Is Sierra Leone really divided?

Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 December 2018:

From Jaiama Sewafe in Kono District to Freetown in the Western Area, the Presidential elections have long seemed like a battle of contests in optimism; the candidate with the most upbeat message usually wins.

Sierra Leone is going through one of her toughest times, with an entire workforce of an institution being sacked and over one hundred workers asked to re-apply for the few available vacancies.

Gloom has touched on NATCOM and NASSIT, after the mass sackings, and the commission of inquiry that is excluding key players like permanent secretaries and other players who were very instrumental in the past government.

Politicians of the SLPP and the APC have argued that the country’s system has failed ordinary people because it has been rigged by a cabal of self-serving elitists. There is a pervading mood of anger and frustration running throughout many sections of the country.

Sierra Leone has problems, but this picture is a caricature of a country that, on most fronts, is more prosperous, more peaceful and less violent than ever before. The real threat is from people with knowledge who have done most to stoke national rage, hatred and malice in the system.

The dissonance between gloomy rhetoric and recent performance is greatest on the economy. Unemployment is still at the bottom and the real median wage is yet to rise above sea level.

There are genuine problems, particularly high inequality and the plight of low skilled workers left behind by a decrepit system. But these have festered for years, and are nothing new.

But can the New Direction inject some New in some Direction?

Demographic insecurity is reinforced by divisive partisan forces. There is a general perception  that most of the workers being sacked are members of the former government of the APC.

The two main political parties have concluded that there is little overlap between the groups likely to vote for them, and that success therefore lies in making those on their own side as furious as possible, so that they turn out in higher numbers than the opposition.

Sounds like harvesting the emotive side of people.  There is an existential threat imbibed by some forces of the populace that if you are sacked by the present government, the chances of finding employment are bleak.

Where have we gone wrong as a nation? Is it the politicians painting a picture of a divided nation or their actions speaking volumes?  Is the country really divided or just a hoax by some politicians?

Sierra Leone has started its economic recovery but it is not being felt by the ordinary people; and that is understandable.

There is an apparent divide in the levels of unease being felt across the country, with the South looking at the East with a winked eye and north closing their eyes when talking to a friend from the West.

There are events unfolding that tend to question the temerity of the President. (Photo: Author – Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray).

There is a general belief that Bio is a good listener, but some events unfolding in the country need urgent checkmate. For example, how can a 70 year old man sexually assault a 13 year old girl and got sentenced to two days in jail? And the judge still occupies his job?

The irony is that this story broke less than twenty four hours after the First Lady launched a massive campaign against sexual assault on the girl child.

The leadership of President Maada Bio should use this crime as a yardstick to send a message to the entire country that the country follows rules and no one is above the law. Either the infamous judge who presided over this heinous trial gets the sack or the convicted idiot spends his leisure time at the luxurious Pademba prison.

But again, many believe that the judge may have followed the guidance on sentencing. If that is the case, there is no better demonstration of the adage that “the law is an ass”.

Perhaps this case would serve as a watershed, and may be an opportune time to review those sentencing guidelines.

That law may be archaic and may have been pertinent to the times of yesteryears when silence was the currency with which sexual assaults were traded. This is no longer the case, and our girls have found their voices. So “Hands Off Our Girls”.

Is our President, my President and your president really tackling core issues affecting the country? One lesson of Maada’s success to date is that most people see him as an action man, considering his military background.

But events like civil servants resorting to their old tricks of reporting to work very late, lawless youths attacking a businessman on the pretext of land acquisition, appointment of human rights commissioners are alarming and worrisome.

This is a defining moment in the country’s history and the President should do the talk with actions and leave a legacy. The national cohesion in the country is fragile and yet to grasp a foothold.

