Ernest Koroma, the man of the people

21 October 2007 at 08:16 | 898 views

By Abu B. Shaw, London.

President Ernest Bai Koroma is the most approachable politician in the
country right now.

His style of politics in Sierra Leone so far (I hope he’ll continue this
promising trend) is reminiscent of late Sir Milton Margai, Sierra Leone’s
political legend and without doubt, the best leader the SLPP has ever

At the Kissy Ferry Terminal in Freetown a couple of days ago, a Sierra
Leonean fish seller, Mrs. Fatmata Kallon, who was waiting in a long queue
for ticket to board the ferry to Lungi, was overwhelmed with shock when she
noticed that the person behind her in the queue was no ordinary passenger.

Surprisingly, it was President Koroma himself who was patiently queuing at
the end of the line to buy his ferry ticket! The star-struck business woman
instinctively raised the alarm and all eyes were immediately turned towards
the unassuming Sierra Leonean leader waiting at the back of the queue.

The visibly shocked passengers, both indigenous and foreign nationals, were
quick to offer the president the opportunity to leap-frog the queue as a
sign of reverence for Head of States.

“Don’t worry,” the soft spoken president addressed the anxious passengers.
“I am here to see how my people are carrying out their day-to-day activities
and to feel the hassle in our transportation system. Thank you for your
gesture anyway but I prefer to wait for my turn in the queue,” President
Koroma told the crowd amidst thunderous applause.

President Koroma eventually purchased his ticket and boarded the ferry to
Lungi like any ordinary citizen. He was accompanied by a handful of plain
clothes security personnel.

This story was confirmed by an eyewitness,
Mohamed Sow, who was en route to London that memorable day. This incident
further convinced Sierra Leoneans that President Koroma is indeed a man of
the people.

Another striking moment that really touched me is the president’s daily habits
in Freetown. He is often seen waving to his people in an open car
to and from work. This is unprecedented in Sierra Leone’s recent political

The country’s first leader, Sir Milton Margai, was however, a master
in this political strategy.

The late Sir Milton was well known for his frequent tours of market places
in the early 60s. Disguised in his trademark shorts, the late leader
would always pay unannounced visits to various markets to enquire about the
prices of basic food items.

Price control was the rule in those glorious
days in the country.

I only hope and pray that Ernest would also emulate this market strategy. Amen.

Unlike, President Koroma, the former President (Wotsisname), has that
unfashionable political style to always surround himself with gun-toting
security men even when he visits mosques during Friday prayers.

I have no doubt that that former president, who claims to be an Alhaji, piously believed in his security force as a better
protector than any divine protection from Allah.

* Abu Bakarr Shaw(photo), is the Vanguard London Bureau Chief. He is currently studying for a masters degree in Corporate Communications at Thames Valley University in London. He holds a BA degree in New
Media Journalism and Law at TVU.