Presidential aspirant Dr Samura Kamara accused of tribalism – but is President Bio not tribalistic?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 July 2022:

Many would argue that discrimination has existed since the creation of Adam and Eve, be it tribal, religious, gender, or any other social construct. But the reality is that some societies are more fixated on these social constructs than others, especially in poorer countries where decisions about the distribution of wealth, and the prioritisation and allocation of scarce resources hardly pass the good governance test.

It is very often in this context that politicians and leaders can show their true colours. Take Sierra Leone for example – one of the poorest countries in the world, where both the Head of State – Julius Maada Bio and the former Presidential candidate of the main opposition APC party – Dr Samura Kamara, are being accused of tribalism.

Dr Samura Kamara is accused of stoking up tribal conflict in the country, when he spoke last week in  Makeni, Bombali district, in the northern province about tribalism. This is what he is alleged to have said, when describing the SLPP government’s appalling record of creating a fairer and just society:

“If you are a Kamara, you won’t get work. If you are Bangura, you won’t get work. If you are from Makeni, you won’t get work.  If you are not  from Kenema, Bo, Kailahun, Moyamba, Pujehun, you won’t get work.  If you don’t say ‘buwa bisseh’, you won’t get work”.

Since uttering that statement, Dr Samura has said he is not a tribalist but a realist, pointing out to the fact that his wife belongs to the Mende tribe which he is accusing the government of prioritising over other tribes.

But is Dr Samura right in accusing President Bio and his government of tribalism when it comes to the allocation of resources and public sector appointments?

Critics of the government and opposition politicians say that over eighty percent of the top jobs in the country’s public sector, including ministerial and civil service positions have gone to people of Mende origin.

President Bio himself is not denying the fact that he is making appointments based on who and what he knows. He said clearly in a radio interview last year that he only appoints those he knows into his government.

So, what are the facts?

The following is a list of appointments President Bio has made to his government which the opposition and critics say reflects the President’s tribalistic nature and orientation:


  1. Of course, the people on the list of tribal appointments are all Sierra Leoneans. But the point is that Sierra Leone is an ethnically and regionally composite polity. What the list therefore most staggeringly shows is an unapologetically wholesale South-Easternization and indeed Mendenization of national governance. This approach to governance undermines national unity and cohesion, threatening as it were the very existence of our nation.

    Bio and his Paopa regime have the benefit of hindsight and should have made it a point to learn from the mistakes of previous administrations. It is clear that they have taken the easiest of options by repeating on a scale never seen before those same mistakes.

    Unless and until we voters give power to people that are prepared to put a stop to this insane drive to fragment, fracture and fissure our country into bits and pieces that are impossible to put back together, we are and will remain a nation of losers.

  2. What an absolute nonsense! Even if the Mende’s are the dominant amongst the selected few are they not Sierra Leoneans? The country has become a pie to both the Temne and Mende tribalist yawning for a cut from taxpayers.

    Someone like Samura Kamara after 40yrs of service to governance and within a good old age cannot retire in solitude. Why? because him and others like him believed that governance comes with a lot of armouries to bask in.

    Playing tribal card is no different from a fraudster looking to swindle his way to power.

  3. Mr David Samura you’ve just prove a point that Tribalism is deeply entrenched in our society.This merry go round of tribal political appointments is not only a massive road block to country’s national aspiration for developments it goes to the heart of the matter and realistically answer all the pressing questions we have for country’s leaders .Why is our country rich in both natural and human resources but yet is classed as one of the poorest nations on planet earth?.More like politicians are taking it in turns to fleece our country’s natural and human resources for there own benefit. Corrupution and political polarisation is just the fuel that is used to keep the status quo.Unless there is a massive demographic change that tilt the population growth to smaller tribes chances are we will continue to elect public officials that have no interest for the common good of the nation rather the common good of their tribesmen and women.

  4. This is the list of President Koroma’s First Cabinet when it was in coalition with the PMDC
    Ernest Bai Koroma- Limba/Loko/Themne – President
    Sahr Sam-Sumana-Kono – Vice-President
    Zainab Hawa Bangura-Themne – Minister of Foreign Affairs
    David Carew- Krio – Minister of Finance and Development
    Paolo Conteh-Limba – Minister of Defence
    Abdul Serry-Kemal-Themne – Minister of Justice and Attorney-General
    Alimamy Koroma-Themne – Minister of Trade and Industry
    Haja Afsatu Kabba-Themne – Minister of Energy and Power
    Alhaji I.B. Kargbo-Limba – Minister of Information and Communications
    Dr. Soccoh Kabia- Themne from the PMDC – Minister of Health
    John Saad- of Lebanese/Themne origin-from the PMDC – Minister of Housing and Infrastructural Development
    Dauda Sulaiman Kamara- Limba – Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development

