Sierra Leone government condemns political killing in Kenema

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2015

Violence at SLPP office - 24 August 2015

The brutal killing of an opposition SLPP supporter last Friday in Sierra Leone, is a grave cause of concern and worry for millions of Sierra Leoneans, whose dream of a politically progressive nation has in the last ten years been tested by the bad behaviour of politicians, who want to seize power through violence, rather than win the hearts and minds of the people through discourse and the ballot box.

As Sierra Leone precariously move towards preparing for the 2018 general and presidential elections, it seems for now that it’s the country’s main opposition SLPP making the news for all the wrong reasons – political violence.

Sierra Leone needs a strong and caring government that is committed to tackling poverty, destitution, squalor, disease, chronic unemployment, and the deepening regional and social inequalities that are opening up – driven by tribalism, corruption and cronyism.

But above all, Sierra Leone needs opposition political parties that do not simply criticise the Koroma government, whose failures and inability to show leadership and provide good governance has become unacceptable and intolerable.

It is now becoming painfully clear that the opposition SLPP is fast losing credibility to serve the people of Sierra Leone, not only as a viable government in waiting, but to provide the necessary moral compass that is needed to govern and lead all six million people in the right direction to prosperity.

The people of Sierra Leone may be suffering under the corrupt and abysmally inept APC government, but senior members and leaders of the SLPP must know that the people of Sierra Leone are not obliged to vote for the SLPP simply because they have had enough of the ruling APC; nor are they obliged to elect the SLPP to run the country, simply because they are the only visible opposition shouting down the Koroma government.

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Sierra Leone’s future is being lost to greedy and selfish demons

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2015

kroo bay4

You know what? Sierra Leone is not cursed as some would like to believe. It is our mentality to anything Sierra Leone, and our collective antics that are the cause of the warped society and governance that we now have to contend with.

Therefore, as our national voyage continues to be marked by sorrow, tears and blood, let us stop pretending and start living real. We cannot continue to be operating like an elephant on a unicycle.

We have been fantasising about a just and truly free society, but by our very support for the institutions that are perpetrating injustice, we are enslaving ourselves.

We have lived on virtual grounds for too long, and have lost sight of who we are in reality. I believe this is why the number of graves is catching up with the population.

In our world, idealism trumps practical considerations, and loyalty puts objectivity in the shade. This is why our situation seems like the apt poster for perpetual mediocrity. But the truth is constant and has no loyalty to anything else, but itself.

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An open letter to retired brigadier Julius Maada Bio

Yankuba Kai-Samba

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 May 2016

Maada Bio and President Koroma

The police force in Sierra Leone should not dismiss the persistent and continuing violence and murders, alleged to have been perpetrated by supporters of the 2012 failed presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who is now also intending to contest the 2018 presidential candidacy, as a mere intra-party matter.

They should treat this as a threat to the rule of law in Sierra Leone, with wider ramification for individual freedom of liberty as enshrined in both our national and the SLPP’s constitutions, as well as for peace in the entire country.

Since 2010 when the last SLPP flag bearer election was conducted, the SLPP has experienced an idiotic and destructive spate of intra-party violence, intimidation and profanity, never seen before in the party’s leadership election.

I have once served as the SLPP UK secretary general, and am still a registered member in Freetown. But never in our history have we seen this kind of grotesque violence that is now tearing the very foundation of the party.

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Political violence in Sierra Leone? – one man dead

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 May 2016

KONO violence report

Police in Sierra Leone are investigating the gruesome death of a young man in the south-eastern city of Kenema, which took place yesterday. (Photo: President Koroma receiving political violence investigation report a few years ago from the head of the country’s police).

There are allegations that the dead man was a supporter of the former chairman of the opposition SLPP – John Oponjo Benjamin, who is also believed to be interested in competing for the 2018 presidential candidacy of the SLPP.

A supporter of the SLPP presidential candidate for the 2012 elections in Sierra Leone – retired brigadier Julius Maada Bio is suspected of stabbing the young man to death with a knife.

Maada Bio is also one of the nine contenders of the 2018 SLPP presidential candidacy.

