The Charles Margai/Berewa bust-up in Bo : The hand of the diligent will rule

By Karamoh Kabba – an observer :
charles margai 06
He stated that he was so disgusted by the behavior of the unruly crowd that
he turned back and returned to his Lodge. “I have never seen the like
before”, the Vice-President said of the hostile action. (Statement from Berewa)
On leaving the stage where I was seated with other guests, the Vice President
‘s convey arrived and I walked passed it and entered my vehicle. As my
vehicle drove off, the crowed followed, again in a jubilant mood. Driving for
about two to three hundred yards from the compound, I noticed from the left side
mirror of my vehicle that the Vice President’s dispatch riders were heading
in the same direction and I instructed my driver to pull to the right hand
side of the road to make way for them to pass, which they did. (Statement from
Margai) .
We were not at Bo to witness exactly what transpired between Charles Margai
of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (P.M.D.C.), a movement that is
yet to be registered as a political party and Vice President Solomon Berewa
on November 19, 2005. Nonetheless, there is much to write on the brawl
between Margai’s supporters and Solomon Berewa based on the many accounts that are
reaching us about the alleged booing at the vice president, throwing missiles
at and blockading of his motorcade that was bound for a Prize-giving and
Speech day ceremony at Christ the King College (CKC) campus, the alma mater for
both presidential aspirants for the upcoming 2007 presidential elections.
However, with the help of the above statements from both men we can begin to take
an objective look at the incident that led to the arrest of P.M.D.C.
supporters, including Charles Margai.Despite the many side-taking statements coming from both political camps in
Sierra Leone and abroad, the two statements above from Berewa and Margai seem
that the two were trying to avoid each other?Margai was exiting and Berewa
was backing up to avoid clashing when they actually ran into each other’s
convoy. There is something to make out of this: that the actions of the supporters
from both sides were mere demonstration of their political invectiveness
than any of the political aspirant intention to stir up trouble. And, Margai was
not at the location of the booing, throwing of missiles and blockading of
the vice presidential motorcade. And Solomon Berewa may not have staged the
clash on purpose to destroy Margai’s political ambition, And Margai may not have
been correct when he claimed that the authorities were out to get him,
though they reacted to the brawl in haste.
This simple situation could become a violent political strive if the
authorities are not careful with the way they are handling it. There are many things
that went wrong that I intend to highlight that could have avoided the clash
and prepare the authorities to maintain the fragile peace in the aftermath
of more than a decade-long atrocious war in Sierra Leone.
First, the school authorities should have thought and prepare well, even
though it is not clear whether both men were officially invited, for their
presence at the school Prize-giving and Speech day ceremony. The recent Sierra
Leone People’s Party (S.L.P.P.) convention in Makeni sowed dissension between
Margai and the S.L.P.P. when Margai alleged a foul play over Berewa’s landslide
victory, which led to his resignation from the party and the formation of the
P.M.D.C. The school authorities were quite aware of the emerging political
tension, which is particularly so in Bo, between the two men. Thus the school
authorities, if they must have both men at the Prize-giving and Speech day
ceremony, should have been more careful about maintaining peace by having a
strong security apparatus in place. In the absence of that, they actually
exposed schoolchildren to violence and risk of being shot at.
Secondly, the Vice President Berewa’s motorcade security logistic is the
sloppiest I have come to know of in the twenty-first century. Evidently, the
incident at Bo should not have come as a surprise to him. Berewa is not just an
ordinary man who can walk into any place, especially where he was expecting
such political tension. I am yet to hear of a place where a vice president is
bound to visit that has not been scouted and secured before his arrival. Under
a well-secured condition, he probably could have only learned of the booing
in the newspapers, because the police could have kept the demonstrators far
away from his motorcade. Besides the Margai factor, Berewa was too full of
confidence to be moving around as he did, especially in an area where he is not
popular among many of the people.Third, citizens have the right to boo at their leader in a show of
disapproval of countless things. Should this result in the blockading of a vice
presidential motorcade, the police should have handled it better than they did if
they were properly trained for such a potential peril state of affairs. Owing
to the fact that Margai is not someone who must be arrested now in fear that
he will become a fugitive, the police had all the time to deal with the mob to
protect the vice president and investigate who was behind the demonstration
later. “The hand of the diligent will rule.” Thus, the police department was
asking for trouble when its men arrested Margai, a man with at least about
fifty percent support in Bo to be conservative in the absence of real figures,
in haste. The police need to be careful; hurriedness in such a precarious
situation if we must maintain the peace the world invested so much money and
manpower in is heedless of that effort and peace.

Fourth, although this is not intended to hold him responsible for the mob
action, Margai has to do a better job in reinforcing nonviolence amongst his
supporters. No leadership is worthy of the destabilizing of Sierra Leone. We
must learn from this event if we must keep our train on the peaceful tracks it
has been jumpstarted.
Karamoh Kabba

With our hurricane lamps, who says we cannot light asphalt jungles despite
the high winds? “Then right opinion is nothing inferior to knowledge.”

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