S. I. KAMARA
Wednesday November 2005
As I started thinking about the title for this article, the one that came to mind immediately was: “S.L.P.P. A Religion of the Southeast, But What Religion?” But then this guy called Theophilus Gbenda wetted my appetite so strongly that I could not resist changing the article to the above.
Those of us who write articles be they commentaries, opinions etc. have to be mindful of one fact, posterity. When events unfold and the years pass, such articles would definitely be revisited and assessed in the light of the truth. We can all write whatever we like but please let it reflect the truth so that at the end of the day our integrity would call for respect.
We should also have in mind that we have only one country called Sierra Leone that underwent ten years of the most brutal of civil wars in the history of the African continent. And that we should refrain from igniting the very feelings that led to Ndorgbowusui in Pujehun and the Rebel War.
I have been following Theophilus Gbenda’s pieces on Charles Margai for months now and what really amazes me is the fact that Theophilus is treating Charles Margai as the only politician in the country. Charles is not president and is not an MP. He does not make laws nor conduct foreign affairs or policies that affect our daily bread. But why concentrate on this single individual?
Charles was a member of the S.L.P.P. and did all within his power and ability to effect positive changes within the party but was consistently rebuffed. He then decided to try his luck outside of the S.L.P.P. and that has provoked the wrath of southeasterners like Theophilus Genda thus giving the long-held impression that the S.L.P.P. is a religion for the south easterners who are predominantly Mendes. Charles should not leave even when he is no longer wanted, but should stay so that Berea would become president. If the S.L.P.P. is a religion what salvation has it brought to the people in the southeast? Since 1996 it has been lies upon lies, youth unemployment, city filth, bad governance, interference in the judiciary, bad foreign policy, and disregard of both the S.L.P.P. and the National Constitution with the active participation and deliberate advice of Berewa.
Theophilus Gbenda please tell readers: are the rank and file of the S.L.P.P. better off today than before Kabba and Berewa came on the scene or is it still the APC or the rebel war? I believe you attended the University of Sierra Leone. Are conditions in the university really conducive for the type of education you would like for your fellow Sierra Leoneans? Did Charles Margai have any role in carving the educational policy in Sierra Leone or any other policy?
As a journalist, you have to report the news as it is and leave the spinning of that news to the politicians. Unlike the developed world where newspapers are operated on ideological basis, in Sierra Leone they are a means of survival and this has made journalists very vulnerable and susceptible to brown envelopes. The way Theophiluis Gbenda is handling the affair of Charles is leaving no doubt in readers’ minds, especially mine, that he is receiving brown envelopes from Berewa.
The truth on the ground is that the people of Sierra Leone want a change and as at now they believe Charles Margai is to bring about that change and Theophilus by his writings, is all out to prevent that happening. Let me take Theophilus on a tour round Africa and the world. In 1996, the newspapers wrote everything that should be written about Tejan Kabba about his unfitness to be president but the people wanted him and no amount of negative writing or scare tactics by the soldiers could stop them. Kabba became president. As I am writing this piece, his fellow journalist of no mean repute Paul Kamara of For Di People is languishing in prison for merely reproducing a report he did not write, a report that every Sierra Leonean is privy to. Why didn’t Theophilus Gbenda challenge Kabba for usurping his power as there is no where in the 1991 Constitution that gives the president that write to take a case against any citizen while he is in power just as Section 48(4) states: While any person holds or performs the functions of the office of the President, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him either in his office or private capacity.’ This section protects Kabba from prosecution while in office but does not leave any citizen vulnerable to his excesses. What about Yansaneh? Why doesn’t Theophilus Gbenda comment on the way Kabba and Berewa have allowed the case to be mishandled? Is Theophilus Gbenda keeping quiet so that he could secure a job overseas like Sorie Fofana formerly of Vision newspapers, who secured a job, he was not qualified for, in our High Commission in London?
Theophilus Gbenda cannot go against the will of the people. In Ghana, Jerry Rawlings attempted to choose a leader for the Ghanaian people. They kicked hell against him and elected John Kuffour, who is doing extremely well. In Madagascar, the people wanted Ramanantsoa but the president then, Didier Ratsiraka, went against the people and he lost as the people revolted. In Ivory Coast or Cote d’Ivoire, the people wanted Alassane Ouatarra, but Laurent Gbagbo refused and the country has gone up in flames. In Georgia, Edward Shevardnadze refused to accept the will of the people and they stormed parliament and installed whom they wanted. In Ukraine, we have all, including the very Theophilus Gbenda, seen how the orange revolution came about and all those who went against it were left in the cold.
