Sierra Leonean Youths, Come out and Vote in 2007.

3 October 2006 at 21:24 | 1179 views

"The SLPP has also gone down this same road with little or no respect for the contribution of youths in our national politics. They will prefer to hold on to their party loyalists like Mannah Kpaka, Dr. SS Banya and others, who will sleep right through an important meeting due to their old age, instead of appointing young and energetic youths with the required qualification."

By Teddy Foday Musa, Holland.

African youths over the past five decades have not only been deprived from living their normal social lives, but also been cheated and misdirected by unscrupulous African leaders from becoming role models and future leaders of their respective countries.

In some African countries, the youths are not only victims of civil wars that are orchestrated by rogue politicians and undemocratic governments, but are even forced into becoming perpetrators in the guise of rebels and child soldiers.

Post- Apartheid South Africa reminds us of the above with the commemoration of the Soweto massacre of African children and youths, who stood out to denounce a system that was eating into the fabric of their youthful future. Nowadays, June 16th is celebrated all over the world as African Child’s Day. It is one of the most shameful examples of recorded brutality against African children and youths.

The Rwandan genocide, a tragic reminder which was not only centred around the killing of Hutus and Tutsis, but also a scenario that saw Rwandan youths watching their parents being killed and losing their future to a senseless war is another example. Today, the nightmare of the Rwandan genocide continues to take its toll not only on the youths of Rwanda, but also in the great lakes region as a whole.

In Liberia, Charles Taylor perpetuated a civil war that lasted for fourteen years and completely turned the West African sub-region into a killing field that stretched from Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast to Guinea. The war was another calculated ploy by politicians and warmongers, to send the bright future of Liberian youths into oblivion.

Today, Charles Taylor is seated in one of the most luxurious cells in the Netherlands, with medical facilities, drinking coffee and reading newspapers, while quietly awaiting his trial. Liberian youths, whose future he had torn apart, are having a marathon race in putting together their 14 year battered and scattered present and future. Thank God President Ellen Johnson-Saleaf is going all out to make their dreams come true. There is already light at the end of the tunnel, only in her first six months in office.

For Sierra Leonean youths, Foday Sankoh mortgaged their future, with the argument that the APC was corrupt and not fair in distributing the nation’s wealth. As a result, he invaded the country together with his Charles Taylor-backed RUF rebels. Sankoh catapulted Sierra Leone, a one-time harbinger of peace along the West Coast of Africa, into a human slaughterhouse. For ten years, Sankoh and his trigger-happy boys butchered and killed Sierra Leonean youths with impunity. Sankoh, like his counterpart Charles Taylor, has also gone down world history as a genocide commander in the 20th century, killing over tens of thousands of Sierra Leoneans, not to talk of the thousands of child soldiers he forcefully conscripted.

One would have imagined that our innocent Sierra Leonean youths, who make up to 60% of the entire country’s population, and who suffer so much in various ways, would have been the beneficiary target group of basic social amenities, with regards to employment, education and housing.

But it will interest you to know that over the years, politicians, governments of the day, including political parties, have all been working tirelessly in preventing the youths from taking up their expected role of being in charge of their own country, Sierra Leone. They have utilised series of strategies to either vilify the youths or make them appear very irresponsible, that they should not be trusted with any responsibility.

They have also implemented the strategy of playing one youth against another. Some of them even went as far as drugging youths when it comes to decision making (elections), so that they will be paralysed from thinking as level headed humans, thus creating the opportunity for them to do as they like and hold on to power.

The APC under the dictator Siaka Stevens did use the strategy of giving out illegal and dangerous drugs to youths, and also push them into killing opponents who were not in their favour. Today, they have created a legacy impression around our Sierra Leonean politics that youths can only play the role of a gangster in our politics.

I was therefore not surprised when Mr. John Leigh, in one of his writings referred to supporters of PMDC as “San San boys”, knowing that most of them are youths. Mr John Leigh is a member of the old school of the ruling party, the SLPP. He was only endorsing the historical old school thought of the APC-Youth relationship in our Sierra Leonean politics. So let us all as youths come together and make such a description against us, just a bit of history in our Sierra Leonean politics come 2007.

The SLPP has also gone down this same road with little or no respect for the contribution of youths in our national politics. They will prefer to hold on to their party loyalists like Mannah Kpaka, Dr. SS Banya and others, who will sleep right through an important meeting due to their old age, instead of appointing young and energetic youths with the required qualification.

Vice president, Solomon Ekuma Berewa, who is also the SLPP flag-bearer for the 2007 elections, during his visit to the USA for his party fund raising programme, made mockery of a teacher in Pujehun, whom he said made his intention to his people of wanting to become the president of Sierra Leone. According to our vice president, this said teacher became a laughing stock and so he chose it as the best of examples to send his message to the youths as an old man running for the presidency.

