By KABS KANU :
Three years before the APC came to power, I had an experience with a Sierra Leonean politician that carried profound lessons in life. It reinforced what my father had always told me : Loyalty and faithfulness in everything you do are the most enduring virtues. Meeting one Mr. Victor Foh in person for the first time in 2004 brought back my father’s admonition to me live : Always believe in something and stand up for it, my father always told me in Loko.
THEN : MR. FOE AND THE THEN OPPOSITION LEADER IN WASHINGTON DC DURING MR. KOROMA’S MAIDEN SENSITIZATION VISIT TO THE U.S . IN 2004
Do not be roller-roaster. Do not Say one thing today today and say something different tomorrow . Do not be here today, there tomorrow. Be consistent and people will respect you. Some will hate you for a time for the consistent stands you take but in the long run they will respect you for your consistency and loyalty to your cause. My father said that always shifting one’s loyalty was a sign of serious weaknesses of mental and moral instability and those who indulge in it never achieve any enduring thing . Could it be the English saying that A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS ?
NOW 11 YEARS LATER , THEY POSE HERE AS PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT
My father always told me not to be like the proverbial bird of omen known in our Loko folklore as the KPOUREH-RNOI ( A bird known for announcing oncoming bad news but also delivers conflicting messages ). If somebody would soon die, this bird has the ability to know and announce it through a certain rapid-fire , sombre croaking sound that Lokos associate with a foreboding of oncoming bereavement. But then, after putting people on the alert that a family, clan , village, neighbourhood or tribal bereavement was coming, the bird would come back the next day and deliver a completely different message interpreted through a certain soothing sound that portends oncoming relative peace, security , safety and happiness in the community , leaving everybody doubting what to believe. That is why while condemning an inconsistent person , the Loko man would often say : “The words of his mouth are like the Kpoureh- rnoi…. You don’t rely on them “.
I AM SEEN HERE INTERVIEWING THE THEN OPPOSITION LEADER , ERNEST BAI KOROMA
Make no mistake about it. Our tribes , whether Mende, Temne, Limba , Kono, Kuranko, Gallinas or Madingo are rich with folklore and what a wonderful learning experience it would be to study them. Plus the fun, because many of them are steeped in satire and lampoon. Learning is definitely acquired not just from Western Education. There is profound education in tribal folklore.
THE THEN APC PROSPECTIVE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE OPENS HIS HEART IN THE INTERVIEW
But back to my story. I had known the politician since the 1970s as an administrator in Bo , while I was in college, but since he was not my age-group, we never met personally .
But let no one fool you. Sierra Leone’s new Vice-President, Hon. Victor Foh is an embodiment of loyalty and faithfulness. He is an institution or an establishment all on his own.
Victor Foh has always been very protective of H.E. Ernest Koroma’s interests . I recall our first ever encounter in the U.S. in 2004 in one of Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s sensitization visits to ths country . Hon Foh had gone out to see some family and came back to meet me interviewing the then opposition leader and prospective APC Presidential candidate , at the hotel they were staying . We were seated in very close proximity and on the right was Mr. Alimamy Kargbo, the then Chairman of the APC -North America .
Mr. Foh was not happy at all to meet somebody he did not know and who he thought was a complete stranger to his boss too sitting very close to the opposition leader AND comfortably having a chat with him . He did not know I had come to interview Mr. Koroma about his plans to be President of Sierra Leone. Foh saw a kind of careless trust that he did not like. He frowned immediately and muttered some protests under his breath and kept enquiring quietly from those around like the late Aziz Nabe, Raymond Kargbo, Allieu Pat-Sowe and Foday Mansaray : “Who is that man sitting in such close proximity with Leader ? ” ( Ernest Koroma’s supporters called him “Leader ” before he became President . When he became President, they started calling him “H.E”.That is how you identify his close associates ) . I heard somebody telling him : “Don’t you know Kabs Kanu ? “. That made Victor Foh more suspicious since he must have been reading Cocorioko , which was then very caustic , critical of the SLPP and choleric to politicians and public officers .
He scowled throughout the rest of the interview, because I do not think he wanted his Leader to be so trusting to journalists he did not know. Or it could be that he was wary of the fact that they were in America and his aides would have been more cautious about whom they allowed to hobnob wth the Leader so closely. . He was so protective of his Boss he did not trust anybody to sit so close to him, especially in a foreign country like America. I did not feel offended , though we shared less friendly stares at each other often, while I continued the interview.
