Rebuild and strengthen Sierra Leone’s armed forces – strong fences make good neighbours

Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 03 November 2022:

After the tribalistic bigot Maada Bio is removed, because he is not fit to lead such a massive national  process, the next President of Sierra Leone should think seriously about rebuilding and strengthening the Sierra Leone armed forces. We have been giving this advice in sundry articles since the 1980s and our warnings  were justified by  the rebel war brought to Sierra Leone by neighbouring Liberia’s then rebel leader, Charles Taylor.

When your neighbor comes to your house flaunting a massive  manhood with such wanton abandon and relish, he is sending a message and this should not be taken lightly by the head  of household and any other serious inhabitant. The Guinea leader would argue that he was throwing complacency to the winds and warning his detractors that wherever he goes, he is ready to defend himself to the last drop of blood. But he chose the wrong theatre to flaunt his military power.

I have spoken to many people and even some American diplomats and U.S  ex-servicemen and though they too conceded the right of the Guinean leader to build a formidable defence around himself, they however agreed with some Sierra Leoneans that the display of military hardware, artillery and might by the Guinean junta leader was too excessive and unnecessary and if we had a serious leader that thought  about national self-worth and national pride, instead of tribal bigotry and tribal domination,  Col. Mamady Dumbouya’s  display of military might in another country could have  embarrassed President Bio and the ruling SLPP government  as  a subtle message was delivered the president, country and people by the military strongman from Guinea.

If it was a solidarity visit meant to build on the fraternal relations between Sierra Leone and Guinea, why did the Guinean leader not trust his SO-CALLED friend and brother, President Maada Bio to provide him with  the needed lavish security ? Was it that he did not trust Maada Bio? Was he sending the very  Maada Bio a strong message? Was it that he had no respect for the Sierra Leone armed forces and our people? Did he underrate the ability of the Sierra Leone security apparatus to protect him and his delegation? Did he need to carry such a threatening persona and aura around him? If so, why? These are questions provoked by the Guinean leader’s action and these questions must be addressed by a nation that should not just be fixated on tribal, ethnic and regional dominance, but Sierra Leone’s respect, pride and national interest.

The photos and videos of Sierra Leonean citizens gazing in stunned disbelief and unmasked fascination at  the kind of military hardware at the disposal of neighboring Guinea should have been self-depreciating to a serious head of state of Sierra Leone. But Maada Bio is not the kind you should trust with multi- dimensional thought  processes.



Whatever message the Guinean leader was trying to send in Sierra Leone, it did not project him as a sensitive and trustful neighboring leader and one obvious emotion that complaining Sierra Leoneans  demonstrated on social media was that it was high time that Sierra Leone too had a fearsome, impregnable and trustworthy military force .

We cannot continue to trust our neighbors implicitly and childishly. We must have noticed the unpredictability of international relations between countries of the world and by the way, did anybody ever expect that if war would have ever come to  Sierra Leone, it would have been co- sponsored and co- controlled by the leader of Liberia,  a country that Sierra Leoneans had always  loved and trusted?

As far as the relations between neighboring countries are concerned, given the polarized state of even today’s international politics, nothing is written in stone. Nothing  should be taken for granted. We too must have a strong, well- fortified nation as our neighboring countries and the only way to ensure this is to also build a strong army with fearsome military artillery that our neighbours too must admire and fear.

We cannot continue to be the pushover nation in the Mano River Union axis or West Africa. Guinea’s  junta leader , through his prodigious display of military might inside our own country , made us see our nakedness and vulnerabilities. It is time to arrest the situation. I am sure that even our soldiers felt inferior, human nature being what it is.

It is a crying shame that after over 60 years of  Independence, Sierra Leone  still does not have an army in which citizens can trust their security. Shamefully, we also have neither a navy, nor an air force. Given the chaotic world we live in today with cranky and unpredictable leaders all over the place, Sierra Leone cannot afford to remain a weak and unprotected country. Perish the excuse that we are a small and peaceful country and military might is not a priority. Only a fool and an unpatriotic Sierra Leonean can put up such an argument. Though a small country, Sierra Leone has abundant natural resources and vested interests within  world geopolitics to protect and defend.

One of my Liberian students, who later became one of the warlords in his country,  ridiculed me in 1979  when I responded  to a question and said  that Sierra Leone was  such a friendly, tolerant nation that our borders were  always open to citizens of nations around the world and that  we trusted  other peoples of the world  implicitly,  as a result of which we were not Xenophobic or too fussy about carrying a menacing military might against other countries. The boy looked at me incredulously  with disbelief and his exact response  was: “Then, Mr. Kanu, you have nothing to protect in Sierra Leone. ” He was right, as I was to learn later . After the war, and what we now know about the perils faced by resource- rich countries, unpredictable neighbors, transnational crimes and the threats of terrorism, it will be shocking if we  still have Sierra Leoneans with such naive thinking. But we still do and this is frightening.

The world has changed dramatically and dangerously under our own disbelieving eyes. We can no longer continue thinking like we did in the past, during what we would call the good old days, when people and nations deserved trust and had not started showing their true colors. Today, we live in a dysfunctional world with untrustworthy leaders, nations and  peoples and therefore we can longer afford to be  weaklings . Other countries should respect and fear our military might, not take us for granted as the Guinean junta leader just did. Strong FENCES  MAKE good neighbors.

Sierra Leone needs a very strong and battle-ready military (Army, immigration,  police, navy  and air force) and these should be built around a citizenry  of different tribal, ethnic, regional, cultural and religious persuasions.  We are not talking about a tribal armed forces as President Bio, the tribalist, is trying to do.

