Not anymore. Through circuitous events, I am now a politician – but of the new APC, the refined party that has reshaped itself and politics in Sierra Leone. Eddie Turay belongs to both the old APC and the new APC – and has now lived up to the expectations of upcoming generations of politicians through the writing of a book, ‘The Prophecies Of A Father’, putting events into perspective, intellectualizing the politics of the APC, contextualizing the violence, and again being able to bring out his own personal story as a man destined to hobnob with kings, queens, and world leaders ever since he saw the light of day in a family of 150 children and 60 wives – as arranged and predicted by his father, an animist Paramount Chief. Eddie believes his father’s predictions (a word perhaps I am more comfortable with than ‘prophecies’) have come to pass by him being Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, through which he has been able to meet not only Queen Elizabeth whom he waved to with other school-going kids during our Independence celebrations in Makeni in 1961, but he has also met other royalties and leaders of the world, wining and dining with them.
This very first book by Eddie Turay, and also the first by any serving Sierra Leonean Ambassador ever , a frank and controversial presentation of events, will certainly greatly stir a hornet’s nest in the ruling APC – our party. But it’s worth it – and will make interesting reading to many Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of political affiliations.
He digs deep into the history of the APC in relation to his own individual history, bringing to light the fact that internal rumblings are not new in the party – spanning all the way to the One-Party era when President Siaka Stevens would support one candidate as against the preferred candidate of his Vice President S.I. Koroma in the same constituency – Eddie was Shaki’s, Thaimu was S.I.’s, for Bombali Central.
The book has a through-and-through theme of faith and courage in the pursuit of western education. For Eddie, and for his oracular father, the white man’s coming to Africa did not put ‘a knife on the things that held us together’, but was a blessing to be utilized by embracing Christianity and western education.
With only faith and education, a boy from the remotest parts of the’ heart of darkness’ could scale the heights by not only getting university education from the former awe-striking ‘colonizing’ England (the former colonial power that sent young white District Commissioners to supervise his father) and becoming a lawyer by profession, but actually going on to become a magistrate in Jamaica, and then subsequently invited by President Stevens to return home and eventually becoming a magistrate in Moyamba (the home of the President), and ultimately becoming a politician of the highest order – starting from becoming Member of Parliament, to Secretary General of the APC, to presidential candidate, to Leader of the House of Parliament, and now High Commissioner to the former colonizing power in a most circumventing way, with events dictating themselves rather than Eddie himself trying to dictate them. He believes it is purely the Hand of God at work from beginning to end.
If you were or a descendant of an APC politician or informant during his magisterial days in Moyamba (where he imprisoned the once-invincible District Secretary-General of the party, the Paramount Chief, and ‘Pa Trye the typewriter’), or if you were a player during his controversy with Parliament over a land deal that saw a ‘conspiracy’ to unseat him, then you need to brace up before starting to read the book. He tells and compresses it all in 17 chapters.
Reading this book between the lines, you would realize Eddie Turay is striving to tell his reader that he knows when to put up a fight, he knows when to stop a fight, and he knows when not to start a fight. He saw the writing on the wall (well, through some nudging on by some ‘men of God’), and therefore decided to call off or give up the fight against current President Koroma for the leadership of the APC.
Eddie Turay has done it again. And reading the book will tell you why. A man full of humour, telling a sometimes bitter and tragic story – of a boy who lost his mother at age 7 but survived the odds. Here was a man who left the shores of his country for the first time to a then unknown England only to find out that the man who invited him was nowhere to be found when his ship docked at Liverpool on a terribly cold winter morning. Trouble. Lost. Abandoned. Nowhere to go. Homeless (in his own words, “stranded in no man’s land”). All lost… Only faith in the Christian God can work out miracles – Eddie Turay posits in the book: “…while I was praying, a divine voice must have exclaimed in laughter, ‘Oh ye mortals of little faith, why doubt my divine grace and intervention, for those I favour!’ And it was indeed the case…” (Page 42, Chapter 3, ‘A Journey To The Unknown’).