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Kenema prepares big welcome for Alie Kabba

Alie Kabba Campaign Team

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 May 2016

Alie Kabba in Bo3

Today Saturday, 28th of May, 2016, in the bustling Eastern City of Kenema, Alie Badara Sanjan Kabba will take the stage to formally declare his intention to run for the SLPP flag and, ultimately, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. (Photo: The people of Bo welcomed Alie Kabba early this year). 

For Alie, seeking  the presidency of  our beloved but deprived country is not a hunt for personal trophy, but a search for national  salvation.

As the fastest growing campaign on the ground, the Alie Kabba Campaign owes its upward rise to  consistent adherence to an all-inclusive mantra of “everyone in, no one out; everyone up, no one down.”

Although the remaining stretch of this “long walk to freedom and progress” may yet prove to be the longest and the hardest, there can be no doubt that the last few steps leading to today have been very testing but unwaveringly solid.

It is a given that every next step will be one taken with an increasing solidity of purpose and perseverance that will never succumb to or be subdued by the prevailing challenges of our times.

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Sierra Leone presidential hopeful Alie Kabba to launch his leadership campaign

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 May 2016

Alie Kaaba 2

Alie Kabba will formally declare his candidacy for the opposition SLPP presidential flagbearership on Saturday, 28th May, 2016, in the south-eastern city of Kenema.

His formal declaration will come well in advance of the party national convention, where delegates from across Sierra Leone, will elect the party’s presidential candidate for the country’s 2018 general and presidential elections.

There are at least nine candidates competing for the SLPP presidential flagbearership.

A massive turnout of supporters is expected at the event in Kenema on Saturday, 28th May, which will be followed by a launching tour of Kailahun, Bo, Kono, Kabala and other strategic cities and towns, where Alie will meet large numbers of grassroots members and delegates, who will be taking part in the forthcoming party convention.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph talks to Alie Kabba.

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Sierra Leone and Guinea exchanged gunshots at the high seas over Chinese fishermen

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 May 2016

Soumbedioune Fish Market

It was just a matter of time for gun violence to erupt in Sierra Leone’s coastal waters, involving illegal Chinese fishing trawlers and banditry.

According to report from Reuters, armed Guinean soldiers and their Sierra Leone counterparts opened fire at each other, when the Guineans boarded a Chinese trawler demanding cash.

There are no reports of fatalities on either side, but this ugly development shows how desperate the situation has become along Sierra Leone’s coastal waters, where an estimated $200 Million dollars is lost every year in revenue by the government of Sierra Leone.

According to a recent EU report, the government of Sierra Leone is seriously failing to provide necessary surveillance and monitoring of the country’s coastal waters, to prevent illegal fishing and other criminal activities.

Dozens of mostly large Chinese and Korean fishing trawlers are plying the coasts of Sierra Leone, regarded as one of the most fertile grounds for fishing in the world. But the people of Sierra Leone are constantly complaining of serious fish shortages in the local markets.

The government of Sierra Leone is allowing most of the catch to be taken abroad for overseas consumption, with little or no tax and fees paid by foreign trawlers.

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Africa’s rising middle class – time to sort out fact from fiction

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 May 2016

Africa rising middle class

In several African countries, the rise of a middle-class or middle-income earning group is significantly noticeable. Go to Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda, Angola, and the evidence can be seen, thanks largely to a huge increase in GDP, fuelled by foreign investments and an expansion of industrial capacity.

Average annual GDP growth in Africa in the last ten years has hovered around 4 to 5%. This has created economic and job opportunities for the educated and skilled – classed by socio-economists as middle-class.

In countries such as Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia where there is a massive bulge of working-class and unskilled poor – struggling to put food on the table, there is little evidence of a rise in the middle-class, though there is plenty evidence of the luxurious lifestyle lived by the few – very rich upper class.

Most African countries are aspiring to achieve middle income status by 2025.

But how do we define middle-class in Africa; and can upward mobility from poor working class to middle-class be easily discerned, without a massive increase in income?

The problem of defining and classifying who is middle-class in Africa is itself problematic, says professor Henning Melber.   He also questions the role of the so called African middle class in promoting economic growth.

