Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 February 2022:
The never-ending bitterness and conflict between the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) and the opposition All People’s Congress ( APC), presaged by acrimonious personality differences between the present Head of State, Maada Wonie Bio and former President Ernest Bai Koroma and their key allies, followers and betrayers, will not birth a good child in Sierra Leone ( As we say in our local parlance ) .
Tensions and tempers have escalated beyond control and both parties resemble mean, gnarling dogs on opposite sides of the fence, straining at the leash to get at each other and growling at each other. If those leashes are removed and the dogs set free from their shackles, only God knows the disaster that would ensue and how much they will tear each other apart.
This is the state of affairs in Sierra Leone today between the SLPP and the APC that the impotent, hypocritical, secretly complicit international community, moral guarantors of peace and stakeholders are failing to address. They must have surely noticed the encroaching cataclysm in Sierra Leone ( The Lord Forbid ) but as always, as they did in Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone , DR Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Kosovo, Bosnia etc in the 1990s, they are waiting for blood to start flowing and humanitarian disasters to be created before intervening. They always fail to heed the early warning signs.
Journalists and political activists who give warnings of these kinds are often misunderstood and misread and accused of wishing evil for their country , but this is not the case. I do not want to see any conflagration in Sierra Leone . I love my country beyond words and do not want to see any disaster visited upon it. However, somebody, bearing on the experience he has had in life, must warn when things begin to get out of hand. We just cannot sit down and wish that everything would go away. We must ring the alarm bells when all seems to be getting lost.
The political bitterness in Sierra Leone today between the SLPP and the APC is no different from the dangerously chaotic situation that prevailed in Nigeria in the early 60s, between temperamental politicians like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Akintola of the West and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and The Sarduana of Sokoto Sir Ahmadu Bello of the North , Chief Fani Kayode, Anthony Enahoro etc that later led to the disastrous military coup of 1966 and the bloody Nigeria- Biafra war that killed millions of innocent people.
Sierra Leone had always been a disunited country. If you read the history of our country , there had never been a period when its people have been free of crisis.
But some things make the present political schisms and tensions in the country more worrying this time :
- Unlike the last war, the political crisis brewing in Sierra Leone today has a dangerously and venomous tribal and ethnic bent. If there is another war in Sierra Leone ( The Lord forbid ) , it will be disastrously tribal and regional this time , because the country has been dangerously divided along tribal and regional lines since the present government of President Maada Bio came to power in 2018.
- Political and ethnic tolerance have gone through the window . When I worked at the UN as Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary and serving on the UN Peacebuilding Commission Special Sierra Leone Configuration, political and ethnic tolerance were key among the desired deliverables that
the Commission worked relentlessly on. By 2012, the then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki – Moon, praised Sierra Leone all over the world as the UN model for post-war reconciliation, political tolerance and peace. However, since President BIO came to power in 2018, all the post-war gains have been undone and replaced by dangerous intolerance and ethnic and political animosities .
Tribalism and ethnicism have always been a factor in African politics but we have been suppressing it until now. Today, our supporters of our political parties run tribal, ethnic and regional bully pulpits , especially on social media.
- The spirit of impunity, another evil that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission adjudged to have caused the last war, and that the UN Peacebuilding Commission fought like a gladiator to defeat and thought it had extinguished, has reared its ugly head again. In Sierra Leone today, people’s fundamental human rights and civil liberties are abused and innocent citizens are maimed and killed by government without any compunction.
What is most surprising is that whenever the errant, hypocritical international community confer an accolade on President BIO for respecting democracy and human rights, he follows it up immediately by committing egregious human rights abuses and violations of the Constitution and the rule of law that stun men and women of conscience, making everybody wonder whether this international community and our President actually have a secret understanding and are working in concert.
- Unchecked, ceaseless, unnecessary and dangerous hedging, harassment, molestation and victimization of innocent citizens and political opponents have become the order of the day in Sierra Leone since the SLPP Government came to power in 2018. The government just would not let its opponents be. Unnecessary and unlawful arrests, detention and imprisonment of political opponents ( Look at Mohamed Kamarainba perishing in jail for a bailable offence and the many people in jail for allegedly insulting President Bio ) have become the vogue.
