Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 March 2020:
Mr Solomon Berewa – the former Vice President and Attorney General of Sierra Leone, serving the SLPP Tejan Kabbah government after the 2002 elections, passed away today at the Choithram Hospital in the country’s capital Freetown, aged 81.
Solomon Berewa contested presidential election in 2007, but lost to the younger Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC party.
As messages of condolence and tribute pour in tonight, a statement published by the SLPP party reads:
“A giant of peace and stability has fallen. An oasis of democracy has breathed his last. A doyen of justice and rule of law has forever gone. It is with heavy hearts and streaming tears, that we, the Sierra Leone People’s Party announce the passing away of the former Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Mr. Solomon Ekuma Dominic Berewa.
“The former Vice President passed away peacefully this evening at the Choithram Memorial Hospital after being moved there for medical attention.
“Mr. Solomon Berewa served the country diligently and etched his name in its annals, as one of the best legal luminaries ever in the history of this country.
“His public life gained prominence when he was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Justice in 1996, by the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. He executed his duties as AGMOJ with aplomb and was later catapulted to the Vice Presidency of the country.
“Mr. Solomon Berewa contested for the presidency of the country under the SLPP umbrella in 2007, and lost in controversial circumstances but accepted the outcome of the elections and appealed for calm amongst his supporters, stressing that Sierra Leone was bigger than any individual’s ambitions.
“He would be remembered for his role in brokering the peace which the country now enjoys, during the Lome Peace Talks of 1999. As a mark of respect for this elderly statesman, we are calling on our members to wear black for the next one week, whilst the party engages the family and government on his funeral. Rest in peace Mr. Solomon Ekuma Dominic Berewa!
“Signed: Umaru Napoleon Koroma, Secretary General.” (END)
A tribute by Ibrahim Kallon reads: “The end of an era. We have had disciplined politicians, those whose respect for the rule of law cannot be tampered with, but Solo B has distinguished himself as a legal and political figure.
“His respect for the rule of law, maintaining of peace and the love for his country, supersede his political ambitions even when rogues try to take up the mantle of leadership in the highest office of the land.
“In the sands of time, we cannot forget his role in maintaining the country’s democratic dispensation. History will place Berewa in the corners of fame, honour and respect for generations yet unborn – to learn about his years of distinguished service to the nation, that which will remain an enduring legacy for all.
“Indeed, a hero has fallen, but we pray he’s well received, for he’s a true son of the soil. And may he and all other faithfully departed souls rest in peace.”
Watch Berewa here talking about what true patriotism means:
Below is an interview with Mr. Solomon Berewa conducted by journalist Alhaji Jalloh, at Berewa’s Goderich residence about thirteen years ago, shortly after he lost the Presidential race in 2007:
Alhaji Jalloh (AJ) : How did you feel when the results were announced on that Monday morning?
Solomon Berewa (Solo B): Naturally, I was extremely disappointed. I did not expect it to happen that way (ehmm) but of course I had no control over the matter. We tried to pursue legal matters but it did not go through, and the results were announced prematurely I would say, earlier than we expected.
(AJ) Mr. Berewa many people in this country and the Diaspora believe that your quick action to concede defeat on 17th September, 2007 to the APC was the right step in the right direction, do you subscribe to that?
(Solo B) Well I think it was necessary to do that because Sierra Leone is just coming out of war and the tendency for violence to prevail was very great. So, because I did not want violence to come on as a result of the election that will result to violence, and I didn’t want people to die and people to spill their blood, I was quick to concede defeat as soon as the results were announced by the Electoral Commission.
A.J – What do you think militated against SLPP’s chances of winning the elections?
Solo B – Well, a number of factors – you know, I mean, we did our work, we campaigned extensively, we spoke about the issues but there were quite lots of threats and violence in some areas. More so, the way the Electoral Commission nullified some votes, 477 polling stations, the votes in those stations were all cancelled, they were not counted and of course those cancellations were in SLPP strongholds. If those votes were taken on board (ehmm), victory should have been on our side. But they were just cancelled without good reason being given to us, at least proven to us the reason which the Electoral Commission proffered was not good enough.
A.J – How popular were you and your running mate, Mr. Momodu Koroma?
Solo B – Well, I mean I leave this to you to find out from the people, but on all accounts I know I was very popular. I mean if you look it from the rallies we had, the people we met, the extensive campaigning we put onboard, and of course, I have been in this country for some time and I think from my track record, I would say, I was popular with the people.
A.J – Don’t you think that the formation of the PMDC by Mr. Charles Margai is another factor that divided the SLPP votes in the Southern and Eastern Regions?
Solo B – Well obviously they might have affected the votes in the Southern Region particularly (Ehmm) the formation of the PMDC; I mean if he gets votes at all as he did in the Southern Region, those were votes which naturally would have gone to the SLPP. So that affected the SLPP’s performance in the Southern Region particularly in Bo District.
A.J – Were you also disappointed that the SLPP never clinched a single seat in the Western Area?