Therefore, if I am not mistaken, the SLPP presidential candidate our Vice President, is sending a message on behalf of his SLPP that youths are not considered when it comes to the business of running our country Sierra Leone. For him, youths are just a set of people to be used for political gains during election. But let me hasten to tell our honourable vice president that our student-youths played an integral patriotic part in bringing home the peace, which his SLPP government is currently using as a badge of honour in order to win the 2007 general elections.

Some of us who saw our Student-youth brothers like: late Varfie Konneh and Morie being slaughtered by the AFRC/RUF, only hope and pray that come 2007, God will provide for us a government and a president that will recognise their efforts and honour their death. It is unfortunate that our ruling government, which is basking in the glory of their efforts, has done nothing to acknowledge their sacrifice. Our NUSS has prevailed on them endlessly to at least recognise August 18th as a special day on our country’s calendar if not erecting a monument in their name, but to no avail.

Today, they have Mr Jacob Jusu Saffa, a young man as the Secretary General of their party. This is all in the name of another strategy, just to win over the youth population and dump them again into another hell. But guess what? Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa has the face and age of an adult youth, but he has been brain washed to think and act like them. I know him personally and this is not the JJ Saffa I knew. Today when I hear him talk, I hear the voice and see the vision of a very dishonest, old and recycled politician, who is bent on maintaining the old school hegemony.

The Strasser NPRC regime was one of those ruling governments that had most of its government officials as youths. These youths were bubbling with the desire of replacing politicians of the old school. They knew it and they were not happy about it. Of course I agree that the NPRC as a regime had its own lapses.

However, we must not forget the fact that our current president: His Excellency Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was a member of their advisory council. Therefore, who knows how honest he was in advising these young men? What if he decided to play against them the strategy of turning the clock around in order to see the coming and replacement of the old school politician, of whom he was and still is a member?

That not withstanding, the NPRC as a youth-man regime, did very well in certain areas. They were able to institute the national cleaning programme, which was very successful and kept our city clean and better, compared to what it is now under the democratically elected government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. They were able to generate electricity for the whole of our Freetown city, something that the ruling government has failed to offer our people. Instead, the “Kabbah-Tiger generator” has won the day.

Moreover, I didn’t recall any drinking water shortage during the NPRC regime. Our taps were running and drinking water was never scrambled over. The NPRC regime also promoted sports, which saw our national football team winning the zone two-football competition. At the same time, in 1994, our national football team under the same NPRC regime qualified and took part in the African nations cup competition hosted by then in South Africa. To crown it all on their efforts, I personally commend them for freeing Sierra Leoneans from that long and protracted yoke of the 23-year misrule and dictatorship of the APC.

So fellow compatriots, the youths are not as bad and irresponsible as projected by the APC, and some of our turn-coat politicians. They can do their best if given the opportunity. The point is that they don’t want to hand over to the youths; even when western nations have done that. In the Netherlands, a 39-year-old Dutch politician has just been elected leader of his own party (VVD). He is expected to become a prime minister, an equivalent of our Sierra Leonean president.

Therefore, as we approach the 2007 general elections, I am appealing to all youths not to allow themselves to be bought over again this time. Enough is enough. This time, let us all read carefully between the lines, and make our choice amongst the various registered political parties.

Let us display that choice beyond tribes, beyond our old party affiliations, beyond our political patronage, beyond our geographical boundaries and merely hold on to our expected Sierra Leonean patriotism. I am calling on all youths to take active part in our Sierra Leonean politics, and be ready to come out and vote in 2007. Let us don’t allow our parents who are also part of the old school, to influence us otherwise. Instead, let us have a mind of our own to educate them. One of those things that have served as an impediment to the progress of our country is centred around our attitude of not wanting to give attention to our country’s politics. (Ar nor mix pan politics). This time, (Mek we mix pan politics).

Man by nature is a political being. That besides, we are not doing ourselves any good with such a displayed attitude towards our one and only country. When we take ourselves away from our country’s politics, all we are doing is dumping the fate of our country into the hands of a few corrupt people, who have the hallmarks of dishonesty and brazen contempt for human life and dignity. However, they will get what they want, and not what we want for our beloved country because they have made a choice.

So let us all make the choice this time. Campaign for a party, it is your right. Vote for a party, it is your right. Spend your money on this 2007 election, for Sierra Leone is like your first baby. Once you do this, then you have become a decision maker in your country. Regardless of how far you might be, if you cannot vote, you can talk to somebody on the ground about a party, which you think can save the day for all of us. But this time, around the corner, we must give a special attention to our 2007 elections, as it is a crossroads scenario in our country’s history.

Teddy Foday-Musa
PMDC-Netherlands Chapter

Photo: Teddy. He is the Secretary General of PMDC-Netherlands.