Karamoh Kabbah Versus John Leigh

9 June 2006 at 21:21 | 888 views

There was recently a war of words between PMDC’s North America Communication Director Karamoh Kabba and former SLPP ambassador John Leigh. We bring you first Karamoh’s article that first appeared on Leonenet, followed by John Leigh’s response in the Cocorioko forum.

By Karamoh Kabba

Former Sierra Leone Ambassador to the United States, Hon. John Ernest Leigh has no moral authority to shower such plaudits on Vice President Solomon Berewa:

“I support VP Berewa as our next President because I believe he is the most qualified candidate among those currently vying for the presidency. In my experience, Mr. Berewa is known to be far more experienced, far more educated, far more able, and far more good-intentioned than any other candidate contesting with him. I know Mr. Berewa to be nationalistic, not tribalistic. Mr. Berewa is known to me as a mature leader free from petulance, political selfishness and rash actions. In fact, he is quite deliberative.”

In a meeting with Mr. Leigh in the spring of 2001, he had nothing good to say for the SLPP-led government, but downright condemnation for endemic corruption amongst its leaders. Not only did he cite Vice President Berewa by name as being very corrupt, he discussed a specific event that he referred to as an “unscrupulous diamond mining deal” with a certain western corporation that was under way, which he [Mr. Leigh] thought was totally unpatriotic and an act of criminality against the people of Sierra Leone.

I believe these are the same views that probably cost him his ambassadorial job. For such noble views in the past, I became a fervent defender of Mr. Leigh and was branded by many in the diaspora as a John Leigh defender.

When Mr. Leigh was recalled from the Sierra Leone embassy shortly after our discussion, I publicly observed that a true son of the soil, a lone warrior against corruption in Sierra Leone, had fallen.

But Mr. Leigh has now turned his back away from that noble cause of fighting for the people to settle for less-to join the band of bandits, whom he once put his noble career in the line to preach against, in a lost dispensation for such nobility, not in the absence of an alternative, but in a quest to join them if you cannot beat them. Mr. Leigh, you cannot “win the world and lose your soul”, as the great African American fighter, late Johnny Cochran once stated in his famous court case; “If it does not fit, you must acquit”.

Did you say “free from petulance”? Speaking of a man who went to England, peevishly earmarking those with different views, including Mr. Moijue KaiKai, to the point of fostering a new sub-chapter of the SLPP England chapter called “Friends of Berewa”?

How dare you say: “Mr. Berewa is known to me as a mature leader free from petulance, political selfishness and rash actions,” when he rashly ordered the arrest of his political opponent, Charles Margai, because ordinary citizens threw missiles at him before a proper investigation into whether Charles Margai influenced the actions or not? Is such a disposition a true portrayal of being “quite deliberative”?

Mr. Leigh, you should be lauding a man, Charles Margai, the subject of your recent insinuation, who, according to you failed in form four, but yet bounced back to get 33 delegate votes amidst SLPP vote banditry where you failed to be nominated.

Shame! Shame!! Shame!!! Mr. Leigh; again, such praise-singing is not for flip-floppers. This is the same newspaper columnist politics you played in the run up to the SLPP convention in November, demonstrating extreme forgetfulness that you needed delegates to nominate you before you could be voted for, only to come out crying louder than everyone else and coined a neologism in Sierra Leone politics; “conbention” and later coined other disparaging labels such as: “Low grade noisemakers - san san boys, honda drivers, ex-combatants, carwash boys, etc,” all in a gross desire for power and position.

Karamoh Kabba

Director of Comm. & Media

John Leigh’s Response:


Dear Forumites:

I have said that if people feel I am too hard on PMDC flunkies and remedials, it is because of the things they actually say or do to me, and not because I do not respect their right to establish their own political party, enroll uninfluencial members and elect whomsoever they want as their officers.
Take the blunder now committed by one Karamoh Kabba in this Forum and the Simple Simeon conclusions he reached thereupon.
Mr. Kabba says that I have no moral authority to say certain thing supportive of Mr. Berewa’s candidacy because, as he falsely claimed, I once criticized Berewa to Kabba in the spring of 2001 regarding a diamond deal I claimed was criminally corrupt. This fellow is a liar.

First, Mr. Berewa did not become Vice President until May 2002. Therefore, my learned friend does no know what he is talking about. Clearly, remedials are incompetent liars.
Further, whatever views I held about the policies of the Administration I have published openly for all to see. Never once did I say something in private on a matter I viewed of public importance that I did not say or write about in public. And I did not publicly criticize the government until after I had left office.

