By KABS KANU:
Culled from the Cocorioko Facebook Forum :
The feverish climax to America’s elections approach and since I cannot participate, why not reminiscence the most dramatic elections we have had in our country , seconded only by the 2007 elections .
This was one of the records being played then by the SLBS, which had suspended all its regular programs and was “playing continuous music on gramaphone records ” , while the whole nation waited in spellbinding suspense for the results. Life had come to a standstill and whole day and night people were flocked around transistor radios.
At school, when the teachers came to class, they talked about the elections before going to the lessons. Some of the teachers like Mr. H..M. Sheku, J.M. Gaima and Lumumba Rogers were excellent, unbiased commentators and analysts . They were the first to give us the suspicion that the SLPP was not doing well and the APC had come from behind to snatch the lead—No doubt the SLBS had slowed down the announcements of the results.
SLPP started the elections with 9 unopposed candidates who included the Prime Minister, Sir Albert Margai and his brother Sam Margai, in the first-pass -the -bar elections for about 64 parliamentary seats, not like today’s brand of elections. The winner was the party that got the highest number of parliamentary seats . The whole nation had been thrown in its most dramatic suspense in history. On the first night, the SLPP was winning.
By late evening the second day, the APC had started clawing back as the SLBS, then one of the best radio stations in West Africa, announced the results, first in rapid succession. When it seemed the APC had taken the lead, the announcements of results slowed down while tension escalated. We had no internet or social media in those days and TV was only found in the homes of the Lebanese , ministers of government and few rich citizens , so the SLBS was our only source of getting the results and people took their radios with them even when they went to the toilet. That was how anxious everybody was in the nation. You could see somebody walking on the street with his radio in hand, just playing music. The results were not forthcoming. At street corners, people could be seen around radio sets blowing their tops. When you passed through yards, it was the same. The elections had taken over the country. A whole week had passed after the elections and nobody was hearing anything definite from the government or the radio. Just continuous music on the radio.
By the third and fourth days, announcements were very, very scanty and the SLBS just played music whole day and night while everybody was in suspense and the tension kept rising. We, the kids loved it, because our parents had become distracted and were not “Sending us ” ( In those days, parents dem bin lek “send-send ” . May God bless them where they are and give them eternal bliss and may God bless us for serving them well ). By the way, I was in Form 1 at CKC and published the handwritten with colorful graphics FREEDOM NATIONAL and fellow students and teachers scramble to borrow it to read it. No to tiday, we begin journalism. I had become a journalist at the age of 9 at SLC School in Bo when I would report on the game played during lunch and hang it up on the school noticeboard for students to read before going home. When I entered high school , I started publishing FREEDOM NATIONAL and later changed it to THE RESERVATION STAR by the time I graduated . During the 1967 elections, I contributed articles to the THINK Newspaper , edited by Ibrahim Taqi, under the name, Sam Blunt. PIUS FORAY, my classmate, hand-produced the HERALD, while the late Sigismond Massaquoi produced something he called ——-( I cannot remember ).
There was a sensational standoff in the country. Mendes supported the SLPP and Temnes, Limbas and the Konos supported the APC. There were bitter arguments everywhere. We, kids, were surprised to see previously peaceful neighbors arguing bitterly for the first time. Politics had suddenly started changing our country. There were reports of riots in Kono, Kambia, Port Loko and Krootown Road in Freetown. For the first time, words like “Thuggery” , “Unopposed ” , “Clean sweep ” etc entered the vocabulary of Sierra Leoneans. Rumours were that it was 32-32 , while rabid party supporters disputed them and the SLPP and APC had their own results. The radio was no longer announcing anything. All they played was music, especially Congolese records by Rosherou , Lipua-Lipua and Franco of the OK Jazz , who were the men in those days.
The standoff in the nation , CAUSED BY THE UNWILLINGNESS OF THE SLPP TO ACCEPT THE RESULTS AND THEIR DESIRES TO STEAL THE ELECTIONS , moved the Army Chief , Brig. David Lansana , the Premier’s brother-in-law , to intervene and declare Martial Law and a dusk-to-dawn curfew , more new words that entered our vocabulary. Sir Albert was accused of giving him the nod to seize power rather than allow the APC to come to power.
The Army warned everybody to get off the streets and go home or there will be consequences. Sir Albert and Pa Shaki were arrested and taken to Pademba Road. Shaki had earlier been arrested the previous day at State House where he had gone to be sworn in as Prime Minister after the Governor General received letters from SLPP rebels and Independent candidates Frank Anthony, Kutubu Kai-Samba and Prince Williams that they had not declared for the SLPP as the party was claiming and were remaining independent , thus giving the APC a 32- 29 victory .
But Man pass Man. Brig. David Lansana ruled for only two days and was himself arrested by Majors Charles Blake, Bockarie Jumu and B.S. Kai-Samba and taken to Pademba Road. Col. Genda was first called to come and head the National Reformation Council ( NRC ), but the soldiers changed their minds and called Col. A.T. Juxon-Smith , who was at Sandhurst receiving training.
The rest is history.
I cannot take part in the U.S. elections because me nar diplomat, bra, so why not reminiscence one of the most famous elections ever in Africa.
ENJOY THE MUSIC.