Letter to editor

Fullahs Belong to Nobody

27 April 2007 at 14:29 | 842 views

Dear Editor,

I am surprised that well informed Sierra Leoneans and political agents on both sides of the Atlantic continue to think that the Fullahs of Sierra Leone remain the only soft target in this election. I wish to make it clear that we had never nor will we ever as a group support one political party. I personally take it as an insult for any one party to think that we are its property. As I stated... when I heard about the nomination of Dr. Ibrahim Tejan Jalloh, I applaud Charles Margai’s decisiveness in choosing a running mate.

I grew up with Charles. We attended St. Edwards Primary together and I frequented his home at 61 Westmoreland Street. I will attempt to state that I know most of his family members. He may have disappointed some people for not being patient with the SLPP. However, I believe that he could be an excellent spokesman for Sierra Leone in the community of nations. For those present in his address at Morehouse University, Atlanta, late last year, I seriously asked three questions relating to the accusations against him. He was very clear and convincing on two of the questions. I was not too satisfied with his response on the credibility and abilities of some of his close associates. Many other people, including SLPP pundits raised questions on his lieutenants .

I believed then and now that he is an active and excellent communicator. Having said my piece, I wish to make it abundantly clear that the choice of Dr. Jalloh is no indication that all of us Fullahs will go over with him to the PMDC. Nonetheless, I detest the idea that Fullahs only exist to be members of the SLPP. Yes, my Krootown Road family and Tejan Jalloh’s Cline Town families have been in the forefront in the SLPP column. It is still true that most members of these two families are still dedicated SLPP members. I have never been an SLPP member and some of my younger Krootown Road relatives have also not supported the party. Why should we all be members of any party?

Fullahs, like all other groups are members of all political parties in the country. I strongly suspect that we have not yet seen the end of a choice of a Fullah running mate. I suspect that my party, the APC, will repeat its choice of a Fullah running mate as it did in 2002. Then, you would have two Fullah running mates while the SLPP has always claimed to attract Fullahs. SLPP has numerous well qualified Fullahs such as Sulaiman Tejan Jalloh and several others in the Diaspora. Both the PMDC and the APC also have capable Fullah members. There is a political party led by a Fullah, Mr. Amadu Jalloh.

I admit that the Fullahs are already divided. I think a strong Fullah support for any of the parties will depend on the role played by the Fullah running mate in the day to day affairs of the Fullah community. The names Jalloh, Bah, Barrie, Sow, Jah, Wurie, Timbo, etc are not enough to assume leadership for Fullahs. You can not be a Fullah only on election eve. Again, it is unfortunate that the SLPP leadership in the US believe that $44,000 contributed to the SLPP by Fullahs in the US represent all of us. No, I understand that the amount mentioned came from a tiny business interest group whose members happen to be Fullahs.

Other Fullahs have the right to form Fullahs for APC or PMDC. Even the FPU Fullah Progressive Union does not represent all Fullahs. I do believe that Fullahs do not owe anything in particular to any of the political parties. We are free to choose sides like all other Sierraleoneans.

Most of us reject the idea that Mr. Kabbah or any leader should impose their choice of Fullahs on us as our leaders. Fellow Sierra Leoneans, please allow the Fullahs of Sierra Leone to choose their political affiliations. F.A.J.Utting, in his book, The Storey of Sierra Leone (1931), says that Fullahs were some of the actors in the commercial activities of Freetown before 1721. We were in Sierra Leone before 1808 (crown Colony) and 1896 (creation of the Protectorate of Sierra Leone).

Alpha Bah (PhD).

About the author: M. ALPHA BAH (photo) received his Ph.D. from Howard University in 1983. He came to the College of Charleston in the summer of 1986 from Villanova University where he was a Fulbright Scholar in residence for one year. He has taught at Howard University and the University of Liberia.
Among his publications are “The Nineteenth Century Partition of Kissiland and the Contemporary Possibilities for Reunification” in Liberian Studies Journal XII, Journal of Muslim Majority/Minority (1991); and “Legitimate Trade, Diplomacy, and the Slave Trade,” in Africana Studies (1993).
He is the author of Fulbe Presence in Sierra Leone: A Case History of Twentieth-Century Migration and Settlement Among the Kissi of Koindu (Peter Lange 1998). He is currently working on a history of Charleston-West African connections entitled West Africa-SC/GA Lowcountry Connections: Three Black Charlestonians in Freetown and Monrovia.