Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 August 2015
The advancement of a nation partly begins in the minds of its citizens, where conscious efforts can be made to abandon unpatriotic politics. A failed state, like a parolee, can either choose to reform and become successful, or embrace depravity and remain dysfunctional.
The indecency in Sierra Leonean politics came to the fore, yet again, when the country’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Frank Kargbo, recently displayed his capacity for uncouthness.
On August 7, 2015, Charles Margai, a citizen of the Republic of Sierra Leone and member of the opposition, wrote a letter to the Attorney-General, asking him to explain why government continues to wield the repressive provisions in last year’s state of emergency.
As many Sierra Leoneans know, the Ebola virus led to a declaration of a state of emergency, a presidential fiat which armed Ernest Koroma with more powers than democracy allows.
The Attorney-General was clearly willing to achieve infamy by acting like a bully, rather than a public figure with national responsibilities.
Public figures, especially those who willingly enlisted to protect and serve via politics, should have the disposition to be accountable and professional, all the time.
Rather than address Charles Margai’s concerns, the so-called Attorney-General turned his office into a thuggish stronghold, from where he wrote and dispatched vulgarly-worded letters.
How did such a crude man come to hold such an important and professionally demanding position, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice?
In a democracy – I mean a real democracy – an Attorney-General normally acts as official, legal advisor to government.
When national security is threatened, as we saw during the Ebola nightmare, it is the Attorney-General’s duty to face the nation and explain why government may, in some instances, act extra-judicially, rather than lawfully.
The position of “Attorney-General” requires a refined citizen, sufficiently schooled in law, some aspects of public relations and the aptitude to oversee law enforcement and recognize human rights, in one fell swoop.
In democratic political systems, the holder of such a position should have the acumen to be accountable and tolerant of his opponents’ criticisms, even when such opponents are wrong.
Clearly unrefined and lacking the intellect for democratic politics, Frank Kargbo should NOT be an Attorney-General, a position that requires him to be eternally professional.
Sierra Leonean politicians do not seem to know that national leaders are servants, adjured by their oaths of office to be professional, even when dealing with people they may not like. Like any other public figure in office, Frank Kargbo’s duty is to respect and serve the citizens of Sierra Leone.
It is easy to see why Frank Kargbo used his official chambers as an arena for ghetto warfare. Frank Kargbo is rude to the opposition, because he is part of a government that oversaw the preventable deaths of thousands of citizens, thanks to a strain of negligence that can only be possible in a country ruled by unpatriotic men.
As if the Ebola deaths visited upon Sierra Leone were not appalling enough, the foreign funds earmarked to fight the virus, were either misappropriated or stolen, by the government.
In a country where the oath of office is taken seriously, the people would be red-hot with anger, demanding the prosecution of those who failed to protect and serve the republic.
In the context of our lawless politics, Frank Kargbo was essentially doing “business as usual,” when he used his offices to disrespect Charles Margai, a citizen of Sierra Leone.
Whether Charles Margai commands respect in Sierra Leone or NOT, democratic etiquette requires the Minister of Justice to address the man’s concerns, without recourse to rudeness.
Frank Kargbo’s unprofessionalism is not an isolated incident. Contempt for the oath of office is, indeed, a deep-seated affliction in Sierra Leone.
Even after thousands of preventable deaths, Sierra Leoneans will neither demand fair play, nor will Ernest Koroma at least apologize, for being the elected president who sat in office while Ebola turned the country into a republic of misery.
Have you ever wondered why the exploitative foreigners in our midst in Sierra Leone – Indians and Lebanese, for example, disrespect and treat Sierra Leoneans like sub-humans?
As Frank Kargbo’s attitude shows, Sierra Leonean leaders are the first and foremost abusers of the citizens of Sierra Leone.
The openly racist Lebanese and Indians who mistreat Sierra Leoneans in Sierra Leone, usually act in collaboration with our national leaders.
The solution to this misery can be partly found in the need to scrutinize politicians, before voting for them.
When government betrays its people, as it did in Ebola-plagued Sierra Leone, the least citizens can do, is demand to be treated like human beings. Otherwise, Frank Kargbo may continue to abuse power by, among other things, using official computers to write indecently-worded letters to the citizens he is supposed to serve.
About the Author
Sankara Kamara is a Sierra Leonean academic and freelance writer, who temporarily lives in Sydney.