By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Avid readers of the “One Drop” column may recall that my One Drop of 2 November 2016, titled “A Comedy Called SLPP: Season 1”, was provoked by my son Medsimed Kapr. He had asked me to buy him a comedy movie so that he could amuse himself. I had told him to wait any time the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) had an event he could, certainly, have some sort of comic relief from it. And when the SLPP called a press conference at their Wallace-Johnson Street headquarters in Freetown few days after my son had asked for a comedy movie, he had a good amusement from that press conference.
But few days ago, Medsimed Kapr didn’t ask for a comedy movie. He didn’t even ask for his usual cornflakes or a glass of juice. He challenged me that if I could spell his full names correctly, he was ready to forfeit his breakfast and lunch for that day but that if I was unable to I should buy him a bicycle.
I was stunned. Stunned because I knew he knew that I know how to spell his names correctly. But why would he bet his breakfast and lunch on an issue which he knew he would lose? Was he trying to make a child abuser of me by making him starve the whole day after I would have spelt his names correctly? Was it his own childish way of euphemistically telling me that he wanted a bicycle? Or was my son trying to drive home the point that some endeavours are efforts in futility?
As I kept pondering on my close-to-five-year-old son’s tongue-in-cheek bet, hours after he had eaten his breakfast and lunch, the whole issue began to make sense to me only when I tried to juxtapose it with what was currently happening in the SLPP.
What is currently happening in the SLPP could be liken to that of a son putting a bet on whether his father knows how to spell his first and middle names correctly. The bottom line of it all is the irony in itself. Engaging in an expulsion contest (which is now dubbed: ‘Una dreb wi; wi dreb una back’) between the two factions, the Paopa and the Alliance, shows how united the SLPP is in their disunity! This fact is not lost on the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) which noted, in its press release of 6 January 2017, that “what is happening in the SLPP are warning signs of what obtains when political tolerance is downplayed and internal democracy is given lip service, thus resulting in the collapse of those structures that should hold everybody together in such an institution that should have an astute leadership, with compliance to its established code of practice, a national outlook, [in its] composition and disposition…”
And if the SLPP is still aspiring to be a credible and formidable opposition party after the 2018 elections, its members should begin to learn how to rule themselves in a more civilised and decent manner. But if one faction keeps calling the other barbarians, former rebels and thugs with other unprintable epithets; and the other calling its counterpart thieves, swindlers and con-people, then the “One People” catchphrase of the SLPP is more of a tongue-in-cheeker than that of a son asking his father to spell his names correctly.
As I have always written, and will still write it today, that the only serious issue about the SLPP now is their un-seriousness. The SLPP has always been accusing the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) of several things which are themselves personifications of the SLPP. Political intolerance, undemocratic-ness, political thuggery, and power-thirstiness are now all the hallmarks of the SLPP.
From the parody of what transpired at their Wallace-Johnson Street headquarters recently, in which ex-Paramount Chief Somanoh Kapen and some ‘Alliancers’ were expelled from the party, and the most recent counter-parody at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown where the Expelled also expelled the expellers; what is very clear is that the SLPP still believes in the nasty side of African politics.
That reminds me of an Igbo proverb, as retold by Chinua Achebe, which says, “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.”
Very apt in the present circumstance! For the Madaarites to maintain their relevance in the SLPP, they must continue to paint members of the Alliance as aliens and usurpers; while the Yumkella-ists will always describe the Madaarites as murderers, barbarians, and thugs in their bid to be in political currency within the SLPP.
And as I noted in my One Dropian dropping of 6 December 2016, either way the leadership coin of the SLPP is flipped, head for Julius Maada Bio and tail for Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella; the SLPP will be more divided than it now is. Because if it is head; the Madaarites will execute their own version of Adolf Hitler’s “Night of the Long Knives”. And if it is tail, the Yumkella-ists are sure to engage in purges that will make Josef Stalin’s purges in the mid 1930s in Communist Russia look more like a comedian’s dirges.
What transpired at the SLPP Wallace-Johnson Street headquarters and later at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown is an indication of how the SLPP, as a party, intends contesting the 2018 elections. Future events, they say, begin to cast their shadows in the present. But the irony of it all is that sane Sierra Leoneans already know the outcome of next year’s elections. Just like how my son, Medsimed Kapr, knows what my answer will be if he asks me to spell his full names correctly.
But for the moment, all there is to say of (or write about) the Sierra Leone People’s Party is that: there was an SLPP which once prided itself as being one entity in the same country. But the current SLPP is an obituary in itself.