Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sierra Leone Peoples Party North America Reelects Dr. Lawrence Sandi as Chairman

SLPPNA Chairman
Dr. Lawrence Sandi
The incumbent Chairman of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party North America (SLPPNA), Dr. Lawrence Sandi fought back a determined challenge from Mrs. Seray Dumbuya, the wife of former SLPP presidential aspirant Mr. Umaru Dumbuya, to recapture the leadership of SLPP's formidable North America region.
Mrs Seray Dumbuya

Mrs. Dumbuya was until the last few weeks a very serious contender for the regional leadership position, causing much discomfort within the Sandi support group, until a recording of her trying to influence the regional secretary generalship position along factional lines was made public.  This caused many independent members to question the veracity of the statements by her field agents that she was not tied to any faction within SLPP.

Mrs. Dumbuya was the former SLPPNA electoral commissioner who skillfully presided over peaceful elections in the party a few years ago that led to the election of Lawrence Sandi as Chairman of the region. Initially during the campaign, Mrs. Dumbuya's surrogates effectively convinced members of the region that she was politically neutral and belonged to no camp. Many people who were simply tired of the campism in the party along flag bearer candidate lines quickly gravitated to her message of inclusiveness.  Mrs. Dumbuya promised to make the region strong and independent of factional interests. Some people also took into consideration the long service of the Dumbuya family to the  Sierra Leone Peoples Party.  Initially some people tried to tie Mrs. Dumbuya to the Maada Bio paOpa support group in USA, but her surrogates were quick to suggest that there was no link to the camp and some of her supporters were known to support other flagbearer aspirants like Allie Kabba and Alpha Timbo
Unopposed Women's Leader
Kadie Ballah Jalloh

Unfortunately, a few days ago, Mrs. Dumbuya had a damaging Donald Trump moment. Somebody apparently close to her campaign forwarded a message in which she was heard proposing a clandestine meeting between two candidates vying for the position of Secretary General to gang up against another who was seeing as belonging to another flagbearer camp. This recording seriously undermined Mrs. Dumbuya's claim of factional neutrality and probably dealt a fatal blow to her campaign. 

Chaplain Rev. Titus Gebeh
In the election held today in the city of brotherly love Philadelphia, Dr. Lawrence Sandi who has been accused of being a KKY supporter, a charge has vociferously denied, won a resounding second term mandate by a convincing 69% to Mrs. Dumbuya's 30%.  Most of the candidates who were seen as belonging to Dr. Sandi's support group also won their contests handily.
Imam Alpha Saidu Bangura
(Me Salone Fambul Dem)

Lawrence Sandi, a young calm and affable intellectual type, has brought some element of stability to a region renowned for political intrigue and infighting. He is seen as a steady hand.

The new SLPPNA executive for the coming two years would be:
Chairman: Dr. Lawrence Sandi
Vice Chairman: Mrs Martha Bah Tsagli
Secretary General: Mr. Emmanuel Allie
Deputy Secretary General: Mr. Algasimu Bah
Women's Leader: Mrs Kadie Ballah Jalloh
Deputy Women's Leader: Mrs. Namisa Kramer
Financial Secretary: Mr.Gbonda Sei
Organizing Secretary: Mr. Ishmael Taylor Kamara
Deputy Organizing Secretary: Mr. Frank Kpewa
Deputy Secretary: Desmond Pessima
Imam: Alpha Saidu Bangura
Internal Auditor: Maada S. Jusu
Whip: Bobor Bayoh
Chaplain: Rev. Titus Gebeh
Sec Gen Women's Wing: Ann-Marie Williams
Young Generation Leader: Mohamed Bah
Young Generation Sec. Gen: Hindolo Barnett
Dep. Fin Sec. Young Gen: Alhaji Koita
Council of Elders
Dr. Josephine Ladipo
Mr. Samuel SAIDU
Mrs. Fatmata Kamara
Dr. Lahai Rogers
Mrs. Rugiatu Saffa

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Short 501 (c) (3) Guide for Immigrant Nonprofits

saint paul-201.jpg
US Immigrants

USA is a country of immigrants, many of whom come to the country for a variety of reasons. Some immigrants come to flee political and religious persecution. Others come for educational opportunities, while others come for the economic opportunities that are unique to the USA. Many come to seek refuge from the never ending conflicts in unstable regions of the world, while others come to seek refuge from natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and so on.