We need a stalwart,  robust, fire-eating and unbeatable  national armed forces,  ready to protect and defend our sovereignty, territorial integrity, human and natural resources and our vested interests within the present world geopolitical configuration. The name Sierra Leone, resonates favourably around the world, despite all our problems and this must also be reflected in our military might. Today, an invulnerable military is part of a serious nation’s diplomatic mantra. Other leaders and nations listen to you more when you speak from a position of strength, not weakness always.

How long can you remain weak ?



  1. This visit by Guinea, Military junta leader Col.Mamady Dombouya’s with a small army of Guinean special military forces and their military hardware vehicles is not in any way to intimidate Sierra Leoeans , as one of the onlookers seemed to reassure the Guineans, that we Sierra Leoneans are a peaceful loving people as his convoy appears to cross the border to Sierra Leone not as an invading force but was on a short visit on the invitation of Bio despite all the sanctions collectively imposed by ECOWAS on the military junta until they returned to the barracks so Guineans will be given the opportunity to choose their own leaders in a free and fair elections to end the political deadlock in that country. Bio is doing everything in his power to undermine that collective will of ECOWAS .And the Sierra leoenan onlooker was right ,on African standared we Sierra Leoenans are peaceful people and are the most easy to rule people in the continent .We are like a “SHEEP “that can be easily taken to the slaughter house without kicking up a stink .We should adopte the “GOAT ” character ready to scream for their rights at the drop of a hat .Col.Dumbouya’s military escort is not a show of force by any stretch of the imagination, but a show of weakness .In other words a leader that lacks the political legitimacy of his people and he knows that in his heart of heart. The danger with that it will only last so long if he continues to get the support of the Guinean military.And when they question his legitimacy no amont of military escort will save his skin .Col.Gaddafi, Samuel Doe, Idi Amin , Emperor, Bukassa , General Tunde Idaibung Chief of Staff Nigerian second military strongman under the first Buhari military government in 1983.Unlike the sixties and seventies the life expectancy of military dictatorship in Africa is short, and not guaranteed. Gone are the days of the Mobutus , Idi Amins , Col Gadaffie or Master Sergent Samuel K. Deo and Gambia’s Yayah Jammeh .Col.Dumbunya’s people wanted Alpha Conde out because he wanted to abuse the constitution of Guinea . Just like other military dictatorship across Africa they are seen as a temporary fix not a permanent fix. Sticking a plaster on a wound .Restoring the democratice embryonic process that was taking shape across the African continent after the end of the cold war , where the masses are allowed to choose their own repreentatives in a free and fair elections is the only way forward to enhance the equality of our people and the respect for the rule of law, and free press, and bring ahead economic growth ,tansparencyand accountability .His military convoy shows Col.Mamady Dumbouya is not sure whether he enjoy the full support of the civilian population of Guinea, and most importantly some members of the Guinean military personnel, he left behind when he came to see Bio .The fact that he has indicated he plans to put one of his predecessors Capatin Dadis Camara , on trial for the stadium Massacre of more than hundred and fifty youths during his bloody reign goes to show he will need a small contingent of army to ecort him for his eleven hours visit to Sierra Leone .In the present political climate in Guinea with cost of living demonstrations all over the place , is an insurance worth having in case he has to fight his way back to Guinea , Conarkry.At least with this contingent of military hardware he stands a fighting chance of returning to his post if some members loyal to ex-psychopathic Militray hardman Captain Dadis Camara where to stage a coup against him. His fear is based on what happened in Burkina Fasso when one military strongman the 34 year old Captain Ibrahim, removed a fellow coup mliltrary strongman for failing to honor his promises to fight “Islamist terrorist” attacks in that country .Majority of which are Funali herdmens fighting for their basic rights .And Col.Dumbuoya is in the right place .Maybe he comes to learn one or two things how to prevent military coups against him. According to our First Lady Mrs Fatima Bio , her husband has a” PHD” on how to organise or stop military coups .Maybe Bio will give the Guinean junta military leader an idiots guide manual on how to stop coups happening under your watch .

  2. The views expressed in this article and for that matter, in the letters that have followed thus far, are a case in point as on why Africa, in general, and Sierra Leone, particular, remains under-developed and backward.

    The author must be living in a world of fantasy because, who in their right mind would give a high priority to funding the military of a country with a struggling economy when its citizens go begging for jobs and children go unfed? Go to Freetown, look past the few nice buildings and what do you find? You will find a majority of the population, to be homeless and hopeless. Many live on the margins of society. This is not new. It has been like this since I was a boy, six decades ago. The slums of Sawpit, Kroo Bay, Foulah Town, etc. are a testament to this reality.

    Fund the military? Have you been to the Provinces of Sierra Leone? I have. Once fertile fields now lie dormant. Huge portions of the population, due to lack of services and support, have migrated to the only relatively developed city in the country. The rest are malnutrition and poor. Are people in the provinces not deserving of jobs, education, infrastructural development and education? Fund the military? To what end?

  3. We will remain weak for as long as we have a weak and incapable president as leader and commander in chief of the armed forces.

    Where are we going to get that leader from , a leader that would take such long term view for our country? Even though everything you said is true and resonate with many military personnel the calibre of leader, from independence has shown to be very short sighted and only think of making themselves and family rich that they will never be poor again.
    In his last tenure of office even though undemocratic, left with well over £15 millions, returned as a poor man branded “handouts” by friends in London, to sustain him . The people of Sierra Leone did not look into his conduct, when he was in office and how he conducted himself when he was out of office , how he managed his financial affairs.
    How a man who wasted such an amount of money would have any foresight in running a country that is so broken and impoverished? Many questions to ask.
    Our people need to be educated about the role of a government and why they vote, without that there is no hope for Sierra Leone, we will always be a banana Republic.

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