From the Editor’s Keyboard

President Koroma survives test of fire

By  | 7 August 2017 at 23:36 | 2209 views

Editor’s Note: This article was first published here September 23, 2010.

Information I am receiving from New York indicates that president Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone has, not suprisisingly, done very well in his interactions with UN officials (the talk and paper specialists), international businesspeople and their political hitmen like Tony Blair and the creme de la creme of Sierra Leoneans in the US.

It’s the latter group, the Salone Man en Woman Dem, I would like to talk about, albeit briefly, because of my very busy schedule.

Sierra Leoneans in the US, Canada and the rest of the Western world for that matter are a difficult bunch to deal with for any home-based politician used to dealing with largely illiterate and unsophisticated audiences. This category of Sierra Leoneans are people who will come to your town hall meetings armed with well researched information and evidence to either seek clarifications or to embarass you. Oh yes, they will definitely embarass you if you give them the opportunity. They will also:

1. Try to gather some political points for their political parties in their comments and observations. If you don’t have a good moderator, they might quickly take over the meeting and manage and tailor it to fit their agenda.

2. Some will come to assess this major opponent (the president), take note of his weaknesses and put them on file for the political campaign season back home. That’s why it’s always unwise to boycott political town hall meetings. It’s a place to learn. The party in power will learn from you and you will learn from them.

3. Many will come to see long lost friends, display their new clothes and new cars, woo and seduce members of the opposite sex and "talk big"-the usual African nonsense.

4. Sierra Leoneans, like most Africans, love to see and hear and, if possible, touch their leaders. They may not like them or vote for them, but they want to hear them talk, watch the way they move, their gestures, the tone of their voices. This is because they are not just there to listen and observe; they are what you might call Citizen Journalists, who have to go back home to their family members that could not make the trip and give a very comprehensive and thorough report on the proceedings. Madam (who did not go because of a sore back) might ask the Mister, "What did he (the president) look like? Na serious man sef? And Mister will nod and say: "Oh, he is a very handsome guy (I can give him that) and he seems to know what he is doing." If Mister is an SLPP supporter he might say: "He is good-looking but na soba laye man. Nor men am. Bo shoob leh ar lay don, ar taya. Ar go gee yu full report na mornin."

5. Town hall meetings, like the one OGI organized in New York are a golden opportunity for any president to directly address some of his most critical citizens, without the clouds of propaganda and bad blood hanging over him. It’s a direct, honest and frank dialogue (the question and answer session) with no prepared speeches. Such a format usually lays bare a man or woman’s soul, there is no place to hide. That’s why some dishonest and stupid politicians don’t like town hall meetings. I won’t name names, thank you very much.

6. My information is that President Ernest Bai Koroma passed the test this year, like the other years since 2007, with distinction. I’m not surprised, he knows what he is doing. He has been in business for so long, he knows exactly how to put together a good business plan and how to implement it. I usually tell some of my friends that the hard knocks of the world of business are the best preparation for any future leader. As a publisher (a kind of businessman), I know what I’m talking about. Oh, sorry, scratch that, please, just kidding. What arrogance! What presumptousness! What lordiness! What hauteur!

Watch out for a full and comprehensive report on what happened in New York, soon.