Rwanda was not a school picnic – lessons for Sierra Leone’s media

Puawui – Dr. Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 November 2019:

I spend a lot of my leisure these days on Social Media, especially on  WhatsApp, where many of the posts are biased political innuendos depending on which party the subscriber supports. Other posts could quite frankly be described as junk.

Others are simply vulgar and disrespectful of erstwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma or President Julius Maada Bio. However, I have learnt to filter these messages and to discard many of them as cranks coming from unsettled party activists.

Over the last few days, one post has caught my attention and I find it not only worrisome but dangerous, and a threat to the stability of our country. It purports to be front page headline of the opposition APC mouth piece – the WE YONE NEWSPAPER, which reads:  “APC to declare war if its leaders are taken to court for corrupt practices resulting from the Commissions of Inquiry (COI).”

It is not the first time that members of the APC have threatened the peace and tranquillity of Sierra Leone. Political violence was introduced into this country in 1968 during the staggered bye-elections which resulted from the decision of a biased high court of the time.

The majority of the bye elections affected SLPP Members of Parliament, many of whose leaders were already in detention, under the APC state of public emergency. Overenthusiastic supporters and drug inspired youths became migrant voters. On Election Day, they would visit the particular area, cause mayhem which often led to peaceful citizens, especially the then opposition SLPP members and supporters to leave the scene in peace.

The APC supporters would then impersonate the legitimate voters and cast their ballots for the APC. The tactic did not succeed in districts like Kenema and Kailahun. In Kailahun the-would-be invaders were stopped in their tracks at the Manowa Ferry.

And following that incident, Prime Minister Siaka Stevens and his APC government declared a public state of emergency and arrested leading SLPP supporters, including Paramount Chiefs and elders and locked them all up either in the maximum prison at Pademba Road or at the Mafanta Prison, just outside Magburaka in the Tonkolili district of northern Sierra Leone.

In the early 1970’s, when the National Democratic Party (NDP) was formed, decedents from the ruling APC, among whom were Dr. John Karefa Smart, Mohamed Sorie Forna and Ibrahim and Mohamed Bash-Taqi and many others, were arrested following a provoked incident orchestrated by the ruling APC.

Again a state of public emergency was declared. As I had written before, the APC violence had become unbearable that if the SLPP leadership under Salia Jusu-Sheriff had not withdrawn from the campaign, there would have been civil war in this country.

Not bordered by that action, the APC party went ahead and won all the seats unopposed which was when the country had her first one party state.

It was interesting to see all the Parliamentarian including Prime Minister Siaka Stevens (Photo) dressed in their Mao Tse Tong suits. This diabolical action would have been repeated if the students of Fourah Bay College had not demonstrated vehemently, during the university congregation at Mount Aureol in February 1977.

It was after that incident that I Sama Siama Banya, was persuaded to join Siaka Stevens’ APC, just before the 1977 general election. But that is another story that has been told elsewhere.

I have narrated all this, in order to warn those irresponsible elements who are threatening the peace of this country with talk of war. Nobody wants war, and neither is anyone afraid of it. The only restraint is that both membership of the SLPP together with other parties, including even the APC, are aware of the dangers inherent in a civil conflict – especially of a tribal (North versus South,  Mende vs Temne) context.

There is a Mende proverb which says that when a child declares where the family makes their next rice farm, he would most probably have heard it from his father or some other leading members of his family.

When the We Yone Newspaper talks about declaring war, the likelihood is that it would have been discussed or mentioned among the leadership of his party.

Otherwise why has there been no condemnation from the leadership, nor has it distanced itself from the irresponsible statement.

I have endeavoured unsuccessfully since Friday to lay hands on the copy of the offending edition of the We Yone Newspaper.

Be that as it may, I would like to sound a note of warning that if indeed that front page came from the newspaper’s editor, then  let him realise that he is playing a most dangerous game. And as the adage go: “He is playing with fire.”

Surely the disastrous consequences of the 1991 to 2002 RUF conflagration on the country, could not be lost on him.

My last word to you Mr. editor of We Yone Newspaper is that, you must rethink your editorial policy when it comes to the peace, tranquillity and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone.

It is not negotiable under this Bio regime, and nor is it late to be wise after the event.

12 Comments

  1. Believe Dr. Sama S Banya is a household name in Sierra Leone. It is correct if one describes him as a celebrated politician. You may not know him physically, but you may have heard of him, especially in political forums. I also consider him as a man who has made a name for himself among his peers, because unlike others he always has his PUAWUI column in several of sierra Leone newspapers. However, one thing I know about Dr. S. S. Banya, like many Sierra Leoneans and cannot compromise with is he has always been ‘Green’ (SLPP) regardless of anything, and under any circumstance.

