President Bio of Sierra Leone accused of gross tribal discrimination

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 April 2021:

Accusing politicians in Sierra Leone of hypocrisy, double standards, nepotism and tribalism is nothing new. Since the end of the rebel war in 2001 and the return of democratic elections, successive governments have been criticised for polarising the political space with tribal and regional bigotry and rhetoric.

But these criticisms have recently been extended to include naked tribal discrimination, with the wholesale sacking of public sector workers and civil servants believed to be opposition supporters, as was the case after Ernest Bai Koroma won the 2007 election – sacking hundreds of people from their government jobs, replaced with ruling APC supporters.

In response the outgoing SLPP party accused the incoming Koroma APC government of tribalism.

In 2018, the opposition SLPP won presidential election to form a government. In the ensuing months, hundreds of people were sacked by president Bio, believed to be supporters of the outgoing APC government, and there was a tribal and regional twist to that list.

Today, president Bio is being accused of gross tribalism in his appointment of government ministers and heads of departments and public agencies, in favour of his Mende tribesmen and tribeswomen. It seems president Bio has learnt nothing from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report,

Critics of the president say that the following statistics support their accusation:

A ministerial cabinet of 30 in a country with a population of 7 million people – has 22 Mendes, 8 non-Mendes – none of whom are Creoles or Konos. Thus, the Cabinet is made up of 73% Mendes.

Of the 31 Deputy ministers appointed by president Bio, 20 are Mendes (65%) and 11 non-Mendes; and  only 2 are Creoles and 2 Konos – Dr Eldred Tunde Taylor (Energy Ministry) Creole; Mr William Robinson (Tourism and Culture) Creole; Mr Kai Lawrence Mbayo (Sports) Kono; and Philip Tetema Tondeneh (Works and Public Assets) Kono.

The statistics for Departments, Agencies, Commission and State-owned Enterprises are even worse for the non-Mende tribes in the country under the Bio-led government.

Out of the 69 Heads of Department, Agencies, Commission and State-owned Enterprises, 65 (94%) are Mendes, with 4 non-Mendes. There is only one Creole and zero Kono speaking presidential appointee: Mrs Stanela Beckley (Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission) is Creole.

In the civil society space, 73% of the Senior Heads running CSOs are believed to be of president Bio’s Mende tribe, limiting the voice of other tribes in advocating for resources, political and humanitarian rights.

These are just some examples of president Bio’s tribally biased appointments:

 

 

23 Comments

  1. To me the issue in Sierra Leone is not directly connected to tribe or relgion but it is based on connection, relationship and usage. Nearly 85% of former president’s appiontees were northerners and Temnes, compared to 55% during this 3 years under this new SLPP.

  2. Any attempt by Paopa loyalists to use Soviet era “Whataboutism” techniques as a sign of defense of this despotic, tribalistic President on this glorious forum will be shrugged off and treated with the contempt that it deserves. The evidence speak clearly for themselves: Our President Julius Maada Bio is a Tribalist, raised in the dark egocentric cradles of the SLPP that has been working tirelessly against national cohesion in my little beloved Sierra Leone…Live with that!(lol)

  3. Three Years of President Bio: Corruption, poverty and other socio-political problems existed in Sierra Leone before President Bio was elected in 2018. Analytically, the president is not solely responsible for the country’s 60-year-old problems. The problem with President Bio is his FAILURE to register himself as a positively DIFFERENT leader.

    Rather than chart a new direction, President Bio is a disappointingly CORRUPT and directionless leader, aberrations which make him no different from the APC mafia gang he replaced. President Bio is so MENTALLY WEAK that he gave in to his wife’s pressure and flew to Lebanon on a three-week honeymoon, recklessly spending one million dollars during that shocking adventure. A leader with a BRAIN and VISION will NEVER engage in such childish escapades.

