The Akutay Friendly Association, commonly known as Akutay, is an Association created by the late President Siaka Probyn Stevens for Limba people. His original intention for creating this Association was very simple – To bring the Limba people together in an effort to help enlighten them and bring them to the limelight of social advancement. His political aspirations notwithstanding, he created a platform for Limbas to showcase their culture and tradition. Up until the Presidency of the late Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh, which started in 1986, the majority of these people were only connected to the politics of the land because of their support for the All People’s Congress (APC) party, which they merely vote for during elections.
However, a handful of Limba men and Women have benefitted from their membership of the Akutay, especially during the regime of Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh. Some were appointed Ministers of government while others served in various capacities of relevance in his government. It was at this time that some within Momoh’s administration, more or less, started assuming Presidential powers and doing things out of the way in the name of the Mighty Akutay. A very humble and dynamic Major-General Joseph Saidu Momoh; and a fine soldier turned politician, could not get it together at the time because he was surrounded by people to whom he could hardly afford to say no. Disappointingly and unbearably, the majority of Sierra Leoneans viewed these few powerful men and women within Momoh’s administration as a big threat to democracy and freedom. And since these same people were very active in the Akutay, the majority of Sierra Leoneans saw the Akutay as the Giant that was controlling political power and consequently deciding what should happen to the nation on a daily basis.
It is therefore important to mention here that these hand-picked individuals, who represented less than 1%of the total number of Limba people in this country, apparently became the reason why every Limba person is seen today as part of the reasons why the APC administration of President Momoh was not effective and therefore could not do anything significant to combat corruption, which was getting to its highest peak at the time. It was a one-party system of government and therefore the majority of Cabinet Ministers in Momoh’s government had to become members of the Akutay because the few who were Limbas and very powerful within, more or less, were calling the shots over any major decisions. It wasn’t surprising to see several other Ministers of Mende origin participating actively in the Akutay. They did not have a choice but to tow the line alongside some of our Limba brothers and sisters who turned a fine social organization into a political wagon to drive around their personal agendas. These people became so powerful that Momoh was merely the symbolism of a Presidency.
The Akutay was banned in 1992 by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) after the overthrow of Major-General Joseph Saidu Momoh. It is however important to note that, with everything that the NPRC and the majority of Sierra Leoneans thought the Akutay did under the auspices of these few powerful Limba men in Momoh’s administration, the Akutay was not dissolved by anyone. It was merely banned from participating in any political activities in the country. The NPRC clearly recognized the fact that it was not the whole Limba tribe that was participating in Momoh’s administration; and therefore it would be unfair and reprehensible to label every Limba person with the things that displeased Sierra Leoneans about the Akutay. You cannot visit the sins of these few men on every Limba person in this country.
If the ban had been lifted and all other tribal organizations are functioning peacefully, we see no reason why the Akutay must not do the same! The Akutay is a registered organization and therefore has the legal and moral right to operate as a social grouping as long as it does not threaten the peace and security of the land. Everyone within the Limba community is free to associate with any Limba grouping of his or her choice. It is a right that must not be stifled by anyone, whatsoever. Any attempt to do so would be seen as disrespectful and provocative. Such behaviour has the tendency to provoke chaos and violence. We therefore appeal to anyone who remotely thinks that Akutay should be dissolved to really think twice, because we, in the Akutay, are free to uphold the legacy of the late President Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens because it is important to preserve a legacy rather than kill it; especially if that same legacy was once responsible for your ability to put bread and butter on your table to feed yourself and your family.
What would happen if, after President Koroma, the next set of leaders decides to wipe out the name of Ernest Bai Koroma from anything that he had been named after? Would that not be disrespectful and disingenuous? Would it not be a beautiful thing to keep the legacy of a President who has left landmarks in the country? We are not saying that the late President Siaka Stevens was a saint. I have, a few years ago, personally outlined some of the bad things that happened in his administration. But would that be enough to kill every good thing that he had done or left behind in this country?
We are not forcing anyone to be grateful to Siaka Stevens. We are merely saying that if you feel strongly about not participating in the Akutay because of the name, please allow us to appreciate the name and promote the original ideals and intentions of the late man in peace and in harmony with any and every other Limba grouping. We respect every other Limba grouping; and are willing to partner with any one of them in pursuance of our common ties to our rich culture and tradition and in promoting socio-economic development. What we would not countenance is an attempt by anyone to remotely annihilate the Akutay for personal or political aspirations.
The very politics that had tainted the Akutay and made it look like an unwanted monster in the land is what we are out to regulate this time around. We can no longer allow a handful of men and women within the Limba tribe to control the thoughts and feelings of the majority. We have a right to disagree without being disagreeable; and that right must not be trampled upon, especially if we are only disagreeing peacefully without resorting to violence or chaos. We are known as a peaceful set of people and we must keep it that way. We salute the Limba Development Union (LDU)! We Salute Tegloma (Mendes)! We Salute the Fula Progressive Union (Fulas)! We Salute Tamaraneh (Temnes)! We Salute Landoghor (Lokos)! We Salute the Kono Descendant Union (Konos); and we also Salute the Malimba group (Limbas) as we remain peaceful and law-abiding in our Akutay. God bless you!
Brima Michael Turay
Akutay – Interim Propaganda Secretary