Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 January 2017
When the three Wise men visited baby Jesus at this time of the year, they brought with them gold, frankincense and myrrh. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (embalming oil) as a symbol of death; life’s phases.
So when Donald Trump visited Obama at The White House, following his near impossible and apocalyptic triumph in the recently concluded presidential elections, Obama said after the meeting, “It is no secret that the President-elect and I had some pretty significant differences,” I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago and work as hard as we can to make sure this is a successful transition for the President-elect.”
“We are all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” But if the events of last week are anything to go by, it looks like the transition will be anything but “smooth”.
Last week, Obama decided to have the U.S. abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, which allowed the measure to pass.
The vote angered Israeli leaders, who accused senior U.S. officials of complicity in drafting the resolution, a claim disputed by the U.S. Trump’s postings came just before Secretary of State John F. Kerry delivered a major address on U.S. foreign policy that included a rebuttal to Israeli government criticisms of the Obama administration.
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 January 2017
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, I want to wish you all a truly happy and hope-filled 2017. May the peace and blessings of the Almighty abundantly flow in the direction of those who are genuinely doing everything to make our country a better place for all of us: the tireless healthcare workers; under-resourced civil servants; underpaid teachers, police and army; long-suffering farmers and fishermen; sun-baked petty traders; tragically neglected students; as well as jobless youth and hope-starved citizens, silently crawling and dying on poverty-stricken streets of our cities, towns and villages.
For 50 years and counting, following independence from the British, our country continues to be tossed around, shredded with disdain and tortured to tatters by a rotating gang of greedy and corrupt politicians.
Truth is that the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans — the suffering 99% — have justifiably lost all faith in a clueless and unpatriotic ruling class that forever promises heaven on earth, but always succeed in delivering so little to lift the nation out of excruciating and dehumanizing poverty.
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 December 2016
Despite attempts by West African regional heads of state to reason with Jammeh, he remains strong headed in his desire to cling on to power. This is borne out of hubris. We are all victims of our own hubris at times.
Some may see Jammeh’s stubbornness as a dream of innocence; and this depends on a denial of reality that can be his own form of hubris. Jammeh is in denial of the reality that Gambians are witnessing today.
He professes to be a man of Allah; but even great men bow before the sun which melts hubris into humility.
The problem with Jammeh is not a lack of competence. It is confidence without competence. He thinks that the way he understands God is the way God is. That is exactly what will mark his down fall.
Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.
Jamie Hitchen (Africa Research Institute)
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 December 2016
As Sierra Leone struggles with the aftermath of the devastating Ebola epidemic, it must fight fires on several fronts: as well as being one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, it is facing an acute cash shortage and potential leadership struggle.
Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Sierra Leone 119th out of 168 countries. The country’s position has progressively worsened over the last four years.
Also in 2015, 70% of citizens surveyed by Afro-barometer felt that corruption had increased from 2014, with only a third believing that they can make a difference in the fight against it.
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 December 2016
If you look at the pages of the newspapers in most African countries today, one will notice the high rate of road accidents, especially during the festive seasons.
The main cause is that there is an increase in pedestrian movement, vehicle traffic, and a proliferation of street traders on the road – all trying to make extra income to satisfy the needs of their families.
This is also the time when people are traveling to their home towns, chiefdoms and villages. There is also the tendency for people being absent minded at this time, especially if they are wondering about how to succumb to the many requests from family and friends who also want to share the Christmas spirit or welcome the New Year with a bang.
So if you are a driver in any of our African towns or cities, this is a time for you to apply all your safe driving and accident prevention skills.
Another point to note is that Christmas and the New Year is a period when a number of Sierra Leoneans living in Europe and North America return home to celebrate with family and friends.
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2016
When President Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh conceded defeat in the recently concluded democratic elections in The Gambia, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.
But it was not the “jovial” and satirical manner in which he declared his acceptance of the result, in a widely publicised telephone conversation with President elect Adama Barrow that shocked the world.
It was the mere fact of the unthinkable; that he actually accepted the will of the people, leaving the political world in shock and awe.
Many people, especially Gambians, saw that telephone conversation as the end of an era and the dawning of a new path .But some cynics and sceptics who profess to know him better, were very reluctant to pop the champagne.
And so it came to pass, that against the backdrop of hope against hope, Jammeh reverted to type and decided not to disappoint the sceptics.
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 December 2016
A Donald Trump presidency has grave implications for US relations with Africa. His meteoric political ascension ushers in an era of right-wing domestic extremism and international disregard.
Trump has exhibited an unabashed lack of interest in Africa. This is a continent where numerous countries play a key role in the US war on terrorism. Africa’s geopolitical importance also extends from its numerous natural resources, which are essential to global manufacturing industries. Other areas of import include its growing population, China’s broadening involvement, and rapid democratisation in many countries.
Trump’s lack of substantive interest in African affairs is worrying. But his disregard presents a unique opportunity for progressive leadership to shape US foreign policy.