    On the third anniversary of his ascension to power, President Bio SHOULD have tried to SAVE FACE by conducting a GENUINE cabinet RESHUFFLE to ELIMINATE useless ministries and purge CORRUPT friends like Chief Minister, a slimy opportunist who serves NO useful purpose in Sierra Leone. When SLPP propaganda is peeled off, it would become clear that President Bio is on his way to becoming another Joseph Saidu Momoh, a time-wasting buffoon who was known for being dangerously WEAK, corrupt, LESS INTELLIGENT and susceptible to manipulation by the smarter crooks around him. May God have mercy on POLITICALLY UNFORTUNATE Sierra Leone.

  4. Comparing President Koroma’s 2007 first ministerial cabinet against President Bio’s SLPP heavily tribalistically biased first cabinet appointments: In 2007 President Koroma appointed 20 cabinet ministers: Zainab Hawa Bangura, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Themne); David Carew, Minister of Finance and Development (Krio); Paolo Conteh, Minister of Defence (Limba), Abdul Serry-Kemal, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General (Themne); Alimamy Koroma, Minister of Trade and Industry (Themne); Haja Afsatu Kabba, Minister of Energy and Power (Madingo); Alhaji I.B. Kargbo, Minister of Information and Communications (Themne); Dr. Soccoh Kabia, Minister of Health (Mende); John Saad, Minister of Housing and Infrastructural Development (Mende); Dauda Sulaiman Kamara, Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development (Limba); Alhaji Abubakarr Jalloh, Minister of Mineral Resources (Fullah); Dr. Sam Sesay, Minister of Agriculture (Limba); Benjamin O.N. Davies, Minister of Lands, Country Planning & the Environment (Krio); Dr. Moses Moisa-Kapu, Minister of Marine Resources (Mende); Musu Kandeh, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (Mandingo); Hindolo Trye, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs (Mende); Minkailu Mansaray, Minister of Employment and Social Security (Themne); Dr. Minkailu Bah, Minister of Education, Youths and Sports (Fullah); Kemoh Sesay, Minister of Transport and Aviation (Themne); Alpha Kanu, Minister of Presidential and Public Affairs (Themne).

    Out of the 20 cabinet ministers appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma, there were: 7 Themne cabinet ministers (35%); 4 Mendes (20%); 3 Limbas (15%); 2 Krio cabinet ministers (10%); 2 Mandingo cabinet ministers (10%); 2 Fullah cabinet ministers (10%).

    In comparison with President Bio’s SLPP Paopa Cabinet appointed in 2018: President Bio appointed 30 cabinet ministers, of which 22 Mendes (73.3%); 2 Kuranko (6.7%); 2 Fullah (6.7%); 1 Themne (3.3%); 1 Madingo (3.3%); 1 Limba (3.3%); 1 Susu (3.3%); 1 Kono cabinet minister (3.3%). Good job to include more diverse ethnic groups but SLPP Paopa first cabinet appointment is tribalistic with one tribe dominating 73% whilst APC first cabinet was evenly distributed.

    http://www.sierra-leone.org/cabinet-bio1.html
    http://www.sierra-leone.org/cabinet-koroma1.html
    ©️ Scope media

    • When did Dr. Socco Kabia son of Bia Kabia the third of Lunsar become a Mende. Why do we have to feed in wrong information to make our points? And I wonder if you knew that EBK’s government in 2007 was based on an arrangement with the PMDC of which Socco Kabia, Dr. Moses Moisa-Kapu (a Shebro) and John Salad (a Lebanese) were contributed by the PMDC. Hindolo Trye was a registered APC member.

      Just to set the records straight, Alhaji I.B. Kargbo is a Limba not a Themne. He was my former teacher and principal at UCC Bo. Further, I thought Bio’s government in 2018 had Dr. Aiah Kpakima as minister of tertiary education, Dr. Morie Kumba Kanye as Minister of Mines and Mr. Tamba Lamina as Local Government Minister and these are all ethnic Konos including three more Konos that are deputy ministers.