My real intention at all times is to promote good governance. I have no malice in me whatsoever.
Second, I remember once on or about 2004 of been asked by a fairly decent Freetown newspaper editor to comment on the Koidu Holdings Kimberlite agreement. Since I did not know enough about the deal, I respectfully declined and told them. Later on during my very brief campaign for SLPP Leader - see www.changesierraleone.org - when I was more knowledgeable about this issue, I took a position contrary to that of the government but not personally against Mr. Berewa.

Third, the hot issue during the spring of 2001 was Oil, not Diamonds. In April 2001, I had written a critique of an agreement entered into the month before by our government with an American company. This agreement was negotiated without the Washington DC Embassy’s knowledge and came to our notice only from an internet news report.

I wrote my critique to genuinely advise our government as to how the deal would be perceived by leaders of those governments and legislatures that the embassy had succeeded in persuading to stand firmly behind our overthrown elected government, not only to evict Johnny Paul and his brutal crew but also to help us with diplomatic, humanitarian and economic development aid.
The letter was addressed to Mr. President and copied to the two officials involved in the negotiations. A fourth copy was addressed to the then Foreign Minister. The letter was delivered to the addressees by hand on or about April 22.

I was told later by the messenger that the president read my memo right away and was most displeased and very angry - for what I do not know. My memo was published on or about June 6 in the local press to much public criticisms of our government and I was stopped at Lungi Airport from boarding my flight that day.

Fourth, I believe that my quiet recall as ambassador was on account of that oil memo and not the fictitious diamond conversation Kabba has invented about a man who was not yet Vice President. Mr. Kabba seems to me as a most spiteful and shameless liar inventing trash because he is upset with the result of my research about a Form Four Flunky Drop Out in a land where education is an essential key for the masses to escape poverty.

We clearly need national leaders respectful of our suffering teachers. We need national leaders that would inspire pupils to take their schooling seriously. We need a well educated population that is respected worldwide.
A Form Four Flunky Drop Out leader would send the wrong message to the world, to our teachers and our pupils that we can disrespect teachers fiti fata, flunk out, drop out with no school certificate and then use family’s political clout to gain the upper hand.

Mr. Kabba’s illogical conclusion that because I criticized the administration, I have to moral authority to endorse my party candidate for president is not surprising. Mr. Kabba is out of his league if he thinks he can sit in judgment of who does or does not have moral authority to participate in one’s party affairs. Let the public decide, not the likes of Mr. Kabba.
I have already explained my reasons for supporting the SLPP and Mr. Berewa and I need not repeat them here. Suffice it to say that:

(i) intelligent people will not find it a problem to accept the fact that merely because one criticizes another does not automatically mean the critic cannot ever endorse the criticized.
Only childish types would conclude that once a critic always an opponent.

Since my criticisms are always based on facts and logic; are wholly lacking in malice; and because my views have resonated within party echelons; it was not difficult at all for me, after carefully touring the whole country over several months after Makeni, to endorse Mr. Berewa, especially when party heartlanders would rather swallow the bitter pill of Makeni than allow the opposition to waltz into power via a party split.

Did not McCain criticize Bush? Did not Dean criticize Kerry? Did anyone of those party opponents rush to form his own new party or interrupt their former high schools’ graduation ceremonies with loud, threatening thugs dressed for the occasion in bright falamakata party colors and engaged in boisterous yells? Such arrogant immaturity!
(ii) Merely because one advocates views critical of his party’s government does not mean that he or she must resign from his usual party and join another, especially one where lies and immaturity flourish.

(iii) Merely because a disappointed group of disgruntled opportunists and political harlots believe that a most telling and effective government critic logically belongs to their group does not mean that the said critic has any interest in associating with, let alone belonging to, any such harlot group of flunkies and remedials.
Kabba and his crew must accept the simple truth that they misplaced too much hope on my joining them and/or supporting then, even in light of the available contrary evidence for I had long announced that I am not leaving my party.

I also have told numerous PMDC recruiters over several months that I am not interested in becoming a member of their party.
Now that I have released my statement of endorsement they are in a quandary and in terrible disarray because of my decision to endorse Mr. Berewa and remain in SLPP, preferring to seek reforms from within rather than engaged in political harloting.
I confirm that out of the three presidential rivals, Mr. Berewa is my first choice. Guess who is my last choice?
Again, I have no interest in associating with Mr. Karamoh Kabba’s PMDC.

Thank you very much.- JL

Photos: Karamoh, top, John Leigh, centre.