Sierra Leone Telegraph 18 February 2021:
It is not often that Madam (Canon) Cassandra Garber who is the President of the Krio Descendants Union of Sierra Leone and overseas, comments publicly on matters of State in Sierra Leone.
But she has this week broken her silence to join the large sections of Sierra Leone community who are concerned about the behaviour of the country’s First Lady – Mrs Fatima Bio, whose almost daily utterances especially on social media, have become a huge embarrassment to the people of Sierra Leone, both at home and abroad.
Madam Garber who is 93 years old addressed the following statement to various women’s groups in the country, to indicate her displeasure at the behaviour of the First Lady. Please read below:
STANDARD OF DEMEANOUR AND LANGUAGE BY THE FIRST LADY OF SIERRA LEONE
Our Beloved Country clocks 60 years of political independence this year, 2021. Thanks to the mercy of His Almighty, it is a blessing to be one of the few FEMALE SENIOR CITIZENS to be alive.
I honour my responsibility as a citizen of Sierra Leone. The STATE has likewise recognized my contributions and has twice awarded me national honours. I therefore regard it a national obligation to voice my disappointment, and displeasure at the new and repulsive habit of exchanging coarse language on social media platforms especially at the level of the country’s leadership.
Globally, the spouse of the HEAD OF STATE is instinctively afforded respect and courtesies by all nationals and non-nationals within a country. Correspondingly, that spouse is expected to exhibit the highest CODE OF CONDUCT.
I can state categorically that ever since we gained Republican Status in 1971, all former FIRST LADIES including Mama Rebecca Stevens, Hannah Momoh, Patricia Tejan-Kabba, all of blessed memory, and Sia Koroma, behaved with the dignity expected of their position.
I therefore lament the present scenario in which Sierra Leone has a FIRST LADY whose general approach is unbecoming, and whose language is very often not only offensive but also unprintable (by acceptable decent standards).
I recently became aware of verbal tirades conducted by the FIRST LADY. Sadly, she appears to relish taking on citizens; the practice of retort and exchanging unpleasantries by the FIRST LADY has now become quite commonplace! In addition, she seems to revel in the use of filthy expressions! Her description of the proposed punishments for rapists will go down in the history of her very own project “HANDS OFF OUR GIRLS”. It is a pity that people in the Corridors of Power do not perceive this behaviour as undermining the country’s level of international respectability.
I lived through the dawning of independence and witnessed the elegance and elocution of FIRST LADIES of Sierra Leone and other countries in the West Africa subregion. I cannot help but recall the outstanding wife of the late Ivorian President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Marie-Therese, a fittingly pioneer FIRST LADY. She married in 1951 at the young age of 21; an inexperienced debutante she went on to perform her state duties so magnificently that she was dubbed by the WHITE HOUSE in 1962, “AFRICA’s JACKIE KENNEDY”. Another FIRST LADY, equally young and inexperienced, Njaimeh Jarawa of the Gambia, maintained the remarkable standards expected of her position.
From the legacies of these women, it is clear that age is not the determinant of GOOD PERFORMANCE. It is time the various strata of WOMEN’s FORUM in our country address the negative utterances of our FIRST LADY. Her elevated position in the community demands exemplary behaviour to all ranks and levels of our citizens. With the customary display of PRIDE shown by our respective EX-PUPILS ASSOCIATIONS, I do hope her alumnae co-members will take this as a wake-up call to rescue the reputation of their ALMA MATER. The FIRST LADY has abundant energy for directing her many projects. We welcome a change in her behaviour and approach.
(Canon) Cassandra Garber, GOOR, JP, MR – February 2021
Coordinator, Campaign for Good Governance President,
50/50 Organization Centre for Public Enlightenment & Dialogue for Peaceful Conference President,
Sierra Leone Association of University Women President,
Zonta International Sierra Leone President,
Business and Professional Women of Freetown President,
Sierra Leone Mothers’ Union President,
Sierra Leone Muslim Women’s Network President,
Women’s Network of the Methodist Church Sierra Leone President,
Soroptimist International of Freetown
Madam Garber, I greet you ma’am and I say kabor. Thank God for your life and wisdom. Without appearing to dispute your satisfaction with the first lady, I want to say, I really wish you had given an example of some of the “filthy and unbecoming words” you claimed she is using, so that neutral and fair minded people will be able to judge and make up their opinions about it. Without evidences of those “filthy chats”, it will be hard for some of us to know the truth.