  5. Of course Tribalism is the issue at hand; You can try as hard as you can to give it 100 names in order to disguise it and reduce the penetrating gaze of Truth but it won’t make a difference, it will remain Tribalism all the same. Now let me make things a little easier; I once owned a little puppy I called “Growler” that my demanding work schedule would not let me care for properly; so I gave her to my neighbours red-headed little daughter. The girl was happy, so was the dog – it was a match made in heaven. A few months later my girlfriend advised that we should go and see how the dog was doing, so we went over and rang the bell. The little red-headed girl and her mother opened the door and we informed them that we were there to see how the puppy was fairing on. They brought the dog and it immediately started jumping all over us, wagging its little tail like a malfunctioning pendulum swinging out of control.(lol)

    Then I said; “Growler you are looking good buddy.” And then the little girl and her mother interjected saying- “She is no longer called Growler, her new name is Misty”. I laughed and said to them, “she’s now yours, Misty sounds fine”. And there you have it, the same thing is regarded differently by both parties involved – the same dog is now being called something else but that still doesn’t change anything, he is still that little “Labrador retriever” that I once bought from a pet shop in a shopping mall. So you see, any attempts to give Tribalism in our tiny country a different name won’t mean a damn thing to men and women with discerning and prudent minds; It will be frowned upon, ridiculed and looked upon with contempt and utter disdain.

  6. Perhaps the point being missed in assessing the list of Bio’s appointees is the link between ethnicity and region. Some of the individual names may suggest the Sherbro, Kissi, Fula and Mandingo ethnicities of their bearers. However, do these bearers not hail mostly from South-Eastern Sierra Leone, which is predominantly Mende, numerically, linguistically and culturally speaking? Indeed who can deny the irresistible cultural influence and absorbing power of Mende in that region of our country? To have a government made up of functionaries drawn largely from the South-Eastern geographical and cultural space is therefore no accident. This might seem logical given that the party in power has that space as its base, indeed sees the space as its exclusive party political preserve.

    The trouble is that the power the party now enjoys and wields is not ‘South-Eastern power’ alone; it is what I will call national power: power that calls for redistribution reflecting the interests and character of all the regions of our country, inclusive of the South-East, the East, the North, the West, and the recently created North-West. The list of appointees falls far short of the geo-cultural complexity/diversity of the political entity we call Sierra Leone. This lack of ethno-regional balance in the distribution and exercise of national power has a name: ethnocentrism and regionalism. It means politicising ethno-regional differences to win power and the privileges and riches that in the Sierra Leonean context power bestows on its holders. The holders may in reality not serve the best interests of the ordinary man and woman living in South-Eastern Sierra Leone itself. However, the perception among other Sierra Leoneans that the region is the exclusive beneficiary of the national cake is a foregone conclusion. And perception in politics matters; sometimes it is all that matters.

    We need visionary leaders; leaders who once in power are able to rise above narrow personal, partisan and ethno-regional considerations and govern in the interest of every Sierra Leonean man, woman and child. This means drawing on the knowledge, skills and good will of Sierra Leoneans of all regions and ethnicities to ensure national cohesion – an invaluable ingredient of any attempt at national regeneration as we continue to work towards undoing the consequences of that decade-long civil strife that brought our country to its knees not so long ago.

  7. Change of government is reciprocal to change of system. Change requires a response, both in the short term and in the long term. In the short term, organizational survival may require a different response from that which might lead to longer term reform. At the same time there may be a political agenda which is short term. So, if perhaps you couldn’t find names of your choice, it’s because of change. Biblically, this world was created by God with no ethnic divide. Scientists also may attest to the fact that man started with no ethnicity. We are just mere human beings. So let’s learn to treat ourselves as humans.

  8. Tribalism is not the issue at hand. The above can be defined as a fanatical preference for members of one’s own tribe. If such was the situation in Sierra Leone, we should have seen a rapid improvement in the SLPP areas, such as more schools, low cost housing, preferential subsidies on basic necessities. The same with the previous party, where the former president’s house in Makeni is worth more than the University of Makeni. No, corruption, illiteracy and petty minds are the root of our problems.