Regardless of the reasons why immigrants come to the USA, many still maintain strong ties to their countries of origin. Many, having lived in USA and benefiting from the many opportunities the country presents, become disillusioned by the lack of opportunities, the poverty, the repression and the destitution that characterizes their native countries. Some immigrants in America give up on focusing on the many problems back in their countries of origin. The decide instead to cut ties, become fully immersed in the American way of life. Other immigrants become political activists, agitating for positive change in their native countries. Still, some decide to directly make a difference, engaging in individual and group efforts to launch meaningful community development programs or projects in their countries of origin.

United States is unique in the opportunities it offers to those who want to engage in social good. The country has a long and strong tradition of individuals with a common bond coming together to tackle community issues outside the scope of formal government.

Immigrant Philanthropists
Many Americans, unlike people in other areas of the world, believe in limited government and maintain steadfast faith in the capacity of individuals to solve their own local problems. Americans believe that communities of people can band together and solve their own problems effectively, with little interference from an overarching government. This American characteristic is truly different from what occurs in many countries around the world, where citizens are led to believe that the government is the solution to almost all of society's problems.

American federal and state governments actively encourage individual and group initiatives that are directed towards public good. Federal and state governments provide many incentives for people to engage in these activities. In order to promote community initiatives to tackle problems such as homelessness, poverty, job skills development, the care of vulnerable adults, tackle child poverty and so on, the American government provides tax incentives to people forming nonprofit organizations to tackle these challenges that government and the private sector does not adequately address. Nonprofit organizations are formed by individuals or groups to pursue a social mission rather than profit. Though nonprofits can engage in profit making ventures, the profit from such ventures must be used to further the mission for which the nonprofit was founded.

There are many type of nonprofits. However, a discussion of the types of nonprofits that exist is not the focus of this paper. The most popular nonprofit organizations among immigrants are the tax exempt or 501 (c) (3) nonprofits. These nonprofits typically enjoy two main types of tax advantages. The first is that they are not required to pay taxes on the earnings from their activities. They should however ensure that the majority of the earnings are put towards the organizational mission. The second advantage of these nonprofits is that financial contributions made to them by individuals are tax deductible. Individuals can reduce their tax burdens by the amount they contribute to the nonprofit. This second advantage provides a great incentive for individuals to engage in charitable giving, as doing so substantially reduce their tax burdens.

The process of becoming a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit can be time consuming. However, there are many organizations and professionals that can guide new nonprofits navigate this complex process. The attainment of 501 (c)(3) status by a nonprofit is usually a period of celebration, as the organization is now permitted by the government to raise funds for which the donors can claim tax deductions! This should greatly facilitating fundraising.

What Distinguishes A 501 (c) (3) from Other Nonprofits
The term 501 (c)(3) is derived from the section of the Internal Revenue Code that deals with tax exempt nonprofits. Apart from the fact that 501 (c)(3) nonprofits receive tax exempt contributions and are not required to pay taxes on their earnings, there are other requirements that must be met for an organization to become a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. The IRS clearly defines the purposes for which a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit can be formed. In order to qualify for tax exemption, the organization must be engaged in a purpose that is “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fosters national or international amateur sports competition, and prevents cruelty to children and animals.” According to the IRS, the type of charitable purposes that can qualify includes, “relief to the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burden of the government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency” (IRS, 2016)

Even though there are restrictions on the type of purposes for which a tax exempt nonprofit can be formed, there are still a lot of purposes for which tax exemption can be sought. Organization seeking tax exemption must ensure that their activities fall within the scope of purposes permitted by the IRS.