    Even after retirement from active politics, he has never taken a neutral position for once in Sierra Leone politics in his columns. I think, as Dr. Banya, an age-long politician, Sierra Leone students both at home and abroad should have made his writings a vital source of information. But it is obvious no one is interested in doing so because no one is going to trust your reference if you dare quote him on anything. In other words, you must be GREEN to accept his views

    The other reason not admirable about him is that he is extreme in his political views. He doesn’t preach peace. As a matter of fact, he insights violence in his writings. His most recent column on the telegraph of 30 November 2019 speaks volumes. After indicating that both president Mada Bio and former president Ernest are continuously being abused, disrespected and dehumanized on different social media platforms. Yet he went on and pushed the blame on one political party and its loyalist quoting untrustworthy historical evidence.

    What are you trying to preach Dr? If you cannot tell two brothers to be peaceful to one another, why not keep quiet instead. I am waiting for your comments on the $7 million military hardware to Sierra Leone while the people are crying for a deplorable economy.

  2. Countrymen and ladies, it is high time we all start questioning the type of politics and leadership we have had in Sierra Leone. For a country that was once championed as the Athens of West Africa, it is without any element of doubt that we have failed woefully, by today’s standards, in many aspects of development. We could easily be crowned ‘the dungeon’ of West Africa. The two political parties that have ruled us since independence have failed to liberate us from the political quagmire of indirect rule. Instead, we are persistently finding ourselves in a ‘pseudo-direct rule’, which has both impoverished us, as well as destroyed the foundation of our unity as a country.

    To date, there is no landmark developmental legacy to show for the exploration exportation of our vast mineral resources. In recent times, we have used political platforms to create millionaires, to bastardise our constitution, to enslave our people and to even destroy our legacy of ‘the fountain of knowledge’. Our politicians, over the years, have been playing musical chairs within their political parties, as if leadership of a country was a childsplay. We have not achieved anything in the 58 years of our independence. In fact, if the country was in a class with other Afrcan countries, our current ranking is akin to have been demoted more than 5 times; to the extent that God Himself may have given us up, given the privileged position we were in just after independence.

    We are plagued with poorly constructed roads, poor government services, very poor healthcare delivery system, substandard educational institutions, and widespread poverty and ignorance. With all these political failures, our politicians are still callously parading as political giants. They have no shame whatsoever. One will even think that they have lost their minds over the years. Their supporters may have also followed the same trend of ‘lapus mentis’.

    Finally, when majority of us are beginning to see some semblance of a responsible leadership unfolding, the same irresponsible politicians and their followers want to plunge the country into another senseless civil war, while their ill-acquired wealth and families are all abroad. The poor Sierra Leoneans who have borne the brunt of the hardship through political marginalisation are now expected to fight among themselves to help these thieves resume leadership.

    Do you really think that Sierra Leoneans have not learned from the past and present? Majority of our people have come to realise the massive thieving orchestrated by the past APC government. Many thanks to the ACC and the current government. We are all waiting patiently for the eventual outcome of this monumental public theft enquiry.
    Long live Sierra Leone, and may God open our eyes again and forever.

  3. Yei, Manga
    “ So Dr. Banya has every right to call the journalist to order and in the process keeping historical records in case the threats (which you are confusing for vulgar language) become a reality.”

    With all due respect, your condescending comments towards my personality there left me scratching my head, asking, could it be that you sometimes need eye glasses to aid in your reading; or is it an issue of taking your time to read and comprehend? I mean, how can anyone after reading my earlier comments, turn around, made up wild claims accusing me of confusing vulgar adjectives being used on social media against our leaders and the purported threat of war on the opposition Newspaper?

    Goodness gracious!! I can see why the popular phrase “reading is fundamental” makes a lot of sense. In the spirit of fair debate, I have copied one of the paragraphs from my earlier comment. Please do me a favor, this time around, take your time, do a thorough reading and comprehension. To assist you, please look for keywords, ‘THREAT and INSTABILITY’, in my comments below. I hope this will help clarify things for you. My advice for you in the future is to read and comprehend before commenting.

    “In most media houses in the west, its usually the norm not to publicize or propagate events that are deem too graphic or might stoke public outcry or instability. In light of this, I was not expecting an elderly statesman like Dr. Banya to give audience or in this case even adding value to such reckless threats of instability in our nation.”

