From the Editor’s Keyboard

From Taylor to APC-NA

By  | 4 May 2012 at 03:07 | 1657 views

I have always been a risk-taker;in Journalism, in business, etc. People who know me very well will attest to that. But my risk-taking is not the reckless type; in journalism I have always spoken out or writtten on behalf of the weak and powerless, the voiceless or the so-called unwashed masses , or you can call them the hoi polloi. This personal crusade had always either earned me accolades or landed me in trouble with authority figures, from primary school headmasters to secondary school principals (I was always a class monitor or prefect) and later in life to politicians of all colours. No, I am not a trouble-maker but somebody that firmly believes that somebody has to speak up openly if organizations and society in general get into trouble. Today I will deal with two sensitive issues: The Taylor conviction and the Cold War in APC-North America.

Charles Taylor Conviction
Sierra Leoneans everywhere should jubilate (and indeed they have) over the conviction, by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, of the Liberian monster Charles Ghankay Taylor, a man whose greed and lack of conscience knew no bounds.

It’s good that Charles Taylor has finally been convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, something that is not unexpected. But my problem with them is that they woefully failed to rope in the Americans who freed Taylor from an American prison and sent him to Liberia to do war and install somebody they prefer to the inglorious Samuel Doe, leading to the destruction of both Liberia and Sierra Leone. They also failed to bring to justice all the European and North American business people that kept Taylor in business all those years and supplied the deadly weapons used to maim and kill our people.

But again, I am not surprised because all the money the Court was using to do these trials comes from the same Western governments that created and nurtured Taylor in the first place. So, instead of being angry I rather pity the Court for not being able to do a thorough job. What do you expect them to do? Arrest and put on trial the same people that gave the money to finance the trials (a jackpot for some Western and African lawyers and their surrogates)? More trials of this nature are in the pipeline: That of Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire to name just one is on the way. There will be more money from Western governments, more money for lawyers and judges and Gbagbo, not his supporters and backers, will be found guilty. Case closed.

The Ambassador and the warring factions.
When Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Canada and other countries, Bockarie Kortu Stevens, was first appointed and had arrived in Washington to take up his appointment I was one of the first journalists to have an interview with him by phone from my base in Vancouver, Canada. I have never met the man but from a couple of telephone interviews and conversations, he came across as a gentleman with a sense of humour and love for his country and compatriots. The fact that he is also a product the secondary school I attended, the Albert Academy, made me more enthusiastic to hear to what he had to say, in other words, to assess him. He came out of those interviews and conversations, not unexpectedly, with flying colours. He had a plan and he was ready to execute it. But soon he ran into trouble.

Before his arrival there have been some nasty disgreements between some APC supporters in America and there was a bitter war going on . At first the ambassador tried to stay out of the fighting but he was soon sucked into it by a process I still do not understand. He was soon perceived to supporting one faction and came under severe attacks and up to the time of writing this war is still going on, underground, because president Koroma, in one of his visits to the United States, had warned APC supporters that any attack on his ambassador is a direct attack on him. This has effectively silenced the guns but the war is still simmering underground, a Cold War.One of the factions thinks the ambassador is totally against them and they have decided not to have anything to do with him.They will not attend functions organized by him and he will also not attend functions organized by them. This is the current situation.

I feel constrained to talk about this issue because many people had tried in the past to mediate in this conflict and failed: From APC Secretary General Victor Foh to former APC-North America chairman Aziz Nabe, the ebullient Dauda Tombo Bangura, Pa E.T. Kamara, lawyers Alieu Iscandari and Sorie Tarawally and many others.

So what’s the way forward? I think the APC in North America needs to resolve this issue as quickly as possible as the November elections approach. The ambassador, poor guy, can no longer do anything about it. He is like a big fish caught in a net, only neutral people, preferably from Freetown, can bring the warring factions and the ambassador together and find a solution.

Some readers may wonder why I am writing about all this (Wetin na yu yone pan og moni?). Well, I am an APC supporter (many people know this already except for people not paying attention and foreigners). My whole family has been APC since the founding of the party in the 60s. One of my relatives was a Tonkolili APC member of parliament for a long time. No member of my family belongs to any other party as far as I know. But I have always tried to separate my journalism from my politics (not an easy task). Yes, you can support a political party and still be a very good journalist.

Coming back to the conflict, I think it can be resolved and I want it to be resolved because I miss those stories of vibrant APC women in their red dresses, dancing and singing and taking photos with the ambassador and other party dignitaries my correspondents in the US used to send to me.

Some pro-APC journalists had asked me not to write about this issue (they have given up on it). I told them somebody has to bell the cat. A political party needs people who can speak up, take risks, for the general welfare of the party and the country as a whole, without being rude, disloyal or destructive. I therefore call on all APC elders including ambassadors and High Commissioners everywhere to step in and help resolve this impasse. Ambassador Stevens is not a proud and stubborn man, I think he will be ready and open for negotiations to deal with this sad chapter in APC-North America politics.

PS:Like the ambassador, I have also been accused of taking sides in this conflict while, funnily , the side I was said to be supporting accused me of not publishing their articles often and they went on to establish their own newspaper, which I must say is doing well promoting the party. The more the merrier. Next week I will start interviewing neutral APC elders to find out what suggestions they may have to resolve the issue. I will also write something on the perceived marginalization of Temnes in the current APC administration. Don’t miss it!

Ambassador Bockarie Stevens

Charles Taylor