    Alhaji Abubakarr Jalloh- Fullah – Minister of Mineral Resources
    Dr. Sam Sesay-Limba – Minister of Agriculture
    Benjamin O.N. Davies- Krio – Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment
    Dr. Moses Moisa-Kapu-Mende from the PMDC – Minister of Marine Resources
    Musu Kandeh-Kuranko – Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs
    Hindolo Trye- Mende – Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs
    Minkailu Mansaray-Themne – Minister of Employment and Social Security
    Dr. Minkailu Bah-Fullah – Minister of Education, Youths and Sports
    Kemoh Sesay – Themne – Minister of Transport and Aviation
    Alpha Kanu-Themne – Minister of Presidential and Public Affairs

    • Thanks so much Mr. Samura for the Work. I think this Forum will appreciate it very much and please check If you could lay hands on some more Information on this Topic.
      To me it seems as If this Carbinet is equally tribalistic, infact more than that of Bio’s. Maybe others will prove me wrong.

      • Have you done your homework properly Mr Samura? The percentage of temnes in EBK’S first cabinet is 10 out of 23 which is 43.5 per cent – more than the about 1/3 proportion of temnes in the population. Those considered half-temnes are excluded from my analysis. EBK appointed a galf-lebanese in tgat cabinet and made an improvement in his second term by bringing down that proportion in line with the country’s demographics. He even appointed Victor Foh, a mende from the SLPP’s heartland, as vice president.

        The percentage of mendes in Bio’s cabinet is 19 out of 30 which is 63.4 per cent – far more than and almost doubling the 1/3 proportion of mendes in the population. Those considered half-mendes are again excluded from my analysis. Will Bio accept that his present appointments are also an abberration and make an improvement in his second term, if it ever comes to pass? He ought to bring down that 63.4 percent to 33.3 percent to truely reflect the country’s demographics including second or third generation immigrants such as the Lebanese. He should know that even a Bo School prefect list is even more diverse and inclusive than the present cabinet list. The lists of deputy ministers and the head of parastatals are even worse.

        Any list of appointments in the cabinet and civil service that does not reflect our rich and diverse heritage and does not contribute to any drive for national cohesion and unity should be condemned in no uncertain terms. All other cabinets including J S Momoh’s Ekutay and Albert Margai had no one tribe grabbing more than 33.3 percent of the posts. None was one-tribe-geng.

  5. Just to point out that the author of the list is asserting that everyone who speaks Mende is a Mende. If Doctor Samura Kamara’s name was on that list he would have been listed as a Mende because he speaks Mende fluently having been schooled in Bo and married into a Mende family. Calling the minister of justice Mr. Mohamed Lamin Tarawalie for example a Mende is akin to call Samura Kamara a Mende. Further, the author might not know that names like Sahr (Saa) Tamba, Aiah belongs to people of either Kono or Kissy and tribe. So calling K. E. S Boyah a Mende might be another flaw. Mrs. Naibela Tunis has been converted from a krio because he is Married to Mr. Tunis a Vie from Zimmi Makpe. The same goes for Mrs Memunatu Pratt.
    One last one, there are many Kamara’s and Koroma’s who are pure Mende. I am one of them.

  6. I sometimes pity the plight of DRUNKARD Samura Kamara based on the fact that he had 100% assurance from the former lifetime leader of the APC party that he will be the next president in 2018. Currently, based on the fact that there is mounting evidence of corruption allegations against him, and the possibility of democratic process within the APC party in choosing the next flag bearer rather than handpicked, his chances for that position is getting slimmer every day. Alcohol has become his only solace and best friend.
    This DRUNKARD who is a baptized Catholic Christian has continuously visited mosques without holding ablution and even climbed the pulpit (maimba) that is only meant for the Imam. He sometimes fall asleep during some sermons from the Imam due to his alcoholism.
    Now he is trying to distract people from his ongoing corruption allegations trial and his frustration about the possibility of Sam Sumana as the next flag bearer of APC party, by shocking the nation with this tribal ranting. Let’s continue to hope and pray for the new Chairman Alfred Peter Conteh (Mr. APC), who has sacrificed his time ,money and life for the transformation of the dictatorial APC party to a new democratic APC party.
    Fortunately, with the emergence of the Social Media, tribalism will have no place or success in our political campaign as compared to 1967 and 2007.
    Finally, “the winner takes all” democratic election and the constitution gave the president the power to hire and fire his cabinet appointees at will. To minimize firing his appointees, President Bio needed to choose people that believes in his Manifesto and Ideology to deliver his promises to the voters. Thanks to the Almighty that within 4 years, these Sierra Leoneans have transformed our country in the Fight against Corruption, Free Quality Education, Infrastructures ( Roads,Bridges, New Airport) and 24 hours electricity in Freetown, Bo and Kenema, which will soon be extended to all district headquarters), Sports – African Nations Cup and the total renovation of our stadium, Health ( fight against coronavirus , reduction in infant mortality and malaria ) , New currency, Transportation ( School Buses and new ferries), to name but few.
    May the Almighty continue to bless President “Talk and Do” Bio and the nation.