Relevance of 501 (C)(3) Nonprofits to Immigrants
Immigrants from many poor parts of the world can form tax exempt nonprofit organizations to address the same needs outlined in the IRS code, within their native countries. Nonprofit organizations registered in the USA can take advantage of the same tax advantages regardless of where their charitable operations are being undertaken. OneVillage Partners (OVP) is a Minneapolis based nonprofit that is helping rebuild rural communities in Eastern Sierra Leone. Rural Health Care Initiative (RHCI)  is another Minnesota based nonprofit that partners with the people of rural Sierra Leone to improve health.

Ebola Worker in Kenema Sierra Leone
Immigrants who want to improve social conditions in their native countries can establish tax exempt nonprofits to tackle a variety of socioeconomic challenges .For example both the countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia suffered through many years of brutal civil wars that devastated much of the  economic infrastructure in the two West African neighbors. Barely a year ago, an Ebola epidemic struck both countries, killing a lot of people, revealing the institutional weakness of the health care institutions in both countries.

The government of both countries have very weak tax bases, with public sectors that are characterized by inefficiency, mismanagement and corruption. Both governments either lack the resources to tackle the many problems existing in local communities or lack the political will or know how to effectively provide meaningful solutions. Both countries however have large immigrant populations in the USA and many other developed countries. The remittances sent back home by these individuals represent a significant fraction of national revenue in their home countries. Immigrant groups can take advantage of the nonprofit culture in the United states to initiate nonprofit programs in local communities within their countries of origin. RHCI was formed in 2010 by a group of Sierra Leone immigrants and a group of philanthropic Americans to address health care needs in rural Sierra Leone.

Immigrants who have the motivation to help their communities of origin can use tax exempt laws to do considerable good and help alleviate a lot of problems such as lack of access to good schools, clinics, clean water supplies, clean energy, and many other social challenges.

Words of Caution
The tax advantages that a nonprofit acquires from being a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit are granted with the expectation that the organization is run with the utmost integrity and purely for public good. All actions taken by nonprofits are only for the organization’s mission and never for private benefit. No individual or group owns a tax exempt entity and even where the organization is dissolved, no individual can benefit from its assets. When a nonprofit is dissolved it is generally advised that its assets be transferred to another nonprofit and strict records of such transfer be kept.

Nonprofit organizations are governed by a board of directors who act as trustees of the organization, providing guidance, oversight and strategic direction. Board members are expected to be morally upright individuals with integrity and good character. Nonprofit survival is  based on the trust donors to the organization have that their donations will be put to the use for which they were intended. Any action on the part of the board or management that causes an erosion of this trust will negatively impact future fundraising and could cause the organization lose its tax exempt status and its management prosecuted. Nonprofits are therefore expected to display the highest degree of accountability and transparency.

Nonprofits must never lose focus of the mission for which they exist. Many African nonprofits fall prey to personality conflicts and other negative tendencies that distract from mission and put an emphasis on power relationships within the organization. Nonprofits exist purely for their mission and where the mission cannot be attained, it should either be modified or the nonprofit dissolved. Nonprofits should ensure that board members elected are those who will make a positive contribution to the organization’s mission.

Nonprofit organizations are expected to devote a substantial part of their revenue to programs that further the mission. Some nonprofits like hospitals may have high operating expenses and are labor intensive. A quick look at their books may lead one into the belief that they are spending more on payroll than programs. However, it should be noted that without these employees, the hospital will not undertake its programs, consequently not attaining its mission. In any case, nonprofits must demonstrate that most of the incomes they receive are directed towards the fulfillment of the organizational mission. Board members of a nonprofit are not paid. They may however receive reasonable reimbursement for expenses related to the mission of the organization. The staff of a nonprofit are however paid like employees of any other organization.

As long as proper guidelines are established, individuals remain focused on mission, and all involved with the nonprofit are doing so in furtherance of the public good, nonprofit organizations can be a vehicle through which immigrant groups can help their communities in their countries of origin. The can be valuable vehicles of social progress.

Note About the Author
Sheku Sheriff, BSc Hons, RN, MNM, MPA is a manager at Highland Chateau Health and Rehab in Saint Paul, MN. He holds degrees in Economics, Nursing, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. He is a founding member of Rural Health Care Initiative. His hobbies include blogging, photography and playing scrabble. He was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

How Trump Fails the Religious Test

I am a Christian Conservative 
What is truly baffling about the Trump campaign is not even the sheer number of daily gaffes that could have sunk anyone but the Reality TV star, but just the high  number of prominent, self professed Christian conservatives who have come out in favor such a plain sociopath.

