requested their President Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, not to accept his own award as Grand Officer of the Order of the Rokel, in the field of Education and Journalism. SLAJ is seeing this as an act of appeasement, as there neutrality and independence will be compromised, and they want to stay clear from the President’s grandiose scheme of hoodwinking cronies to playing balls and dancing to his tune.  Maybe SLAJ knows their President more than we do, and even more than the President Kabbah does? Just may be they know that Ibrahim Ben Kargbo does not merit such a meritorious award, and therefore should not own it? Or just may be, SLAJ is making a point here, that the award process in its entirety is flawed? 
The issue that confronts us is not about the President’s authority to recognize achievement and bestow honors on hard working men and women who have made an impact in nation building; what is at stake, borders around the process in its entirety. The President should not be given a blank check to use and misuse national honors to score political grades. Its time for the process to be reviewed and criteria’s developed to ensure that recipients make the performance call for which they are recognized. What we are saying is that, the process should be managed in a fair and transparent manner. 
Sierra Leoneans would want to know what judgment was used to drum up this years’ exhaustive list of candidates. How did the recipients fare against the benchmarks that were used, should be out in the open for all to evaluate. If someone has excelled in the field of education and journalism, let us hear the specifics. President Kabbah (and the authors of the list) should give empirical examples on their decision to have 151 recipients of this year’s national honor.
IMF Predicts Election Victory for the SLPP?
The world is definitely full of surprises, and indeed I was taken aback to read about an IMF prediction of an election victory (in their Outlook 2006/2007 Domestic Politics report) for the ruling SLPP, even where elections have not been held.  What the heck, is going on? Does it mean that the IMF has assumed new responsibilities that we are unaware of? I might be SLPP but that does not cloud my mind of asking questions when rules are broken?
Just when did the world’s financial power house; supposed to be an independent broker, began meddling in internal politics? Nobody is saying that the IMF should not carry out an in-depth country political profiling, as they do need such data to plan and design program strategies; but that’s about it.
Here they got it all wrong by this outburst, considered to be premature. The IMF by weighing in on such a political hot-potato election, is in fact attempting to influence an election outcome, considered to be very close, in favor the ruling party? Voters will surely think that the election is a far gone conclusion, and already won by the SLPP, since the IMF has spoken, for when they speak the world listens.
The IMF should be advised to stay clean from their election prophesies. Let the IMF get to basics and deal with priority financial matters, for the good of the ordinary population.  The key to this election is fair play. Power should be earned and not giving.
Hinga Norman and the Special Court?
One of Sierra Leone’s last remaining heroes – Chief Sam Hinga Norman heeded to God’s call, following his illness incurred some 4 years ago. He died at the Aristide La Dantec Hospital in Dakar, Senegal on 22 February 2007. The family of Chief Sam Hinga Norman asserts that Chief Norman died under sub-standard clinical conditions and medical neglect, whilst the Special court offers a contrary argument that the Chief died of “natural causes” as a result of myocardial infarction (heart attack).
The Chief’s death has left the nation divided, and tongues wagging, for the circumstance under which he died is what is at play here, as he was a war crime indictee; his crime been ‘bearing greatest responsibility of the war’? The question is not about his heroism or not, for he was a hero to many Sierra Leoneans.
Hinga Norman provided leadership and direction when the nation was under assault and its people held siege, following a mayhem, and reign of terror imposed by the RUF and the AFRC on their own. Don’t tell me you have forgotten the terrible dark moments that ensued with an RUF/AFRC unholy alliance in 1997-1998. Have you forgotten the rape, the killings, limb hacking, and summary executions that became the hallmark of one of the world’s brutal rebellion in modern times? For nearly eight months, ordinary Sierra Leoneans were held hostage, abandoned and left to perish from the hands of men and women who had no iota of respect for human lives and dignity. The Kabbahs, the Berewa’s, the Minister’s and the aristocrat and well placed in society, ran for cover in some faraway safety nets. Our International allies were nowhere to be seen when needed most. Kudos to the late Nigerian President Abacha, despite his shortcomings, stepped up to the plate, dispatching ECOMOG to take the fight to the RUF/AFRC. We all know that ECOMOG couldn’t have done it without the CDF, backed by the peoples resolved.   
Let’s be clear here: there would have been no Special Court, no Tejan Kabbah, no Solomon Berewa, and no International intervention, had the people not resisted, and fought the RUF/AFRC killing machinery, with all their might. What happened in Sierra Leone was not even about Hinga Norman. It was about the people’s will and determination to resist tyranny, humiliation and terror at all cost. Sierra Leoneans fought to live and survive another day. They fought to protect their democracy. Of course innocent people did die, rape was committed, properties were looted and burnt, and other injustices were done, but these things will always happen as long as there is conflict and wars. Nobody is holding grief for the few rotten eggs within the CDF (and every other stakeholder in the conflict) who participated in these acts? It is the bigger picture that needs to be placed in context, against the backdrop of the conflict. Plainly put, Hinga Norman (and the men and women who sacrificed with sweat and blood) are the true heroes of Sierra Leones war.  
When the dust did settle after the fact, what did we do instead? We turned (cowed by International pressure) to hand over one of our own? America will never hand any of their own illustrious sons and daughters to the ICC for war crimes? Don’t tell me that the Bush Administration will be brought before a war crimes tribunal for the many innocent lives lost in the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan? 
Kabbah and Berewa had the moral authority to have excluded the CDF from any prosecution, as it was their inalienable right to have asked the Special court to either do it their way or not. President Eileen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia is under no obligation, and she is not even in a hurry to replicate another special court on her turf. She is not bulging to pressure in seeking justice through a special court, as she has other preoccupation; to better the lives of ordinary Liberians. Can someone really tell me what justice has been accomplished to date, since the setting up of the UN backed Special court in 2002? Nothing absolutely, except hunger for justice, grief and wasted resources that could have been used in other priority areas. Do you know that some US $ 125 million has been spent in the last three years (and is reported in need of more money) in search of justice, that seems so far away? With all that huge chunks on money spent in post recovery Sierra Leone, we are yet to own up as a nation, and implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which arguably was the best conduit for our healing process? 
For fours years, Hinga Norman languished in cell; denied of his right to have access to a decent health care serve, that could have saved his life, but that was not to be as he was ferried to Senegal, where he died afterwards.  During his years of incarceration, Kabbah, Berewa, and his colleagues have being out enjoying the very freedom Hinga Norman and ordinary Sierra Leoneans spilled innocent blood. The least Kabbah and Berewa could have done was to play devil’s advocacy for a speedy trial, assuming they did care for a fallen colleague. Did I hear that the VP was out on the road campaigning on the very day Hinga Norman was being buried?  If that is true, at least, the VP could have lay back, and enjoyed the comfort of his home. 
The question on the lips of many lingers around justice to Chief Hinga Norman? Was the Chief in fact guilty as charged, now that all charges were dropped since his death? Sierra Leoneans deserve to know that even in death, their hero was not a war criminal.



