Opinion

Charles Margai: A Great Historical Figure

28 August 2007 at 03:30 | 646 views

By Abu B. Shaw, London.

Charles Margai is arguably the most important political player in Sierra
Leone today. As the second round of the presidential election becomes a reality on September 8, even political pundits cannot deny this salient fact.

In round one on August 11, the main opposition party, the All Peoples’
Congress (APC) of Ernest Bai Koroma grabbed 44% of the votes cast. The ruling
Sierra Leone’s Peoples Party (SLPP), led by Solomon Berewa, were humiliated and dumped
in second place with 38%.

Charles Margai, leader of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC),
a breakaway faction of the SLPP, took an enviable third place in getting
13.8 % of vote cast, according to the National Electoral Commission headed
by Dr. Christiana Thorpe.

Since none of the aspiring parties have acquired the 55% needed to be
outright winner, a run-off has now been
scheduled for Saturday September 8. This is a very significant date to shape
the destiny of Sierra Leone and as a compromise candidate, Charles Margai,
is, in my view, the only one to make a difference.

Charles Margai has publicly committed himself by reassuring the opposition
leader Ernest Koroma that his third force party, the PMDC will join forces
with the APC during the second round of the presidential elections. The Red Sun’s
supporters and many independent observers are happy with his formula.

Sierra Leone’s political wizard, Dr. John Karefa-Smart, resting undisturbed on his
couch in the United States (his second home), will be laughing his head off
at the outcome of the parliamentary and presidential elections and the prospect of knowing
full well that what comes around goes around. History is repeating itself.
“I have been in this situation before,” Dr Karefa- Smart would say, I assume.

The marriage of convenience presently existing between the Margai and Koroma
camps is indicative of how Sierra Leoneans have grown above regional and
tribal lines. The political awareness in Sierra Leone today must have been
underrated by the inept SLPP.

Sierra Leoneans, educated or not, have voted
for genuine policies this time round geared towards national development
instead of concentrating on family or tribal development. Bravo to our
brainy voters. This shows that education without common sense is empty and
useless.The brain power of the SLPP leadership(many with graduate degrees as in most of the parties) is really worthless as the recent polls have shown.

Dr. Karefa-Smart, leader of the United National Democratic Party (UNDP), who
came second in the first round in the 1996 presidential elections, was the
victim of a marriage of convenience when President Tejan Kabbah and his SLPP
came to power after a marriage ceremony with the then third placed party, the Peoples’
Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP known as Sorbeh, led by the late Thaimu Bangura, had to forego
everything to align itself with the SLPP. That was an alliance that saw the SLPP smiling all the
way to State House, the seat of power.

Much to the chagrin of the UNPP supporters and many silent Sierra Leoneans,
Dr. Karefa- Smart, the disciplinarian, knew that power was slipping through his
fingers through the narrowest of margins in 1996. That was the last chance for him to
ever rule Sierra Leone.

Eleven years later, the SLPP, under the stewardship of
Solomon Berewa, are facing the full consequences of their bad governance from
no less a person than Charles Margai, a prodigal son who was cheated,
snubbed and publicly molested by the SLPP hierarchy. I deeply feel that the
SLPP, presently licking their wounds after their first defeat, are full of regret for maltreating and under-estimating Charles.

I am not surprised that the SLPP are a party that do not learn from past
mistakes. A similar bitter lesson that happened to them forty years ago is
happening again. In the 1967 elections, the APC party under the leadership
of the late Siaka Stevens took advantage of a disunited SLPP to clinch their
first win. History is repeating itself all over again.

Reports that the power hungry SLPP were frantically courting the services of
Charles Margai behind the scenes did not come as a surprise to me. But what
will surprise most people, including me, is if Margai, a lawyer by
profession, made a U-turn to join forces with the SLPP for the sake of
tribalism and self.Indications are that will never happen.

This is the time for Charles Margai to stand up and be counted. What he does
now will go a long way to make or unmake Sierra Leone. But Margai is a
hardliner and a man of his word. He does what he says.

Charles, posterity will surely judge you, please stay firm. Many Sierra
Leoneans abroad, who are tired of living overseas and see no hope in an SLPP government, are happy for you. May God bless you.

Photo: Abu Shaw, alias "Super Tech".

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