What is new about the National Grand Coalition party in Sierra Leone?

Sheikh Umarr Kamarah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 December 2017:

Many have either wondered, or asked the question, “What is new about the National Grand Coalition?” It is a fair question, considering the plethora of political parties that springs up every election cycle, only to either evaporate to smithereens under the heat, or disappear into oblivion immediately after the elections. So it is only fair that this question be answered.

I am going to attempt answering this question as a mere supporter of the National Grand Coalition,  not as an official spokesperson of the party.

In their bid to question the validity of any claim to “newness” by the National Grand Coalition, people have pointed to the fact that KKY, Dennis Bright, Joe Demby and others who are now leading the NGC, all came from the SLPP.

In other words, they are “political migrants” from another party. That, they argue, makes them old politicians who have been in the game of politics.

Well, it is not a sound argument to make that because people come from other parties, the party they now form is not new. That is a conflation of individuals and the institutions they form.

We may need to remind ourselves that both SLPP and APC were “new” at some point in history but none was formed by “new” humans from Mars or Jupiter, but by people from other political dispensations; people who had dabbled in politics before forming the “new” SLPP or APC.

The SLPP was formed in 1951 by combining the Sierra Leone Organization Society which was founded in 1946 in the Protectorate, and Lamina Sankoh’s Freetown People’s Party founded in the Colony. Siaka Stevens left the People’s National Party to form the “Elections before Independence” movement which later became the All People’s Congress in 1960.

Those who joined him in the “new” party were people who had been members of SLPP and other political outfits. Yet, in 1960, APC was a “new” party. Thus, it is not so much the individuals and their past affiliations that make the party new, but something more sublime: the culture and philosophy of the dispensation that is being created.

Besides the name which is obviously new, the National Grand Coalition is new for other reasons: While both the SLPP and APC are forever tethered to the apron of region and tribe, the NGC is tethered only to the Nation. Their tribe is National Interest and their region, Sierra Leone.

This is the kind of “new” we should celebrate in Sierra Leone. It is the beginning of a new way of seeing Sierra Leone; a new way of governing Sierra Leone; a new way of treating our young as Sierra Leoneans not as Mende, Temne, Limba, Fula, Krio, Loko, and the like. It is the road to a Nation, not just a Country.

Tribalism has been the sable vehicle of our graft, corruption, and underdevelopment.  I hate violence and dictatorship, and by implication, SLPP and APC. But even there, I derive no pleasure from the way SLPP and APC, the two oldest political parties in our country, have been effectively reduced into fiefdoms ruled by their feudal lords, Maada Bio and Ernest Koroma respectively.

Democracy is not only an abstract/theoretical construct; it is objectified in the activities, policies, processes, cultures, and ideas of political parties, and the governments that emerge from them. When the culture of a party or a government is stifling, the country is suffocated.

Another thing that is new about the NGC is that it is the first political party in recent history in my country to present a Presidential Candidate, who has used his office to bring jobs and development to his native country, before asking the country to hire him as their President.

Kandeh Yumkella has done something for the country whose mandate he now seeks.

Do people miss the class act of the NGC during the launch at the national stadium? The peace, calm, decency, and violence-free nature of the event is another “new” – worth celebrating.

I may not like the politics of lawlessness and corruption which both SLPP and APC exhibit, but it gives me no twinge of schadenfreude to witness the ritual of self-destruction both parties are engaged in.

We can’t wait to inhale the fresh air of the new political culture.

2 Comments

  1. PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE
    P.D.L.
    1, Zara Lane, Portee, Wellington, Freetown. Sierra Leone, West Africa
    Tel: +232-77-861261/25-219727/78-767644
    Email contacts: sierraleonepdl@gmail.com; sierraleonepdl@yahoo.com.

    24th. December, 2017.

    Public Release Statement

    Subject: “SEASON GREETINGS”

    The People’s Democratic League (PDL) wishes to extend its best greetings to everyone celebrating the holidays of this time of year. Wishing you peace and happiness this Christmas holiday season, and prosperity in the New Year!

    This is a special time of family gatherings, sharing, giving, caring and celebrating. This is a time when we are reminded of the importance of family, friends and of the importance of giving.

    We live in a world and in a country rich in diversity. The culture of religious tolerance is to be cherished and celebrated. And despite attempts by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) to discriminate and disenfranchise thousands of members and supporters of the People’s Democratic League, it is important not to relent the struggle for democracy, human rights, rule of law, freedom and human dignity and to celebrate Christmas and New Year holidays.

    However, the manner in which the PPRC is treating the registration of the PDL as a political party and the questionable reason given for the delay to issue final certificate to the PDL underscores what we believe is the PPRC’s weak commitment to democracy and it subservient to the tastes and designs of big gurus of the dysfunctional system. The delay to issue PDL certificate may give our opponents a slight boost, but it may not be able to secure them a credible and uncontested victory. Despite the hatred, malice and grudges owed by the PPRC towards PDL, the human spirit perseveres.

    This is the season to celebrate without forgetting the less fortunate among us. We hope this holiday season brings forth a renewed commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law, justice, freedom and dignity in Sierra Leone and abroad.

    We hope and pray that the year 2017 will mark the end of the jinx of failed transition in Sierra Leone. We remain hopeful for the New Year.

    Once again, we wish everyone merry Christmas and happy New Year. We look forward to our continued work with all of our partners in the democracy and human rights community towards a society that respects and promote democracy, human rights, rule of law, justice, freedom and human dignity.

    Sender:

    Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
    Leader and National Chairman, and presidential flag-bearer
    People’s Democratic League

  2. “Thus, it is not so much the individuals and their past affiliations that make the party new, but something more sublime: the culture and philosophy of the dispensation that is being created.”-Sheikh Umarr Kamarah

    I was drown to this article by its headline. I was expecting to read something fresh and educational. To compare the newness of the SLPP and the APC in the 50s and 60s and the NGC in 2017, the author seems to ignore the realities of the different times that these parties were formed and reality currently in the politics and social life of our country at the advent of the NGC.

    All of the persons who moved to form the SLPP and APC in the 50s and 60s did not have any record or experience of corruption. That is not the case with those running to join the NGC today. Dr. Demby for example was dropped by the late President Kabba because of serious breaches of financial improprieties.

    The same is true of Dr. Denis Bright who converted or misused most of the monies allocated to the Youth and Sport Ministry just after the war. What about Andrew Kailie who helped put Freetown into Darkness as his CEMMET Company could not provide electricity to Freetown despite the amount of money paid to them by President Kabba’s Government to do so.

    Has the NGC address the issue about the dubious sale of our country’s refinery under the watch of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in the 90s? So the NGC is an old wine in a new bottle unlike what Sheikh Umarr Kamarah wants us to believe. Violence in the SLPP and APC were committed by members of the party some of whom are today core members of the NGC. Dr. Demby was a senior member of the Kamajors, a group that has been convicted of war crimes and other violent crimes.

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