“It is also dubious that African middle classes by their sheer existence promote economic growth. Their increase was mainly a limited result of the trickle-down effects of the resource-based economic growth rates during the early years of this century. Their position and role in society hardly has the economic potential and dynamics to induce further productive investment that contributes to sustainable economic growth.

“And there is also little evidence of any correlation between economic growth and social progress, as even a working paper of the International Monetary Fund admits”.

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This is Britain’s most talented family – they are of Sierra Leonean-Caribbean origin

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2016

Talented Kanneh-Mason family

It is difficult to think of any good story making global news headline about or linked to Sierra Leone in almost a decade, after a brutal civil war that destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

If news making the rounds from Sierra Leone today is not about corrupt officials denying their own people the right to a better quality of life, it is about the abuse of power with impunity, by those running the country.

Today, most homes in the capital Freetown are without clean drinking water, let alone electricity. Most people in Sierra Leone are living a miserable life of poverty. Yet the president, his ministers and senior officials are living a life of luxury beyond belief.

And not to talk also, of the miserable bottom ranking of the country in almost every global human development statistics, after 55 years of freedom from British colonial rule – ‘one of the most poorest countries in the world’; ‘one of the most corrupt nations in the world’; ‘one of the most dangerous places in the world for a woman to give birth’ – the list goes on.

But yesterday the UK Daily Mail newspaper published a unique story about a family, that will make every Sierra Leonean proud of the immense good that their country can give to the rest of the world,  if only corrupt and depraved politicians can ensure that every citizen  is given the opportunity to harness their God given potential.

This story is about the talented Kanneh-Mason family of seven children, whose 17 year old son – Sheku Kanneh-Mason has won this year’s Britain’s Young Musician of the Year Award.

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Sierra Leone –  the forgotten mortality

Vageesh Jain, Colin Stewart Brown and Oliver Johnson (Global Health Action)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2016

kroo bay4

The 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries across West Africa, Europe, and the United States. Sierra Leone is among the predominant three nations affected, alongside Guinea and Liberia. (Photo: Poverty in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown).

As of 14 December 2014, there have been 8,356 cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, with 2,417 deaths (1). However, little focus has been paid to the deterioration of healthcare in these already fragile West African states.

Though 15% of gross domestic product was previously being spent on healthcare (2), with a gross national income of only $680 per capita in 2013 (3), health was already stretched in a country with striking disease statistics.

For example, tuberculosis (TB) contributes dramatically to the burden of disease in Sierra Leone, which has the third-highest prevalence of TB in the world (4). Though the number of incident infections of HIV has been declining, Sierra Leone has 57,000 people living with HIV.

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Hypertension – why the approach to tackling the silent killer has changed

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2016

blood pressure6

Globally about 22% of adults over the age of 18 suffer from hypertension, according to statistics from the World Health Organisation in 2014. But in Africa, this figure is higher and sits at 30%.

In Sierra Leone there is no record of the number of people actually dying every year from hypertension. But there is little doubt that in a country with one of the highest adult mortality rates in the world, and among the poorest, hypertension must count as one of the major killer diseases in the country.

A Sierra Leonean doctor disclosed to the Sierra Leone Telegraph that in his opinion, more than 50% of the population in Sierra Leone could be suffering from hypertension.

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Life expectancy increased by 5 years since 2000 – but health inequalities persist

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2016

water poverty4

Dramatic gains in life expectancy have been made globally since 2000, but major inequalities persist within and among countries, according to this year’s “World Health Statistics: Monitoring Health for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

The report shows that life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s.

Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The increase was greatest in the African Region of WHO, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

“The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventable and treatable diseases,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “But the gains have been uneven. Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no-one is left behind.”

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African scientists make headway in grasping persistent TB bacteria

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2016

TB3

In 2015, Tuberculosis (TB) killed 1.5 million people worldwide, and an estimated 26,000 people are infected each day. Prevalence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, from Ethiopia to South Africa, and in Asia, particularly in India and China.

The disease is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an organism that has caused infection in humans since the stone age.