Solo B – (Ehmm) I was disappointed, amazed and astonished (uhmm). It was unthinkable that the SLPP could not secure a single seat in the Western Area, and the reasons for that we still don’t know (uhmm).
A.J – Mr. Berewa, what have you been doing since you left office?
Solo B – Well, you came and met me writing (uhmm). This is what I’ve been on (writing). I have been out of the country for some time. I went to Britain and I’m trying to put my thoughts together, put my experience together, and put together an account of the performance of the SLPP government since 1996, and if possible compare it to other governments before our time going back to as far as 1991. If I can recollect what I know happened, what I have participated in, I believe this is the best time for me to put them down, so I am engaged in that, and of course, trying to settle myself.
A.J – There was local newspaper report that you were to take over as Attorney General in the ECOWAS Court. Can you confirm or deny that?
Solo B – I don’t know about that. I mean nobody consulted me on that publication and I had no idea of the position of Attorney General
in the ECOWAS Court. So really it was just one of those things you see in our papers which are tall stories you can just dismiss.
A.J – It was also rumoured that you were invited to lecture in the University of Bradford in the UK. Is that true?
Solo B – Well, I went to Bradford. I was invited by the University of Bradford. They gave me a (pause)……. for 3 months. I did some work there. And I had come back. I can go back anytime I want to, but 3 months at the time was enough for me. I have not made up my mind whether and when I may go back again. That was in the University of Bradford.
A.J – Sierra Leoneans here and in the Diaspora may want to know whether you intend going back into politics.
Solo B – Well once you have been in politics as I said in other occasions, you are always in politics. You can’t really wash your hands off clean of it. The only thing I said I can’t do again is to go for an elective office. But I will remain a member of my party, the SLPP and then stay with them and do what I do to encourage them and then I know the party is strong. I know it is a very powerful party and I will continue to encourage other members to continue doing the same.
A.J – What do you make of President Koroma’s reconciliatory moves by including some SLPP members in some of his overseas trips?
Solo B – I won’t comment on that. I wish you ask them. I can’t make an opinion that you have to ask those ones who went with him and what were the results and how reconciliatory that was? (uhmm) It is not for me to comment on that.
A.J – Have you ever faced any kind of embarrassment since you left office? I’m compelled to ask this question because there are allegations that some former government officials sometimes do face embarrassment when traveling out of the country.
Solo B – No! I have not (ehmm) faced any embarrassment what so ever. I travelled out, I let the I.G. know, I let the Vice President know, and I traveled out freely. I was not molested or embarrassed. I came back. I’ve gone out again; there has been no embarrassment what so ever.
A.J – It is rumoured within the corridors of power that the Ernest Koroma led- government wants to offer you a job. If so, will you accept it?
Solo B – These are rumours. I mean, I wouldn’t comment on these things. These types of things I’m not commenting on them. I mean the President and I are in very good terms, we talk freely (ehmm), but obviously I am in semi-retirement. I really don’t think (ehhh) I will be fit for a job now. I want to go back into my private life. I was a private practitioner and on the process I was doing my farming. I’m going back to farming and doing other private things. I think I will also like to contribute to the nation by doing that (uhmm).
A.J – Before I ask you my final question, people may be happy to hear that you are in good relations with President Ernest Koroma; people may like to know whether you are also in good terms with former President Kabbah.
Solo B – Well, I mean I have no quarrel with him. If we have any issue at all, is a party issue which we might take to the party, but I have no reason to quarrel with him. He is a man that I served for eleven years. We had no quarrel what so ever.
If at the end of the day there are some certain things which we need to clear between ourselves, I wouldn’t call that being in bad situation. There are party matters which the party can take care of which might be very well be solved in the party. It is not a matter for the nation.
A.J – Since results were announced, do you sometimes call him or does he call you?
Solo B – Let’s leave that. Those are personal matters; let’s don’t go into that. He calling me or me calling him is not a matter of public interest which we can talk about.
A.J – Its ok, sir. Do you have anything to say to the people of Sierra Leone that I’ve not asked you in this interview?
Solo B – Well, there are so many things I would love to say to the people of Sierra Leone. Whatever we do, we should maintain the peace, and we should not do anything which would disturb the peace. In my own little way, I laboured lot for us to have peace. We should avoid measures that will disturb the peace either because of our relationship with one another or because of our conduct.
We should do things which will always enhance the stability of the peace in this country, which is very crucial. If there is no peace, of course, we may not have development. Development of the country is not a political issue, it is something that will benefit us now and our generations yet unborn. And, of course, there are certain things which have no political banners, so we should go for those things – the things that unite us, our friends that we’ve had, we maintain them. Whatever we disagree in politics; they can’t discourage us to move on. So that is the type of life I want us to live as Sierra Leoneans.
AJ- Thank you very much indeed for talking to me, Mr. Berewa.
Solo B – It’s a pleasure, Mr. Jalloh.
This interview has been published courtesy of Alhaji MB Jalloh.