PMDC Losing Steam, in the Wake of Running Mate Appointment
To many, it now appears PMDC is loosing steam in the wake of their flag bearer’s naming of a running mate in  the person of Dr. Ibrahim I. Tejan-Jalloh, in a move described by party faithful as ‘a flagrant violation to the rules of the game’.  Hashim Daboh’s (a key PMDC actor and one who greatly helped shaped the party in North America), resignation on April 4, 2007 was a pointer to the fact that things were falling apart within the Movement? Daboh, who never minces his words, was very harsh in his criticism of the Party leader, referring to his leadership as troubling, whilst quick to point that Margai cannot make a good president, due to his autocratic, and intolerant nature. 
The killer indictment came when Daboh smudged Margai, referring to him as ‘probably corrupt as the current administration’, and “devilish in actions, that could make the ‘evil’ Berewa/Kabbah gang appears moderate by comparison”. Daboh’s presumption of Margai is that of a man who could be a cause of pain and distress, and probably be a catalyst for instability? Whoa!!! These are not my words, but those of a former ardent supporter of a now dying movement, many hoped will have matched up with the current status quo. 
Being an independent think tank, I do not subscribe to Hashim’s exit strategy. He should have stayed on, and engaged the party in a constructive manner, to effect the changes he anticipated. That would have made him a man; owning up to his principles, but he chose to surrender and AWOL at a time he was needed to surge on. 
Karamoko Kabbah’s damming email (leaked to the press) was a pointer that the PMDC was near torpedo, and its potency as viable opposition greatly diminished. Margai has blown it up; for himself and for those that believed in him. He caught short his last remaining chance of ever becoming President. Many now wonder in fact whether Margai after all knows the game of politics.  
The PMDC was created out of a burning desperation to make a clean break from the old, designed to stomp on consensus building, and inclusion; at least that was what we were told. How comes their leadership boomeranged and flip-flopped on the Party’s core values that made them resonate with the people? The choice of Ibrahim I. Jalloh as running mate was not a strategic and wise decision. Whoever told Margai, that the Fula’s will vote PMDC, because of a Fula running mate? Reports to date are indicative of a very strong Fula opposition and rejection of the PMDC; a situation that could not be reversed not even by the new running mate. 
Margai got it all wrong. Did I hear correctly that the running mate was a one time minister of health in the first Kabbah government? How was his performance? What did he accomplish? Are we really sure on his accomplishment whilst serving in this capacity? Can we say here that the health delivery system was in a better shape than it is now?  By the way, what is this news item linking Margai’s to an outstanding $18,000 ‘dubious vehicle deal’ (source: NEW VISION 4th April 2007 edition)? Dismiss it if you could, but all of these add up and undermines credibility, and reputation.
Now that Margai has messed up, the least PMDC supporters could do is to hang in, with the hope that just maybe they can secure some seats, and become an opposition, or better still make a conscious attempt to re-claim their party. 
Kanji Daramy Draws Blood with Maxwell Massaquoi?
The name Kanji Daramy’s has become synonymous to a red flag. His name underpins negativity. And regrettably, not much has been done by either the press or civil society to make right a politically incorrect judgment. Only a handful of the Press core has called for his removal. Kanji continues to hibernate as Commissioner of the newly created National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), in the wings of political patronage; a position he does not merit by every stretch of the imagination. How many times are we reminded the President given him the sack for incompetence and corruption, only to turn around and placate him with enviable positions, paid for with tax payer’s dollars? Kanji is a spent force. There is nothing he can bring to the table, in remodeling post war Sierra Leone; not with the baggage he possess.
A lot of horrible things have been said about Kanji, the most recent from a Maxwell Massaquoi, who admits working with him in setting the commission. In an open letter to President Kabbah on Apr 11, 2007; Massaquio blasted that Kanji is deficient in knowledge, integrity and professionalism, and empty in the field of telecommunications? Mr. Massaquoi, like many Sierra Leoneans, sees Kanji as morally challenged to effectively serve in his current capacity (and any other position of trust).
Kanji and Massaquoi are now locked up in a battle of words, with accusations and counter accusations based on lies, incompetence, and impersonation. Whilst Massaquoi claims an overly qualified CV to be the Commissions new Director of Consumer and Industry Affairs, based on his accomplishment her and abroad, and the fact he helped set the new commission; Kanji says he is not only a ‘phony’, but a fake. And they both have taken the matter to no other person but President Kabbah. Will the President be a neutral referee in this matter given his soft spot for Kanji?
Kanji can set the records straight by requesting Howard to validate Massaquoi’s result. Do us a favor and prove the world that Maasaquoi is a congenial liar, and far from being a seasoned telecom expert and management consultant with a versed global telecommunications background.
The era of information needs credible people to lead the process. Kanji does not match that description. His past and present record track is a pointer that he must sit out for others who mean well for our great nation, take charge.  We have had enough of President Kabbah’s political sour grapes, and blister appointments since his occupancy at the State House. The nation should wake up from this stupor and advocate for Kanji’s removal.

