Friday, April 13, 2012

Bad Sierra Leoneans Bring Rebel Mentality to USA

Peaceful Sierra Leoneans around the Washington DC Metro who just want to live their lives, raise their children and provide for their relatives back home in their native Sierra Leone,  are now having to contend with an increased influx of young Sierra Leone migrants into the USA that have brought with them the lawlessness and murderous behavior they acquired in their country during the long civil war in their home country.

Sierra Leone it can be recalled, went through ten years of a vicious campaign by Foday Sankoh, an ex army corporal to take over the country by force of arms, citing the massive corruption and nepotism of the previous All Peoples Congress Party as an excuse. Back by ex-rebel leader turned Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor, Foday Saybana Sankoh unleashed a horrendous strategy of intimidation on the local population by engaging in burning of towns and villages, indiscriminate ambushing of roads and food supplies, amputation of limbs or decapitation of captured civilians, rape, looting, and every sort of mayhem designed to instill fear, sow confusion and general pandemonium with the sole purpose of making the population physically and emotionally subservient to Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front.
Foday Saybana Sankoh
RUF Leader and mass murderer

When the world woke up to the genocide that was going on in Sierra Leone, the international community, led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN decided that it was no longer possible to standby in silence in the face of such depravity and human suffering. ECOWAS and subsequently the UN, sent peacekeeping and peace enforcement forces into the country that were finally able to break the back of the rebellion, beat back an attempt by a military rebel coalition dubbed AFRC to derail the democratization process, and capture, try and jail some members leaders of the RUF and a pro-civilian government militia known as the "kamajors", a  name for hunters in the local Mende dialect.

One unfortunate effect of the war was that it gave rise to a new breed of young Sierra Leoneans who grew up in and participated in the lawlessness and violence of the times. Some of these youths have no use for ethical behavior, have very little knowledge of the concept of right or wrong or simply do not care and have very little use or regard for social etiquette. Consequently, Freetown  the capital of Sierra Leone is now plagued by armed robbery, burglary, violent assaults and a high degree of lawlessness. Every single event, be it a political gathering or a dance, has the tendency to quickly degenerate into fussing, fighting, stabbing and violence.
Interior Minister Tarawally
Preparing for Violence

 The current political situation in Sierra Leone, with its high tolerance for corruption and violence has not done much to improve the issue and with the interior Minister, Musa Tarawally, publicly claiming that the government has imported millions of dollars in arms and ammunition to supply the OSD, the armed wing of the police with a bad history, in order to control the opposition during the coming elections, only history will foretell what the future holds for the country this year. Just in the past week a retired superintendent of police,  ASP A. O. Conteh, a  former local unit commander of Goderich , a suburb of Freetown who was resident in USA and had gone to Sierra Leone over some land dispute, was brutally murdered together with his wife,Mammy Yema Conteh and their new housing complex set on fire by unknown assailants, just a day or two before they were due to head back to the United States of America.
A.O. Conteh's Senseless Murder

Somehow, through resettlement, family reunions or otherwise, some of the more unsavory and lawless elements that used to populate the streets of Freetown have slowly and steadily started to find their way into the USA and seemed to be living mostly in the East Coast area, specifically the Washington DC-Maryland-Virginia Axis and the Philadelphia, New Jersey area.

In the previous year three Sierra Leone immigrants were detained and charged for the murder of a promising youth, 23 year old Oluseun Fashina in the city of Glendale, Maryland. The three Sierra Leoneans arrested were all just beginning life and their families had great plans for them. They were 25 year old Tanseh John Nicholas, Alusine Kanu, 22 and Ransford Calker, 25.

A recent shocking case was the murder of 34 year old Aiah Nyanga Tongu of Greenbelt, Maryland on March 18th 2012.  Aiah, an avid soccer fan was a goalkeeper for a local team. He was also into music production and described by his friends as a very calm individual who hated violence and always tried to keep away from trouble. Two Sierra Leoneans, 26 year old Teddy Kaikai Marchant and Alhaji Abu Bakarr, 34, are being held in connection with the death of the promising young man. The Prince George's County police reports that the medical examiner had ruled Aiah's death a homicide, and eyewitnesses had seen the suspects in a violent altercation with the victim.  The medical examiner’s office told Prince Georges County police that Tongu’s death has been ruled a homicide.  The two suspects, Teddy Kaikai Marchant and  Alhaji Abu Bakarr of Bladensburg and Bowie respectively,  have been charged with first-degree assault and are being held without bond. With the medical examiner's ruling, detectives are working with prosecutors to amend the charges to murder, police said.
Alhaji Abu Bakarr
Teddy Kaikai Marchant

Concerned Sierra Leoneans living around the DC Metro area say they have had enough of this random violence and are calling a town-hall meeting tomorrow Saturday April 14, 2012 in Hyattsville, Maryland, to address the issue which is giving all of them a bad name and creating uneasiness between Sierra Leoneans and other African Migrants in the large African community living in the Washington DC Metro area. The meeting is between 2-6:00pm eastern time and they are calling all concerned Sierra Leoneans to attend.

I just hope and fervently pray that the town hall does not become another meaningless APC-SLPP showboating, instead of an emphasis on an existential threat that this social challenge has become.

Sheku Sheriff
Segbwema Blogger

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