And it’s airborne – aerosols containing the bacterium remain suspended in rooms for hours after being coughed out by a person with tuberculosis. Once inhaled, the mycobacterium has a very real chance of taking up residence in your lungs, where it can lead to one of two conditions: latent TB and TB disease.

In Sierra Leone TB contributes dramatically to the burden of disease on the country’s crumbling health system, which has the third-highest prevalence of TB in the world (4). One of the priorities of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is the control of tuberculosis (TB).

With an estimated prevalence of 574 cases per 100 000 population and new smear-positive cases of 247 per 100 000 population, the burden of TB is increasing in Sierra Leone.

The number of TB diagnostic centres in Sierra Leone increased from 116 in 2009 to 148 in 2010.[2] Anti-TB drugs provided by the Global Drug Facility are widely available in sufficient quantities across the country and there is satisfactory drug flow from the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association drug stores to the districts.

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SLPP UK Council of Elders distancing itself from moves to usurp the constitution

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 May 2016

Newly elected SLPP UK branch executive officers
There are disturbing stories emerging from London about plans by a small section of the SLPP UK branch membership, believed to be led by some former officers of the executive committee of the branch to stage a coup against the officially recognised and recently elected executive committee (Photo).

It is understood that the ‘rebel’ faction is planning to organise a ceremony in London today, where a breakaway group of elders of the SLPP UK, will hand over control of the affairs of the branch to the unofficial executive committee, in contravention of the constitution.

According to the SLPP UK & Ireland 2014 Constitution – Appendix 2 D.1; “The Council of Elders shall be the moral guarantors”; and Appendix 2 D. 4 further states that: “At the end of the term of the outgoing executive the Council of elders shall assume responsibility in running the affairs of the Branch/ Region and Chapters until the new executive is sworn in.”

So why all the force?

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Sierra Leoneans have a unique opportunity for genuine dialogue about country’s future – says Yumkella

Our Correspondent 

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 May 2016

KKY award 2016

Visiting and holding high-level meetings in three cities in two weeks – Kigali and Nairobi in East Africa and Cape Town in Southern Africa, a cascade of appreciative and sustained applause followed one of Sierra Leone’s most recognized and globally respected citizens – Kandeh Yumkella.

The reason for his global popularity may be simple: His vision for Africa and oratorical prowess. His audience believes that among the many voices sharing their vision for Africa or the direction the continent should take, none is more engaging, compelling and realistic than the 56-year old presidential flag-bearer candidate of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party.

As he challenge leaders to diversify their economies, and speaks about the importance of sustainable industrial and agribusiness development or increasing the continent’s manufacturing base to lift their citizens out of poverty, the consummate diplomat and former UN Chief Executive, may be echoing the same concerns his country folks have, as he held his audience spellbound with his blunt but visionary and solution-oriented message.

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Rwanda provides lesson on how to narrow Africa’s energy deficit

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 May 2016

salone poverty3Last week, president Koroma’s APC government in partnership with the British Department for International Development (DFID), launched an ambitious programme, aimed at providing electricity to every household in Sierra Leone by 2025, to boost the economy, maintain vital public services such as healthcare, and reduce dependency on aid.

This announcement is part of the UK Energy Africa campaign, which it says would help African countries reach a global development goal agreed by U.N. member states to ensure access to energy for all by 2030.

Sierra Leone is the first country to sign a compact with DFID to commence this solar power for all programme, which according to the government of Sierra Leone will target 149 chiefdoms within the next 18 months, and deliver electricity to 1 million people by 2020.

Sierra Leone has a population of over 6 million people. As in Rwanda – one of Africa’s shining examples of development orientated and progressive political leadership, less than 16% of people in Sierra Leone have access to electricity – 12% to be precise.

But there ends Sierra Leone’s similarity with Rwanda – a country that is succeeding in attracting credible foreign investors, not because investors feel sorry for the people of Rwanda after their brutal civil war, but because its government has invested heavily in educating its people and has produced a large pool of skilled workforce.

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Why the world needs intelligent leaders and what it takes to be one

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 May 2016

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015

As the people of Sierra Leone  try to understand the reasons for the country’s poverty and poor ranking in every global performance index, the word ‘Munku’ is now being associated with, and  used to describe not only the president himself, but his entire government leadership.

