Julius Maada Bio, what if they do not come with bullets ?

What If They Do Not Come With Bullets?

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

I always like to wait after the dust has settled down before I stir it up again in a typical One Dropian style. And I’m also fond of flogging dead horses to make sure that they are really dead and not in comatose!

One common trait in President Julius Maada Bio is the fact that he appears not to be gifted with the gift of the gab; so, I do not expect him to speak with Mark Antony’s oration. But I can understand that the English language is not his first nor is the Krio language; he has his father’s tongue in which he is fluently fluent (Unlike me; I can’t even speak my father’s tongue: Temne, nor my mother’s: Sherbro!).

And I can also understand that most Sierra Leoneans first have to think in their father’s or mother’s tongue and translate that thought, or those thoughts, into the lingua franca (Krio) and then into the English language (official). In most cases, during the mind’s translation of the translations; several words and phrases get jumbled up to a point that what the speaker had originally thought in his/her father’s or mother’s tongue is not what is expressly expressed in the end!

That seems to be one of the problems inherently noticed in most of President Bio’s national broadcasts and one-on-one interviews in which he likes to create an “old soldier” machoness of himself. Most of the time when he is being interviewed in the Krio language, he seemingly falls into the “Savisman” colloquial of “over rap” as was heard in that infamous FM98.1 interview with Asmaa James in which he talked about “Mende Land”, “Temne Land”, and “Limba Land”, and even said he was more comfortable with the work ethics of his tribesmen. And whenever President Bio tries to communicatate his thoughts or policies in the King’s Language (Britain now has a King; the Queen died with her prefix!); he always appears not to be in his element as he frequently commits lapsus linguae (a Latin phrase for “a slip of the tongue”) or makes several Freudian slips to the embarrassment of even his unrepentant supporters!

As recent as recently, in the southern city of Bo, President Bio threatened his perceived and unseen would-be enemies with “bullets for bullets” rhetoric like a man who has cultivated the habit of crying lions where there are only paper tigers. He talked down on his audience as if Sierra Leone was bequeathed to him of which he intends to bequeath it through a Deed of Gift to God knows who! And he even put up a show of machoness that was reminiscent of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi at the pinnacle of their power!
But President Bio should know that real political power lies with the people who have figuratively signed a sort of social contract with him. They are the real power behind his political powers. He should know that when people are hungry and angry; they can do anything. And President Bio should get it at the front of his mind (he might likely forget it if he gets it at the back of his mind) that most of the toadies and hangers-on, who are now urging him to show extreme manliness and stubbornness, will not be the ones to bear the greatest responsibility in the future if things go wrong today.

And even with the threat of “bullets for bullets”, hunger and anger are no respecters of threats. What if residents in Bonthe Island (my mother is a “Blake” born on that Island) decide to run riot in that district with placards to register their disaffection with grand corruption, soulless taxes, and the endless failed policies of the Bio-led government. Will the security apparatuses be instructed to go there on a “peacekeeping mission” to maintain “peace and security” as it was done in places like Makeni; Lunsar; Mile-91; Tonko Limba, and Tombo?
What if residents in Kailahun District decide to organise a strike action similar like that portrayed in Sembène’s “God’s Bits of Wood” or organise a journey to State House in Freetown parallel to that depicted in Ngugi’s “Petals of Blood”. Will the security apparatuses be instructed to stop them on their way to State House so as to maintain “peace and security” as they were maintained in places like Makeni; Lunsar; Mile-91; Tonko Limba, and Tombo?

And what if residents in Kenema District decide to organise several premeditated protests against President Bio’s never-ending overseas travels, which appear to be bleeding the country’s economy to the point that she is now constantly running to Blood Banks for infusions; will the security apparatuses be instructed to go on a “peacekeeping mission” there to maintain “peace and security” in the same manner it was maintained in places like Makeni; Lunsar; Mile-91; Tonko Limba, and Tombo?

So, if the residents in Bonthe Island, Kailahun and Kenema Districts decide to openly show their displeasure (without any Police Clearance from the Inspector General of Police) at the fact that the Bio-led government has breached the “social contract”; will these “true Sierra Leoneans” (courtesy of She who must now not be named and shamed!) be referred to as “terrorists”—oblivious of the wider implications for Sierra Leone on the diplomatic stage? Will these “true Sierra Leoneans” be treated the same way the “other” Sierra Leoneans (in Makeni, Lunsar, Mile-91, Tonko Limba, and Tombo) were treated when they showed their angers on issues that angered them which provoked their angers?

What I have noticed in most of the toadies and hangers-on in the Bio-led administration is their display of unadulterated arrogance of political power—crude in all its uncouthness and showiness! And President Bio has been playing into their hands by playing to the SLPP-ian gallery which only applauds anti-APC rhetoric and uncalled for machoness!

And it seems to me that President Bio’s insatiable appetite to play to the SLPP-ian gallery will be his own undoing that might have wider ramifications for him in the future. As Achebe notes in his novel, Arrow of God, “The death that will kill a man begins as an appetite.”
But maybe, just maybe, President Bio might put up a defence in the future that his “Mende Land”, “Temne Land”, and “Limba Land” infamous FM98.1 interview with Asmaa James; his “Terrorists” speech of 8 May 2020, and his “bullets for bullets” talk down in Bo were all lost in translations. After all, neither the English language nor the Krio language is his father’s tongue.
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