And the international stakeholders and moral guarantors of peace ,like Britain and the U.S are doing nothing about it. They have men and women on the ground in Sierra Leone but they fail to sanction the President or his government . Rather, assurances are made everyday about fostering economic and diplomatic cooperation with the government. This is a shame.
- Police harassment , brutality and massacre of innocent citizens are going unchecked in Sierra Leone . After the war, thanks to the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP and former President Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC, the Sierra Leone Police was reformed so immaculately that it earned the tag of a FORCE FOR GOOD .
But since President BIO came to power in 2018, the impressive force for good has metamorphosed dangerously into A SATANIC FORCE FOR EVIL, especially under the tenure of the present Inspector of Police, Ambrose Sovula . One only has to consider the beastly and bloody police massacres at Mile 91, Tombo, Lunsar, Tonko Limba, Makeni and the Pademba Road Prisons to see the deadly, brutal, murderous police force this nation has suddenly found itself up in arms with. The murderous acts of the Sierra Leone Police are capable of driving our nation back to war.
- No sense of patriotism or loyalty to the country as everybody has taken sides along tribal, ethnic, regional and partisan lines . Reasoning patriotic voices no longer exist in Sierra Leone. What we now have are pugilists , inciting and urging on the politicians to fight , like manic, bloodthirsty spectators at a dogfight.
And the social media, good as it is, has not helped our nation at all however, as it has provided platforms for every Dick, Tom and Harry to spin lies, provocation, trolling of victims and opponents and spewing intolerant political and ethnocentric hatred that are further dividing our nation and pushing it to war . Even the tribalized civil society and the media have taken sides with the government and are now part of the problem.
Sierra Leone no longer has patriotic media or civil society that are watchdogs of the nation and providing checks and restraints on politicians and their acolytes. Everybody is now either SLPP or APC. No middle line. No neutralists.
Given this kind of scenario and a government that cares the least about the consequences of its abuses and crimes, things will only worsen in Sierra Leone. Something drastic and dramatic has to be done to cool down the escalating passions and tensions between the SLPP and the APC . The oncoming 2023 presidential, council and parliamentary elections are fraught with dangers.
Again, I must emphasize that I wish no evil for my country. I pray every day for God to be merciful to our nation and build a protective hedge around it. I send humanitarian assistance and contribute to benevolent enterprises , though I do not publicize them. But truth must be said.
The attitude of “Oh, don’t say it ” which bred a telling conspiracy of silence that contributed to the last war should no longer be part of our citizenry. We must speak out and warn our people that watta don begin for passmark pan garrie. It does not in any way mean that this is what one is wishing for his country. But if the animosities between the SLPP and the APC are not curbed, the end result might not be pleasant and palatable.
The political tensions and confusion between the SLPP and the APC are getting out of hand. Some kind of intervention and bringing together of political leaders to the peace table by citizen groups, neutral political leaders ( If there are any left ), religious and civil leaders and the international community are imperative before the elections.
The cliche, “A stitch in time saves nine” must be sounded . We must save our country from another war and the best place to start it is to address the internecine feuds between the SLPP and the APC.
The link below is the perception of the APC propagandist about our beloved nation
I personally believe that, the original foundation of the APC was built from Propaganda (lies and deceit), Corruption ( Hu Sai yu tie cow na dae e far eat) and Violence ( Raray boys headed by Agaba Satani-S.I Koroma). Through Propaganda, they succeeded in deceiving the voters in the 60’s that the SLPP party practiced cannibalism by slaughtering goats and sheep and used their blood as evidence. They also used lies to convince the majority of Northwesterners ( Temne) that SLPP practiced tribalism, but they eventually executed most of their leaders ( the first execution in “Paradise on Earth” and the mysterious death of a Bank governor that was against their economic policies). Only late Corporal Foday Sankoh and Karefa Smart escaped. The former ended up as Rebel Leader of the RUF and the latter had the opportunity to contest in the 2nd Democratic election in 1996. Under the APC our country became “Hell on Earth”. They used violence to destroy the democracy that bought them to power by spreading terror around the country and declared most of their candidates unopposed which resulted in One Party Dictatorship for 25 years.
