“John Leigh has got nowhere to go. He has lost direction and now rumbles around with lies. Berewa has not been chosen by God to be president of Sierra Leone. If I am Berewa, I will give it up.”
My motherland, Sierra Leone, appears to have been singled out in the brutal faces of deceit, greed, selfishness, manipulation and intimidation. The land of my birth is so very far away from the dreams of its citizens. A small West African nation of about 4.7 million people (twice the population of the U.S. city of Philadelphia where I currently live) that is endowed with natural wealth and smart people, but continues to rank as one of the poorest countries in the world. A country that has all the resources and manpower to feed itself; provide energy for itself; afford quality education and healthcare system; construct good road networks and other infrastructure remains incomprehensively incapable of addressing all of these things that will hold that West African nation tight together. What a nightmare.
In my convinced opinion, our beloved country has been plagued by our social acceptance of the status quo. The elite politicians who the grassroots or average Sierra Leoneans consider as their representatives are the same people who manipulate them to their disadvantage. In other words, it is deeply embedded in a typical Sierra Leonean perception that the politicians in parliament and State House are unchallengeable because they are the powerful.
In return, the so-called elite politicians use this psychological misunderstanding about their duties and responsibilities to cling onto power at all cost. In doing so, they use lies and deceit without remorse and shame. These are the best tools for both John Leigh and his boss Berewa. I will tell you why.
When the civil war reached its highest peak in the late 90s – with all outlets from Freetown and the provinces closed, the RUF rebels became barbaric and inhuman. It was a time when Sierra Leone needed help so ‘badly’. When the RUF/AFRC invaded Freetown in January, 1999 and inflicted violent and ruthless brutality on the people of that city, the Commander-in-Chief (President Tejan Kabbah) flew out of the country to Guinea and left the ordinary Sierra Leoneans to grapple with the choice between death and the hacking off of their limbs.
John Leigh who was the then Sierra Leonean Ambassador to the United States went on the Voice of America radio service and made a very convincing announcement that the Federal government of the United States had dispatched four U.S. Marine ships to flush the RUF/AFRC rebels out of Freetown. While his announcement was convincing to the ordinary Sierra Leoneans, it fueled more anger into the RUF/AFRC rebels who upgraded their levels of torture and murder.
Contrary to John Leigh’s announcement that the ships were to arrive in Freetown in two days, the U.S. Marine ships that arrived in Freetown two weeks later were there only to evacuate U.S. citizens from that barbaric civil conflict. As the BBC and VOA were the two major information sources for all Sierra Leoneans, people kept themselves close to their radios – but to no avail. John Leigh must understand that the average Sierra Leonean knows him as a seasoned liar and will hardly have confidence in him.
He has classified Berewa as the most qualified candidate for the Sierra Leonean presidency in 2007. Oh yes, we know John Leigh as a man of that kind. What qualifies a man like Berewa for the presidency when he is part of a failed system? What innovations will this man bring to the table? What dynamism makes him into that qualified man that the people of Sierra Leone need at this nick of time? Unfortunately, our people are not fully aware that Berewa himself is a seasoned and pathological liar. Let me tell you why.
In 2003, as the then president of the SLPP Young Generation in the North America region, I was among a delegation from Philadelphia that met with Solomon Berewa in the United Nations Sierra Leone office in New York. He referred to that meeting as a family meeting among SLPP members. All Sierra Leonean diplomats including Ambassadors from Europe, Asia and Africa were present.
Of course, the Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Momodu Koroma was also there. Berewa addressed that Sierra Leonean crowd for over an hour. He lied with impunity over major development programs in Sierra Leone. Berewa told all of us at that meeting that the Bunbuna Hydro-electric plant was to be completed by December, 2004. It is left to all Sierra Leoneans to tell whether he told the truth. When asked about Hinga Norman, Berewa suavely removed himself and Kabbah from the implications of the Special court and squarely blamed it on Hinga Norman.
Berewa told us that prior to the arrival of the officials of the special court, he and Kabbah insistently asked whether Hinga Norman was comfortable with the arrival of the court. They also asked him about whether nobody had ever called and questioned him about his involvement in the Civil Defense Force (CDF). What a terrible lie and plot against an innocent and patriotic Sierra Leonean.
What did Berewa and Kabbah know so much about the intents of the Special court that made them restless? Were they eager to have this noble man in custody and make him inactive in Sierra Leonean politics? Indeed, the truth will come out one day. While the meeting proceeded, I asked Berewa about what the SLPP has done for the youths of that party since the party’s rise to political power in 1996. I was honestly eager to understand what road map the SLPP had for the Sierra Leonean youths who laid down their lives for the sake of democracy that got Berewa into power.
In response to my question, Berewa who was very enraged at me rose to his feet with anger and proudly said that the SLPP government and party is not going to groom any youths because every Sierra Leonean is to prepare his/her own way to a political office. He said that he has no guarantee that if they groom the SLPP youths, they might not end up in other political parties. Perhaps, I will take this as the only truth Berewa has ever told because it is absolutely true that the SLPP cares for no san san boys, Honda riders and car washers.
Were these the qualifications that John Leigh was talking about? What is painful here is that the average Sierra Leonean voter is not aware of the kind of people that ask them for their votes. These people are liars who have no vision for the future of a country that has so much to rely on. For goodness sake, how can Sierra Leoneans give up Sierra Leone for another 5 or 10 years of misrule, lies and deceit? Sierra Leone must wake up. John Leigh has got nowhere to go. He has lost direction and now rumbles around with lies. Berewa has not been chosen by God to be president of Sierra Leone. If I am Berewa, I will give it up.
Photo: Vice President Solomon Berewa. Is he a liar?