Here is Donald Trump, a rich man with a long history of degrading women, ripping off small businesses who've worked with him, promoting racial discord, flaunting a vulgar and hedonistic lifestyle, making demeaning statements about the poor, mocking people with disabilities and recently caught on tape glorifying a history of sexual assault on women. Yet, this is the candidate of America's Christian Conservatives? Give us a break.

If Trump is a Christian Conservative then Mussolini was a prophet.
Think America 

The Christian faith is based on Ten Commandments. One of those commandments is "Thou Shall not commit adultery." Donald Trump is not only a serial adulterer, but he actually brags about touching married women on their privates parts and regularly trying to have intercourse with them. He calls reports about this, "a distraction and just locker room joke." If adultery could be just dismissed as a distraction, then is the ten commandments just a distraction to Donald Trump?

Another one of the ten commandment says that a man shall not covet his neighbor's wife. Trump has a history of coveting other people's wives, boasting that as a celebrity, they even let him grab them by the crutch, using language that we can't even use here. He sponsors beauty pageants and walks in on the models at their most vulnerable moments in their dressing rooms. They have to stand the degradation because he is the owner of the competition and can have them removed. Is this truly a man Christian conservatives would rally around as a leader or is just a pervert?

Another of the ten commandments is "Thou shall not steal." Trump has a history of working with struggling contractors and then finding  loopholes in their contracts to avoid paying them. Most times, he does this by saying they "did a lousy job," and throwing them to his lawyers. If this is not the same as stealing?

In order to avoid paying honest debts, Trump would rather declare bankruptcy and leaving his creditors hanging out to dry. Trump even reportedly refused to pay the people who catered one of his weddings, stating that adding his name to their business was payment in the form of free marketing and publicity.

Even when Jesus says "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's," Trump unlike the rest of hardworking people like us,  will use every rule in the book to avoid paying his share of income taxes, bragging that he is a genius who knows every tax loophole that exists. He claims Warren Buffet another billionaire does the same yet Buffet has publicly declared his taxes, yet Donald won't.

Some years ago, Donald Trump set up a so called "Trump University" proposing to teach successful real estate strategies to ambitious people who wanted to go into the real estate business. He hired a group of people, some with bogus qualifications and proceeded to advertise his "university" agressively.  People who were just looking for ways to achieve the American dream, captivated by the Trump name and the "university" label, spent thousands to acquire bogus "Trump University" qualifications, many of which  were not even worth the papers they were printed on. These people spent their time learning real estate information they could have discovered from simple google searches. Later when they discovered that the Trump University was a fraud and that they had just been duped, they filed lawsuits against Trump. But Trump always has a battery of lawyers, and many of the cases are still in court. Yet this is the candidate of Christian Conservatives.

Another of the Biblical ten commandments states that you should not make false witness against your neighbor. Donald Trump's life is a history of making unsubstantiated allegations, mostly false, against other people.

For the past few years he has been the leading advocate of the theory that President Barack Obama, the first African American president of this country, was not born in USA. According to Trump, the President was born in Kenya and secretly brought into the United States and registered as being born in Hawaii.
The stupidity of this assertion is apparent to any one who spends even a minute thinking. Even if Barack Obama's mother was traveling abroad when she gave birth to him, he was a US citizen by birth, as his mother was a citizen born in the USA. So the only reason why she would have had to hide the fact that he was born abroad was if somehow, she had had a prophesy that her son would grow up to be president. As that is the only job that is the sole preserve of natural born citizens, a term which is subject to considerable debate.

Another of Trump's hurtful lies was tying the father of his opponent Ted Cruz to the assassination of revered US President John F. Kennedy. Even though everybody knows that this particular dark conspiracy theory had no basis in fact and news outlets had consistently debunked the theory, Trump was just too happy to use it to smear his opponent. Yet, this is the candidate of conservative Christian leaders.