 

Death at our Feet…: CHRISTIAN KATTA KEILI

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
 


Christo Keili’s untimely death has dealt a crippling blow on my person. Once more, death is at our feet, like my Mende mentors would put it. My whole plan for this nice spring weekend has turned sour. Christo was a buddy, brother, helper, enabler: the list goes on to infinity. To me, and many others reading this mail, Christo was family. We grew up together in Bo town, darkened the walls of CKC, and Mount Aureol, elbowed our path through hardship and made big fun out of it all, steeped our persons in society’s sane and insane values, dated the chicks that lined our common walls, and so on and so forth. How ever can I forget one so dear to my spirit and person!


To Christo’s family here in the States and back home, I share in your grief not as a by-stander but as one deeply troubled at heart, and humbled by the overpowering thought of how death, “the necessary end” brings closure to the finest life that ever was created. My heart goes out to you – and I mean this – and together we will learn to shake it off like the many other challenges that bestride our common paths in life.


Brothers and sisters of the extended family here and back home, it is time to comfort the bereaved family consisting of Josie Keili (404-405-4290); Hannah (803-356-6372); Joy (704-921-4771) and David Keili (404-375-5823). I deliberately left out the surname for Joy and Hannah because I am advised these have surrendered the Keili name to two lucky gentlemen. Mind you, a mere telephone call at this time would mean a lot to these people. I know that these numbers work because I have just spoken to each of them this morning.
May the soul of the faithful departed, Christo Keili, rest in perfect peace!


Joskyn Kamah-Kanu
Atlanta, Georgia

I.B.KARGBO AND PHILIP NEVILLE MUST SETTLE THEIR DIFFERENCES IN THE INTEREST OF THE NATION

Monday, April 23rd, 2007



By Rev. Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu

Journalism  is one of the most noble of professions. It is so noble that it requires noble men and women to practice it . Journalists are the focal point of society. The monumental task of regeneration and cleaning up of society rests in their hands. And given the perversity of today’s society, it is not an enviable job . But the work has to be done and only men and women of probity, of unquestioned moral character, honor and patriotism can truly be journalists in any society.Men and women  who waver  with truth because they have  either bound themselves to the establishment  through gifts or  established ties with the rich and powerful and the governors of society cannot be effective pursuers of the ideals of independent and patriotic journalism.

