Doubts widen over ownership and authenticity of the alleged original picture of Bai Bureh

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 January 2017

As the plot thickens over claims and counter claims of the authenticity and ownership of an original Bai Bureh photograph, which the Sierra Leone government minister reverend Kabs Kanu claims to have been donated to him continues, one has to ask: what and who should the people of Sierra Leone believe?

It seems the story published by the Sierra Leone telegraph has touched a raw nerve. Some people are now getting twitchy, as they throw insults at the Telegraph for standing up for truth and justice.

Attempts to defend and justify the eyebrow-raising donation of one of Sierra Leone’s historic relic by a former Peace Corps volunteer – Gary Schulze, who worked in Sierra Leone in the 1960s to a government minister – the reverend Kabs Kanu, has reached fever pitch today.

It seems someone is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of Sierra Leone to make a fast buck. The spirit of Bai Bureh will expose the lies and chicanery.

Peter Anderson – publisher of Sierra Leone.org and former press officer at the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown, has now entered the fray. He has thrown in his two pennies in an attempt to clear the air over the Bai Bureh picture saga.

But Peter Anderson’s attempt only raises further questions about the integrity of a government minister and state official, who simply cannot be trusted, and seriously lacking in knowledge of and respect for good governance and propriety.

This is what Peter Anderson (Photo) said in a comment sent today to the Sierra Leone Telegraph for publishing:

The article “Sierra Leone government minister plenipotentiary accused of corruption” is based on a false premise and goes on to make a number of false statements about Gary Schulze.

First, the photograph shown in the picture is very obviously not the original. The original picture taken by Lieutenant Greer (not Green) is four inches by four inches square.

The original was tinted a purplish sepia colour and, as with any photo that old, had a few dust spots, small scratches in non-critical areas, and some dirt smudges in the sky area. The background detail was difficult to make out.

The photo was professionally scanned and those imperfections of the last century were removed. Gary then had the photos enlarged and framed.

Two of those photos were presented to President Koroma. I accompanied Gary to State House as I did the restoration. One was given to the oldest living descendant of Bai Bureh.

One was given to Albert Academy, where Gary taught in 1962 (and introduced African history curriculum to replace the European history curriculum).

A huge poster of the photo was given to the Sierra Leone Museum in a ceremony arranged by the Chairperson of the Monuments and Relics Commission.

One copy was given to the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington, D.C. I have forgotten where he bestowed other copies, except for one which was given to me.

Second, Gary Schulze is not a businessman. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years starting in 1962, but he has had a long career since then.

The more than $11,000 he paid for the photo came from his pension. I heard him say on SLBC radio, in answer to a question from the presenter as to whether he would like the government to repay him the money he spent, that he would not, it was his gift to Sierra Leone.

He stated further that when Sierra Leone has the means to preserve the original that it will be transferred to Sierra Leone.

At present the necessary temperature and humidity controls necessary to archive such photos is lacking. The anonymous writer of the article states that this photo is the property of Sierra Leone. It never was.

It was taken by a British lieutenant during the colonial era, some 63 days before Sierra Leone’s independence.

As I recall, Lieutenant Greer was afterward transferred to present-day Ghana and died there. This copy Gary purchased was given by Lieutenant Greer to another British officer and it was in the album that Gary purchased. (END)

Editor’s Note:

The Sierra Leone Telegraph asks:

Why did the government minister and reverend Kabs Kanu lie in his Cocorioko newspaper about the authenticity of the photograph?

Why did he claim that the photograph he received from Gary Schulze was the original photo?

Why did he say that the photo is worth “$1 million (One Million Dollars) because of its historical value”?

Why did he not simply say that the photo presented to him was a photocopied version similar to that which Shultz gave to president Koroma?

Why did he not inform the public that the original photo is still in the possession of Schulze?

Was this an attempt to defraud the people of Sierra Leone?

As for Peter Anderson (Photo) and his claim that the original picture of Bai Bureh does not belong to the people of Serra Leone, the least said the better, because his claim will not stand in a court of law.

And I quote Peter Anderson: “At present the necessary temperature and humidity controls necessary to archive such photos is lacking. The anonymous writer of the article states that this photo is the property of Sierra Leone. It never was.  It was taken by a British lieutenant during the colonial era, some 63 days before Sierra Leone’s independence.

“As I recall, Lieutenant Greer was afterward transferred to present-day Ghana and died there. This copy Gary purchased was given by Lieutenant Greer to another British officer and it was in the album that Gary purchased.”

