President Ernest Bai Koroma’s similarities with the just re-elected United States President Barack Obama go beyond the registered tangible achievements. President Obama’s popularity has a youthful base, even as he socialises with celebrities and music icons in the US. In Sierrra Leone also, President Koroma is very popular among young people, as he hobnobs with them at every given opportunity. And the youths have been demonstating their adoring love for the affable Head of State in all the campaign rallies he has been organising.Traditionally, especially during the 2007 elections, local musicians would be out by now lambasting ruling party polticians. All could remember ‘Two-foot arata’, ‘Swegbeh’, and ‘Ejectment,’ among others, which accompanied the now opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) out of power. But President Koroma’s approach to the youth problem in Sierra Leone has endeared him to local musicians.There’s hardly a song against him, with all those that have so far dominated the scene being songs of praises for him. Even when one musician tried to lambast the government just after two years in office with ‘Yesterday betteh pass tiday’, his colleagues immediately reacted with songs calling for chance to be given to the President to work. Today, that musician is not only silent on political matters, obviously silenced by the dawning reality that today’s Sierra Leone is far better than when the SLPP was in power, but some of his chief sponsors have actually now become very ardent disciples of the President.
Since he came to power, President Koroma has consciuosly worked towards putting the youths at the centre of his agenda, thereby not only creating a Minsitry of Youths all by itself, but also establishing the National Youth Commission which exclusively concentrates on youth matters. But the President’s soaring affability with the youths does not stop at administration, as he has actually crossed the line to make them feel part and parcel of the whole society by appearing in their concerts and also intervening in disputes.
The most notable intervention by the President was when rival music icons LAJ and Kao Denero were locked in a bitter battle, leading to some shoot-out. The President reconciled the two by calling both of them to State House, where he acted as a father for both. Since then, there has been a lull in gang-related violence. Generally, the President gained the admiration of all the young people in the music industry when he ensured that the Copyrights Act was enacted to protect them from piracy.
The executive members of the Cassette Sellers Association would never forget the day they got a call from State House inviting them to lunch with the President. “Until when I went there, sat with the President, ate with him, cracked jokes, and left, I just couldn’t believe that this was true,” one of them said ater the lunch. The youths have vowed to make this weekend a never-to-be-forgotten moment, as they would stage a no-violence concert on Saturday and then make a resplendent display of solidarity with the President on Sunday during the APC’s final day of rallies in Freetown.