Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 March 2018:
Reports of a massive increase in tribalistic hate utterances and comments on social media, television and newspaper, by supporters of various political parties in Sierra Leone are growing. This has raised serious concerns not only in the country, but overseas.
If left unchecked, there are fears it might fuel tribal conflicts across the country, the likes of which Africa and the world has never seen.
In 2001, a ten-year civil war that took the lives of at least 200,000 people ended in Sierra Leone.
The country is still recovering, and millions of people are left traumatised by the atrocities they experienced and witnessed.
Today, the body regulating the media and press in the country has published this statement, condemning the spate of tribalism and hate speech ahead of the election run-off. This is what they said:
“The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is deeply concerned about the increase in hate speech and tribal slants creeping into the conversation on the elections ahead of the run-off slated for 27th March 2018.
“SLAJ views this trend of political discourse as ugly for our nascent democracy and its potential to undermine the peace and stability of Sierra Leone cannot be overemphasized.
“Sierra Leone is hugely admired across the world for its ethnic and religious tolerance which are deeply rooted in its culture.
“Any attempt to tamper with this enviable attribute will spell doom for our nation and generations yet unborn.
“We therefore condemn any politician (or political party) playing the tribal card and ethno-regional sentiment in their campaigns to secure votes in this run-off election.
“We also condemn and dissociate from any journalist who peddle hate speech and preach tribalism in their publications/commentaries/analyses on the elections.
“Furthermore, we call on all journalists and their media houses to resist any attempt by politicians to use them to promote divisions among our people.
“As evident in our National Dialogue Series in the run up to the elections, and the 2018 Presidential Debate Series, SLAJ continues to encourage politicians, political parties and their supporters to focus on issue-based discourse around the elections rather than personalities or tribal/regional sentiment.
“SLAJ President, Kelvin Lewis, says: “This country belongs to all of us, we should stop this nonsense about tribe or region and begin to show love for this land that we love, our Sierra Leone.”