Mr. Kai Lebbie, one of the most fiery spokespersons of the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) has debunked the opinions of New Jersey-based journalist , Mr. Sekou Dauda Bangura, who recently accused the SLPP of sowing the seeds of tribalism, nepotism and violence in Sierra Leone politics.
Talking exclusively to COCORIOKO last Thursday, Mr. Lebbie, who is one of the bulwarks of the SLPP in New Jersey , said he hated nothing in his life than hearing a Mende man or Temne man speak about tribalism in Sierra Leone. Without batting an eyelid and pulling no punches, Mr. Lebbie charged that tribalism was brought to Sierra Leone by Mendes and Temnes and not by the SLPP. He described the SLPP as a liberal party which was formed in the North and embraced all the tribes in Sa. Leone .
In a blistering article in COCORIOKO last week, which he described as sobering lesson for Sierra Leone , which can be read at the former Editor of the SIERRA LEONEAN NEWSLETTER, Mr. Bangura, enumerated instances when the SLPP used the vices named above to subvert the constitutional process in 1967 .But now, Mr. Kai Lebbie says that the SLPP is neither tribalistic, nor violent.
Tracing the roots of tribalism in Sierra Leone, Mr. Lebbie said that rather than the SLPP, it was the Mendes and the Temnes who introduced tribalism in Sierra Leone, because of their love of power. Mr. Lebbie went on to say that there were certain tribes that were not tribalistic at all and they belonhged to the SLPP , which was why it was not right to generalize that the SLPP sowed tribalism in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Lebbie said the Limbas, the Lokkos and the Konos, who have many members in the SLPP , are not tribalistic. “These are tribes that are very peaceful and are not power-conscious”, he asserted . The Limba man, he said, would look for a corner of the forest and go and live there and continue tapping his palm wine. Like the Lokko, these tribes, he went on, are often underrated, but he said the reason is that they do not aspire for power and like to be in their own little corners. Lebbie said that because of the low profile kept by these tribes , they did not need to be tribalistic. He said that this was not the case with Mendes and Temnes., who are always fighting for power and always want to control wherever they are. Mr. Lebbie said that it was because of this that these two tribes introduced tribalism in Sierra Leone.
Mr.Lebbie said it was absolutely wrong for anybody to accuse the SLPP of tribalism. The SLPP, he narrated, was infact formed in the Northern Province by Northerners. He named one Northern Chief Bai Farama Tass as one of the founding members of the SLPP .Mr.Lebbie said the SLPP came to have a Southern connection when before Independence, a strong and well-educated leader was needed by the SLPP to challenge British colonialism and Creole hegemony. The Chiefs who had formed the party admitted that they did not have the intellectual capacity to lead the SLPP, in the circumstances .Since they wanted the party to maintain its protectorate character, Mr. Lebbie continued, the chiefs decided to call on a Mende man, who was then the most educated of the provincial people , in the person of Milton Margai, who was not only a Medical doctor, but was highly-respected by the colonial masters.”If Margai had not been invited to lead the SLPP, the party would have fallen into the hands of the Creoles , who were the most educated then . That was how the SLPP spread to the South .It was when Siaka Stevens and Albert Margai resigned from the party that the SLPP started to build its roots in the South and Eastern Provinces. So as you can see the SLPP was not a party formed by South/Easterners “.
Mr.Lebbie warned that Sierra Leone is a small country and the tribes are interrelated and have inter-married and as a result, no one tribe can now rule Sierra Leone. He said that even the APC “Agbagbas “, for all their tribalism , took Mende women for their wives. He said that General Joseph Saidu Momoh’s wife, Hannah, was a Mende from the South. APC’s former Secretary General, E.T. Kamara , he went on , was also married to a mende woman called Jeneba. Former Police Chief Bambay Kamara, he continued, also had a mende woman , Patricia, for his wife .
Mr.Lebbie said even the late President Siaka Stevens was neither a Limba nor a Northerner. Look at his name, Siaka. It is a Mende name. Even the names of his children were mende–Nemahun, Jongopie, Jengo …All of these are Mende names, ” Mr. Lebbie stated. Siaka Stevens adopted Limba as his tribe for political purposes, to gain the support of the Northern people , so why all the tribalism ? “he asked.
Even right now, Mr.Lebbie pointed out, one of the stalwarts of the North, Dr. Abbass Bundu, has been given the SLPP symboland will be contesting the elections for Port Loko North, as SLPP .” So where is the tribalism by the SLPP ?”, he asked.
Mr. Lebbie also asserted that it was foolish of anybody to say that Vice-President Solomon Berewa will cheat during the forthcoming elections. Mr.Lebbie said Berewa will win hands down because he had campaigned more than all the other candidates. He said that only Berewa went to Gandorhun, his hometown in the Kono District. He said Berewa was the only Presidential aspirant who had ever gone to Gandorhun.Siaka Stevens, he stated, went there but it was not for political purposes or to see the people but for business reasons–To audit his agent, Mr. Francis Swaray, who was transacting his Coffee and Cacao businesses.