  7. That list is apparently dominated by former students of the Bo Government Secondary School – fondly called The Bo School. Bo school is, however, definitely more diverse than the list above. Where is Bo School Boys from other tribes? There are thousands out there if the president wants to appoint people he only knows. He certainly knows a few non-mende Bo School boys.

    Could someone post a list of appointments under Ernest Bai Koroma and Ahmad Tehan Kabba and perhaps J S Momoh so that the lists could be juxtopsed to make any differences more glaring? I am not sure even Momoh’s Ekutay was that much of a “one-tribe geng”.

    One thing i can definitely say, and without pre-empting whoever wants to take the challenge above, is that:

    The most diverse and inclusive appointments in Government to date are more or less in the order:

    Siaka Stevens
    Valentine Strasser
    Juxon Smith
    Sir Milton Margai
    Ahmed Tejan Kabbah
    Ernest Bai Koroma
    Joseph Saidu Momoh
    Sir Albert Margai
    Juluis Maada Bio

    I leave you with late Juxon-Smith lamenting about Sierra Leonean politicians with their penchant for tribal politics.


  8. Let’s compare the ministerial appointments of the present SLPP government to that of previous APC
    appointees to see the difference.

  9. Two of the major curses that have hampered our country’s development has been the twin evil of tribalism and corruption.Every Sierra Leonean knows this to be the truth and it goes to the heart of the problems facing our country .Bio didn’t invent tribalism and the way it is weaved in our country’s political ,social and cultural and economic DNA since it’s founding back in the sixties . Bio inherited it and have enhanced it and used it effectively for his own benefit. He could have done more to promote coexistence but that is not part of his DNA .Bio for all his bolster thrive on division and chaos, that what’s give him the kick .Sierra leone’s very existence was founded on tribal and regional divisions.

    Former President Saika Stevens was one of the original members of the SLPP party that was created to fight for our country’s independence. But due to disagreements with fellow members he and others broke away from the SLPP party and formed their own independent party which later became the All People’s Congress.So the seeds of North /South divide which have ultimately grown and became huge dividing trees that dot our political landscape that we are still wrestling with today .Unless we work hand in gloves and get rid of these trees that offer shade to one half of the country’s population ,while the other half of the population is left to their own devices under the hot burning economic,social and cultural sun , there is very little we can say about future developments prospect for our country. No one knows this better than Bio himself.He more than any other had the opportunity to confront the twin problems of Tribalism and corruption , but under his watch we have seen how tribalism , nipotism, and political violence and vendetta politics has become the main focal point of his desire to creates a one party and one tribal state .The league table of political and public appointments will attest to that. To be fair to him he did say he only appoint peoples he knows .Majority of his school friends are now in position of power .Since he grew up in the South that is reflected on his public officials that occupy the offices of state

    Maybe is about time we start to introduce students exchange between our learning institution in Sierra Leone so that School children from Bo or Kenema can visit Kabala Secondary school and St Francis or Benvolent In Makeni so they can see the other parts of the country and interact with their fellow pupils.Bio’s ethnic cleavage and elite political polarisation has made the upcoming Presidential election a referendum on his legacy .The brutal truth his record has fueled more ethnic division than any other President before him. Bio will go down as the worst President in living memory .Bottom line , our country’s fascination with tribal politics , turbocharged charged with hierarchical politics ,regional divisions , corruption on industrial scales seen by the general population like political theater and entertainment rather than a means to address real issues that affect families up and down the country , is unpatriotic and hypocritical by the very elected public officials that claimed to be the representatives of the people. A government of the people by the people and for the people remain as elusive as ever. On the present state we found ourselves that concept remains a distance pipe dream .

  10. What a list of tribal appointments! That is Paopa-styled promotion of national unity and cohesion for you. Absolutely staggering.

  11. Maada Bio is just carrying on from where Ernest Bai Koroma left. In this particular instance it is right to say that government is continuity.

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