Sierra Leone: The Politics of Mass Deception Continue

4 March 2006 at 06:11 | 829 views

Our Norway correspondent, Gbakanda Kamara takes out his intellectual surgical knife to unveil and critically examine contemporary Sierra Leonean politics.The picture he paints is not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination:

By Gbakanda Kamara in Norway

Sierra Leone is one country in Africa that has an unfortunate history of development since its so-called independence in 1961.

First, the political structure suffered a very big setback with the death of the first and most dedicated Prime Minister, Sir Milton Augustus Margai, just 4 years after independence. He can be described as dedicated because those who know will attest to the fact the he had a futuristic vision.

One would ask what this vision was. He was wise enough to see the imbalance in educational development in the different regions and general distribution of the proverbial national cake .He asked all paramount chiefs, especially in the north, to encourage children to go to school. He even instructed that chiefs sponsor at least one child in school every year. To get more information about this, ask people like Hon. Eddie Turay whose father sponsored some one now dead but who was a political giant and rival in Sanda.

However this project died with Sir Milton and when his half brother took over the reins of government Sierra Leone’s dive into oblivion started.

Why this dive is the big question and which deserves some analysis because it is one way to clearly see the reason(s) for the war and destruction of a country that should have been amongst the developing economies in the world today , given the quantity and quality of natural resources the country has.

One of the answers to this all important question was given by a man who by the naive visionless standards of Sierra Leoneans is illiterate and uneducated. He is also an unknown character but one widely traveled as a seafarer.

At an encounter for a house issue some time in 1984, this man, a landed property owner, asked a young university graduate teacher to quit his premises for failing to pay the rent at a house at Damson Bridge in Wellington, Freetown. It happened that "I and and I" was asked by this teacher to intercede on his behalf. This man, during the lengthy negotiations said: ”dis man for lef me ose. Ah nor care if e ket ten dikree! Nar book man dem pwel dis kontri!” (This man should vacate from my premises.He can have as many as ten degrees, I don’t care. It’s educated people that have destroyed this country).

Honestly, at that time this man’s statement was looked upon as one of ignorance, naïveté and mere misconception of the reality. Today, after several years and events in Sierra Leone it is clear that this was a statement of wisdom and foresight.

The old style politics, for which the APC was known, is beginning to surface again in Sierra Leone. The frequent arrests of Charles Margai and other political gimmicks in Sierra Leone of late, clearly demonstrate that our beloved country is not ready for take off on the flight to development, democracy and prosperity.

Why? The answer is simply that our country is one in which the ruling class or political elites abhor innovation and change but yet they shout democracy when the keys to the national treasury are not in their pockets.

First if innovation and change cannot be accommodated and if assumed educated people cannot accept the dynamics of change, then who have the people got to trust?

Next if trust is lost how can change come about and with what instrument? Apparently the only instrument of change the world knows is education. Education not in terms of a mountain of university degrees but education in the sense of knowledge acquired and used in the interest of humanity.

How does this relate to the events now taking place in Sierra Leone?

The answer is in the question: why the continued arrest of a new political party’s leader? This question does not in any way intend to perjure the courts of Sierra Leone but to look at the issues from a strict socio- political angle using various unbiased perspectives.

Given that Sierra Leone is just emerging from a senseless war that was predicated by the lack of democracy and proper planning for the future, resulting in the neglect of the young and energetic who were and are still the victims of the whole process, it is but in place to examine this issue.

However to properly examine this issue it is necessary to ask a couple of questions.

First is, after all that has happened why is the ruling class still naive and insensitive to the needs and wishes of the people who suffer most?

Assuming that all of the players in the ruling class have the basic schooling required by law to be eligible to be in the three arms of governance, why are they not sensitive to the need for a proper implementation and functioning of the very structures and mechanics of governance they cry out so loud for?

Why the continued use of deceptive tactics in the processes of governance?

The answer is simply that the country is so unfortunate that it does not have dedicated and patriotic people to run its affairs. All the country has is a class of egoistic gangsters whose sole desire is to rip off the country.

In the process of this rip off they become entangled in petty fights that they develop into national issues by using they unenlightened masses by forming cabals and clans which they call political parties.

