Reviving the Sierra Leone Daily Mail : When will Pa Sama Banya and SLPP ever pursue ambitions larger than their own ?

August 30, 2010 
In their usual queer and perverted obsession to politicize everything in Sierra Leone , Old Man Sama Banya and his SLPP  crybabies  are at it again. This time, they have decided to quarrel with the patriotic determination and sacrifice of three conscientious Sierra Leonean journalists who have decided to  revive an institution  that means a lot to  so many Sierra Leoneans –The SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL  –which had been abandoned and junked in the dustbin by the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP) while in power .
Having no respect whatsoever for any worthy Sierra Leonean institution, the SLPP  did not only allow the much-prized DAILY MAIL  newspaper to die a premature death. They even decided to begin a new government-owned newspaper they called the SIERRA NEWS in place of the great DAILY MAIL. When Pa Sama Banya  speaks of  ”typical contempt and disdain for the people of this country”, was he not being hypocritical ?  Who gave the SLPP Government permission to cast the DAILY MAIL aside and set up SIERRA NEWS in its place ? Did they consult with civil society, the Independent Media Commission ( IMC ) and the people of Sierra Leone before taking such a brainless action ? What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander, you know.  Who showed contempt and disdain for the people ? The  All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government that does not want a much-cherished and prized national institution to die , or the SLPP  who booted that institution into the dustbin ?
Is the SLPP  jealous because the APC Government, in typical impressive style, has decided to save another institution that the SLPP  deliberately murdered and recklessly threw away into the dustbin ?  What do Sama Banya and the SLPP  prefer ?  A dead and buried DAILY MAIL,  with its carcas rotting and festering in the putrid dustbin the SLPP  unpatriotically and stupidly interred it or a  revived , reinvigorated and rejuvenated DAILY MAIL serving the masses of Sierra Leone as it had been doing for almost a century ?
In their various press releases announcing the revival of the SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL, the three journalists involved in the project—Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the UN, Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , NEWSTIME AFRICA Editor Ahmed Kamara and CITIZEN RADIO Proprietor David Tam-Baryoh, clearly expressed their goal : They were reviving a historic national institution that they believed should not be allowed to die because of what it means to the people of Sierra Leone. They were embarking on a patriotic move that would ensure that the DAILY MAIL remains alive like its sister newspapers the DAILY NATION of Kenya, the DAILY NEWS of Tanzania, the DAILY GRAPHIC of Ghana and the DAILY TIMES of Nigeria.  Sierra Leone deserves that. Why should our historic national institutions keep dying while their contemporaries are flourishing in other countries ? THIS IS A MATTER OF PATRIOTISM .
 What is more , nowhere did any of these journalists say that they were going to use the DAILY MAIL as a propaganda tool for the APC Government. Rather, for Sama Banya and those who do not understand simple English, this was what the Minister Plenipotentiary wrote in his own announcement :
“The Sierra Leone Daily Mail will continue to be a government newspaper and will be run from New York from the Office of the Minister Plenipotentiary , but it will be used as a national newspaper reporting on events from a broad spectrum of life in Sierra Leone as the original Sierra Leone Daily Mail used to do.  While it will report on news around the country and the world, the paper will be inclusive in its choice of articles but it will not publish anything that is damaging to the government .”
In case Pa Sama Banya and like-minded people need us to interpret what this statement means , here we go : The revived SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL  will publish articles from all sectors of the society, including the SLPP . If the SLPP  sends their press releases to us, we will publish them in the DAILY MAIL. The only caveat is that we will not publish any article deliberately designed to damage the international image of the government and the country. The old DAILY MAIL was never used as a tool to embarrass , demean, degrade and defame the sitting Head of State, government or the country and we will not deviate from the newspaper’s principles and editorial policies.  That was what we said in simple, plain English.
As for the hopelessly pro-SLPP newspaper,  GLOBAL TIMES ,  quoting Mr.Christo Johnson of the IMC as saying that the DALY MAIL had been criminally hijacked ( An attributed statement that the gentleman has denied uttering ) , we will not glorify that gibberish. We said it in plain English for even an illiterate man to understand that :
“The newspaper will be kept alive online  and will remain a property of the government until the government of Sierra Leone decides what to do with its official organ.”
If GLOBAL TIMES  lack basic understanding , that is their problem, not ours’
The DAILY MAIL will definitely continue operating. It is property of the Sierra Leone Government and will continue operating online until the government comes out with a statement about the way to go.
The Minister Plenipotentiary was appointed by the government to, among other things, seek the best interest of the government and the people of Sierra Leone. It is the Minister’s belief, in conjunction with that of his boss, the Minister of Information and Communication,  that the revival of the SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL, even in its  replica state as an online newspaper for now, serves the best interest of the government and the people of Sierra Leone .  Gloriously, another news organ has been added to the few Sierra Leone newspapers online promoting the interest of the government and the people of Sierra Leone abroad.  We will continue to be inclusive and nation-oriented to the best of our abilities. Already , the DAILY MAIL has been a hit since its revival and distinguished Sierra Leoneans and professors to whom the DAILY MAIL  meant so much, have written to congratulate us for our patriotism in not allowing a national institution to die.
Sama Banya and others can go and waste their time in court .It just shows the contempt with which the SLPP  regards Sierra Leone and her national institutions. Sama, the GLOBAL TIMES and their SLPP  KABOODLE should be honest with themselves and the people and say that they are concerned because they are afraid that the APC  has outdone them once again in the matter of keeping  national institutions alive . Anything that is not controlled by the SLPP is unsavoury.
The Hon. Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Ibrahim Kargbo , has spoken the truth and as a professional journalist and a patriotic public servant, he has made the naysayers understand the importance of a national institution like the DAILY MAIL.
If Sama Banya and his ilk think only on the basis of the interests of the SLPP , the Minister is non-partisan and has spoken as a patriotic citizen of Sierra Leone. Our beloved nation of Sierra Leone is bigger than the SLPP or any political party , for that matter, and so it will ever be. For some of us, the interest of Sierra Leone comes first before other considerations.
WE PUBLISH BELOW OUR ORIGINAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE REVIVAL OF THE DAILY MAIL
 