The religious right's excuse for backing Trump is the statements that he is one of their own, a conservative who is pro-life and has vowed to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

This I belive is Donald Trump's grand deception. Here is a man who is thrice divorced, most of his marriages ending because of adultery, who hosts beauty pageants in which women are paraded almost naked, who serially talks disparagingly about women on shock radio, who calls women fat, pigs, "with blood running out of their wherever," accuses them of having fake boob jobs, is fond of touching their private parts, and has just become pro-life after being pro-choice all his life. Yet this man is a conservative? Give me a break.

The Christian faith teaches humility and moderation. Donald Trump is anything but these. Trump is loud, brags that he knows everything more than anybody, has respect for no one, is petty, rude and  conniving. In essence, Trump represents everything the Bible teaches Christians not to be. Trump is a false prophet, the pied piper of conservatives.

Truthfully, most of these so called Christian conservatives are just using conservativism as an excuse to support Trump, because they can't publicly state the real reason. For many of them, Trump represents the bigotry and intolerance for others that they are afraid to publicly manifest. Trump represents the same group who for eight years have only been happy to delegitimize the President by saying he was not one of them, but foreign born. The same people who "want their country back." The same people who populated the "Tea Party" mob. All this conservative talk is just a charade. That is why the true conservatives are washing their hands off this false prophet.
False Prophet 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Organizations and Indigenes Provide Aid for Flood Victims in Segbwema

Segbwema Flooding
Local authorities, aid organizations and area indigenes have started providing aid to the hundreds of victims displaced by the flooding in Segbwema earlier this week.

The flooding which affected many areas of the town close to the Nyeya river, caused many people living in these areas to be displaced from their homes.

Traditionally, many houses in these areas are built with mud bricks. Many of these mud brick houses were either completely washed away, or left standing, unstable, on weak soggy foundations.

The World Food Program (WFP) quickly responded to the crisis during the week with the provision of supplies of rice, beans, vegetable oil and salt, while the District Health management Team (DHMT) responded by providing bed nets to the flood victims. The supplies were to be rationed out strictly, with each affected household receiving 60 kilograms(kgs) of rice, 9 kgs of beans, 3.75kgs of oil and 0.75kg of salt.

Victims at Segbwema Barrie
Food Aid from WFP
The Njaluahun Development Organization (NJADO), an organization comprising mostly of forward looking indigenes of the Njaluhun Chiefdom which was formed to promote local development, has already raised over six million leone in pledges to donate to the affected victims. Prominent Segbwema politician John O. Benjamin, a native of Segbwema, has also contributed to the NJADO effort and provided personal aid to the affected victims.

Battu Sheriff
Some of the flood victims narrated how the crisis hade seriously upended their lives. Battu Sheriff, an indigene of Segbwema toured the affected areas and talked to some of the flood victims for the Segbwema Blog.

One of the victims, Pa Kabineh Conteh, painfully lamented the loss of his entire six year old house. He said he had gotten out of bed that morning to find himself standing in a knee deep pool of water right inside his bed room. He turned around and observed that the back of his house was completely washed away. He was lucky to get out just in time before the house collapsed.

Aid distribution
Pa Kabineh stated that his house was just six years old, built when he convinced his younger brother, who was working for the road construction company ISU at the time, to join him in building a family house. Many people in this area had lost everything during the war. Pa Kabineh stated that he was at a loss, not knowing what to do and was asking benevolent Segbwema citizens to help him rebuild his house.
Abu Jajua Touring Flood Prone Areas

The local MP for the area Hon. Abu Jajua, who is deeply involved in flood response activities, took some authorities around the affected areas start planning work on how they would provide drainage facilities to prevent the recurrence of this type of incident in the future, or minimize the impact of future flooding in the area.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Whats with dreams in Sierra Leone?

Lion Mountain

These days in Sierra Leone, many people seem to be dreaming bad dreams, spreading these dreams on social media, and almost all of them want you to take their dreams very seriously. The social media platform WhatsApp has been a real boon to the bad dream disseminaters.

