By Jonathan Abass Kamara
Many Sierra Leoneans especially those within the circle of political development and those aspiring for political leadership in Sierra Leone would agree with me that Zainab Bangura is a household name in every corner of progress on issues vital for the development of the country.
Her name for flag bearer in one of our local tabloid “The Global Times” of Tuesday August 2, 2016 triggered hiccups in some political arena of other potential politicians aspiring for the leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party with emotions tied with spiritual fever.
Dilating on the Global Times publication during my leisure in my small town Mateboi, colleagues from Batkanu in the Leibesagahun chiefdom Bombali district, politicians and teachers to be exact, noted the population of Sierra Leone with women being the highest according to their statics, and remarked “If she gets the support of the women, she would definitely get a winning team for the 2018 General Elections, noting also her track record”. With my assessment I want to also believe that she would get the support of men who believe in her ideology and ability to rule. But the truth of her ambition or interest as published is yet to be established as we wait getting her voice on the flagbearership microphone.
Dr. Zainab Hawa Bangura is a Sierra Leonean born in December 18, 1959 in Yonibana, Tonkolili district, northern Sierra Leone.
A Politician and Social Activist, married to Sheki Bangura with one son. The much-respected Zainab Bangura was one time head of the corruption fighting ‘Campaign for Good Governance’. Served the UN in Liberia, and later appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Minister of Health and Sanitation until her appointment as UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, and gets Honorary Oxford Doctorate in 2015. Some quarters have described her as an International Civil Servant with keen interest in politics, governance, International Law with emphasis on national development and on protection and empowerment of women. She ran for the Presidency in 2002 with a debatable challenge. This time, the kaleidoscope for the 2018 General Election is focusing on her for the flagbearer of the APC Party though not yet clear.
Dr. Zainab Hawa Bangura assumed her position as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the level of Under-Secretary-General on September 4, 2012. In this capacity, she serves as Chair of the interagency network, UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action).
Dr. Bangura has over 20 years of policy, diplomatic and practical experience in the field of governance, conflict resolution and reconciliation in Africa. She has been instrumental in developing national programmes on affordable health, advocating for the elimination of genital mutilation, managing the country’s Peace Building Commission and contributing to the multilateral and bilateral relations with the international community. She has deep experience engaging with State and non-State actors on issues relevant to sexual violence, including engaging with rebel groups.
Dr. Bangura has on-the-ground experience with peacekeeping operations from within the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), where she managed the largest civilian component of the Mission, promoting capacity-building of government institutions and community reconciliation. She is an experienced and results-driven civil society, human and women’s rights campaigner and democracy activist, fighting corruption and impunity, notably as Executive Director of the National Accountability Group, Chair and Co-founder of the Movement for Progress Party of Sierra Leone, as well as Coordinator and Co-founder of the Campaign for Good Governance.
She has received numerous national and international awards, including the Africa International Award of Merit for Leadership, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship, the Bayard Rustin Humanitarian Award, and the Human Rights Award from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Award, and the African American Institute’s Distinguished Alumna Award.
Dr. Bangura is a former fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute of London, with Diplomas in Insurance Management from the City University Business School of London and Nottingham University.
On my return to Freetown from Batkanu, my mother land, we had the conversation in a bus on Madam Bangura’s leadership, and a Lecturer from one of our tertiary institutions quickly described Dr. Zainab Bangura as “the door to the destiny of Sierra Leone politics”.