By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
The Nigerian celebrated actor, Pete Edochie, might be wrong when he notes in one of his million-and-one films that, “Whoever presents his own head to break coconut would not be able to partake in the eating of it”. I believe he might be wrong because the Sierra Leonean musician Emmerson Amidu Bockarie has been allowing coconuts to be cracked on his head and yet partaking in the eating of them.
And Emmerson’s recent collaborative elections sensitization song, “Mi Vote Nar Mi Life”, and the knee-jerk hysterical reactions from some government’s officials, with the musician’s head still uninjured above the parapet while arrows are flying, could be compared to the situation in which coconuts are cracked on Emmerson’s head and he partakes in their eating.
As I see it, if anything, that musician has helped supporters and stalwarts of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) to stick to their conviction that if they do not go out in large numbers and re-vote their APC, in next year’s polls, to continue with its pro-Sierra Leonean agenda; Sierra Leone might be cornered into a situation in which a current unemployed former human rights abuser and certified looter of the national treasury might be Head of State! So, in essence, Emmerson Bockarie is using a coded message to APCers that the survival of Sierra Leone hinges on the re-election of the APC because if the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) cannot organise themselves in opposition it means they are not fit to steer the rudder of state after March 2018.
Indeed, my vote would be my life because I need to vote for the APC so that there would be a continuation of President Koroma’s agenda. Every APCer should regard his/her vote, in next year’s polls, as a life and death issue. You vote the APC again to power; President Koroma’s dream lives on in the “Action Pass Intension” genre. If the APC is out-voted; the Koromaian dream dies. And that if you vote in a recycled ‘BornAgainish’ democrat who has re-baptised himself as a Progressive, Sierra Leone as a nation will stagnate. And why should any sane Sierra Leonean vote for a no do-gooder simply because he hails from the southern or eastern part of the country? Or vote for a man whose mouth runs faster than his brain simply because he once worked for the United Nations?
That’s what should be deduced from Emmerson’s song, “Mi Vote Nar Mi Life”. But the inability of some government officials to grasp and interpret simple texts and imageries is one of the reasons why the current APC government sometimes finds itself in unnecessary tight spots. If not, why should any government Minister, for that matter, regard such a song as anti-establishment when it makes a sweeping generalization of “Ranka Politicians” in Sierra Leone?
Or is the word “Ranka” touching some raw nerves? For me, the Temne language is double Dutch. When I learnt that “Ranka” is a Temne word infrequently used in a colloquial sense; I asked one of my Temne friends to give me a loose interpretation of it. And when he did, I realised why such a metaphor could have jabbed some sores. But put in a more generalized form, a “Ranka” politician is one who goes into a boxing arena in baseball gears.
And if I should use the above metaphor, in its simplest term, a “Ranka” politician is someone who once upon-a-time engaged in blatant human rights abuses, stole from state coffers and transferred such loots to overseas accounts, invested his loot overseas, and came back home and showed his desire to start his looting game again. A “Ranka” politician is someone whose father planted seeds of tribalism and corruption in Sierra Leone, whose father used his loot to educate him in Britain, and who now wrongly believes he can put together a coalition to defeat the APC.
A “Ranka” politician is someone who falsified his membership in the SLPP, backed out from his father’s party after he was seen as the charlatan he was and still is, and is now a political driftwood. A “Ranka” politician is someone who came from the United States of America with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Patriotic Sierra Leoneans, refused membership by the APC, formed his own party and now calls himself “Salone Mandela” (Why not start with the 27 years imprisonment, to borrow the phrase of the youthful South African politician Julius Malema). And a “Ranka” politician is someone who was embroiled in “Cocainegate”, “Timbergate” and “Aljazeeragate”; kicked out from the APC, and now believes he is a game changer.
Though Emmerson is circumspect about naming names Karim Bah, the interim Secretary General of the Movement for Social Progress, is not so euphemistic. In a 14 July 2017 Facebook post, he noted that, “the political term Progressive is so bastardised and debased these days in Sierra Leone, making it an uncomfortable word to use. Everybody is talking about coalition or an alliance… If you have been rejected for leadership position in one or two of the corrupt and ethnocentric parties…are you a progressive?” And before one could answer that question, he reloaded his Kalashnikov again: “Can we go into a grand coalition of progressives as proclaimed by KKY with corrupt people…”?
So you now see why I said Emmerson had already given the APC a would-be campaign theme? Why shouldn’t I be happy about a song which has already made mincemeat of the pipe-dream would-be coalition, aimed at marshalling “ranka politicians” who are now calling themselves “progressives”? Why shouldn’t I be happy for a song which is telling APCers that their votes border on an issue of life and death? And just like “Borbor Belle”, Emmerson has once again allowed coconuts to be cracked on his head and he is, at present, partaking in their eating.