Therein lies the respect that both journalists enjoy at the moment. Whatever their detractors say about them, they are among the breed of Sierra Leone’s journalists that deserve econiums for their steadfast devotion to writing it as it is, regardless of whose ox is gored. When one considers how  the profession has been invaded by the  hawkers and money-changers Christ drove out of the Temple , the opportunists and bootlickers with their own personal agendas and the infirm of moral worth looking for cheap popularity and acceptance, you appreciate that Sierra Leone journalism is still blessed by the presence of these two.


What happened between the two leading journalists should not be allowed to  fester , because this will bring bad blood to  the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists ( SLAJ) ,an organization that has found its feet at last , after  all the  problems  of its formative years. Both journalists and their supporters should note that as is said in our local parlance : Teeth and tongue do clash. The only relationship where clashes do not occur at all, for all times, is one where one or more people are zombies. Once man has the freedom to articulate his views or take an independent stand, conflicts will arise once in a while.  There is no human society where controversy does not arise once in a while. The important thing, though, is the manner that conflicts are handled when they arise. God himself realised that and that is probably why his word enjoins : “Be ye angry but let not the sun go down on your anger ” (Ephesians 4:26)

From all that has been written by other journalists, it is a fact that Neville and David Tam-Bayo chose the wrong forum to address the question of the quest by President Kabbah to grant honors on the SLAJ President. I think they should have appraoched the SLAJ President in close , personal counsel or within the  close council  of selected, trusted and respected association members. The two gentlemen do not seem , to me, to be pursuing hidden agendas. It is my considered opinion too that journalists should be cautious about the way they receive national honors from the establishment.  While it is true that Korthor I.B. has performed his duties of a citizen and a journalist admirably,  caution should be exercised by him  and those who share his ideals in accepting gifts and honors at this time from the government.


President Kabbah too may not have bad intentions for seeking to honor journalists at this time. He  may have good intentions for grant honors on Korthor I.B   a fine gentleman and  a hardworking icon of Sierra Leone journalism but it is just a fact that  in certain positions, there are ethics that must be followed and we must be careful how we receive certain gifts and honors. When not given or received with the right motives, gifts and honors have the potential to pervert a noble profession, still the voices of patriots and undermine the cause of a profession  .

Journalists are like preachers of the gospel. Their very essence and worth depend on their capacity and moral will to continue to proclaim the truth. Show me a preacher who loves to receive honors , praise and gifts from his society and I will show you a Man of God whose ability and moral will to proclaim the truth has been seriously impaired. Gifts have the ability to bind their receivers . The Word of God in Deuteronomy 16:19 is specific about this . ” Thou shalt not accept person nor gifts: for gifts blind the eyes of the wise, and change the words of the just.” .Possibly what Neville and Bayo fear is that if Kargbo receives Kabbah’s honors, he will become blind to the mistakes of the SLPP  government or change his rhetoric and passion on the Yansaneh case. A  preacher who receives gifts from fornicators and adulterers in the church will,  for instance, deny himself the levity to preach against these sins in future for fear of offending those he had received gifts from in the temple.

However , that does not mean that we cannot accept gifts. It all depends on the giver and his motives for giving them. If there is any iota  of belief that a gift would bind and it would hinder one’s ability to speak the truth , it should not be accepted. In this case however, it looks like this is a national honor–not a gift, per se- that President Kabbah desires to bestow on a worthy journalist to demonstrate the nation’s appreciation of the travails and national endeavours  of journalists in Sierra Leone.  The honors are meant for I.B. not SLAJ , if I got my facts right. When President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia  sent $500 to certain media houses for Christmas, the gifts were rejected because their motives were unclear and they were not meant for particular individuals. In this case, the motives for the honors are clear .Kabbah may be saying: “I.B. Kargbo has done much to promote good journalism in Sierra Leone and it is time to recognize him nationally.” I don’t think such honors would stop a journalist from executing his duties impartially. What is more, the honor is not from Kabbah, per se. It is from the nation because the President grants these honors on behalf of the nation.

With the level of democracy being attained in Sierra Leone, it is not right  to think that Kabbah is providing these honors to get something in return. Isn’t Kabbah on his way out ?  Also, I.B  is the head of the country’s journalists  association, but he does not have control over how newspapers operate and what they write. Nor does I.B. alone hold all the aces in  deciding the battles that SLAJ  would love to fight. SLAJ  can still fight the government on the Yansaneh issue.

Kargbo and Neville cannot afford to have a hostile working relationship. They must let reason prevail and harmonize this problem now. As long as we live on this earth, the  teeth and the tongue would clash but the important thing is not whether conflicts will arise but how we handle them when they come.
 