Sierra Leone Daily Mail is back
Friday, July 23, 2010
In order  not to allow the great journalism institution to die, the Sierra Leone Daily Mail –at one time one of the leading daily newspapers in Africa–is to be kept alive by a trio of  crusading Sierra Leonean journalists. The once great government-owned newspaper folded up many years ago under the administration of former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah due to overwhelming debts.  However the three journalists have decided that the Daily Mail cannot be allowed to die prematurely.The newspaper will be kept alive online  and will remain a property of the government until the government of Sierra Leone decides what to do with its official organ.
The journalists who have embarked on this noble enterprise are the Publisher of Cocorioko and Minister Plenipotentiary of Sierra Leone to the United Nations ,Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu ; the Publisher of Newstime Africa ,Mr. Ahmed Kamara and the proprietor of  the Freetown Citizen’s  FM Radio , Mr. David Tam-Baryoh.

The Sierra Leone Daily Mail will continue to be a government newspaper and will be run from New York from the Office of the Minister Plenipotentiary , but it will be used as a national newspaper reporting on events from a broad spectrum of life in Sierra Leone as the original Sierra Leone Daily Mail used to do.  While it will report on news around the country and the world, the paper will be inclusive in its choice of articles but it will not publish anything that is damaging to the government .

Mr. Kabs-Kanu , who is a government official, will serve as the interim General Manager of the revived Sierra Leone Daily Mail until the government makes a decision about the future of the newspaper.

HISTORY OF THE SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL

The Sierra Leone Daily Mail was founded in 1939 as part of the Mirror Group of newspapers that included the Daily Times of Nigeria; the Daily Graphic of Ghana and  the Daily Nation of Kenya .  “It was so well established that it became a well sought after newspaper in the region….Kojo Neili who became the first General Manager of the Sierra Leone Daily Mail. Herbert A. Johnson benefited from an African-American training, which played a key role in the development of the Daily Mail. Arika Awuta Coker after graduating from the Berlin School of Journalism became manager of the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail was to become one of the longest running papers in the country finally closing in the late 1990s .Between 1970 and early 1980s the Daily Mail was still the leading newspaper in the country. Through out this period its management saw dedicated people like Arika Awuta Coker, Bab Kassim, Alhaji Kabba, Asadi P. Koroma, Eve Langba, Gershon Porter, Robert Smith, Badara Sesay, Ottis John, Bruno Grant and Kabba Kargbo. ” ( WIKIPIDIA )

The newspaper had a vibrant sport page and produced some of the best sportswriters in Sierra Leone journalism, like the late Zac. Humphrey and  Khalil Kamara.

Keeping the  Daily Mail  alive will be a tribute to these hardworking men and women.

We will bring you more details.

