By KABS KANU :
Whenever one reads the op/ed or news articles on the November 17 elections written by correspondents of foreign media, the articles leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth because they continue to perpetuate the misguided Western stigma about African governments being only concerned with doing the wrong things. This sick, neo-colonialist perception of Africa is so ingrained in Western media correspondents that they see only what they want to see in our continent –An Africa that is poor and underdeveloped today because their own Western masters and proteges raped and robbed our continent blind.
President Ernest Bai Koroma and the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government have done everything and put in place every structure to promote confidence that the elections will be free, fair and credible, but these nit-picking journalists just sit in their creaking armchairs and make all kinds of foolish statements and conclusions about the elections. What kind of journalists are they that they cannot see what is really happening in the country ?
The big problem with Western journalists is their arrogant and “Know-it-all” attitude and the misconception they have that they are invested with the inalienable right to influence and manipulate the public’s perception of reality. Wherever they go, they try to predominate with their anglo-saxon air of superiority even in the dissemination of news and reality. No wonder they have become known as the controlling institution of the Western capitalist and neo-colonialist system. They go to African countries just to distort reality to serve the interests of their neocolonialist masters and satiate their manifest bias against striving African governments.
The latest Western media practitioner to demonstrate this deliberate blindness to the reality on the ground is Lindsay Barrett. In his recent article, entitled SIERRA LEONE : ANXIETY MOUNTS OVER CRUCIAL ELECTIONS –The heading obviously skewed to pander to the fear-mongering these Western media personnel are noted for —- he posits : “Maada Bio’s campaign has been energised by the fact that his running mate is a popular female ex-university lecturer and one-time Minister of Trade from the north, Dr. Kadi Sesay, the mother of the famous CNN presenter Aisha Sesay. Evidence at rallies in recent weeks have shown that the pair are riding the crest of a wave of popularity among urban youth with substantial support in their party’s traditional strongholds in the south-east of the country as well as in the capital Freetown.”
This analysis of the situation on the ground in Sierra Leone is very misleading because photos and stories have been produced in local print and online newspapers and at Facebook to graphically demonstrate that President Ernest Bai Koroma is by far the more popular presidential candidate, compared with Bio, and no serious journalist would emphasize Bio’s popularity as if it will determine the elections . President Koroma has drawn far more crowds than Bio even in the traditional Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) strongholds in the South/East ! ! ! What is making it hard for these journalists to simply acknowledge the truth that if the crowds pulled by President Koroma throughout the country turn up to vote on November 17 , he is heading for a landslide victory.
The Western media did the same thing in the U.S. during the recent presidential elections. Instead of giving the public the true picture that President Barak Obama had energized all his bases and even held domain over majority of the swing states, they did everything to lionize his Republican challenger , Mitt Romney, whom they predicted winner, because, according to them, the weak economy, the unsatisfactory unemployment situation and discontent with Obama’s liberal policies over abortion and gay rights would come back to haunt him on polling day. They dubbed this 2012 American presidential elections as one of the toughest ever held and predicted a long night on November 6. Some of them even predicted that, like 2000, the elections stalemate will spill over almost into Christmas. Blind and short-sighted political analysts they turned out to be as the elections were over before midnight on November 6. In less than two hours after the results started pouring in, it was all over. At exactly 11:15pm, President Barak Obama was projected the winner and he had scored a landslide, even taking Ohio and most of the swing states where the media had predicted a pitch battle for votes. The Western media could not get it right even in their own backyard. All along, people who were objective knew that Romney was no match for President Obama . The same scenerio is being played out in Sierra Leone. Maada Bio is no match for President Koroma and the very rallies Barrett is talking about have demonstrated that fact. But these so-called journalists will never call it as it is.
Barrett also stated that : “Although President Ernest Bai Koroma has confidently promoted his party’s record in office, that record has been an open target for the opposition because of allegations about questionable actions by some key government figures. ” Let us forget for a moment what the opposition says about President Koroma’s record . What does Barrett see for himself in Sierra Leone ? Could he not have counterbalanced the opposition’s biased view here with the reality on the ground that President Koroma had indeed done a marvelous job in Sierra Leone (What with all the magnificent roads and infrastructure, the World Bank and IMF projections that Sierra Leone has the second fastest growing economy in the world, the boom in mining activities , commerce and investment and the relative peace and tranquility that reigns in the land because of President Koroma’s respect for fundamental human rights etc) ? Barrett’s readers would have loved to know President Koroma’s strong points for re-election, if indeed he was an independent observer.
Also , if Mr. Barrett was really an independent analyst, he could have gone beyond the following statement , which is an indictment of APC supporters : “They ( His “many knowledgable observers “) also blame his supporters for clashes that occurred even before the official commencement of campaigning, especially after a major outing by the main challenger in the town of Bo was disrupted by known supporters of the ruling party and Maada Bio sustained an injury. Surprisingly the majority of the people arraigned in court as a result of that incident were members of the aggrieved opposition.” Again, Lindsay Barrett is being very dishonest here in his analysis. Most of the people arrested and charged in connection with the Bo chaos he is talking about were opposition members because they were responsible for the vandalism and violence that followed the stoning of Maada Bio. Innocent women and men were assaulted and injured and the APC Party office and the homes of APC supporters were burnt down. What was surprising about the culprits being brought to justice ? Barrett did not even have the journalistic ethics to point out what happened in other parts of the country, like Fourah Bay and Kono, where SLPP supporters went on the rampage and vandalized properties of APC supporters and even injured innocent women and children. What about the blocking of the presidential convoy by Maada Bio in Freetown in flagrant violation of police directive ? Only last week, SLPP supporters in Bo launched attacks on APC and PMDC supporters and again resorted to vandalism and the infliction of bodily harm. Barret should have written about the high degree of restraint and tolerance being displayed by the Ernest Koroma Government under the provocative acts of SLPP supporters . To give only one side of the story is a disgrace to independent and ethical journalism. And these are the people who mouth platitudes about journalistic standards and ethics ! ! ! What a shame ! ! !
We could go on and on and on with Barret’s distortion of reality in Sierra Leone.
It is a disgrace to journalism that foreign media correspondents take advantage of third world countries by seeking to manipulate the perception of reality in these countries to satisfy their base tendencies and biases. Though they come from countries with more advanced mass communications systems and have better resources and training , their unethical , incompetent and shamefully biased journalism in our countries make us to have no respect for them. One thing these hollow men should realize is that they will never succeed to influence socio-political and economic events in Sierra Leone. President Koroma will win , whether they like it or not, and he will win because of his splendid record in governance.
Everybody knows that the media are pervasive and are supposed to have a very strong voice, but Sierra Leoneans will always view foreign correspondents with disdain because they are an ill-wind that blows nobody any good.