Nigeria’s shamble elections : Wake up call for Sierra Leone

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
 
 
The shambles of an election just completed in Nigeria should serve as a wake-up call for all advocates of democracy in Sierra Leone. With our elections only three months to go , what has happened in Nigeria should bear salient lessons for Sierra Leone  , in view of the fact that whatever obtains in one  African state has the tendency of recurring in others.Political scientists have long theorized that cataclysmic events are contagious. They have a tendency of spilling over  to other countries. This has been the case with military coups and bungled elections. Thus, if anyone thinks that our elections cannot go the Nigerian way, they are mistaken.
 
The lesson Sierra Leone  must learn from this catastrophic Nigerian election is that we must never take anything for granted. Unless a miracle happens, nothing will stop Alhaji Yar’adua from ascending the throne in Nigeria, once he has been declared winner by the country’s Electoral Commission. Legal battles will arise but in the final anaysis, incumbency will prevail again. Once an election has been rigged, that’s it. There is nothing else anyone can do about it. The solution is to stop it from being rigged  in the first place , and this is our dilemma presently.
 
 Once an election has been stolen, the international observers  will conclude that though there were irregularities but  they were not significant to influence the results. Even where they reach a conclusion that the rigging significantly affected the results, they lack the power to change the results. As for stakeholders, they  will continue issuing their threats about sanctions  , but how many of these threats have we  not heard before ? If Yar’adua is not the choice of the people and he also becomes a mere statistic, Nigerians are going to be saddled with him for 5 years to the detriment of the nation.
 
This must not be allowed to recur in Sierra Leone. All those thrust with the responsibility of ensuring that the elections are free and fair should not rest on their oars. They have to continue pushing for compliance to  all the structures that have been  put in place, if at all,  to make sure that there is no rigging.
 
Our main concern is that this particular election in Sierra Leone on July 28, 2007 should be free and fair. These are landmark elections that will impact on the progress of the nation for years to come .Sierra Leone is ripe for a change.She needs need blood and fresh minds to tackle the serious problems that lay ahead. But change cannot come from bungled elections.
 
 The people of Sierra Leone want to have a say in who become their leaders next.They have been disappointed by their politicians and leaders and want to ensure that this time they place people in power  who  will ring  in the desired changes at last. .
 
We are desperate for change in Sierra Leone –Desirable and worthy change that will ensure socio-economic and political renaissance. And this cannot be achieved with General Elections that are a charade of democracy. We hope everybody will learn from the Nigerian experience and take nothing for granted. The elections must be free and fair and we, the Sierra Leoneans,  have the onus to ensure that. We must all be watchdogs and ensure that no rigging is done.
 
 
 

SLPP TOO BUSY CRYING DOWN THE PMDC RUNNING MATE…But Where’s Their Own?

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
Morie Mussaffa
 
 
 Charles Margai was THE LAST TO BE ELECTED AS A PRESIEDNTIAL CANDIDATE, BUT THE FIRST AND ONLY ONE SO FAR TO DECIDE ON A RUNNING MATE.  The SLPP Presidential candidate, VP Berewa, has yet to come up with a running mate nearly 2 years since he was elected in 2005.
 
Yet, ever since Charles and the PMDC took the decisive lead, all we are hearing from the SLPP and its group of pessimists is how much the Fullah community is not in support of Dr. Tejan Jalloh. They are going around leaving no stone unturned in trying to find any Fullah person who can say what they want to hear and published. YET AFTER ALMOST TWO YEARS SINCE MAY 2005 WHEN HE WAS NOMINATED, BEREWA DOESN’T EVEN SEEM TO HAVE AN IDEA ABOUT WHO COULD BE HIS RUNNING MATE. Hey SLPP! Where is your running mate? If you don’t have one then stay away from Charles Margai’s own till you get yours.
 
It seems like instead of the SLPP concentrating on searching for their own running mate, they are too busy going around creating false stories about how much the Fullah community is not supporting Dr. Jalloh. Let no one be fooled that the Fullah people would not support one of their own. What Berewa and the SLPP don’t seem to understand is that they have intimidated people so much that everyone is now either keeping their feelings and decisions to themselves, for fear of being intimidated, or they will say whatever they feel Berewa and SLPP want to hear to keep them off their back. It is sad times slowly creeping into Sierra Leone where the people get to fear their government.
 
The SLPP knows about this fueling fear and they are thinking that they have succeeded in scaring the people to their wits and hence are croaking on these misfortunes. The only way SLPP is going to know the real truth will be on July 28, 2007. I will be highly surprised if all the Fullah people will reject their own for such a great position like a presidential running mate.
SLPP thinks that they have a lock on the Fullah community apparently because their boss is alleged to have a Fullah “friend”. If that’s enough reason for them to claim Fullah support then what about Charles taking a Fullah as a running mate? Is that any less important or useful to the Fullahs? To me, that’s even bigger than the friendship. After all, inter-tribal friendships, relationships and marriages are a dime a dozen all over that country, and amongst all tribes. Therefore, SLPP should not hope to gain political mileage out of a mere friendship, not even a marriage.
 
