Solo B in New York

26 September 2006 at 06:54 | 903 views

"I also noticed something of political importance to me.I kept looking at J. J. Saffa, the SLPP Secretary General sitting on the right side next to the VP. One thing that struck me was that Mr. Saffa kept his head down during much of the time of the VP’s speech. I am not sure if he was sleepy or just kept saying to himself “Oh no! I cannot tolerate another boring speech tonight”."

By Mohamed Konneh.

Honestly speaking, when I saw and heard Berewa speak in New York, the first question I pondered was why did the SLPP choose this man to be their leader ? If, as most people might agree, the basic ingredient for every politician is oratorical excellence, then Berewa falls far short of that achievement.

And so, let me ask some questions of the SLPP. Was Berewa the best the SLPP would come up with? Was he the main one that everyone believed would win this election for the SLPP? Was that conclusion based on his personal political charisma combined with the financial and organizational capabilities of the SLPP? Or, is the SLPP hoping to win more on the organizational and financial largesse of the party? I will bet that the answer is based on the latter.

In New York, on that Wednesday evening of September 20, 2006, Mr. Berewa arrived almost three hours late. To say that he arrived in a totally unassuming way, low-key and dignitarily under dressed, would be an under statement. Perhaps he just didn’t give a hoot about the New York audience or he just may not give much credence to his public appearance. Whatever his reason, I don’t know, but he wasn’t personally appealing to me publicly.

I am not saying this to be disrespectful to the man. After all he is my Vice President. I say that because I am a man with a lot of pride for my country and my leaders. I want my country and my leaders to be competitively presentable as is expected of world leaders and dignitaries. That night, I saw people from many other countries including the United States of America. They might judge my Vice President in comparison with theirs, without having to understand Mr. Berewa’s personal view about public appearance.

No, I am not saying that he had to be in a suit, but he could have been in a prestigiously flowing, intricately designed, well “planted” African gown far more dignifying than what he wore. And I know he can afford any attire in this world to provide us the best physical public presentation to make us more proud. I just wished my VP was more personally imposing without being expressive.

I can accept the fact that Mr. Berewa may not be a political orator, but what else can a politician be without being verbally convincing? For me, Mr. Berewa was not. I was taught that public speakers with a heavy voice, for example, must be emphatic in their expressions in order not to put people to sleep. But VP Berewa almost did that. I noticed that the first time anybody got up and left was during Mr. Berewa’s speech. I can give him the benefit of the doubt that, may be, it was already too late into the night, that’s why people got up and left at different intervals.

The food was great, the hall was well decorated, the audience was very respectful and attentive. But I was discouraged by the many distortions in Mr. Berewa’s speech about the things the SLPP has done and intend to do.

There were more of what the SLPP “hope” to do than what the SLPP “has” done in that speech. I was especially discouraged when he said that there is money only “now waiting” to do the Masiaka to Bo Road. I thought to myself that, if in the year 2006 all the SLPP has done about the Bo Road (hence the Kenema Road as well), is that money is only lying in wait to be done, then God have mercy on that major road artery in that country. Wouldn’t we all agree that there is more industrial, agricultural and commercial traffic on the Freetown to Kenema Road than any other road in that country? Someone please provide a contradicting statistic to that assertion because I am not absolute about the statement.

I also noticed something of political importance to me.I kept looking at J. J. Saffa, the SLPP Secretary General sitting on the right side next to the VP. One thing that struck me was that Mr. Saffa kept his head down during much of the time of the VP’s speech. I am not sure if he was sleepy or just kept saying to himself “Oh no! I cannot tolerate another boring speech tonight”. Whatever Mr. Saffa was feeling, he didn’t look as vivacious to me for a man so close to the VP and Presidential candidate, and so important in the SLPP. I should give him credit for giving a relatively lively speech in preparation of the VP’s lackluster speech.

Another surprise of the night came from Mr. John Leigh, at least someone that looked like him. May I ask one question please? Is John Leigh actually in the main SLPP hierarchy? It didn’t seem that way, that night. John Leigh came in, stood around for a few minutes, hardly socializing and looking like he was out of place, and then disappeared in less than thirty minutes. Was he not part of the entourage? If so, why then didn’t he wait for the Pa?

As for my analysis of the VP and his entourage, vis-à-vis the elections, I can profoundly declare that on the basis of public presentation and human conviction, the VP cannot match the other candidates in any shape or form. Perhaps that is the reason why the VP refuses to debate any other competing candidate. If he does, I predict that he will lose. His speech that night was neither articulate nor coherent politically. He bounced from one topic to another with an almost erratic form of presentation.

No question and answer session was provided or encouraged. I was even wondering if that was premeditated in making the VP come so late. They may have calculated that if the VP came in late and gave that boring speech, he will make the audience lose interest in confronting him with difficult questions as he had faced in London and Washington D.C.

One brilliant lady could not hold back, however. She was the only one who asked a question as the entourage got up at the High Table and started to leave. She asked about Dual Citizenship. Mr. Berewa first declared that the law has been passed and that all anyone now has to do is to go and apply in Sierra Leone. He was, however, reminded that the legislation is still in Parliament. Only then did he clarify the same to the audience. But he was very defensive of the reason why people should have to “apply” in order to get back their citizenship, and not just expect to be openly made available to them.

If the election were based largely on the performance of the candidates alone, Berewa occupies,in my view, the third place of the three candidates. I am sure that the SLPP rank and file is quite aware of this. I am therefore expecting that because of that deficiency, the SLPP is going to utilize many other facilities(including bribery) to make up for it, which can include ANYTHING. When I made some comment to one SLPP big wig in the hall about Berewa’s lackluster performance, he said to me: “We will take care of that, that’s why the man leaves nothing to chance, we are the power right now, and we intend to use it fully to our advantage.” I think I understood what he meant.