    • Mr Leo Africanus, you might have made a valid point there. Majority of government appointees might have all come from the Mende tribe. Whether it was accident or designed is beside the point. Bio just want to create a middle class of corrupt politicians. As long as his buddies are fine thats what count. These people are not interested in the wellbeing of anyone. They don’t want to know if the people of the south have good roads, electricity, hospitals, affordable housing, education. To say the communities in the South are in anyway benefitting from this tribalistic overtures is lazy thinking. Pujehun, Kailahun, Kono and Shebro Island, all the way to the Liberian border doesn’t appear to benefit from the hard work of their local sons and daughters sitting in government today.

      In some cases I will say they are worse off than some areas in the North. Take the Mano river roads that take you to Liberia, passengers in that part of the country have to take the same life and death decision just like anywhere else in the country to undertake such decisions. These corrupt politicians only care about number one, themselves. This tribalistic make up is just used as stop gap or vehicle to enrich themselves. Majority of people in the list of government officials were just struggling to get by. But today they are rich beyond their wildest dreams.

  9. i dont think it is discrimation; I think it is domination. Sierra Leoneans have suffered a lot under the two tyrant political parties and ethnic regions since our independence. This country is dominated by the temnes and mendes. Do you want to rule Sierra Leone, you must have the support of the APC or SLPP. APC dominated by the north and of course SLPP by the south.

    • Shebros, Kissis, Vai, Gullah are all classed as Mendes. Sage Jusu for example is listed as a Mende, the same as is Mrs Ndanema and Mrs Melrose Kargbo. There are many that I don’t have time to name. Recently a native Loko woman was given symbol and won a Parliamentary seat in a bye election in Kailahun. No body said anything. While president Bio himself has been embraced as a Mende, when we entered Bo school, he was Julius Woni Bio with no Maada. He and JJ Saffa identified themselves as Shebros.

  10. Dr Sorie Tunkara – I once heard a very strange story that gave me the chills because it vividly highlighted one of the ills of our society we are struggling to deal with today – Tribalism and intimidation by the SLPP. Folks here’s the sad
    story as I heard it from a friend from the South, straight from the horse’s mouth.(lol) There is a happy old man in State House that has worked for all the Presidents that have ruled our little Sierra Leone – He is a versatile professional Chef that cherished and took great pride in his work. But that didn’t stop the criminal SLPP cabal to try and get rid of him;One day they came to him with frowning faces as he was dicing some onions and told him that he was
    NOT LIKED and that he needed to pack his things and leave. The old cook laughed and said; “Not Liked by who?”

    The SLPP officials smiled and walked away. The old chef shook his grey head defiantly and shouted as they hurriedly went through the door;” Please tell the President that I work for Sierra Leone and not for him,I am going nowhere.” The next day they returned but the chef was still there doing what he was paid to do quietly like a butterfly transporting pollen from one flower to another. Then one of them growled; “You are still here? your kind of person is not liked by the New Direction – pack up and leave now.”

    The old chef was unfazed,he had seen it before, a lion being confronted by ruthless hyenas was still a lion.(lol)He then reached into his pocket and handed them a letter that said; “I Siaka Probyn Stevens President of the Republic of Sierra Leone according to the powers vested in me out of a free conscience and due diligence hereby employ the humble bearer of this letter Mr S.S Bangura as Head Chef in the service of Sierra Leone for life – This is a Executive order”. The SLPP dummies stared at the old chef in disbelief and then ran away like rats being chased by a vicious cat and handed the eye opening historical letter to their corrupt old soldier.(lol) SLPP Good for nothings! (lmao)

  11. It is a disgrace, if indeed, those appointments were consciously made and dished out by the Commander-in-Chief himself. It also means that the people of Sierra Leone are not fairly represented, if represented at all – why? because it was not only the Mendes who decisively voted to give Maada the top job in the land.

  12. It’s all a greedy grab of power. This dangerous and provoking situation has been happening in Sierra leone politics for a very long time now and has to stop. I’m always worried about these types of political appointments because leaders will come and abuse such powers. Those people who were made jobless when President Koroma took over were Sierra Leoneans, and they do not deserve such treatments. The same goes for all those who lost their jobs when President Bio took office. I don’t blame former President Koroma or President bio for such inhuman acts. I blame what I believe to be an outdated constitution.

