Winstanley R. Bankole Johnson: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 March 2023:
As a nation with a people full of great intellect, humour and wit, there are never dull moments in Sierra Leone. Except that in the last four years of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) incumbency, most of those moments have been, all for the wrong reasons.
With such intellect, humour and wit though, we have scarcely been able to accommodate, control and contain the irascible vicissitudes of an SLPP Leadership that prides themselves in fomenting discord and division among the citizenry with incendiary and vitriolic speeches even as (God Forbid!!) they strive to seek re-election.
We then woke up again this past Godly Sunday to more divisive, incendiary, hateful and misleading utterances by the SLPP Mayoral aspirant for the Municipality of Freetown Mohamed Gento Kamara.
Rather sadly, Gento took his evident emptiness at having nothing to offer – neither in personality nor by solutions or proposals – one step further than the entire SLPP Leadership, by lacing his own vile utterances up with what to all intents and purposes has been unanimously castigated and condemned as a sermon on Religious Intolerance.
And what makes Gento’s performance so untenable was that it happened right inside a Mosque – a Prayer House for supplications to the Almighty Allah for remission of sins, penitence, unity, peace, stability, national cohesion and peaceful co-existence. And to the extent that it received subdued rounds of intermittent endorsement and applause as if he was preaching The Gospel, it is imperative that they be condemned pronto.
Gento’s misleading assertions in the main are:
1. “The Krios must allow us this time to be Mayor”
The implications are that all Krios – the weakest political link – are Christians. That only Christians have held the Mayoral seat and that Muslims too must be given the chance to become Mayor in the municipality.
How misleading!! Doesn’t Gento know that there are thousands of pious, fervent Muslims among Krios and that a Muslim had held the Mayoral seat of Freetown without fanning flames of discord?
Where are the evidence that Krios as a group or clan have ever stood in anyone’s way or political ambition? Or was he trying to make our people – small as we are – much worse endangered than we already are?
2. Janna al Firdous
That Muslims have a religious duty to wage a Jihad (Islamic Holy War) against all non-Muslims to be assured of a place in Paradise (Jaana al Firdous) at death, and one of the surest ways of fulfilling that Islamic obligation especially in this Ramadan is to make a commitment to vote for him as a Muslim at the June 24th Mayoral election.
3. The Kalima
Gento inferred that only those who have recited the “Kalima” – the formal content of the “Sahada” which is a declaration of faith and commitment to Islam – should be considered a “brother” and eligible to be voted for. The implication here is that the rest of citizens that have not and will not recite the Sahada should be treated as non-believers (and accordingly non-brothers) and should not be voted for.
4. Employment Discrimination
He said the Muslim youths have continued to bear the brunt of discrimination for employment leading to many resorting to conversion to Christianity out of desperation and against their will just so as to gain employment.
Doesn’t Gento know the extent to which he has sullied the present Labour Ministry and could he please furnish the public with hard data to justify this assertion?
I am particularly not surprised – though still perturbed – that Gento have had to sink this low in canvassing votes to be elected Mayor of Freetown. Imagine to which lower depth he would sink if he wanted the Presidency of this realm? Here was a factual and physical evidence of the Spirit of God departing from man claiming piety and virtue right within the House of God.
But again, like I said I am not surprised because like “Mentee”: like “Mentor”. He is learning the trade straight from the leadership of his Party (the SLPP) that once they realized they have nothing to offer or show for their stewardship in almost five years of governance, would out of panic easily lapse into tirades of hateful, tribalistic, ethnocentric and divisive utterances to spew flames of insecurity among the very people they have let down, that if they make the mistake of voting the APC Party back to power, they will all be slaughtered. “So Gento suck am na bobby”. (He has been politically breastfed with malice, hatred, vengeance and revenge).
After all Video clips abound in the social media of:
– The SLPP leadership reminding the people of the South-East that if “Jor-Jor Hi-Tia-Jorma” (Push comes to shove) they will have to defend themselves by voting for their Bidi-Bidi (Brother) than for the APC and
– A female SLPP Member of Parliament in Pujehun telling her audience that all of them will be slaughtered in cold blood if they are to ever vote for the APC
So, it is in that same vein of hatred, malice and vengefulness that Mohamed Gento, also having nothing on offer is now waging his campaign of calumny, except that for effectiveness, he has spiked his own versions with the venom of “Religious Intolerance”.
Gento is forgetting that if after (God Forbid!!) he should win the Mayoral seat of Freetown, he will still have to contend with us Non-Muslims and many more others of us as his citizens that haven’t, and will never recite the “Sahada” because of commitments to our own religious associations as guaranteed under Part 3 of Sec.15 of our 1991 National Constitution in the exercise of our fundamental human rights and individual freedoms.
Or is Gento implying our annihilation, forced conversion or marginalization thereafter that only Muslims will be recruited and employed once (God Forbid!!) he becomes elected Mayor of Freetown?
And all of my concerns are germane because they are genuine reactions to the vile and unacceptable utterances of someone who has been touted as the sole preferred candidate of the SLPP for the Mayoral seat in Freetown municipality, so they could well be SLPP policy statements.
And if our APC Flag bearer aspirant Dr. Samura M. W. Kamara and former APC Mayor of Freetown Aki-Sawyerr (OBE) could have been amply berated for their innocuous references to tribes by ostensible SLPP Journalists and Civil society acolytes, why should Mohamed Gento Kamara not also be berated for uttering words that are many times much worse?
Though we have consistently prided ourselves as a nation of exemplary religious tolerance, I am concerned – even before Gento’s utterances – that cracks have begun to appear, manifesting themselves each passing day with the corresponding depravity in our social standards.
In any civilized environment, Gento would have been petitioned as unsuitable for the esteemed office of Mayor and sent scampering for cover leaving the SLPP desperately searching for a replacement candidate. But Oh Ya!! This is Sierra Leone, where the bar for eligibility to political offices is being progressively lowered at every electoral cycle.
But perhaps (just perhaps) as a panacea it will not be too much to ask the Political Parties Regulations Commissions (PPRC) to find the fortitude (and God help them for once in that regard!!) to take necessary actions to get both their SLPP Party and Mohamed Gento Kamara to severally dissociate themselves as a Party from culpability, and for Gento to retract his shameful and bigotry utterances respectively, which left as they are could only be intent on sowing seeds for “Religious Intolerance” as well as undermining unity, national cohesion, peaceful co-existence and political stability.
And that is all the more reason why Mohamed Gento’s sermon on Religious Intolerance this past Sunday 26th must be condemned.
This is the same Gento that has been endorsed by the President who gets it wrong all the time in appointing or endorsing people that are inexperienced and lack initiative. How can a sober politician make such remarks in a city where both the main religions are in good number and thriving just shows his naivety about Freetown politics.
Gento and the SLPP have now set the stage for losing the Mayoral elections. He has failed to do the decent thing to publicly apologise and therefore unfit to be Mayor. Its a disgrace that the SLPP has not distanced itself from this. His divisive rantings has no place in our society.