In the process they endanger the country’s security by creating unnecessary frictions that sometimes take peer, tribal, regional, and other dimensions.

Now on the issue of Charles Margai: assuming that he did something that is against the laws of the land, then the questions are: First, why is he intransigent? Does he feel that he is above the law or is he using this as a political tactic to make himself a national hero? Or is the government not aware of the fact that the frequent arrests would make him a national hero?

Can the people of Sierra Leone trust someone who uses such deceptive methods to take the reins of leadership, if that is the reason for his intransigence?

Second question is, can it be attributed to the facts of his representation of some of the accused persons at the special court? If that is the reason, then can it be because of the invitation of the president to appear as witness and given the facts that this counsel for the defense is now a political party leader that he is being harassed for him to back down? Is it a covert tactic to strike a deal for HE Abayoumi not to appear?

Next question is, why the mass resignations from the SLPP, especially in its London branch?

Let’s look at the history of resignations and formation of new political parties in Sierra Leone. It is clear that this has always been either non- or counterproductive. Going back to the days before independence, there was a scenario of a third force emerging called the Elections Before Independence Movement (EBIM) which was a breakaway faction from the SLPP. Its leaders were Albert Margai and Siaka Stevens and other major political heavy weights who were the radicals in the then protectorate political scene.

EBIM COULD NOT SURVIVE AND ALBERT RETURNED TO THE SLPP AND SIAKA AND TWELVE OTHERS FORMED THE APC. Then the political dismemberment of Sierra Leone started, resulting in war 30 years later.

After the overthrow of the APC came the military interregnum (NPRC) and the subsequent general elections of 1996.

Several political groups emerged during this period, all being what can be described as splinters of the core groups, i.e., the APC and the SLPP. However one that was very peculiar was the group known as the National Unity Party (NUP).It is peculiar because of its composition.

It was a mixture of sorts that can best be described as the symbol of the third force that Sierra Leone urgently needs, because of its composition. However this group failed to make the necessary impact and split up. Why? It could not because it was joined by people who wanted to ride the tide of a possible win by the military boys as this group was associated with some strong arms in the NPRC AND IT WAS WIDELY RUMOURED THAT Valentine Esegrabo Strasser, then Head of State, was going to run for the presidency.

ONE OF THOSE WHO JOINED THIS DREAM BOAT is our dear new party leader (or is it interim?), Charles Margai. He came into the fold with a lot of supporters because he could not make the leadership in the SLPP as the SLPP wanted a figure with a political personality that will earn it credibility at the national and international platforms.

Also some strong arms in the very SLPP were opposed to another Margai leading especially the son of the man (Sir Albert) whose personal interests rode above party interests and led to the party’s defeat by the APC at the 1967 polls.

The SLPP had their convention at the Bintumani hotel, KABBAH WAS ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY APPOINTED, in an election that he muscled with his UNDP CLOUT AND CASH AND A FAKE AFFILIATION TO THE NORTH.

Charles, not being able to get the leadership left and crossed over to the NUP only to go back to the SLPP at the eleventh hour. A move some view as a planned strategy by the SLPP to weaken the NUP which was the only force the SLPP was afraid of at those elections.

If and if that was the case, can this man be trusted now? Or is it because of his loss of the same SLPP leadership contest that he is forming a new group to show off his political clout and force the SLPP to strike a deal with him again as it did in 96?


What is the moral judgment behind this episode of political wheeler dealing and where do these dealers expect to get their legitimacy from? From a People they have, in their selfish and unscrupulous machinations, impoverished? Can they just take a look at the inheritance of their predecessors and how they are in society today?

When will Sierra Leone have true patriots of the likes of the founding fathers of the USA?

For how long will this rat race continue? Who is fooling who?

The ruling class cannot continue to eat their cakes and expect to have them in their hands!

Democracy must begin now and it will begin with the exposure of the covert power game that has no benefits for the country!

This class must decide now or never. The people need a change and that change must begin with an overhaul of the attitudes of the ruling class. They must endeavor to see and act in the interest of the nation, not for the benefit of their personal interests.

The masses SHOULD and WILL be fed with the necessary food for them to make proper decisions come 2007.


Photo: Sir Milton Margai, father of the nation