Peter Anderson cannot deny the legal fact that: A military officer who in his course of duty as a public servant, takes a photo of a prisoner who is in his watch, cannot claim ownership of that photo. The photo belongs to his employer – the State, if the State chooses to exercise the right of ownership.

Mr Anderson, are you seriously telling the people of Sierra Leone that; the picture of Bai Bureh as you claimed “was taken by a British lieutenant during the colonial era, some 63 days before Sierra Leone’s independence”? You must be telling lies.

Mr Anderson you accused the Sierra Leone Telegraph in your comment of what you referred to in your broken krio – and to quote you; “bad at”. Really Mr Anderson? Bad heart for a Sierra Leonean to ask questions about alleged impropriety in his own country?

We will not stoop so low Peter, as to grace your insults with a response. We will leave it there for the people of Sierra Leone and history to judge you.

Is the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission going to investigate?

This is what the government minister and reverend Kabs Kanu published in his Cocorioko newspaper on the 30 December 2016. We quote:

“The picture is worth a million dollars because of its historic value, and so was Wednesday’s  gesture itself.

“Iconic Peace Corps volunteer, Mr. Gary Schulze, who loves our nation so much that he is helping to put the history of our country in its right perspective , on his birthday on Wednesday December 28, 2016 traveled all the way to New Jersey from New York to present to Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the UN and international journalist, Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu ,  the original photo of legendary Lokko warrior and Chief , Bai Bureh , who waged war on the British in 1898 for imposing hut tax in Sierra Leone.”

“A professional document dealer in London placed the bid that won the photograph, but Gary, after much hassle, convinced the dealer to sell the photo to him at a higher price than the man had bought it and words could not describe Mr. Schulze’s excitement when he at last laid hold on the authentic photo of Bai Bureh. He has already presented meticulously framed photo copies of the photo to  President Ernest Bai Koroma, government officials, institutions of learning and the Sierra Leone Museum.”

Why did reverend minister Kabs Kanu lie that he received the original photo (NOT A COPY), whilst president Koroma was presented with a photocopied version?

Who is trying to fool who here?

Quoting Kabs Kanu (Photo):

“On Wednesday , Gary Schulze came to New Jersey to present the photo to Rev. Kabs-Kanu in a special program at the studios of the SIERRACAST/COCORIOKO TV, at Highland Park. Present at the ceremony were the President of the New Jersey Chapter of the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) , Mr. Alimamy Turay ,  the Chairman of the West African Community in New Jersey , Mr. Foday Mansaray, a member of the board of the Cocorioko Newspaper and SIERRACAST Producer , Mr. Hamjat Jolomy-Bah .”

“Rev. Kabs-Kanu thanked Mr. Schulze glowingly for his immeasurable gesture to travel to New Jersey on his birthday to present him the photo. He told the iconic peace corps volunteer that he felt honored and was very grateful.  He thanked him also for the  photo, whose historic importance cannot be measured by words .

“He said he will adorn his living room with such a very historic picture which will attract interest from his family and visitors . He underscored  Mr.Shulze’s love for Sierra Leone, which he stated was  indescribable and that God will bless him for his sacrifices for the nation.”

The Sierra Leone Telegraph bears no malice or ill feelings against either Mr Schulze or government minister and reverend Kabs Kanu.

Our suspicions and those of our readers were raised when Kabs Kanu lied that the photo he was presented was the original, and that it is worth $1 million dollars.

All our readers want is the TRUTH and nothing but the whole TRUTH.

We care less about what Kabs Kanu or any others think about the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph. This newspaper will continue to fight corruption and uphold the principles of social and economic justice.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph is prepared to commence court action on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, to secure the return of the original photo to its rightful owners – the people of Sierra Leone, if necessary.

2 comments

  • Fredericka Taylor

    I am just intrigued about one issue. When we were taught Sierra Leone history at school, I am sure I remember learning that Bai Bureh was a Temne chief. Why is he being referred to as a Loko chief by Cocorioko Newspaper?

    Did I read right – Mr Anderson says the photo was taken 63 days before Independence in 1961? I learnt at school that Bai Bureh died in the 1800s.

    I want to know – is this photo worth $11,000 or $1 million?

    The article also says that the original photo will be transferred to Sierra Leone when the country has the means to preserve the original – well, there are too many of Sierra Leone’s very important artefacts in other countries and in the wrong hands. If Mr Anderson and Mr Scultz are keen to help Sierra Leone keep its relics, then they can help to develop the expertise and means of preserving original photos.

    • Safideen kamara

      He is Loko. The Lokos settle in Sierra Leone before the Temnes in the port of Lokos – present day PortLoko and Lokomasama in the Koya chiefdom.

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