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 ?