Opinion

Oswald Hanciles Responds to Journalist Sorie Fofanah

7 March 2012 at 05:32 | 2122 views

By Oswald Hanciles, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

“….…Very recently, Oswald Hanciles , a former college mate of the President was appointed as Special Adviser to the President on Media Affairs. He is struggling to make an impact in a saturated media landscape. All these guys have never been in mainstream journalism. They have at best been irregular columnists in obscure newspapers….Instead of portraying the positive development strides undertaken by the President, the Presidential press boys are busy lampooning the main challenger of the President to the President in the November polls…...”

MANJOROKA, by Sorie Fofanah (Editor) Global Times, Monday, 5th March, 2012 .

Profuse and Profound Thanks to Sorie Fofanah

Sorie Fofanah: I now publicly thank you profusely and profoundly for publishing in your widely-read newspaper several of the news releases emanating from my office, and articles in THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN. On the very day you published the commentary which I excerpt above, one of my articles – titled, “Njala University’s Newest Doctor of Science Education Faces Big Challenge” – was published. The article was devoted largely to the 2012 convocation of NUC, and, brought out details on the bio-data of the scholar who earned a Doctor of Science degree, Dr. Aiah Kebbie – as well as excerpts from President Ernest Bai Koroma’s speech as Chancellor of NUC. Last week, I was overjoyed when you took the uncommon step of giving my column – titled, Ernest: “I am a Dreamer” – banner headline on your front page of March 2, 2012. That article was on the President’s triumphant ‘dream’ articulated during the launching of the Makeni ‘Arch of Triumph’; and had details on the bio-data on the First Mother, Mrs. Alice Koroma; bringing out the intense Christian passion of the First Mother, a probable ‘source’ of the vision and humility of President Koroma. Given the content of two articles RECENTLY published in your very newspaper, Global Times, I don’t think your words above – accusing the ‘Presidential press boys’ of “lampooning” the SLPP presidential candidate - are really directed at me, Oswald Hanciles. In nearly all of my releases, and articles, since taking up my new position, there is almost no direct mention of the SLPP presidential candidate – rather, I have been bringing out it graphic details what the President has been doing, within State House, and in other parts of the country. Surely, these are RECENT public records!!!

I invite Sorie Fofanah for Hatha Yoga Lessons

Sorie: I humbly invite you to my residence on a Saturday or Sunday for Hatha Yoga exercises. At least three times a week, I do Yoga exercises in the morning. At 57 years of age, I can stand on my head; bend backwards from standing up position and touch the ground; do forward stretches to easily press my palm on the ground….Can, you, Sorie, about twenty years my biological junior, do that?!! The physical Yoga gives me mental agility as well, Sorie. And, emotional and spiritual discipline!! One of my Yoga mantras is: “Criticism and praise, honor and dishonor…they are all the same…”. Under normal circumstances your criticism would arouse a chuckle in me. (By the way, I was the Executive Director of the Scientology Mission in Liberia in 1989/1990; and in 1990, at the Scientology Technology Center on 190/191 Ikorodu Road, Palm Grove, Maryland, in Lagos, Nigeria, I took Scientology courses - learned rigid emotional control). I only respond to what you write above because of the chilling lesson embedded in George Orwell’s book, “1984”: that is, if a man is allowed to tell a BIG LIE consistently enough even the most strong-willed persons would begin to believe his BIG LIES!!. Importantly, the explicit and intrinsic lies which you write in the excerpt above impinges on the sense of judgment of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma. Let’s set the records straight.

34 years Post University Illustrious Media Experience, Sorie

I could’ve have been appointed – as you implied – to my new position in State House because I was a former college mate of the President. I have 34 years post-university experience in media-related activities - in Liberia and Nigeria for almost twenty years; and Sierra Leone, for about fifteen years. Since returning from Nigeria in 1995, I have written – literally!!– thousands of articles in local newspapers. In 1996/1997, I wrote in Expo Times and For Di People newspapers largely (edited by late Olu Gordon, and current sports/youth minister, Paul Kamara). In 1997/1998, THE DEMOCRAT newspaper became my stable. In the heat of our ‘rebel war’ years, I was a regular columnist in that newspaper owned by newspaper veteran, Pios Foray. Between 2001 and 2006, it was the late Christian Keili (probably, the most ‘saintly’, strictly objective, journalist ever in Sierra Leone’s history; and brother of former SLPP presidential aspirant, one of our leading engineers, Andrew Keili, as co-owner of the newspaper), as Editor of SALONE TIMES newspaper, who having coined THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN for me, gave me the complete free hand to write whatever I wanted to – I wrote literally thousands of articles; almost one article DAILY!!! Since 2006, hundreds of my articles have been published in Concord Times, New Vision, Premier News, The Exclusive, The Independent Observer, The Spectator, etc; I am a regular columnist in U.S.-based Cocorioko and Daily Mail newspapers, and Canada-based Patriotic Vanguard newspaper. Surely, Sorie, you were not referring to me as one of those writing in “obscure newspapers”, were you? And, certainly, the reality that I could earn a laurel of being one of the top five most prolific columnists ever in Sierra Leone’s history would not make me an “irregular” columnist, would it? .