There are few typographical hitches (like spelling the Resident Minister East’s name as Juxton Smith, instead of Juana Smith) that would minimally roughen the smoothness of your reading of this very informative book on the workings of the politics of Sierra Leone, particularly the APC, historical and contemporary. Politics, leading to the top, is not for the faint-hearted. It can sometimes be brutal, at times outrageous, or deceptive, and sometimes treacherous whether in the old or new APC, the book reveals. But even in politics, God is central; He is needed – according to Eddie. If not, only left to human design and manipulations, the prophecies of his father would not have come to pass.
Also, certain facts beg for questions, or rather for answers, and need a further shedding of light – like his stating that Siaka Stevens spoke three local languages fluently. Which ones? The reader would want to know.
I therefore understand why High Commissioner Turay has already indicated during a conversation with me that, even before the launch of his book by President Koroma (the man Eddie Turay believes God has used as both an embodiment of the new refined APC and the vehicle through which ‘the prophecies of a father’ have become a reality) on 23rd December this year in Freetown, he would start writing a sequel to ‘The Prophecies Of A Father’ – perhaps calling it ‘The Prophecies Of A Father 2’. There is a reservoir of information that Eddie is still withholding which the politics of the day and the politicians of this generation need to know to be better informed in making crucial decisions in the process of nation-building.
I no longer fear politics – I only have reservations. I no longer hate politics. I no longer loathe the name of Eddie Turay. Any time I go to London and put up at his residence, I leave there wiser and smarter and humbler. I want more people to drink from his reservoir of knowledge. So the only thing I can do is to encourage Kotho Eddie to write more.
‘The Prophecies Of A Father’ is structurally well written in simple straight-forward English, with each chapter having a quotation from historical and contemporary figures, including the author himself. Here is how he summed up the main part in his father’s prophecy being fulfilled in concise, brilliant and flowery English, clothed in humour and sobriety, connecting the past to the present, when he writes about meeting Queen Elizabeth as High Commissioner on page 164: “I was indeed nervous; the last time I saw Her Majesty was in Makeni in 1961. She had been some distance away from me, and I was a schoolboy then, clapping for her. She was young and strikingly beautiful. This time I would see her in a completely different context. What destiny! I said to myself, I will be very happy to see her again at Buckingham Palace, eye ball to eye ball. I will shake hands with her. The tears swelled, this time not around my cheeks, but inside. Then I said, ‘Before my father died in 1953, he made this prophecy about me shaking hands with kings and queens and heads of states. Now here I am; this prophecy has come to pass. On the day of the presentation, the Queen’s Calvary [sic] came to pick me up in a horse-driven carriage. They drove me to Buckingham Palace…”
Eddie, the man who narrowly escaped execution and regarded as a ghost when he appeared in his house after incarceration at Pademba Road by the NPRC that overthrew the old APC, the man who had the guts to stand up to the NPRC at Bintumani II and tell them ‘enough is enough’, the man who was courageous enough to become the presidential candidate of the APC when it was hated by literally everybody and many former APC Ministers (including his former constituency rival Thaimu Bangura) leaving to form other parties, has shaken the APC again.
When he autographed the book to me in London, this was what he wrote, “To my young and focused Hon. Deputy Minister of The Interior Sheka ‘T’… H/E Eddie Turay”. And then I concluded, ‘Inasmuch as he is a new APC, Eddie still belongs to the old APC.’ Under Siaka Stevens, the Ministry of Internal Affairs was called the Ministry of the Interior – that was when it was arguably the most powerful ministry in the days when it was better to be a ‘Bailor Barrie’ than a ‘Davidson Nicol’, and Pa Shaki would only give that portfolio to a most trusted ally! (To Eddie’s rescue though is the fact that many other countries around the world call it the Ministry of the Interior).
Read ‘The Prophecies Of A Father’ when it comes out in December. It’s a nice Christmas gift!
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs
Ministry of Internal Affairs
48 Liverpool Street
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel. +232 33 232 989 / +232 76 795 293
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org