 MORE ON THE PAPER’S HISTORY : BY TANU JALLOH
Sierra Leone had one of the most promising newspaper industries in the sub region. However, most of what was achieved by the first set of thirty-one newspapers that registered between 1939 and 1984 remained a flash in the pan.
From 1991, the industry has seen over forty newspapers come and gone; leaving less than fifteen dailies in a country of close to 6 million people.
The history of the press, newspapers to be specific, in Sierra Leone could be traced to as far back as 1794. Some fourteen years later (1808) there was a major breakthrough. The first monthly publication under the control of the Wesleyan Mission was set up.
It was this wave of media evolution that apparently attracted some foreign nationals who had settled in the country then. Thus In 1855 the New Era newspaper was set up by William Drape, a West Indian. But poor sales, which affected the major source of income to sustain the newspapers, became the bane that affected every aspect of the media industry in the 19th century.
A Freetown based lawyer, J.T. Thompson later established the West African Mail and Trade Gazette in 1941. After his death, his son Columbus Thompson continued but later joined Lamina Sankoh and Bankole Bright at the Guardian where he served as the editor.
Although newspaper business or journalism proper could be said to have started in Sierra Leone as far back as 1939 when the late Isaac Theophilus Akuna Wallace Johnson, a poet, journalist, politician and author, launched the African Standard on a small scale, the effort only began to yield benefit a decade or two later. In essence, progress in newspaper development then was very slow.
It was against this backdrop that, newspaper ostensibly became the first medium of information dissemination in Sierra Leone. In the 18th century, for instance, The Sierra Leone Gazette was established but it operations were, however, short-lived. Despite all the odds, one of the longest serving newspapers, the Daily Mail did extremely well. It publications ran from 1939 to the late 1990s. It was so well established that it became a well sought after newspaper in the region.
Unlike the Daily Mail, which published for over five decades, The Guardian could not sustain its publications under the management and leadership of Columbus Thompson, Lamina Sankoh and Bankole Bright.
As a result, the Guardian newspaper was sold to a British newspaper company in 1949. Soon, an exchange training programme and the attachment of editorial advisers (on the job training) from the United Kingdom to teach rudiments of journalism, started between the three sister-countries of West Africa: The Nigeria Times, The Ghana Daily Graphic and the Sierra Leone Daily Mail. Those were the flourishing dailies.
Apparently, some of these intermittent achievements by newspaper managers served as a major source of inspiration for young aspiring graduates. Most of them took to the art of writing and eventually became very popular journalists. Among those young graduates was I.T.A Wallace Johnson who had worked with a Nigerian, Nnamdi Azikwei to marshal the African Morning Post in Ghana, then referred to as the Gold Coast.
Also were Bankole Timothy, the then feature editor for the Ghana Graphic; Kojo Neili who became the first General Manager of the Sierra Leone Daily Mail.
Herbert A. Johnson benefited from an African-American training, which played a key role in the development of the Daily Mail. Anita Awuta Coker after graduating from the Berlin School of Journalism became manager of the Daily Mail.
Sam J. Metzger, after serving on the editorial boards of Nigeria’s West African Pilot and the Ghana Times, returned home and became the manager for both Unity and Nation newspapers. He then became the managing editor of We Yone newspaper, the official media mouthpiece of the All Peoples Congress under Siaka Probyn Stevens.
E.B. Wallace Johnson was trained in the UK. He worked with the Daily Graphic, Ghana Times and Ghana News Agency. On his return to Sierra Leone, he wrote for almost all the leading newspapers, including Unity, Nation, Daily Mail and We Yone.
Between 1970 and early 1980s the Daily Mail was still the leading newspaper in the country. Through out this period its management saw dedicated people like Arita Awuta Coker, Bob Kassim, Alhaji Kabba, Asadi P. Koroma, Eve Langba, Gershon Porter, Robert Smith, Badara Sesay, Ottis John, Bruno Grant and Kabba Kargbo. Credit was also given to Ibrahim B. Kargbo, now Minister of Information and Communications; Mrs. Daisy Bonah; Herbert Johnson and Murice Kallon.
In 1993, a five-month course was organised by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and UNESCO, during which journalists were trained in mass communication, media management, and public relations, communication law, newspaper production and marketing, technique in journalism, English grammar and basic writing.
This period also marked a sharp turnaround in newspaper development – its management as a business – saw the advent of electronic communications equipment.
For instance, computers replaced the use of typewriters. Hence, we began to see the use of Microsoft Word document and Adobe PageMaker to process news materials designed in a suitable format for electronic printing.
However, before this time newspaper development was dangling between professionalism and newspaper as a profit-making venture. Bridging this gap over the years has gained some momentum. Whereas some statutes alongside the Common Law were accordingly administered to regulate newspaper business in particular and the media in general, the Independent Media Commission, IMC Act No. 12 of 2000 was ushered in a bid to establish an autonomous body for the regulation of mass media institutions.
Against that backdrop, there were several amendments geared toward the inauguration of the Media Code of Practice, which contains rules and regulations governing the establishment of newspapers and electronic media in the country.
Today this development could be said to have manifested itself in varying forms of professionalism; a booming industry and a lucrative business venture.