I take Theophilus Gbenda to be an intellectual and that means it is incumbent on him to be discussing issues like imposing a leader on the people of Sierra Leone as Siaka Stevens did with Momoh. Theo was that journalist who went to the PMDC office at Hannah Benka Coker Street and was manhandled by the young guys there. I read the piece he wrote. When Charles heard about it he sent the very guys to apologize not only to him Theophilus but to the newspaper, Awareness Times. Charles followed it up in his press conference. He identified Theo apologized and embraced him in full view of the rest of the journalists. How does Theo describe such a move, lawless or respecter of the individual, Theophilus Gbenda? If Charles had been lawless as you wrote, he would not have bothered about you or what you felt. You could have written what you liked and that would not have changed anything. But Charles is not lawless. Theophilus Gbenda knows that and that is the truth. The truth about Kabba is that Justice Beoku Betts wrote that Ahmed Tejan Kabba should not be trusted with the truth so he locked him up for twenty four hours and that he should never be allowed to hold a position of authority for good. Now the people of Sierra Leone have finally known that Kabba has been a liar who cannot really be trusted with the truth. But den faint late
The outgoing government should be held accountable for not keeping to their word or to the expectation of the people. There are a lot of things that have gone wrong since Kabba and Berewa came on the scene. It is really incomprehensible for me that an intellectual can be so moved by anti-Charles feeling that he is letting this cabal off the hook. How does he think history will judge him? Is it right for Berewa to victimize Kelfala of Roads Transport Authority because Berewa found out that Kelfala voted for J B Dauda? Why don’t you comment on that? Is that what the S.L.P.P. stands for?
Catholicism was the religion of Europe in centuries passed and a lot of intellectuals like Aristotle, Copernicus etc suffered for their intellectualism. But it came to a time when Martin Luther decided enough was enough and he challenged the church that brought about the famous split when Protestantism came about. King Henry VIII had enough of the then Pope’s interference in what he wanted to do especially marrying and divorcing as many times as he liked – the Anglican Church came into existence. The S.L.P.P. has done nothing for the people it is said to be a religion. It has lost its essence, its purpose and its direction. This is what the people are now saying no to the S.L.P.P. and instead of demonizing, and vilifying Charles Margai, and misinforming the people, tell the S.L.P.P. to go back to the drawing board. As at now, the APC no longer exists and the APC is the most lethal enemy of the S.L.P.P. What an irony!
What has happened in Bo is a message to the S.L.P.P. that it has not done anything for the people of the southeast where the S.L.P.P. is a religion. Why should Berewa and Bobson Sesay go to Makeni to hire young men for ten thousand leones per person per day to go to Bo to form a welcoming party? This is tantamount to stereotyping the people of the North that whenever you want thugs for hire you go to the North. Why didn’t they go to the southeast? Plain and simple no young man will do it. The young men in the North are not thugs, OK? If Berewa is that popular and the choice of the people why was it that when he entered Bo in the early afternoon of Friday, there were not up to two hundred people to cheer him? Was it Charles Margai’s fault that when he entered the very Bo late that day hundreds of thousands of people flocked the streets to welcome him? The truth is Charles is more popular than Berewa and you cannot destroy that popularity
Charles wanted to go to Njala University campus but had to call it off because Berewa was going there. If Berewa respected his alma mater that much and did not want to play politics, why did he not go to his school on time to distribute the prizes but decided when almost everything was ending. When OBBA is holding the same activity nobody goes there to play politics as everybody is there on time for the major activities. Berewa goes overseas and he is always late for functions, that is unbefitting of a Vice President
Looking at Berewa, only somebody like Theophilus Gbenda would raise his hand up that this is a healthy man. Nicotine has eaten so much of the man that it is foolhardy of the S.L.P.P. to have ?elected’ him as their leader. This is what Theophilus Gbenda should write about. Berewa is not a healthy man and this is the inescapable truth. You can spin as you like but the truth will always prevail. I indulge Theo to find out who beat Rodney Michael mercilessly for betraying the Berewa reception group? Why did Berewa demand back from Chief Bongay the Le36-Le38 million leones he Berewa gave him to organize the failed reception? Why did Berewa chastise the chiefs for the bad reception? Is that good leadership? Berewa is unpopular and is not the choice of the people, period.
Just as the truth of the corruption and the role of Kabba in bribing the delegates at the Makeni Convention is out, so the truth of Bo will also come out and you Theophilus Gbenda will bow your head in shame.