Wednesday  September 7, 2005

Even in the agony of defeat, one of Sierra Leone’s most eloquent and  outspoken  men, former Amnassador John Ernest Leigh, made a stirring and powerful statement that resonated beyond the borders of everything Sierra Leonean on Monday. It was one of the most powerful messages ever relayed–And yet Mr.Leigh did not utter a word.

The front page picture of the former Ambassador agonizing his stunning “defeat” at the SLPP Delegates Convention in Makeni last Sunday told a message that not even a million words would have accomplished. The picture did not only portray a man in agony.It also  colorfullydemonstrated  the agony of a nation. The picture depicted in brilliant colors the distress and anguish of a nation. The picture showed how much the socio-political system in Sierra Leone was frustrating its own blood citizens. And this was exactly what somebody I told I wanted to remove the picture advised me : “Rev, leave it there.Let the world see how much the system in Sierra Leone is frustrating its citizens “

That picture depicted John Ernest Leigh , but the emotions in that picture did not depict just  the passions  of the former Ambassador. Rather, they represented every Sierra Leonean ‘s agony and disenchantment with the  morally dirty and deceitful  way of  life back home.  And I want to call on all men and women of conscience to investigate what happened to former Ambassador Leigh at the Makeni Teachers College Hall last Sunday.

According to reports even before the Ambassador himself revealed them, what happened to him on Sunday was a stark demonstration of everything that is deceptive and deceitful about life and politics  in Sierra Leone. Please do not get me wrong. I am not holding brief for the former Ambassador but no man with a conscience will be quiet in the face of what happened to Leigh last Sunday. What we have learnt, if true, does not augur well for democracy in our country.

Defeats are part of life , like vctories. You cannot win it all.Even at the best of our fettle, we do lose.Infact, there must be rain in our lives often so that when the sunshine comes, we shall appreciate it. Therefore the question is not whether Leigh could have won or lost last Sunday. Given the forces he was arrayed against, the first thought in our minds would be that if he had won, it could have been a miracle. After all, there is no President in Africa who would love to leave the stage without ensuring that what he considered his legacy remained. Only the most idealistic man would have expected President Kabbah and V-P Berewa to have let victory slip out of their hands easily in Makeni last Sunday. Kabbah has everything to gain having Berewa succeed him. Similarly, he has everything to lose if somebody he feels is  antagonistic to him succeeds him.Many people knew ahead of time that the other contestants would face an uphill task to beat Berewa.

However, whether any candidate would have won or not , one thing that was needful was that everybody should have been given a fair chance to compete. As  a black student who was victimized by a racist school in America once said : “You should have given me the chance to fail. “. Thus, if people thought that the likes of Leigh would have still failed, they should have been given the chance to fail.

From all indications, we learnt that Leigh had people who could have nominated him and those who could have been seconders. We learnt that these individuals faithfully promised the former Ambassador that they would do their job. Ambassador Leigh is a very frank man and I am sure he is frank with himself. If he did not have the assurance of being nominated and the presence of seconders, he would not have jumped into a plane and gone to Sierra Leone to take part in the exercise. We learnt that the former Ambassador was not only confident of being nominated; he was confident of victory. How such a man would end up not being nominated at all is a mystery that should interest men and women of reason and conscience.

If at all what the Ex-Ambassador said was true that the men who had faithfully promised to nominate and second his nomination deserted him at the last moment,  men of reason and conscience should try to investigate and find out why they acted so shamefully. It was criminal deceit, especially if they received something  from Leigh  and in some countries where the Rule of Law operates the Police investigates such criminal conduct. And that such men were delegates of Sierra Leone’s oldest and ruling party should worry any conscientious Sierra Leonean who is interested in seeing fair politics prevail in his country.

Yes indeed, this is not so much about victory. It is about principles and morality, fairness and conscience. Whatever happened to Leigh’s nominators and seconders should be investigated and if there is any foul play, some action must be taken against the deceitful delegates. Politics need not be so dirty, foul and deceitful. After all, this is an era of democracy. If I have to lose, give me the chance to lose. It is Leigh today. Tomorrow, it could be you or me.

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