As the commission of inquiry gathers pace to start in January, the world looks with angst, consternation, expectations and apprehension to see the genuine effort of a leader who wants to transform his country.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for your excellent article Ibrahim.
    Your articles are always very compact and there is always something for everyone to comment on.
    Most times there are two or more topics in one article to comment on. You keep people sometimes scratching their heads about which one to comment on first. What a genial way of posting articles.
    I am going to pick on the point that Sierra Leone is not a divided nation as many would have assumed.
    As far as I am concerned, Sierra Leone is not a divided country. The problem with Sierra Leone has always been vengeance, group affiliation and greed.

    That vengeance started with the execution of political opponents after the country became a republic. I do not recall any political executions that took place before the country became a republic. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Since then vengeance became a ticking tome bomb. Let’s leave this part of history for the time being.

    Just take an example with the last election. The APC had all the advantages, power and potential of winning the 2018 election. But they created their own downfall and demise because of greed, vengeance and group affiliation. They should now work very hard not to be permanently stalled in the political wilderness.

    The problem with the APC losing power in my opinion, was firstly, by getting rid of Sam Sumana and secondly, with the judicial rant over the double nationality saga. You do not need to be a political scientist to know that the APC is going to lose power. It was very clear they were going to loose. The game of chess then started.

    Here was the logic. Before Sam Sumana was gotten rid of, polls were indicating that the elections were going to be close. What the APC should have done then, was to quickly identify Sam Sumana as their next leader.

    They should have known that Kono is a swing district. In doing so, Sam Sumana would have gone all out to prepare and rally the whole of Kono behind the APC and he would have succeeded.

    The VP, first and second lady came from the district. Sam Sumana also has some support in SLPP terrain. The APC did not even think about these simple tricks.

    Instead, they got rid of Sam Sumana for whatever reason we will never know and the APC presented somebody who was in the NPRC regime as their leader.

    Secondly, the double nationality saga with Kandeh Yumkella, resulted in the division of the APC votes in the north. The SLPP I am very sure, saw this logic and not only took advantage of it, but worked towards it.

    The result was, the Konos rallied behind their own son, whom they saw as being denied leader of the APC and been wrongfully accused. To be honest, I do not know what happened between Sam Sumana and the APC. But the majority of Konos thought Sam Sumana was not treated fairly.

    What happened after all these mistakes by the APC, was that the Konos rallied behind Sam Sumana to vote for C4C. Secondly, the APC’s vote in the north was divided to some extent by the NGC.

    Now, you have two former NPRC officials fighting for the presidency and the best of the two won. The game of chess was over.

    As you can see, the problem is not a divided nation. I do not buy it. The problem is and will always remain, vengeance, group affiliation and greed. That has to stop.

    The PMDC for example, went into coalition with the APC. Two political parties with huge difference in terms of ideas. The PMDC was some sort of a breakaway group from the SLPP.

    Again then, the SLPP votes were divided with the emergence of the PMDC. The APC welcomed the PMDC and took the advantage of the split to win the election.

    My question now to these politicians and party official heads is, whether they will ever learn from this very simple logic to continue winning elections? Why should people not just work beyond party or regional lines?

    Final word. Sierra Leone is not a divided country.

  2. Is Sierra Leone a divided nation? My answer is YES, and very much so in many respects. Countries which have low standards of respect for both transparent accountability and an apolitical audit function as a management tool for optimisations tend towards poor standards of desirable growths. Most Sierra Leonean journalists disdain to articulate these issues.

  3. Kotor Mansaray, an eloquent piece. How could Mr President deal with such exigency in our social reforms when he has a speaker of parliament who is not only a sex toy, but a sex pest.

    Regardless of status, party affiliation and connectivity, Chernor Abass should have resigned or asked to move on. If third in command of our nation could fleetingly mortgage our laws and cultural values in sweet sixteens, what do you expect of the judges already flu mused by the APC wahala.

    Sadly, even the opposition refused to ask the speaker out. Morality ran off long ago, did you say social norms; ah the horses have already left, so forget the bolt sir. Thanks for the light.

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