After I finished interviewing the then opposition leader and the atmosphere became less formal and the Leader was now chatting and sharing jokes with his associates , I kindly pulled Mr. Foh aside and asked him : “Hello , Mr. Victor Foh , do you remember me in BO ? ” He was still unimpressed. That did not “scatter” the frown. If you knew him more, you knew that about him — he is a very meticulous and introspective person. His mind is constantly at work , processing things. He does not fall for things very easily. However, his eyes lit up when I started telling him that I was going to fine him ( In our traditional way ) for doubting me because he was married into a family in Bo that I considered my family too since the mother-in law and father-in-law Pa Johnson, were very close with my parents and his wife’s siblings were my childhood playmates since primary school while we were growing up at Bo Reservation and the two families were virtually one . I told him that he got married into my family. Nothing delighted him more than when I started naming his in-laws one by one and even told him that his wife was a kind of big sister to us, the younger ones, when we were growing up .
VICTOR FOH AND I LEARNT THAT IT IS A SMALL WORLD : PICTURES TAKEN AFTER WE GOT ACQUAINTED
Mr. Foh’s countenance changed. He screamed in surprise and hugged me and very interestingly he became the one who now dragged me to the opposition leader to tell him that I was his in-law. ” Beyo, nar me Komaneh bin dey interview you ! ! ” Everybody was impressed and the atmosphere became more friendly with everybody confessing that “We live in a very small world ” . BUT THE REAL MORAL OF THE DAY WAS VICTOR FOH’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS BOSS. That was the message that rang out clearly. He loved his boss and cared so much for his welfare that he did not trust anybody for him while he was makng waves then as the prospective Presidential candidate that would likely bring the APC back to power. He was right to be protective of the opposition leader then because the political atmosphere was pregnant with intrigues, blackmail and other vices in a dog-eat-dog political world.
MR. FOH projected the same faithfulness in his love for the APC, the only political party he has ever supported openly in Sierra Leone. . He was called all kinds of names for his devotion and loyalty to the APC. He was even screamed at by crowds of angry SLPP supporters when being taken from the CID to imprisonment at Pademba Road Prison , following the Johnny PAul Koroma coup , that he has betrayed the Mende and South -eastern cause (whatever that meant ) by sticking to the APC. But to Sierra Leone’s new Vice-President , it is not about tribe and region. It is about loyalty and faithfulness and that makes him one of the most lovable Sierra Leoneans you will ever meet , with his affable sense of humor and nice and friendly disposition , though people be warned : He is a man of boundaries if you are not true to yourself and your words. Victor Foh, like President Koroma, will lose confidence in you if you are not real .
A man like Hon. victor Foh is a great role model to anybody in any circumstance for loyalty and faithfulness. When I see so-called supporters of the APC turning against their party today and becoming arch-critics because of flimsy reasons or personal grudges for President Koroma , I value the lessons embodied in people like Victor Foh. He is a faithful and loyal man that will always stick to his cause and institution. Victor Foh never wavers or gives conflicting messages like the Loko bird of omen. With Victor Foh, what you see is what you get. He is real and genuine. And this s why he will make a great partnership with his boss, President Koroma. Both men are real and genuine.
When the APC came to power in 2007, many people predicted that Mr. Foh was going to be appointed minister or ambassador. It did not happen in the wisdom of the Head of State and his presidential prerogative , but Mr. Foh remained loyal and faithful to President Koroma and the party. He never got bitter or feel marginalized or rejected . He is a man with a magnificent spirit of self-confidence and self-worth. He never criticized the party or government. Remember that he was not even Secretary- General of the party then. When somebody truly loves a party, that is how he behaves. Position or no position, he remains faithful and loyal because, who knows ? His own day might come one day.
Today, Mr. Foh is the Vice-President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. It came like a manna from God. He did not fight for it. God’s blessings come when they will come. Victor Foh’s own day has come . And it is a reward for his faithfulness, patience and service to the nation. This is why it is always wise to be patient, loyal and faithful to yourself , your beliefs and a general cause. You always smile at the end.