In Sierra Leone – one of the poorest countries in the world, and with one of the lowest rates of literacy, the word ‘Munku’ is defined as someone who lacks intelligence.

It is a word commonly used in the vernacular Creole language to refer to a person who does not think and hasn’t got the capacity to analyse, assess and make proper judgement with positive outcome.

Many people in Sierra Leone do believe, in all sincerity, that the Koroma led government is inept and incapable of solving the myriad of basic economic, health, education and social problems facing the country today.

The popular Sierra Leonean musician – Emmerson, puts it quite succinctly in his latest dance floor hit song, about the deplorable conditions in the country, to the chagrin of ruling party media handlers and ministers: ‘Munku bos pan matches” – meaning “A fool with a box of matches can be reckless and irresponsible – blowing everything up in smoke, rather than use the matches for positive benefits that everyone in the country can enjoy – such as LIGHT from DARKNESS.’

There is little doubt the problems facing the people of Sierra Leone is caused by poor leadership, as well as rampant corruption and the lack of critical mass of human resource at the top of government departments, to plan, deliver and monitor development programmes, as well as manage their respective ministries and agencies effectively.

But many writers on the subject of leadership, associate good leadership with high intelligence, especially emotional intelligence.

The question therefore for the people of Sierra Leone – where 80% of the population live below the poverty line, and most people are surviving on less that $1 a day, despite an abundance of diamonds, gold, rutile, and many more, is whether the president and his government leadership lack intelligence; or are they simply pathologically corrupt and thoughtless? What does it take for a leader to be described as intelligent?

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Grand corruption, nepotism and embezzlement in Sierra Leone – reflections for change

Mohamed L. Kallon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 May 2016

State House - FreetownIt is high time Sierra Leoneans reflect deeply on some of the challenges facing the country, especially after last week’s presidential order, banning all peaceful protests within the vicinity of State House – the people’s House in the capital Freetown. Aristotle Onassis once said: “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

In Sierra Leone today, inefficient government institutions are offering too many opportunities for bribery and extortion. And yet the ruling APC wants people to shut up.

The civil service has been turned into an extremely politicised institution. Ruling APC party officials and supporters are awarded government contracts and other benefits, to the detriment of the country.

There is widespread mismanagement and misuse of resources in the education sector, where the absence of a formal complaint and redress mechanism, offer opportunities for extortion, bribery and nepotism. Yet the ruling APC wants the people to shut up.

Powerful individuals in society are allowed to manipulate the criminal and justice system to their personal advantage. And yet, the ruling APC wants the people to shut up and put up.

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Are critics of president Koroma and his ruling APC political zealots? 

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 May 2016

Empty Red Wheelbarrow

There is a saying that ‘when a wheelbarrow is empty, it makes more noise than a vuvuzela’. This goes for the APC funded media publishers, who parade themselves as journalists and minister plenipotentiaries, at the expense of the poor tax payer of Sierra Leone.

They see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil of their corrupt paymasters at State House in Freetown; not even when their compatriots are dropping dead like flies, because of poverty and disease.

But yet, they have the temerity to throw insults at patriotic citizens who regard it as a national duty to call the APC government for what it is – corrupt, inept, slothful and dozy.

Take this bile from one such government sponsored media spin doctor, published yesterday. This is what they said:

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President of Sierra Leone bans peaceful protests as tension rises over poverty

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 May 2016

police violence in sierra leonePresident Koroma has today issued what has been described by critics as a tyrannical presidential order, banning all street protests heading towards State House.

This order comes as tension rises in the capital, amid growing social and economic discontent.

The worsening water and electricity crisis, which started three months ago, is now causing serious problems for the health of almost two million people in the capital Freetown.

Two months ago, there was widespread disquiet on the streets of Freetown, in response to the government’s refusal to reduce the pump price of fuel, despite falling global oil prices.

And now, it’s the water and electricity crisis that has become the bugbear of president Koroma and his ministers.

It is understood that several groups, including students and school children are planning to stage peaceful street protests in the coming weeks.

But president Koroma’s banning order may now be seen as an open invitation to street confrontation with the police by disgruntled youths.

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