What’s Wrong With The JBS And KKY Movements


By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

There is this clichéd cliché that “people should think outside the box”. What this means, as I see it, is that people who think inside the box are those who lack creativity, innovations; they are the follow-the-crowders and stick-in-the-mudders.

So, just imagine the situation that will arise when those who have always been thinking inside the box begin to think under the box. Well, if you cannot imagine that, just digest what Robert Green Ingersoll, one of the greatest Freethinkers the world has ever produced, once noted. He noted that, “It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense”.

And the late ex-President Siaka P. Stevens, whom I will aptly describe as the Sepp Blatter of Sierra Leonean politics, would have retorted that: “Nar sense make book norto book make sense”. This brings me to today’s One Dropian dropping which is a One Dropian take on both the John Bonoh Sisay (JBS) and the Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) Movements.

To all intents and purposes, when an aspiring politician forms a Movement, it means that that politician is cloudily saying that s/he intends to operate outside the established structures of the political party he or she is aspiring to lead. When President Ernest Bai Koroma wanted to be the leader and chairman of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) in 2002, he didn’t form an Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) Movement that would serve as a parallel structure to the APC he was intending to lead; rather he worked within his party’s structures. And he used his own financial resources to finance core APC activities. For example before the 2002 General Elections, Ernest Bai Koroma single-handedly paid the nomination fees for all those would-be Members of Parliament and Councillors who were financially disadvantaged.

But in the case of John Bonoh Sisay, it is now an open secret within the APC that he cares less about APC candidates contesting by-elections nationwide. Even within the APC politburo, many APCers are now wondering why John Sisay didn’t openly campaign with the APC candidates who recently won the by-elections in Freetown, Waterloo and Kailahun. They are still wondering why he is yet to be actively involved in the activities of the APC candidates contesting upcoming by-elections in Bombali and Kono Districts. The reason, they say, is very simple: He is more concerned with his JBS Movement than the APC itself!

One of the very important points which Dr Kandeh Yumkella and John Sisay are missing is their political naivety of Chinese-Boxing their priorities. Even illiterate politicians know that when someone wants to lead either the APC or the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in an upcoming Presidential election; the first sensible and logical step to take is for that person to woo the party’s current MPs, Councillors, Regional Executives, the Youth and Women’s Wings, and party executives in the Diaspora because it is them who will be the delegates in any convention to elect a presidential candidate. But John Bonoh Sisay and Dr Yumkella have been concentrating more on people who might not even have the legal status of being allowed in the compound (or courtyard) of where a delegates’ conference will be held let alone be allowed inside the conference hall itself. What both men might be missing is the horrid fact that to be the presidential mascot of either the APC or SLPP, the first priority is to get delegates’ smiles not that of rented crowds. But both men are concentrating on, and putting their energies in, rented crowds and scorning the would-be delegates.

Another blunder which the JBS and KKY Movements have committed, and are still committing, is their leaders’ presentations of themselves to their party’s faithful with intellectual aloofness. For Dr Yumkella, that might impress a small section of his party who still holds the archaic view that the SLPP is still an elitist party and should remain so despite the realistic fact that multi-party democracy in Africa is all about wooing the grassroots. But for John Bonoh Sisay, the elitist presentation of himself seems to be a put-off to many MPs, Councillors and Regional Executives who are now positing that a John Sisay flagbearership might not resonate with the heartbeats of the Abacha-Streeters (I deliberately used this coinage as a generic metaphor) who strongly believe that an APC leader should not only be street-wise with colourations of Savismanism but should be imbued with a sort of Siaka Stevens-ian trite jokes and slangs.

Yes, giving public lectures is good, especially in societies with high percentages of educated citizens. But in Sierra Leone where 90% of the electorate do not vote based on the attractiveness of political parties’ manifestoes or the logical arguments of presidential candidates but on impulses and other trivial considerations; both Sisay and Yumkella’s newfound pastime of public lectures are not adding any spice to their Movements.

And both leaders of the JBS and KKY Movements have lingering ghosts that always come out of their sepulchres to perennially haunt them. The ghost of John Sisay being the first cousin of President Ernest Bai Koroma will always have the tendency to split the APC right in the middle as he would be seen as a case of the President wanting to ram down a relative on the throats of his party faithful. And for Dr Yumkella, the apparition of him lying about his party membership will always take a sort of King Duncan-ian (remember William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?) proportion. And worse, both men do not seem to be the choices of their parties’ Grassrooters (is this another One Dropian dropped word?).  

As things now stand, the manner in which the leaders of the JBS and KKY Movements are going about their political aspirations is triggering the ironic feeling that John Bonoh Sisay and Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella are watching Season 1 of “Lost” while on-board flight MH370.

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