But what is pathetic about this whole behavior of SLPP is the way they are trying to create a division between Dr. Tejan Jalloh and his family members as well as between Fullah communities. That’s morally reprehensible. Just recently one of their mouth piece media alleged that ALL THE FULLA IN KAILHUN DISTRICT have dissociated themselves from Tejan Jalloh. Who can believe that? Since when did all Fullas in Kailahun District acted, spoke and made a choice as a monolithic block? These are the types of lies and fabrications that the SLPP and its supporting media are spewing out there to the public. They are, in effect, driving a wedge between Fullah people all around the country.
 
PMDC believes in ONE (country) FOR ALL, and ALL (people) FOR ONE (country). The emphasis on this statement is the word ALL. This is an inclusive word for all Sierra Leoneans. Why would anyone be surprised at the divisive nature of the SLPP anyway? When I was SLPP, I was, perhaps, one of the staunchest defenders of the SLPP in various media against the pervasive belief that SLPP “Na Mende Man Parti”. As much as I cannot agree with that allegation, but you can’t stop people believing that where there is smoke, there must be fire. And SLPP seem to be substantiating this allegation with their seeming divisive stance (perhaps with tribalistic underpinnings) against Dr. Jalloh. Just because people have forgotten a little bit about that, doesn’t mean is true or not. Is the SLPP surprised that PMDC chose a Fullah running mate, or is it just strange to their nature that a Sierra Leonean with no Mende bloodline has been made a running mate?
Its unconscionable that the SLPP is using every facet of the policy of DIVIDE AND CONQUER to gain votes. They are now dividing Fullah families and communities just to get elected. It’s a real shame on the SLPP to be practicing such dirty political tactics for a vote.
PMDC believes that we are ALL Sierra Leoneans first, before being SLPP or PMDC. But most important of all, PMDC believes in protecting the family moral fabric and cohesion in order to maintain the national moral fiber and support. SLPP seemingly won’t mind destroying family cohesive fabric as long as Berewa wins. Can the SLPP truly convince anyone that what they claim to have done in bringing a division between Tejan Jalloh and his family, especially between him and his Ambassador brother, is in the best interest of the Jalloh family? NO! Everyone knows that. But does the SLPP and Berewa care? NO! Everyone knows that, too.
I
 
 I  know how much of a smart, morally religious and family oriented the Fullah people are, because I was taught Arabic and the Qur’Ann by a Fullani Quoranic Master and Imam in Kailahun by the name of Alhaj Muhamad Maruwan Jalloh. I lived with and studied under him for over 12 years, finishing the Qur’Ann twice. I know and I am quite sure that the Fullah people have already seen through the covert political intrigues being cooked by the SLPP in trying to create division between Fullah families and communities. Believe me they are not going to stand for it, and the SLPP won’t succeed. Therefore, I am asking all Fullah people to be very vigilant and try to understand the ulterior motive of these SLPP dividers and conquerors. Don’t let them fool you, force you, con you or divide you. 
 
 Hello, Berewa and the SLPP! WHERE IS YOUR RUNNING MATE? Have you forgotten that a Presidential candidate does need a running mate? Can someone please tell VP Berewa and the SLPP supporters that the country is waiting on their running mate to show he is a decisive leader! Can someone convey to Mr. Berewa that he needs to provide assurance to the nation that he will be a better leader than the weak leadership now apparent in the State House (No! I mean in President Kabba’s residence, since his residence is now the National Executive Mansion), by showing the nation how much of a decisive leader he can be. People please tell him and the SLPP that he needs to assure the country that his administration will turn the current backward state of the nation around and bring progress and development through responsible, on-time and necessary decision making.
 
 If the potential performance of Berewa’s administration is to be judged from his inability to name a running mate almost two years later, then why would anyone trust him to be a decisive leader when he cannot even make decisions on a vital matter like selecting a running mate? How many years will it take him to make decisions on many other vital matters of national importance IF he takes office?
I believe that the issue of naming a Berewa running mate should have been taken more seriously by the SLPP rather than busying themselves with tearing down the one that, at least, a decisive PMDC leader has undertaken. Apparently the whole SLPP and its supporters don’t seem to know what are the important matters that are of priority to a Presidential candidate. In this situation, they have placed more priority on discrediting support for Dr. Jalloh than they have done in coming up with their own running mate.
PMDC believes that if a running mate will ultimately become the Vice President, and the Vice President is his assistant in running the nation, then selecting a running mate should be the next important matter after the election of the Presidential candidate. At least that’s how it seems in the political dynamics in more advanced nations. Berewa should have placed priority on naming the nation’s second man in command, than allowing his supporters to prioritize attacks on the one PMDC has named. Please give us your running mate before you criticize other party’s own.
 
