Sia Nyama Koroma : Sierra Leone’s Special First Lady
Published on November 3, 2010 by Cocorioko News · No Comments
Written by Tatafway Tumoe :
In the history of First Ladies of Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Sia Nyama Koroma holds a special place which present writers and future scribes will acknowledge as the initiator of greatness for all such ladies holding such positions. First Ladies in Sierra Leone have been a silent lot, more seen as decorations to add to the pomp and pageantry of the presidency rather than initiators running their own offices. This has now stopped with Madam Sia Koroma breaking new ground and ensuring that the place of the First lady is not on the high table alone, but also in carrying out projects in favour of the country.
Our First First Lady The wife of Sir Milton Margai is shrouded in secrecy. No one really has a picture of how she looks or what she was engaged in. Some say the wife of Sir Milton Margai is a Scottish woman who was married to our premier while he was engaged in his medical studies in the UK.
There is nothing in history about what work our first First Lady did in bringing independence to Sierra Leone or what she did while prime minister of the new state of Sierra Leone. With such a scarcity of information, it is not hard to conclude that the first First Lady under the First Republic was a none person. In other words a none performer.
Elusive Mrs.Milton Margai
When Sir Milton died, Albert his half brother took over as premier and ruled for the remaining two and half years before he was defeated in the 1967 general elections.
When Albert assumed officer, he was the only actor on his political stage and even the issue of First lady was down played. There is no proper record of any First Lady in the period of Albert Margai, not to talk of an active one.
It was a period of macho politicking in which women were only seen clapping and singing welcome songs rather than as policy influencers or advocates. Thus the position of First lady has been a silent one.
Aunty Rebecca’s Days If you study a snap shop of Siaka Stevens, the first president of Sierra Leone while performing official public functions, you might see a lady lurking in the back dressed in a serene and quite attire. That is Madam Rebecca Steven, wife of Siaka Stevens and one time First Lady of Sierra Leone.
Aunty Rebecca, as she was known to those close to the First Family was known as a quiet woman who was always seen tailing her husband but never seen partaking in functions on her own.
One might tend to blame Mama Rebecca for being so quiet but the times seem to dictate the mood and those were not easy times for the right of the woman. Siaka Stevens did a lot of community works all over the country, and he was mostly accompanied by Madam Rebecca in all these endearvours.
Peaceful Hannah Momoh History will certainly be silent over Hannah Momoh’s activities as a First Lady. To may people, Hannah Momoh was a sad woman who found herself occupying a seat which she was not enjoying. The only memorable act which Hannah Momoh ever did was to vacate her State matrimonial home and stay in London where she remained till her death.
Joseph Saidu Momoh, a profligate womanizer was a man who seem to have no time for his First lady. The marriage was virtually on a stand still when Momoh was ‘given’ a young bribe by the Fullah community in Kono. The plan of the Fullah community was to make Momoh their In-law, but for the president, it was a young attractive girl whom he was unable to reject. The rest as they say is history.
Military Gloria Strasser
Lady Gloria Strasser, the nurse who overnight became First Lady of Sierra Leone in April of 1992 at a hastily arranged marriage when his soldier boy friend became head of state will only be remembered for her photo as a sucking mother promoting breast feeding.
Gloria Strasser in the giddy days of the ‘Revolution’ was more of a symbol to give legitimacy to a 27 year old head of state who was still doubtful of his power. Gloria Strasser was not a woman who was comfortable with her position and when her husband was toppled in a palace coup, little was heard of this lady anymore. The only stories left after Gloria Strasser exited the political scene was that she had taken all the money given to her by her husband and had fled.
IN the time of Gloria Starrer, First Ladies were not even seen let alone running an office. It was just a matter of engaging in shopping sprees in London New York and France with ill gotten money at the detriment of the nation’s development.
The NPRC Babies Was there ever a First Lady under Julius Maada Bio, the self styled general who promoted himself from Lieutenant even though he never attended any war college not to talk of an officer cadet school?
There was a woman who was said to be the First Lady, but in the times of horror, of killing and extrajudicial executions, not all women will be willing to be seen with these sort of guys though they are willing to share the loot.
Because of the nature of how power passed from Strasser to Maada Bio, there was a lot of suspicion on the minds of all. The fear was that there might be a counter coup from loyalists of Valentine Strasser and so Bio’s First Lady preferred to stay in the closet rather than be seen.
Lady Patricia Kabbah First Lady Patricia Kabbah will always be remembered as the woman who tried to set up an office to run her own affairs, but was hindered as a result of interference from SLPP party stalwarts who seem to have control over her husband.
As a lawyer, and a trained administrator Madam Patricia Kabbah tried to work side by side with her husband but in an era of power politics, everyone was trying to assert power.
Patricia Kabbah was ahead of her times, and the male dominated SLPP ruling party was not ready to give place to any woman, even the wife of the president.
Before her death, other women were more prominent in political affairs of the country and were actually carrying out the functions of the First Lady. Thus Patricia Kabbah became uncomfortable with the manner in which her office was being trampled upon by mistresses of the head of state and became disillusioned. It was just a matter of time before she died, and soon her place was taken over by one of her husbands mistresses. A sad end to a First Lady who wanted to make an impact but had obstacles strewn in her way.
As for Mrs. Johnny Paul Koroma of the ‘Junta’ fame, it is better left alone.
Our Special First Lady Her Excellency Madam Sia Nyama Koroma is a special woman for she has initiated an office which was never existing, and has started what other First Ladies will continue to maintain till eternity.
Madam Sia Nyama Koroma has made history as the lady who has established an Office for First Ladies. The Office of the First Lady under Madam Sia Koroma is a great initiative never seen in Sierra Leone. With a qualification in Bio-Chemistry, a post graduate degree in Synthetic Organic Chemistry
And an experience in Nursing, Madam Sia Nyama Koroma is well placed to help her husband in governance. And the First Lady is working assiduously, and like a mother, she has wisely chosen women and children as her focus. For the First Lady, the well being of women and children in Sierra Leone is the bottom line for any development to be possible in the country. She has therefore established the Women’s Initiative for Safer Health (WISH) project which works in improving women’s reproductive health outcome.
Women Empowerment The First Lady is working tirelessly for the betterment of women and children in Sierra Leone. I believe other nations will be envying us our First Lady as shown recently in the First Lady’s International Conference in Kuala Lumpur where H.E. Sia Nyama Koroma was the most eloquent and outstanding as she outlined her husband’s successes and strides in terms of challenging the problem of high maternal and child mortality in the country.
Having such a well educated First Lady is a huge reprieve for President Ernest Bai Koroma as she serves as a resource person in service delivery, and in initiating and explaining policies of government to the women of Sierra Leone, her main constituents.
Increasing reproductive health knowledge among pregnant women, awareness of the dangers of pregnancy in communities, empowering communities in sexual and reproductive issues are all part of her work.
The First lady is also engaged in training of community based health workers, creation and maintenance of pregnancy support groups and the construction and equipping of birth waiting rooms are all part of the work done by First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma. What else can one wish in asking for a special First Lady?
“I therefore want to implore the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, other development partners, friends of Sierra Leone including Sierra Leoneans living in the Diaspora to support this project to enable my office contribute to the intense work undertaken by the Government in bringing down maternal and child mortality rate by 30% from the level of 2005 by 2010.” This is a statement from the First Lady HE Sia Nyama Koroma, a woman working hard by the side of her husband to make her country a better place especially for the poor and underprivileged citizenry.