Sierra Leone Today: Eat or Be Eaten

22 January 2006 at 07:38 | 572 views

One of our London correspondents, Saidu Kaye Sesay looks at a new phenomenon(well, not so new) in Sierra Leone politics today: the eat-or-be eaten style. Saidu, who worked as a journalist in Sierra Leone for many years recently paid a visit and did not like what he saw. Here is Saidu:

By Saidu Kaye Sesay, London, UK

Recent events in Sierra Leone seem as confusing as they are intriguing.

Firstly, there was the arrest, detention, law suit and subsequent release, on self bail, of the leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change, the controversial Lawyer-cum-politician Charles Margai. His crime, as far as I am concerned is challenging the authority of the power to be (Solomon Berewa), bringing to mind the age old Sierra Leone syndrome of Do -you -know -who I am?
Why not? Berewa has the ‘divine’ right to exploit this philosophy, in a country where the hypocritical men of God and elders impress on the minds of the young that after God it is the government. And complacently, the youthful population of that country continue to bask in that twisted logic, buttressing it further by adding their own version namely, an Angel cannot challenge God. The solution as far as they are concerned is for anyone given the opportunity to serve in government should think of self and do so, even against their conscience, other wise, stay off trouble, which includes not even criticising the Ruling Class, even when things go wrong.

Well, Charles Margai, should be thanking his stars for attracting so much international condemnation arising from his arrest. Whether it was Charles’ ancestral grace or his own new image that made the big ones to cry foul is food for a think tank. The lesser known and unfortunate ones are still languishing in prison with no justice in sight. If Charles was a weakling and the world was not watching, he would have regretted the day he refused to play ball with the SLPP, especially after the infamous Makeni convention which observers described as a mere rubber stamp of the president’s successors. Charles Margai has always refused to eat; at least, this is the impression the present regime has given us. If he had, they would have roasted him by now, like they did to Harry Will. As Minister of Internal Affairs, if the government had detected any blot in Charles’ record they surely would have used that to stop him in his tracks, but since they have not done it we shall always see him as ‘Mr. Clean’, though I am not putting my neck on the line for that. Be that as it may, Charles is presently walking the proud land, shoulders high

Blue blood
Another blue blood that is presently in the SLPP’s net is Omrie Golley; just as controversial. Well, he ate, but with rebels, so they spared him their carnage. But because he refused to eat with the rebel ‘busters’ (SLPP), he is today the victim of the peace he helped achieved. Why? Not only because he wants to form his own party, but because proceeds from diamond sales still taste sweeter, thus, continuing to eat, in his own way. Whether the purported coup plot is genuine is not what I intend to discover in this piece. We shall leave that with time and history. A note of caution for Golley: Whenever President Kabbah personally makes pronouncements on the state controlled media about a crisis, a subject should watch his back. If you don’t believe this, ask Mohamed Wanza of gunboat fame. But, maybe, like Margai, the world is watching, epitomised by the swift reaction of Great Britain, whose nationality, Golley parades with.

This shall be the fate of those who refuse to eat!

Kabbah is presently building his escape route. His heir apparent; Berewa is losing grip, as characterised by the defection of party loyalists. Bear-like, like Macbeth, Kabbah is tied to a stake, and must fight the brutish fight.
Welcome, all ye opportunists!

Recently, I was holidaying in Sierra Leone, when the tabloids started screaming about the arrival of Dr. Abass Bundu and his declaration for the SLPP. Abass’ ‘indelible ink’.Yeah. Abass’ Diplomatic Passports, that’s him. This guy, to my estimation is shamelessly brave. He is not the kind of man who would allow rumours to do their rounds. He would present himself at prominent arenas, as if to say, yes, this is me, so what?. I was travelling past Mobil at Wilberforce, when a friend called my attention to Abass Bundu’s presence. He was standing by his car, right at the centre of the Filling Station, and like the typical miser he is, counting money (instead of leaving that to his chauffeur) to pay for the service. Immaculately dressed in white, never mind his impurity, he was looking this way and that with an apparent aim to draw attention. Well, where he believed his paid articles would not reach, he himself would go. I ignored him, and continued my journey. Who would question such caricatures when the incumbent is designing a State where criminals dare, as long as they serve his end game?

These are the President’s men, who know how to eat: Dr. A.K. Turay, now chairman of SIERRATEL, who said he accepted the post only because he was looking for something to do; Kanji Daramy, who ruined SALPOST, Major -General Sheku Tarawallie, who, like a scout, fled when his Commander-in- Chief (Late J.S. Momoh) was toppled...the roll call goes on and on.
These are our compatriots, who know how to eat, for the selfish fear of not being eaten alive. God save the land.

Photo: Saidu Kaye Sesay