    A constitution without transitional continuation of government is no use in my view. Sierra Leone needs constitutional, prison and judiciary reforms. Without that, such inhuman acts will continue. What will happen to all these men and women whose names appear on that list if APC wins the next election, which of course, is inevitable according to the failed and reckless policies of the Bio SLPP kakistocracy? President Bio will no longer revert to a situation where we will see a balanced cabinet or department heads appointed.

    We need a new President to reset such unfortunate misuse of power due to an outdated constitution. My advice to the Krios and Konos mentioned on that list should resign. Are people not ashamed of themselves engulfed in a tribal political den? Anyway, we have to live with such situations until we decide who we should vote for as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone in 2023. Vivre La Republique Sierra Leone et Le Mouvement Democratique du Peuple Leonais!

  13. Some of the names associated to Mende are far-fetched to be used as an example in an effort to prove tribalism. Mr Kenneh is a Kissi man; we ail from the same town in Kailahun. Fodebah Dabor is mandigo, Taprima Jah is Fula, Ansu Tucker shabro, Basheru Sheriff Mandigo, Mohamed Dabboh Mandingo. I can go on and on to dispute some of these dubious questionable lists trying to portray tribal biasness. If we are going to address and face issues of tribalism once and for all, it is only but fear that someone somewhere doesn’t come up with fictitious evidence to disenfranchise a particular set/group of people.

  14. Gentlemen – the time for lukewarmness and speculation is over – What does the evidence say? Is this soldier guilty of stoking the fires of hatred and discord through a deep seated attitude that embraces and promotes tribalism? Yes or No? Stargazer? Of course, the inept man in State House is as guilty as a thief caught red handed by the owner making away with two laptops he says he was only going to borrow and later return. (lol) What a bunch of baloney! The evidence at hand speaks clearly and loudly by themselves. Our President is an anarchist that cares only about himself and his tribesmen; an anarchist that once opened the gates of hell by overthrowing legitimate power and authority is now seen by his loyal tribesmen as their true savior and champion that will safeguard old annoying regressive customs, traditions and beliefs at the expense of our tiny nation’s sovereignty and prosperity.

    Its all an evil calculated attempt by a President and Chief Minister to craftily create policies that will facilitate the marginalization of other tribes in our Sierra Leone. Its time to ask the tough questions: Why are they not making an inch of progress after such a long time in power? Here’s your answer – wherever incompetence has been granted free licence to overrule pragmatism in the interest of Tribal sentiments for self centered purposes, lack of progress usually becomes the end results.(lol)

    A government overcrowded by Mendes that has already failed miserably, that will continue to fail miserably because it is not all inclusive and therefore does not adequately represent what my beloved Sierra Leone looks like.(lol)

  15. If these records pass the objectivity test, then it’s very disappointing and needs urgent revisit from the national leadership. However, that can never discount the nasty and deliberate smear of the Mayor of Freetown municipality and the sheepish, if not ignorant response of my APC. The record out there is disgraceful and quite worrying.

  16. The list of government functionaries demonstrates the true character of President Bio’s administration: overwhelmingly and dispiritingly ethnocentric and nepostistic. How can Bio make such regionally and ethnically inspired and slanted appointments the basis of a government that is supposedly national in nature and outlook? Are Krios, Themnes, Limbas, Susus, Konos, Fulas and so on not good enough to play a numerically significant part in running the affairs of our country? How hypocritical for Bio and his administration to lay claim to taking the country in a NEW DIRECTION! A new direction indeed, understood as the political principle and practice of sinking ever deeper into the revolting swamp and treacherous quicksands of regionalism and tribalism. Would a government that means what it says not use its ‘new direction’ mantra to learn lessons from the past and steer the country away from politics of strife, sterility, division and doom that ethnocentrism always entail? Does the tragedy of Rwanda 1994 not ring a bell?