Experience in Liberia

I started cutting my journalistic teeth in 1981 as a reporter and CARTOONIST in the pacesetting (computerized!!) newspaper that I also did editorial cartoons for: THE DAILY OBSERVER, in Monrovia, Liberia. It was (is) owned by Kenneth Best. (Aha!! You never knew I was a professional CARTOONIST, Sorie, did you?). Even after I had left the DAILY OBSERVER, in 1983, I was contracted to do serial cartoons – named “Kortu” - for the DAILY OBSERVER. I also earned my bread as a freelance cartoonist for FOOTPRINTS TODAY and Catholic THE HERALD newspaper in the early 1980s. In 1989, I was the Editor for the magazine ’GREENLOVE’. (And I was the brain/CEO for the environment/development organization that published the magazine, the Save My Future Conservation Society). GREENLOVE was sponsored by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-International, and WWF-UK; the German Forestry Mission to Liberia; in his private capacity, the British Ambassador to Liberia in 1989, H.E. Michael Gore, etc. The first edition of the 60 percent CARTOON GREENLOVE magazine was praised for its trailblazing thrust by H.R.H. Prince Phillip (spouse of the Queen of England); Pope John Paul II; United Nations Environmental Programme; United States Educational and Cultural Foundation in Liberia, WEST AFRICA magazine, etc. In early 1990, UNICEF (in Liberia) sent a letter expressing its readiness to collaborate with GREENLOVE in production of future editions. The Jimmy Carter Center agreed that the former U.S. president would be featured as the lead story in the second edition of GREENLOVE magazine, and started sending information to us when the war in Liberia escalated in 1990. Probably, for the first time in the history of the planet, using CARTOON drawings in GREENLOVE magazine, as environmental communicator I drew the linkages between environmental degradation and African creation mythology (‘The Djuankadju of the Bassa – tribe- of Liberia), politics, African Traditional Religion (the Poro ociety of the Kpelle of Liberia), Christianity, love, etc.

Experience in Nigeria

In Nigeria, in 1990, as Deputy Director of the African Center for Science and Development Information (whose founder/director was famous former THE GUARDIAN Science Editor, Oluwaseun Ogunseitan) on 7 Efunboye Street, Ijeshatedo, Surulere, Lagos, I was one of the key writers who helped to baby the AFRICAN SCIENCE MONITOR in 1991, published by the billionaire late Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s CONCORD GROUP. My organization, GREENLOVE, was revived in Nigeria, and contracted by the WWF-UK to produce and publish PANGOLIN cartoon magazine for the Cross River National Park Project in Cross River State between 1991 and 1993. PANGOLIN was translated into French, and used as an educational tool for the Korup National Park in Cameroon. GREENLOVE also published SEE CARTOON magazine in Lagos in 1992. In 1993, I was Editor-in-Chief of THE DEFENDER newspaper in Calabar, Cross River State. This was a newspaper owned by famous radical, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, then a member of the Royal Council of the Obong of Calabar, the monarchy of the about 4 million Efiks, which pre-dated European colonialism in Nigeria by 160 years. I was told that the only other non-Nigerian who they could remember ever being editor of any newspaper in the most competitive black African country on earth was late Sam Metzger, in the 1950s or so.

Sorie: I am a man of BIG IDEAS who Believes in President Koroma’s Vision

Sorie, I am not one of your ‘boys’, please. I am a man of BIG IDEAS. A man old enough to be your biological father!! For about six years in Liberia, I struggled to develop a regional marketing research and marketing corporation, called “Marketing Africa”. Harvard-Oxford-educated Winston Tubman, who was runner up to Eillen Johnson-Sirleaf in their presidential elections last year, was the Chairman of the Board for one of my concepts/corporations in 1983. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of GREENLOVE in Liberia between 1988 and 1990 was feisty Catholic priest, Rev. Father Dr. Robert Gbataie Tikpor – feared by four presidents in Liberia for his outspokenness. I was struggling to move BIG PAN-AFRICANIST LIBERATION IDEAS in Nigeria when I was misunderstood by the military authorities there in 1994. On being ‘made to return home’ in 1995, an apologetic Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, H.E. Chedi Abubakarr, sponsored me with two thousand dollars in 1996 to develop one of my ideas – linking the environment with the Atlantic Slave Trade. I developed a video idea – “The Blind”. Charlie Hafner’s Freetong Players did the dramatization. Sorrious Samura – of CRY FREETOWN, and recently, ‘Al Jazeera’ fame – was the video camera man. The video was launched on SLTV. Isaac Massaquoi, now FBC, University of Sierra Leone lecturer, interviewed me. The Nigerian High Commissioner was there with me and the environment minister then, Sulaiman Tejan Jalloh. CONCORD TIMES, For Di People, and Expo Times had many pages on this idea, especially when I was formally honoured by President Kabbah’s wife, Lady Patricia.

Aha, space limitation…!. I close for now. Nothing on my other track record for now – theatre and video productions; civil society activism; youth mobilize, etc. What I plead with you on is cast aspersion on any old man who has even a modicum of knowledge, ask questions first. I am proud to have been chosen by President Koroma to give ‘assistance’ on media matters on his Agenda for Change, his Transformation trajectory. I ‘knack chest’ as I say unequivocally here: President Koroma is one of the best African leaders ever in history!! He is emotionally disciplined, and don’t even mildly imagine that he would be influenced to act impetuously by some of the ‘advise’ you proffer to him. You don’t know my TOR. I don’t aim to brag I have a doctorate degree in ‘football management’ – I aim to inspire my ‘team to win the upcoming football tournament’. I won’t respond to another attack on my person if you try to ‘make me the news’, and not the President. ‘We’ welcome criticism, but, we would not be derailed by unfair barbs!!

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