How a 50 year old party can find it so difficult to select a running mate is bewildering. My only conclusion is that the SLPP has deep-seated problems within, that they are not publicly admitting. And if that’s the case, then the nation should look at the current dismal record of the SLPP in the way they have ran the country already, and refuse to give it another term of a DO-NOTHING GOVERNMENT (NO ELECTRICITY, NO WATER SUPPLY, NO GOOD ROADS, NO JOBS FOR GRADUATES, NO GOOD HEALTH FACILITIES (as recently warned by the us Embassy), RISING CRIME RATE, POOR HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM, DOZENS OF UNFULFILLED PROMISES, THOUSANDS OF PODA-PODA BOYS AND PETTY-TRADING YOUNG GIRLS WHO SHOULD OTHERWISE BE IN SCHOOL GETTING AN EDUCATION.
 
Frankly, the  SLPP is just not up to the job of providing capable and progressive leadership for the nation because it doesn’t know how to establish national priorities. Crying down other party’s running mates without coming up with their own, is a typical example of extreme negligence in responsibility.
Morie Mussaffa
New Jersey, USA

Priotizing Sierra Leone Come July 2007 Elections

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

 

The people of Sierra Leone are preparing for yet another presidential and Parliamentary election scheduled for 28th July, 2007.

As usual in spite of the ban imposed on political campaigning until NEC declares it so according to law, has been violated as parties are surreptitiously busy canvassing to win votes of the electorate’s on Election Day.

During this period, it’s common to see politicians and hear their promises. In fact they have not only stopped making verbal promises but have gone ahead to produce neatly tailored manifestos. Most of these manifestos promised nothing other than transforming the country from a wretched state to an enviable one worthy of living.

The is that when these parties were eventually voted into power by the people, they totally ignore the promises they made to them. The situation therefore becomes one in which rather than working assiduously to alleviate the suffering masses, those in authority will only be demeaned in working to line up to their own pockets.

Such situation as mentioned above has resulted into not only deprivation of the suffering masses but contribute to their state of povert

As a media institution, we are aware of the fact that one reason why the Sierra Leone Peoples Party enjoyed popular support in the last two democratic elections was simply because the people felt the SLPP would help to restore sanity and contribute in minimizing poverty in the country.

Today, virtually many right thinking Sierra Leoneans hold the view that the ruling government party has failed to live up to expectations. The city of Freetown is still in perpetual darkness except being aided by personal generators while the streets are filthy.  Residents of the city are still battling with the problem of getting good drinking water.  The road networks both within the city and those connecting the provinces are terrible.

Practically, one is trying to point out that in spite of the high support the SLPP enjoyed in the last two elections, it has failed the masses.

It ought to be very explicit that as a media institution we are not only saying that the people should not vote for a political party that disappointed them but to raise awareness about the failures of certain parties in order to avoid a future occurrence of such failed governments.

The concern is to ensure that people make critical assessment of all promises and manifestos of political parties and leaders that will represent them before casting their vote. Therefore, the critical way we want the people to assess the promises of politicians is to know which one addresses their interests.

Perhaps this time round, Sierra Leoneans must also look beyond political promises and manifestos and take a critical look at the composition of each political party, in addition to its leadership. The emphasis is that people who desire to make the country should be given chances.  