    The preceding administrations were of course no angels of de-regionalised and de-ethnicised politics. However, does the current one need to repeat the mistakes of the past? Sadly, it is doing precisely that and on a frighteningly unprecedented scale of crassness, vulgarity and obscenity. Especially so when you consider that what we need right now is a politics of national unity and cohesion as we strive to rebuild our country from the ruins of a devastating civil war that ended just two decades ago. Sierra Leone as a nation belongs to all of us irrespective of our individual ethnic and regional origins and sympathies. A government that lives and breathes ethnocentrism and regionalism is a real and present danger to us all, beginning with the Mendes themselves, whose best interests it seeks ostensibly to promote.

    I use the word ‘ostensibly’ advisedly. This is because Bio and the majority of his appointees are more concerned with promoting their own individual interests than anything else, their ethnicity being no more than a means to achieving that end: a tool designed to bring them to power and place them within easy reach of the nation’s wealth, which if we go by recent reports by Africanist Press, they are now looting to their heart’s content. Ordinary Mendes, Limbas, Themnes and Krios have politically no axe to grind; they have lived and shared our homeland with other ethnic groups in relative peace. It is generations of our political leaders that have sown and nurtured the seeds of discord among us for personal gain. Our country yearns for leaders who are patriots first and foremost, capable of speaking to what unites us, and not what divides us. Bio and the overwhelming majority of his appointees are no such leaders. I fear for our country.

  17. This is how a Canadian AP reporter, Ian Stewart, who was injured in Sierra Leone during the RUF civil war during the storming of Freetown discribed Sierra Leone in his book’ FREETOWN AMBUSH’: “Sierra Leone got its independence in 1961. Western – style democracy and government were short lived in the newly independent Republic of Sierra leone, as infighting among ethnic groups undermined cooperative development. A series of military coups and political assassination destabilised and impoverished the new nation.

    “Decades of corruption and political upheavals have left Sierra Leone the “worst place on earth”, according to a United Nations development programme survey – worse than Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Loas. Life expentacy is thirty – eight years, while 164 of every 1,000 babies die in infancy. Sixty-nine percent of adults cannot read or Write”. And when you think his book was published in 2002,it seems nothing has changed for the better since then.

    A foreign journalist captured the very demon and taboo subject that we as a nation have failed to confront and confine to the dustbin of history by working together as a nation for the common good. Instead TRIBALISM has taken a front row seat in the way we do politics in our country. Forget about APC/SLPP rivalry, tribal politics is what is fueling corruption in our country. One dominant tribe will be voted in, and say lets enrich ourselves, before the next dominant tribe is voted in. More like they are taking it in turns. Nothing about the interest of the country. Simply the country’s coffers is used like a piggy bank for corrupt politicians. Basically, which tribe can make the most when they are in power. If you want to know the reason why the cancer of corruption has endured, look no further.

  18. Tribalism is among the main reasons why Sierra Leone is still lagging behind many poor countries in the world. Our leaders have not been able to get past that debilitating hurdle that is guaranteed to impede and stifle social and economic progress.The blind leading the blind – Our President is following in the footsteps of his predecessor,who also had no choice it seems,to follow in the tracks of those that held the baton of power before him – this is actually what mental immaturity in its most crippling form looks like.It has been there since our Independence,an unwanted taboo no one wants to talk about that has never stopped devouring all that would have transformed a mineral rich Sierra Leone into a prosperous country like Norway,Finland and Belgium.

    Its time for us to address and face issues of tribalism once and for all head on and get it over and done with – running away is no longer a viable option if we wish to grow and make sustainable progress as a nation.

    • And the only way to do that Mr Tunkara is to rewrite the constitution and incorporate it with modern norms. Upgrade it with stringent laws and stick to it. In it, let especially the tribal law, human rights, police, media, civil Societies, office of the president, vice president, judiciary, diasporan participations, etc be strictly upgraded to the highest height making sure every word in it is applied to everyone in the country. That way Sierra Leone will begin to see the fruits of the labour of “strong institutions”.

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.