John Pa Baimba Sesay-China
As I am getting settled down in Beijing, after months in Sierra Leone, I am literally compelled to appreciate the good work of a colleague in the world of diplomacy, taking into critical account his outstanding contribution to taking Sierra Leone to her present status. His contribution is viewed from the perspective of media relations and publicity for Sierra Leone in the last five to six years of state governance by President Ernest Bai Koroma. I am also doing this in response to a seeming unfair take on his person by a given news outlet, which in my view should not have been the case, but rather for all and sundry to have come together and give our best to Sierra Leone’s development.
As a nation, it is a fact, that we did, in one way or the other give our little and patriotic contributions to the development of Sierra Leone. From the point of view of effectively rebranding Sierra Leone and telling development partners what is happening in Sierra Leone, after years of a terrible war, we saw how the media landscape in Sierra Leone did its best in not only projecting Sierra Leone’s investment potentials to the outside world, but also played another critical role of lifting Sierra Leone above the definition of a civil war driven nation, to one that keeps making progress in the area of socio-economic and political development. The media’s role in a nation’s development agenda cannot be overemphasized. It is as crucial and vital as the desire on the part of our leadership in Sierra Leone to develop the country. We have come a long way as a post war country, one that has made outstanding progress in the areas of decentralization, in infrastructural development as is in the promotion of agriculture for sustainable development. But in all of this, the media continued to perform its traditional role.
This is what we have seen a leading news outlet, Cocorioko online newspaper doing in the last couple of years. The exemplary performance by Rev. Kabbs-Kanu, the Publisher for Cocorioko is as commendable as the general efforts we have embarked upon as a country to reposition our country in terms of investment opportunities and in also telling the world about Sierra Leone’s new face. Cocorioko newspaper has, in my view been very instrumental in Sierra Leone’s public relations venture and this is one fact that would be difficult to dispute.
Kabbs-Kanu’s vitality and yearning to see the success of President Koroma is beyond imagination. He spends time, energy and resource to ensure the good works of this government are thoroughly propagated to the reading public without malice. And this is what has given some of us the energy to continue propagating those good works, with very little or no propaganda, but with pure and effective public relations. Jacob Conteh is the paper’s Editor-In-Chief .In a piece on the said paper, he wrote, thus “In my opinion, for the re-election of President Koroma and the APC, no person played a more vital role promoting the course of the party and the government in the media abroad than Rev. Wilfred Kabbs-Kanu , Minister Plenipotentiary and publisher of Cocorioko Newspaper. His laser-focus approach to promoting the cause of President Koroma, the party and his unflinching support of the government’s policies and programs pushed him to sacrifice his health and family over the years to write and publish articles that enlightened the public a and the international world about the achievement of the Koroma administration in Sierra Leone…” (http://www.cocorioko.net/?p=41559). I cannot agree more with the above statement of fact.
Kabbs-Kanu is not just a seasoned and professional media practitioner, but a smart diplomat that keeps excelling in his own way. In the midst of his journalistic profession and career, he continues to play another significant role in his diplomatic assignment as Minister Plenipotentiary in the Sierra Leone Mission in the USA. Giving the tremendous contribution that Cocorioko keeps making to the rebranding efforts undertaken bySierra Leone, the appointment of Rev. Kabs-Kanu by President Ernest Bai Koroma could not have come at the right time. As Chair of the C-10 President Ernest Koroma made no mistake in actually appointing Kabbs-Kanu Minister Plenipotentiary who is also Coordinator of the UN Committee of 10, a body established by the African Union to support and publicize a generally y acceptable position of the African continent in the Security Council Reform negotiations of the UN. As mentioned earlier, I followed a recent newspaper article in which, the work of Kabbs-Kanu was put under scrutiny, to an extent, seemingly doubting the decision taken by government to appoint him to his present position as Minister Plenipotentiary. Reading the said piece begged the question; is this the first time for such position to be heard of in any diplomatic postings? The answer is a big no! In simple term, a minister plenipotentiary is a diplomatic representative ranking below an ambassador but having full governmental power and authority.
But that said, it is also incumbent upon us, as colleagues in the media profession, to be supportive of each other for it will serve the general good of journalism, when we are seen as united as the need to be supporting of what is happening today in Sierra Leone, from the perspective of development and state governance under the great leadership of President Koroma.Sierra Leoneis poised to move ahead and it is with this desire on the part of government that we have kept seeing Cocorioko and its Publisher effectively contributing to this dream of the President and I would encourage him to keep doing his best to work in the interest ofSierra Leone. One should be courageous and stand the test of time, in commending people for their little contribution to national development.
The aspect of rebranding the country was seen as a primary concern by the Koroma government, to the point that when he came in, we saw how he brought in media practitioners to help in telling the good story ofSierra Leoneto the international world. It must have been as a result of this outstanding contribution that Kabbs Kanu and his team at Cocorioko have been doing, coupled with the outstanding performance of the President during his first five years of governance that Sierra Leone has come to be appreciated by the world. The wealth of Kabbs-Kanu in the area of information management and dissemination and in the art of public relations could not have been demonstrated at the right time, than during our electioneering process. For those of us who love the art of writing, we know how this man has been giving life and true meaning to communication, media and governance. In essence, one would refer him as the present day oxygen ofSierra Leone’s rebranding effort.