STANDARD TIMES

APC Leaders assure nation and the world that internal conflict is over

Monday, April 16th, 2007
APC LEADERS ASSURE THE NATION AND THE WORLD : THE CONFLICT  IS  OVER
Leaders of the opposition All People’s Congress ( APC)  today delved into some of the local languages to assure the nation that the conflict in the party was truly over. Delvering his address at Victoria Park, in Freetown , after a mammoth Peace and Unity Parade by the party, leader and Presidential candidate, Ernest Bai Koroma, for dramatic effect , said in Temne :”  Ahn Parn orh pone ” .Other leaders in their own address also drummed home the message in Krio : “De plaba don don ” .(Both of the tribal renditions meaning : “The conflict is over ”  ). These assurances today  capped a rather successful massive parade by the APC ,  which disrupted traffic and normal business in the capital, as thousands of surging supporters and members of the public came out to witness the occasion. 
EXCLUSIVE : APC SEA OF RED SIZZLES THE CAPITAL
MONDAY APRIL 16, 2007
11 : 10 AM ( Eastern Standard Time ) . The opposition All People’s Congress ( APC ) Peace and Unity March going on in Freetown , Sierra Leone , presently. Our reporter , Joseph Kamanda has just sent us these pictures , the first to come from today’s big event in the Sierra Leone capital. More pictures and reports are on the way. Later, we will publish these photos  full-blown after being processed and ‘jpeged ‘ by our Forum Moderator.  These pictures show the throngs of APC  supporters who came out today to celebrate the peace that returned to the party last week with litigants deciding to move on to better things in the interest of the party and the nation. Later today, we will bring you the views of supporters of the ruling SLPP  with regards to this huge APC  event .
‘M.L BANGURA IS  BEING MANIPULATED BY OUR ENEMIES’ : SAYS APC TOUGH MAN  KALOKOHThe National Organizing Secretary of the All People’s Congress ( APC)  and Deputy Mayor of Freeetown, Mr. Foday Abdul Rahman Kalokoh , in hailing the new peace in the party, has said that the party’s opponent, M. L . Bangura , is a loser who is being manipulated by enemies of the opposition party.
USA BRACH OF PMDC COGRATULATES CHARLES MARGAI  FOR DECISION 
Congratulations to the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) from USA
The General Assembly and the National Executive Council (NEC) of PMDC-USA, extend profound congratulations to Mr. Charles F. Margai, leader and presidential candidate and his newly appointed running mate 
THANK YOU, CHARLES MARGAI FOR YOUR DECISION
 
In ddition to what my brother Morie Mussaffa said, I  give my unconditional support to Mr Charles F.Margai’s choice for running mate. I say to those who  are disgruntled over the appointment of Dr. Jalloh as PMDC running mate to bury their disappointment and work with the party for the good of the country
COCORIOKO INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
KABBAH’S  PHANTOM TAGRIN-LUNGI  AIRPORT BRIDGE  NOW  DIRE NECESSITY
.It has been the joke of even the drunkards in the poyo bar , but now everybody will start wishig that President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah really meant what he said. For those  with short memory, let us rewid the tape. When President Kabbah came to power i 1996, he made many promises . One of the promises by Kabbah , if fulfilled, could have created one of the wonders of  the world–A  bridge from the Sierra Leone capital , Freetown over the Atlantic Ocean to the Lungi Internatioal Airport., which some people have said is about 20 miles . By Africa standards , a 20-mile bridge over the ocean , especially in a country like Sierra Leone, is a wonder indeed. Sierra Leoneans were very excited wth the promise and dreamed big dreams , but it turned out to be another ruse . Kabbah’s critics have had their fun taunting him  about the grandiosity of the project and his failure to accomplish  his flamboyant promise . 
WHAT IS THE IMF DOING PREDICTING AN ELECTION OUTCOME IN SIERRA LEONE THREE MONTHS AHEAD OF TIME?
   
By Morie Mussaffa ( Popularly known as Toegondoe Sagbah)
    
Sierra Leone newspapers and internet media have reported recently that the IMF has predicted that the SLPP will win the national elections. If this is a new definition of the function and responsibilities of the International Monetary Fund in world affairs, then I shall ask that Sierra Leoneans forgive me for my ignorance about the IMF. On the other hand, I am baffled at the seemingly new IMF role of boldly injecting
 
PEACE MARCH ; KEY TO APC VICTORY ON JULY 28, 2007

All’s well that ends well .That the leadership prowess of Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma had not been tested over the years through undue litigations by the APC’s old guards coulld not be over enphasised. The time and money wasted by the leadership of the Party  to pay lawyers   is humongus . However , the truth always comes to pass ,because  truth exhalts itself and exhorts those who say it .
  
CONGRATS TO CHARLES MARGAI FROM  PMDC NETHERLAND BRANCH
The Executive and members of the PMDC Netherlands Chapter, wish to congratulate Dr. Ibrahim I Tejan-Jalloh upon his appointment as the PMDC presidential running mate for the July 28th general elections. We have no doubt that Dr Tejan-Jalloh is a great appointment with the guidance of God for the benefit of PMDC and Sierra Leoneans in general. 
EXCLUSIVE : APC SEA OF RED SIZZLES THE CAPITAL
MONDAY APRIL 16, 2007
11 : 10 AM ( Eastern Standard Time ) . The opposition All People’s Congress ( APC ) Peace and Unity March going on in Freetown , Sierra Leone , presently. Our reporter , Joseph Kamanda has just sent us these pictures , the first to come from today’s big event in the Sierra Leone capital. More pictures and reports are on the way. Later, we will publish these photos  full-blown after being processed and ‘jpeged ‘ by our Forum Moderator.  These pictures show the throngs of APC  supporters who came out today to celebrate the peace that returned to the party last week with litigants deciding to move on to better things in the interest of the party and the nation. Later today, we will bring you the views of supporters of the ruling SLPP  with regards to this huge APC  event .