To put things in perspective, I do not underestimate dreams, neither do I discount other peoples belief in the truthfulness of their dreams.  However, I really want these bad dreamers to give other people a break. If you have a bad dream (nightmare) and want to talk it over with your pastor or imam, that is fine, but don't spread these dreams on social media as if you have just received a personal telephone call from heaven verifying the truthfulness of your dream.

Occasionally, everybody has a bad dream.  I do believe even our former Queen Elizabeth II, who was born with a golden spoon in her mouth, sometimes has a bad dream. Even though the queen  has survived more than 300 other leaders since she became queen over half a century ago, there are times when she has the occasional bad dream, even if it involves her sitting alone in the same dining room with Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin Dada.

So if you lie down and see the entire city on fire, maybe the dream is telling you something about your life and not telling you to start making apocalyptic predictions or spread messages on social media that will get other people scared, especially innocent young people with a smartphones. 

There was one particularly irritating dream teller that I unfortunatelydeleted from my phone. It was one in which this dreamy eyed lady was trying to get the whole Freetown scared, because she had had an apocalyptic dream in which she saw the city on fire. It was the longest dream I have ever heard and she seemed to take particular enjoyment in retelling it. She was so confident her dream was true that it was truly irritating. Of course, our people, always gullible, are bound to take these predictions seriously and send them to others, just to spread the dread. 

These days a cottage industry seems to be developing in Sierra Leone around the dissemination of bad dreams via social media, with unscrupulous dream interpreters being the main beneficiaries. Men of faith have already seriously started thinking about taking advanced classes in dream interpretation. 

People in Sierra Leone should really start questioning everything they read on social media.  Just as people who have serious news view social media as a quick way to reach an audience, so do dreamers, superstitious village bred folks, liars and rumor mongers. 
I Dream of You!

Somebody dreams the sky is red, they would wake up and quickly spread it on WhatsApp, with a warning of dire consequences that would follow if the people of Sierra Leone do not follow that particular dreamers interpretation of their own dream. Some will even have the audacity to declare several days of fasting, causing unnecessary suffering for an already starving people.

So my Sierra Leone brothers and sisters. If you have a bad dream, remember that everybody, even President Ernest Bai Koroma and President Obama, have bad dreams. Deal with you dreams and don't go about trying to scare the hell out of others. It could simply be that you had too much to eat before you went to bed. Let others live in peace while you deal with your bad dreams.

As the Krio people say, " dog dream die nar in belleh."~Dogs never recount their dreams. "Unu leh we yeri far."

Sierra Leone's Internal Affairs Minister Calls for Resumption of the Death Penalty

Rtd. Major Palo Conteh
The Sierra Leone Minister of Internal Affairs, Rtd. Major Alfred Paolo Conteh has asked prison authorities to repair electric chairs and other capital punishment machines in the prison system, in order to resume the execution of prisoners sentenced to death in the country. He believes that the resumption of government sanctioned killings in the country is the solution to the rise in gang affiliated killings in Sierra Leone.

Speaking to the country through radio Radio democracy, Rtd. Major Paolo Conteh lamented the rampant rise in gang inflicted murders in the country and reminded everyone that Sierra Leone still has capital punishment in the country's law books. The minister referenced the "an eye for an eye" passage in the Bible and the local saying, "killing a dog before other dogs will make dogs aware of death" to support his position on the resumption of death. He said that if a human being that has killed another human in such a violent  and "raw" fashion is sentenced to death, there is no need for them to remain in prison for many years being fed by the government.
Ready the Gallows

Rtd Major Paolo Conteh  also stated that even though he was aware of human rights views on capital punishment, he viewed the Sierra Leone case is unique.  The country, he stated, had gone through too much suffering in recent times to allow this spate of wanton killing to continue unabated. He had therefore given strict instruction to corrections authorities in the country to ready the gallows for the resumption of the implementation of the death penalty, particularly for these types of crimes.

Over the past few months, many Sierra Leoneans have been worried about the rise in gang related killings in the country's capital Freetown. Many  believe that the government should take firm steps to go after the leaders of such gangs and curb their practices. The police has already promised financial rewards to anybody who will provide information on the leadership of these gangs. However, there are many in the country who feel that  as dire as the the situation is, it can still be brought under control through professional police and detective work without resorting to the reactivation of the death penalty in the country.