Currently, being in opposition again for 4 years is unbearable for them, and now they are going back to the drawing board forgetting that this is the age of SOCIAL MEDIA when propaganda can be destroyed within minutes. Now APC are now preaching “Doom and Gloom” and for them as long as they are not in power, “ The sky is falling”
Finally, I hope and pray that Peace and Love will be practice within the APC because you can’t give what you don’t have or practice within yourself to the people of Sierra Leone. As the lifetime leader and chairman of the APC recently stated : “ The problems of the APC is not SLPP, but the Munku politicians within the APC.
BILAL COLEMEN , I am not a fan of Kabs Kanu, but I think you missed the point. Your animosity for Kabs Kanu blinded your understanding. I wholeheartedly agree with his points in that article. Between you and Kabs Kanu, I do not know who got up from the wrong side of the bed. Are you aware that most of the points raised by Kabs Kanu have also been raised by other well-meaning Sierra Leoneans on social media ?
Bilal Coleman, you come out as a sycophantic supporter for the SLPP but this should not blind your eyes to reality. Our country is heading for trouble under the totalitarian governance of your junta SLPP Government. Kabs Kanu is spot on. This is a brilliant article by Kabs Kanu and I am going to forward it to Whatsapp forums. You may despice the man for his attacks on your party, but where truth is concerned, let us say it. Sierra Leone is in trouble. MANSO TURAY.
Kabs Kanu’s analysis reminds me of a story I read in the New Testament – the Conversion of Saul/Paul. Saul, who was a Pharisee was well known for persecuting Christians. And on his way to persecute more followers of Christ,, as he came close to Damascus, a light shone on him from heaven. As he fell to the ground, a voice could be heard saying, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me. That experience led Saul to convert to Christianity and henceforth assumed the christian name Paul.
Does Kabs Kanu want to become the biblical Saul/Paul?. Here is a man who has made a career out of preaching ethnic division and intolerance in Sierra Leone, a man who is so full of hate for Sierra Leoneans who are different than him and who support political parties that he does not. Is this the same man that now want to become an emissary of peace? On what side of the bed did this guy sleep before writing that peace? It appears that three years in opposition can perform wonders on some folks.
Look, Mr. Kanu, notwithstanding your hateful tirades in your rag sheet of a paper that you call Cocorioko, Sierra Leone is a peaceful country, The 2023 elections will be conducted peacefully and Sierra Leoneans will accept the winner.
William Butler Yates wrote “The second coming” when the world was in the verge of the first world war. His work was published in 1920 two years after the war ended. “Things fall apart:The centre cannot hold, /mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, /The blood – dimmed tides is loosed and everywhere /The ceremony of innocence is drowned :/The best lack convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.Yates couldn’t have put it better in plain and simple English. The leadership of the two main political parties SLPP /APC are using the two major parties as vehicles to seek power and wealth at the back of illiterate Sierra-leoneans that don’t know how to use their collective will power and votes to bring about a peaceful political change for the benifet of all not the few.The APC and SLPP big wigs have workef out strategies that guarantees them their status in the societal pyramid that insulate them from the economic, social and political upheavals that flows like a poisonous river amongst the wretched tribes that try to make a sense of it all.
We have reached a point where we don’t see ourselves any longer as a nation of one tribe called Sierra Leoneans .In the current climate, we’ve gone back to the stone ages, where we see the other as our main adversary rather having the collective will to develop our country, as one nation, one flag and one country. The danger lights are now flashing on our dashboard, but due to the hypocrisy of some sections of our societies, especially the leadership of the Sierra Leone police that are behaving like Hitler’s brown shirts is unfortunate reality.
The recent “Eye on Africa BBC Report” By Mr Conteh, tells a story of how “Kush” has become the main killer drug for youths in Sierra Leone. Once again our country is failing its youths. These youngmen are women are desperate, because Boi and his government can’t point to any real investment in to the lives of our youths. No education, no employment, no opportunities, no family support, future developments prospects extinguished from the lottery of birth, or who happens to be your parents. Our country can do better than this tidal wave of despondency amongst our youths weaving through our country.
Sometimes in life one has to be mindful of what they wish for. If the APC want war, surely so be it. But I am sure that the paopa government will never give in to blackmail.
I see no reason why the current government should offer an olive branch of peace in Sierra Leone to the APC who had vowed to make the country ungovernable since their demise. Paopa Salone go betteh.