Dr. Sama Banya
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 May 2014
My last visit to State House was not one that I cared to remember.
The then minister of information and communication, himself a former journalist and the erstwhile president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) – Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, had unilaterally and unjustifiably closed down the SLPP Unity radio station.
The honourable Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana had invited the leadership of the opposition for a round table discussion, in order to find an amicable solution.
And so it was, that we were at State House, led by the SLPP national chairman John Oponjo Benjamin. The matter, as was expected, was sorted out and our station was to be operational again.
But it was while we were on our way out, that something happened.
Invectives and abuses were thrown at us by what I can only describe as the thugs of the APC party. Not satisfied with that, urine was sprayed on us as we stepped outside State House.
Yet, it was a different ball game altogether last Thursday, when I once again visited.
I had gone to State House at my own request to see my distinguished nephew – President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The reception was cordial from the entrance gate, all the way to my nephew’s ornate office, which had the same shape as on the other occasions – long ago. The furniture was sensible and not luxurious.
I put my case to a very receptive – and as usual, polite nephew who had pushed protocol aside and stood up to give me a warm handshake.
Presidents are extremely busy people. I should know. I was close to the highest office of the land for many years.
We were not long on the pleasantries, and I stated my case to an attentive nephew.
Incidentally, I have already begun to notice the beginning of action.
I had entered the President’s office with a smile, and as I left, I had a broad grin on my face that stretched from one end to the next.
I had indeed visited my nephew. By the way, “she” was not around. And so this story is coming in its original form, because “Azonta Kamara” has had nothing to do with it.
It was also interesting, but not remarkable, that neither the subject of APC nor SLPP had entered our conversation, although I tickled my nephew with wanting to snatch the ‘Puawui’ title from me.
I wish my nephew good health and a restful well deserved retirement in 2017 or 2018, as the case may be.
I have had a number of calls relating to my lamentation on the sad state of the Western Area Peninsular Rain Forests, by people who wanted more information about the plight of those forests, as well as others of importance.
I have written about the forest and the mountain range on a previous occasion. Readers may recall that, it was his first sight of the range of mountains with their thick forest cover and misty lion shape, which inspired the Portuguese explorer in 1462 to give the name – Sierra Leone’ – meaning: ‘LION MOUNTAINS’.
I have not read anywhere that there had ever been lions in those or even in our Gola Forest in the southeast of the country, which has been named a Peace Park by the Presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Both the governments and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), through its partner in Sierra Leone – the Conservation Society, as well as the forestry division of the ministry of agriculture, forestry and food security, were prominent in the preparatory project.
In recent years, numerous attempts have been made to enter the Gola Forest, with its unique collection of biodiversity, in order to prospect for diamonds and other minerals.
But the President has frowned on any such attempt and put his foot down firmly.
A minister is reputed to have lost his portfolio, as a result of granting exploratory licenses. We must not be lured by the desire for quick reward, only to destroy our heritage for the future.
Two other reserves which deserve visiting – and I strongly recommend them, are; Tiwai Island in the southeast and the Otamba Kilimi National Park (OKNP) in the Bombali district in northern Sierra Leone.
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