‘The Vicar of Bray – the Imam of Baghdad’

Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 April 2014

choirI made several gallant efforts in my school days to join the Bo School choir.

There were three remarkable choirmasters during my time, who were remarkable music tutors, because they all had a common handicap. And that was, that the school did not have a piano.

And all that those teachers had in their possession, from L.J. Pratt to D.L. Sumner, and finally teacher Kuti-George, was a dinning fork.

And yet they produced remarkable choirs. The first time that the choir rehearsed with the aid of a piano, was in the time of teacher Sam Forster.

I was then a member of staff, and it was during Sam Forster’s time that the school participated in the Secondary Schools’ Singing Competition.

It was remarkable also that the choir, which included boys like Sheku Kutubu – later Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, took first position in that first attempt of the school’s participation.

I tried to impress Teacher Kuti as we addressed him of the beauty of my voice, but it cut no ice.

“Banya,” he would respond; “I do not doubt your singing ability, but for now, we have enough sopranos; who knows, may be in a few years, your voice will break and we shall have a place for you in tenor.”

I was not put out at all, because I would hum tunes under the school’s showers.

During my student days in the United Kingdom, I was humming a familiar tune under the showers one Sunday morning, when my late wife Juliette – knocked at the bathroom door to find out whether I was all right.

When I asked why – and you have to believe this, she said she thought someone was strangling me. So much for appreciating a fine voice!

One of the songs I liked in those days was “THE Vicar of Bray.” It was a satirical
Song, recounting the career of the Vicar of Bray and his contentious principle, in order to retain his ecclesiastic office in the established Church, throughout the course of several English monarchs.

The first two verses are reproduced here with the chorus between them:

“In good King Charles’s golden days when loyalty no harm meant
“A zealous high churchman was I and so I got preferment

“And to my flock I daily preached kings were by God appointed
“And lost were they that dared resist or touch the Lord’s anointed


“And this is law I would maintain until my dying day Sir,

“That whatsoever King may reign; Still I’ll be the Vicar of Bray Sir

“When Royal James Possessed the Crown and papery grew in fashion
“The penal Laws I shouted down and read the declaration

“The Church of Rome I found would fit full well my constitution
“And had I been a Jesuit but for the revolution”

In Sierra Leone today, we do not have to look far back or search everywhere, to find our own Vicars of Bray, and perhaps equivalents of the Imams of Baghdad.

Yesterday, they worshiped the late former President Tejan-Kabbah, and would endeavour to catch the eyes of some of us who were close to the corridors of power, in order to receive a nod from us.

Today, some of those same people would not like the public to recognize that we and they, were once chummy.

christiana thorpe - nail biting decisionA group of God’s people were all over Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio in 2012, in order to persuade him to accept the results of Christiana Thorpe’s (Photo) botched up compilation of the elections results, and recognize the incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma as the winner.

Oh I am aware that the Master says in Mathews Gospel that: “Blessed are the Peace makers for they shall be……..”

But where are those “noble men of God” today, with all the injustice and other ills of society staring them in the face?

May be, they have received their reward like the bought-over-journalists, boot lickers and DJs, and are now saying to themselves as they mock the poor and wretched of society: “I’m all right Jack.”

red ratYes, the DJs who were only too anxious to play Emerson’s “Bobor Belleh” and “Two-foot arata” in 2007, are now sitting tight on his “Yesterday betteh pass tiday.”

As long as they have received their fat brown envelopes, what do they care?

All of these people have one thing in common. And that is, that come tomorrow, they would be hovering around Maada Bio or whoever, just like butterflies and other insects are attracted to nectar.

In 2005, some women of my own Methodist Church, planned to march on State House because palm oil was selling at EIGHT HUNDRED LEONES per pint, and rice was being sold at Le70,000 per 50 kg bag.

During the last four or five years, palm oil has remained at TWO THOUSAND Leones per pint.

Cassava bread is now so thin, that one could substitute it for sunshades. And selling at six times what it used to be, there has not been as much as a whimper.

It is all attributed to increased price of world commodities – they tell us.

political chameleonThe “cross carpeters” of today are fortunate. Their fiercest critics of the past – those who pointed fingers at them yesterday and labelled them as “Jankoliko” and political chameleons, are today referring to the same people as statesmen.

They forget that by today’s advanced storage system, those printed adjectives would be produced and come face to face with them.

Tomorrow “You can bury truth, but you can never keep it in the grave.”

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