Analysis

Hitting hard on inquest mania

By  | 9 July 2010 at 02:45 | 527 views

I would rather be doing something else like enjoying the beautiful summer
California weather in the city (San Francisco) this weekend; or maybe stick with
the World Cup. But I can’t stand the fact that our collective intelligence as a
nation is being insulted by these proponents of inquests and compensations for the families of Bambay Kamara and others murdered in the aftermath of the NPRC coup.

In 2009 I wrote a piece on the same subject illuminating how the APC has chosen to bring it up in manners that characterize an anachronism at best. We have to
move on! The last straw for me is not the venomous and/or vitriolic stuff, high
on verbosities and low on logic that Sim Turay has been spewing forth recently.
One can understand the man’s bitterness. If I was as powerful as he was and was
sent on exile- to do odd jobs in England- by a coup led by Samuel Sandy (May his
soul rest in peace) that I via nepotism —the only way one could be an officer
those days—personally recruited into the army, I would be brimming with hate.

That’s perfectly ok.

What is not right though is for any Sierra Leonean to assume that being in power
give them the gumption to write our history for us. “Rising Sun” “What Life Has
Taught Me” anybody! I read a piece off the internet quoting the Information
Minister’s recent interview to GLOBAL TIMES pretty much stating Government
position that the families of the deceased will be compensated. Seriously?!

It would smirk of insensitivity to sit here posit an argument that seemingly
spurns the search for justice and disregard the plight of the bereaved families
of Bambay Kamara, Yahya Kanu, Salami Coker and others. Notice I deliberately
refused to mention “lesser mortals” that were killed along like SSD Kandapa.
Like the tens of thousands of nobodies (War fatalities) people like him don’t
seem to matter in politics.

But let me come back to issue at stake here. We can go right ahead and scalp off
all the scares of the war if we choose to, and while at it, I can’t help but
think of the thousands of inquests that the Koroma Government can commission.

And the compensations too! It is no secret that the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission was not as thorough as we would have wanted. Under the circumstances
it did a broad-brush of a job of truth-telling and reconciling. But even its
report which for many is lees-than-adequate, still sits there gathering dust.
And for the heck of it, it will be good to mention that these points like “Jobs
for Youth” “No More Attorney General cum Minister of Justice” and so on were the
vanguard campaign slogans. But I am not writing here about Government
priorities.

My point is war-related extra-judicial killings and how we can’t afford to be
selective in revisiting them. After the first shot at Bomaru on to the Lome
Peace Accord, oceans have slid under the bridge or our war years. I feel
compelled to instruct these inquest-maniacs that NPRC like AFRC were derivatives
of the war. Both coups were a result of bad welfare conditions in the army. They
turned full-blown coups after the presidents Momoh and Kabba ran away leaving a
power vacuum. Were not Charles Margai and British High Commissioner Penfold
talking to mutineers at Cockerill before the June 2 incident? Word is that
before Sim Turay (the victim) shot Samuel Sandy there was no Head of State
Strasser or NPRC. To say that prominent members of the SLPP were prominent in
the NPRC is like the proverbial pot calling kettle black…Look at the prominent
AFRC acolytes now APC “bombers”. Please!

No, but on a more serious note, the idea of making our war one of tribalism is
one I find most insulting. It is indeed worrisome if people like Turay are
getting audience while the Civil Service continues to suffer ethnic or regional
cleansing. President Koroma may be erring unforgivably on a promise of being
president of all of Sierra Leone. No scholar, writer or historian worth his salt
can find a clear pattern of tribal or regional proclivity in the conduct of our
war. The rebel leader was a Sankoh and today the Special Court tried Issa Sesay,
Hinga Norman, Santigie Kanu et al. I am always proud to say in any forum out
here that our war was never tribal.

Strasser was chased out of college in Warwick into madness, and many NPRC
members that can’t be APC like Idriss Kamara— the former secretary of state—
or his namesake Leather Boot, have nasty stories to tell. I think its time to
move on. If we are really crazy about the inquest thing, we can do just that,
till the next elections. I have suggestions. I can’t get over the brutal murder
of innocent students who were out to demonstrate against junta rule under the
AFRC, August 18, 1997— Vaffie Konneh and others, the Mabella massacre…list goes
on.

Apparently, elections have consequences. The APC can pick and choose which
inquest they want to have and whom to compensate. They can elect to shuffle
inquests way up the rungs of national priorities. Even President Obama that many
have been attacking for his issues with priorities on domestic matters knows
better than to go after Bush/Cheney for torture. Again, just maybe, if this dish
of vengeance is served cold, we can move on to other things. Sad!

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