I know there are some who do not like her and thus critize her. That is EXPECTED. Not everyone will like you even if you are doing the right things. All we have to do, is to continue to RESPECT her and the office she holds. I also hope she will read this article so that if there is any truth to it, she will make adjustments in her public interactions, and change her language. But at the moment she seems to be doing a VERY GOOD AND PRODUCTIVE JOB and also helping her husband to deal with some of the profound challenges facing the nation. I wish we all can support them for the good and improvement of MAMA SALONE. THANK YOU!
Mr. Jalloh, I personally believe that if this public statement was from the Fula Chief or the President of the Fula Progressive Union, it would have drawn criticism from either faction that supported Vice President Juldeh Jalloh or House Minority Leader Honorable Chernor Maju Bah. The neutrality that the Lebanese and Fula community have played in our country has rewarded them greatly in politics and business. Same to the Krio, based on the fact that most of the Commission Of Inquiries regarding corruption has been conducted by Krio judges because they are perceived as neutral and fair-minded people with high credibility. I personally believe that Madam Cassandra Garber’s age will protect her from any political attack which will be perceived as weakness and disrespecting or bullying a senior citizen.
In my opinion, this is a personal attack, because the almighty created every human with different finger prints, personalities are also different by the way the individual dresses, talks or reacts to tough situations. Please give me an example of an insult from her on social media. As far as I am concerned the insults for some people are – renewing her wedding vow and kissing her husband in public, and announcing that they are on their honeymoon in Lebanon which devastated their enemies, who were expecting the dead body of our president from Lebanon, based on the negative propaganda that was spreading on the Social media. Honestly, as far as I am concerned, the only mistake she made was to reply to Chernor Bah’s allegations.
What is the motive of forwarding this letter or advice to civil societies and other organizations rather than political? With all due respect I am not trying to convince anyone – this is my personal opinion.
Thanks Mr Fallay, I totally respect your opinion but I still disagree with you. I suppose Mrs Garber was airing her views in private capacity which she is entitled to, not as representative of the Krio ASSOCIATION, KDY which she made clear in her message to the first lady. Better still, She could have cut out the middle man and lead a delegation to state house to have a private word. Public naming and shaming is not what we are talking about here. But as a concerned private citizen with good intentions which every Sierra Leonean is entitled to, she is entitled to her opinion no less. The president and his wife are the first family for all of us. Its good that you bring up the FPU. Because not all Fulanis are members of the FPU.
By the way I was the president of the youth wing in Bombali district, Makeni back in the day. We had then the “MUSEDAL”. At the time the president of Sierra Leone was Joseph S Momoh. I was also a member of the GREEN Book MOVEMENT and PANAFU. As students, although as president of the FPU youth wing, that did not stop me from leading demonstrations in Makeni against the failures of the Momoh government in paying our teachers salaries on time. Later when it was explained to us, his government cracking down on ghost teachers, we understood from the point of view of the Momoh government. Hon Musa Kabia, the then speaker of parliament had to intervene, and we went back to class.
Of course the teachers outstanding salaries were paid. But because I was a member of the above groupings, did not stop me from leading demonstrations against the then government. The people in government reflect society, and are our role models, and everyone look up to them. Even their fashion looks are commented upon. So they get more scrutiny than you, and me. I recognise your point. And I can see where you are coming from. But not all of us including Mrs Garber have a WhatsApp contact number to our first lady. Or a telephone hotline to state house. But I still respect and recognise your point of view. I hope we can agree to disagree. At the end we are all Sierra Leoneans.
Folks, it is my firm belief that the majority of us who partake on this glorious intellectual platform, made possible by one the greatest patriots honorable A.R.T, sincerely wants to see a progressive and developed nation that we all call home. In light of this, we owe it to Mama Salone, not to any political party, to push back against any actions, policies or development, being officiated by our public officials, hampering any of our nation’s progressive plans. We are already aware of individuals among us whose interest are personal— wanting accountability only when it is not subjected to them, but will raise hell when the same rules they advocated against the opponent suddenly faces them. These individuals must not be ignored by all means necessary. They must be called out.
The recent insurrection at the citadel of the greatest modern democracy, the United States capitol, facilitated by a BIG LIE of a stolen election must serve as a lesson. High ranking Republican officials, including vice president Pence and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, knew from the onset it was a lie, yet due to political expediency, they failed to call out the BIG LIE. Consequently, their inactions led to what transpired in January 6th. The worst could have happened, nevertheless, at least 6 American citizens lost their lives.
So for the good of our nation, our young democracy, our poor suffering masses, we must not ignore or remain silent when a few miscreant among us peddle LIES and DECEITs with the propensity to negatively impact our beloved nation. I refuse to stay on the sidelines and not speak up on any given day, hour, minute, or second, that any ill-informed individuals deliberately propagate misleading statements on this glorious intellectual platform. be rest assured, I will play my role as a son of mama Salone.