  4. Someone here,without using his reading glasses,has concluded that the untrustworthy, disingenuous,Political Pirate,Dr Banya is a wise,and diligent man.(lmao) Amigo,you are dead wrong!(lol) Time for some quick lessons. Wisdom is Cosmic intelligence,that thrives on solving challenges,without inciting hatred,and violence. It is productive,creative,kind.It is not mischievous,but gentle – empathetic, thoughtful, and considerate. Harmless as a dove,meek as a lamb – doesn’t stoke,and promote the fires of anarchy, hatred, and tribalism.

    It has been said,by the ancient ones, that Wisdom,was Almighty God’s Master crafts man,that created,our magical,breathtaking universe comprising of worlds seen,and unseen.Now I ask you please point out to us,just a single incident where the Political Bandit has displayed any of these enviable virtues listed above,for the People of Sierra Leone to see.Take your time – I’ll wait! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  5. Sama would never stop to amaze me and the many here in this forum,with his sycophant,biased and unpatriotic articles. And yet you have people like sah maturi revered him as a prophet! Just after the declaration of president Bio’s victory in 2018,many of our citizens in the district especially in the south were subjected to intimidation,and even have their houses burnt for exercising their electoral franchise…people in the Lumley city of the west of Freetown came across one of the violence perpetrated on them by some SLPP thugs..yet you did not nip it in the bud with an article. And here uou are blowing vuvuzela over mere words in an article..

    Nonsensically misinterpreted piece of this type should not have even been published on this forum….Shame on you Banya!..Be rest assured that,Sierra Leone will never ever revert to war…never! I am not saying the publishers of that “we yone” newspaper should not be called out but let that call be done by someone who is more credible. Not a hypocrite like Dr Sama Banya…who can only see bad stuff that are happening from the left and not from the right….

  6. I don’t think S. S. Banya should be a moral guarantor with respect to conflict in Sierra Leone when one trace back his political history as far back to the days of Pa Siaka Steven. Dr. Banya single-handled terrorized his people when he was a member of APC with impunity and to a very large extent, those diabolical acts of victimization culminated into the eleven years of the senseless rebel war. Dr. Banya with all due respect owes his people and Sierra Leoneans apology for the atonement of his sins.

  7. SLPP denied Dr Kerefa Smart the Prime ministership, SLPP instituted tribalism, thievery and war in Sierra Leone. With all these where were you? Let me remind you also during the elections, SLPP manufactured thousands of cutlasses for what? Maybe Dr Banya will tell us.

  8. once again, an elderly statesman who should be serving as a peace emissary between our 2 political parties trumpeting the flames of disunity instead of bridging the gap. For christ sake, with your own admission in the article, you noted how both sides use derogatory nomenclature to disrespect both the former and sitting president, so what exactly is your motive in a picking out one utterance coming out from the opposition and trumpeting it?

    In most media houses in the west, its usually the norm not to publicize or propagate events that are deem too graphic or might stoke public outcry or instability. In light of this, I was not expecting an elderly statesman like Dr. Banya to give audience or in this case even adding value to such reckless threats of instability in our nation.

    During the heights of the election campaign in 2018, there were many threats of war coming from the then opposition SLPP if the election was not going to go in their favor, the then candidate Maada Bio was even on national TV declaring that he was not going to accept any election results that were not favorable to him. So where was your outcry then Dr. Banya??

    • Young4na insulting president is not unique to Sierra Leone. However, even in the greatest democracy, for a registered newspaper clamouring for war in it editorial would raise eyebrows and condemnations. So Dr. Banya has every right to call the journalist to order and in the process keeping historical records in case the threats (which you are confusing for vulgar language) become a reality.

      Nahima et Al were convicted for Genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda because prior to the Genocide proper, they spent considerable of thier air time trumpeting the war sound on the RTLM radio. These records are in open source and perhaps it is necessary that Editors and Journalist of established news outlets to read once in a while so that they know when in international you contribute to the Joint Criminal Enterprise.

  9. OH wise Dr. Banya. What should we do? Just to follow your wise advice and narratives. To be honest, when Dr. Banya speaks, people must listen. Thank you Dr. Banya for giving us you wise thoughts and exchanging your experiences with not only Sierra Leoneans but with the entire world as a whole.

    One thing I always regret is why you never decided to run for PRESIDENT. I hope you would explain it in a book or script somewhere before GOD calls you. Sorry, if I hurt you with what I have just said. I don’t mean in anyway for the ALMIGHTY GOD to call you soon since we need you more than ever on PLANET EARTH for your ADVICE and EXPERIENCE.
    GOD BLESS YOU Dr. Banya.

    • Sahr Matturi, Dr. Banya ran for the SLPP flag bearership in 1995. He lost to Tejan Kabba. He has also recently published a book which can be found on Amazon.

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