Nevertheless, there are many problems hat confront professionalism in contemporary newspaper development one of which is the Seditious Libel Law of 1965. This, according to some communications experts and veteran media practitioners, is inimical to freedom of communication.

In a nutshell, therefore, no historical analysis of newspaper development in Sierra Leone could afford to evade explaining the Criminal Libel Law, especially the seditious aspect of it, and its adverse effects on the general development of the media industry in the country. If it did, it would be guilty of distortion or misrepresentation of the highest degree.
© 2010, COCORIOKO. All rights reserved. – Discuss this and other related articles on the Salone Forum

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4 Responses to Reviving the Sierra Leone Daily Mail : When will Pa Sama Banya and SLPP ever pursue ambitions larger than their own ?

  1. It is sad to read and observe the degree of banality, misinformation and a display of what could generously be described as petty politics over a medium with a tortured history over the past twenty five or so years spanning the administration of both the APC and SLPP.
    It would be useful for all players in this melodrama to get the facts straight that led to the closure of the paper. I have not seen any reference for instance, to the report that was commissioned by then Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dr. Julius Spencer regarding the state of affairs of the Sierra Leone Daily Mail, by a credible organization. That report will debunk all of the partisan claims (on both sides) above.
    Could we for once desist from ugly party politics and go about our respective endeavours in a professional and ethical manner? In short, with all due respect, replies need not be made each time reference deemed to be anti-government is made regarding the initiative undertaken by the new admistration of the paper.
    With regard to the historical account given in the article above on the Daily Mail, we see a clear demonstration of the sad state of affairs in the realm of research cited in the article. Wikipedia as a credible source for serious research? Oh no! Incidentally, typos made in “commentaries” of the nature in which I am presently engaged is perhaps understandable. But for an article of the nature above, one cannot afford to spell incorrectly a reference source. (See spelling of Wikipedia in the text of the article above. By the way, Wikipedia is not even an acceptable source of reference for research in credible tertiary level institutions precisely because of the INCREDIBLY erroneous content cited in the article above, credited to Wikipedia — ENTIRELY WRONG information coupled with wrong spelling of the name of a major figure in the history of the paper. For goodness sake let us stop this foolishness and seek to elevate the profession rather than making political buffonery out of it.
    I urge the new administration of the paper to engage in the kind of journalism of which we should all be proud, regardless of party affiliation. What we desperately need is QUALITY JOURNALISM.
    Frankly in disgust after reading the article above given my deep interest in the Sierra Leone Daily Mail — I really expected better.

    Dr. Cecil Blake
    August 31, 2010 at 3:20 am
    Reply
  2. Your attack on Dr Banya and the SLPP Leadership has already made the Daily Mail the MOUTH-PIECE and ATTACK-DOG of the APC. The APC already has enough praise-singers/writers/Jalis in the likes of Cocorioko, Torchlight, Newstime, We Yone, etcetera, etcetera. I advice that you advocate or make arrangement for the privatization of the Daily Mail instead of been hi-jacked by a bunch of APC propagandists.
    As you wrote and I qoute “—– while it will report on news around the country and the world, the paper will be inclusive in its choice of articles but it will not publish anything that is damaging to the government”, well this is a proper indication of it becomeing the propaganda machine of government. The Daily Nation of Kenya, the Daily News of Tanzania, the Daily Graphic of Ghana and the Daily Times of Nigeria are all privatized newspapers.

    Becarefull
    August 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm
    Reply
  3. Go ahead my brothers and sustain the operations of the Daily Mail. Dr. Sama Banya and others are always focused on creticism. Leave them alone, and continue with your good work. The greater majority of Sierra leoneans truely in support of you.
    God bless you all.

    Ibrahim Suba Kamara
    September 4, 2010 at 9:53 am
    Reply

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