COCORIOKO SPECIAL FEATURE
Monday June 20, 2005
Veteran politician Dr. John Karefa-Smart has clarified that his quest to serve Sierra Leone was never an ambition , but an opportunity to use his vast education and experience to serve his country for the betterment of the people.
Dr. Karefa-Smart was responding to questions from the Editor-In-Chief of COCORIOKO , Rev. Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu , who interviewed him on the occasion of his 90th birthday , which the esteemed politician celebrated with his daughter in California on Friday.
When the Editor called Dr. Karefa-Smart yesterday evening, he immediately responded and his voice was so vibrant that he belied a senior citizen of such an advanced age. And during the interview Dr. Karefa-Smart’s mind was so sharp that he did not miss any word in the questions and he interrupted to make interesting clarification, based on the Editor’s diction, where necessary.
The first example of Dr. Karefa-Smart’s sharpness of mind surfaced when the Editor asked him whether at his age he still had the ambition to run for the Presidency in 2007. Dr. Karefa-Smart immediately seized on the word , “Ambition “. He said he had clarified to many people and he wanted to clarify to the Editor too that his quest to serve Sierra Leone was never an ambition. Dr. Karefa-Smart said that he felt that he had received such abundant education and experience that he thought that he must use the opportunity to serve his country for the betterment of the people.
Dr. Karefa-Smart was the Assistant Director -General of the World Health Organization ( WHO) for 5 years after serving for another extended time in the WHO Regional office for Africa. He also has 15 years of teaching experience in international health universities and was a consultant to the World Bank, the Unied Nations Fund for Population Activities, the Pan American Health Organization , USAID and the African Development Bank.
At the start of the interview when the Editor asked him how he felt at age 90, Dr. Karefa -Smart , who is also a United Methodist Church ordained minister of the gospel, said that he first of all thanked God Almighty for giving him strength and long life. Next, he said he thanked his parents , who are now deceased, for bringing him into this world , and then he also thanked his beloved wife who for 56 years faithfully worked with him in Africa and Europe.” I am stressing these three–God, my parents and my wife–because people do not appreciate them anymore “, he stressed.
Dr. Karefa-Smart told COCORIOKO further that his quest was a willingness to serve the people of his country. He declared that one of his aims for going back to Sierra Leone was to put into practice the ideals he shared with the founding father of the nation, Sir Milton Margai , when they worked together.
Dr. Karefa-Smart regretted the way Sierra Leone was being run. He said he was disgruntled with members of his party, the UNPP , because the members did not share the same vision he had. He accused members of the party of wanting to be elected only to live the same corrupt life being led by the politicians they wanted to replace. .