Gang member in Freetown
The first step should be the ban  and criminalization of these gangs all over the city, with strict penalties and mandatory prison sentences for anybody belonging to  or sponsoring them.Many of these gangs consist unemployed and disaffected youths who are used during election periods by politicians to attack and intimidate their political rivals. Some of these youths are promised money, jobs and a better life after the elections. Unfortunately these jobs never appear and the gangs never disband. The gangs assume permanence and become involved in petty and major crimes. The leaders of these gangs and any politician caught sponsoring them should be prosecuted.

Even though the focus on the reduction in gang violence should be a national priority, government should conduct a root cause analysis to determine the main reasons why such gangs attract the city's youths in the first place.

I believe the main reason for the existence of these violent gangs is the lack of many opportunities for youths in Sierra Leone. The  Sierra Leone government should prioritize programs for youth social mobility in the country, with the help of private organizations and NGO partners. There is a popular saying that, "an idle mind is the devil's playground." Youths in Sierra Leone need positive engagement that will give them hope and keep them away from the things that attract them to gangs.
No Opportunity for Youths

Trade schools, skills centers, and vocational institutes are needed in Sierra Leone to develop minds and help youths in the country to  focus on the future, rather than focus on gangs and cliques. Major Paolo Conteh can resume the death penalty in Sierra Leone, but this will just be a stop gap solution. However, if opportunities for positive youth engagement are not provided in the country, youths will risk even their life to be attracted to those vices that provide them respite from the grinding poverty that is the hallmark of the society in which they were born.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Flooding in Segbwema

A House nearly Buried
The Road to Taima
Heavy torrential rainfall in Segbwema, Kailahun district, Eastern Sierra Leone has caused historic flooding in parts of the town, destroying millions of Leones worth of property.The most affected areas are the low lying areas of the Segbwema sections of Manina and Soso town. With the water rising in the very low areas almost roof level.

From the Daru road to the swamps between Soso Town and Manina, most of the houses that are built around the river Nyeya have been inundated with water rising as high as the knee in many areas.
The Old Railway Station, which is now the main commercial hub of Segbwema is currently buried in brown sluggish water more than a feet deep in many areas.

A man Surveying his Property
The construction of a road through some swamps of the town that are tributaries of the river Nyeya without much provision for water runoff is blamed by independent experts in the town as the main reason for the severity of the flooding.

The river has been historically been know to rise during the rains but most times it has emptied easily into the large Maleh river that divides Njaluahun from Nogowa Chiefdoms. However, the new road has become a major barrier to water flow providing a dam like effect that is restricting the free movement of river water, driving it back into low lying houses and property.
Near Old Railway

Houses along the lower levels of Soso Town and Manina are currently inundated with water, with people waddling through the sludge, knee deep in some areas. Some people woke up this morning, stepping into water running through their bedrooms.

Some of the town citizens are worried that if the underlying problems are not quickly addressed, this phenomenon will be a yearly occurrence.

Segbwema is the home town of Wesley Secondary School, Holy Ghost Secondary School and the famous Nixon Memorial Hospital.

Contacting the Honorable Abu Jajua in Segbwema today, this is what he had to say:

 "Segbwema Blogger, from a technical background, the causes of this flooding, in addition to rapid construction along the river bank of Nyeya  is the fact that ISU failed to consider the historical water flow patterns. I tried to bring this to the notice of ISU in 2013, but they decided to go by the historical map of 60s that showed the river as a small stream surrounded by a very big swamp, but did not consider the flow of water from the higher areas of Taiama section emptying into the swamp."
Segbwema MP Honorable Abu Jajua

"The realignment of the new Daru road that passes along the a major awamp route is one cause and the refusal of ISU to clear the river bed of this stream was another. The width of the stream has been reduced by the road construction, which needed clearing of the stream to allow the free flow of water."

"At the manina swamp axis, the longest swamp in the township has been abandoned and not cultivated for the past four years, possibly causing soil sedimantation and building a strong resistance to water absorption" Honorable Abu Jajua