Thursday, May 24, 2012

Of Lokos and Hutus: The Garbage Of Tribal Politics

The flagbearer of the main opposition party in Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, who will be the presidential candidate for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the November 2012 elections has had everything thrown at him. Leading APC blog outfits masquerading as news outlets; Cocorioko, Torch and Awarenesstimes have thrown every conceivable garbage at the ex-leader of the country who initiated the first contacts with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that ended the horrible crimes against humanity that were being perpetrated in the country under the guise of a civil war.
Julius Maada Bio

When Maada Bio was elected flagbearer of the SLPP, most APC diaspora commentators like Kabbs Kanu, Joseph Sherman, and the grammatically challenged pseudo-intellectual Essa Thaim Kurugba and a bevy of other uninfluential forum party loyalists were ecstatic as they thought that with his NPRC association, Sierra Leoneans would easily reject Maada Bio in favor of the current president Ernest Bai Koroma, if he could be portrayed as an evil person. Unfortunately, most of these fellows never witnessed the war in Sierra Leone to appreciate that by seeking a diplomatic solution to the war, Maada had endeared himself to hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans.

APC agents were joined in the anti-Maada crusade by the garrulous Charles Taylor sympathiser, Sylvia Blyden, a journalist wanna be with the charm of a cobra and the mentality of a wounded Donkey. Sylvia Blyden is nastiness personified; a vendetta writer with an attraction for tabloid sensationalism, she uses her paper to destroy the reputation of those she hate and staunchly defend those she supports, while at the same time trying to convince all that listen to her that she is telling the truth. Of course, everybody's version of he truth is different.
Stoking The fire of Tribalism 
Maada's reputation took some heavy beating when he was announced to be the flagbearer of SLPP and short of a gun being used against his person, APC  seems to have just started their campaign of defamation against him, in a deliberate attempt to take people's mind away from four years of disastrous policies that have reduced the value of the national currency by almost 50% and eroded the relatively stable security climate that existed immediately prior to Ernest Koroma's ascension to the presidency.

Maada Bio was portrayed as a vicious murderer and violator of human rights. He was described as a crook and a fraud and portrayed as unpatriotic and opportunistic. Though Maada Bio only came to prominence after Soloman Anthony J. Musa, the then 22 year old NPRC vice president was kicked out of the NPRC, Maada is now being accused of the human rights violations committed when Valentine Strasser and SAJ Musa were in charge. The paradox here is that NPRC heavy hitters like Karifa Kargbo, Tom Nyuma, Idriss Kamara and Kindama Kargbo, who were all in NPRC at the time of these incidents, are now APC stalwarts and not regarded as civil right violators. So those who want to condemn Maada lost the moral argument by embracing those who were at the same rank with him when these same incidents occurred.
President Koroma Hutu, Loko, Temne-Who Cares?
APC agents do not realize that their main problem is not Maada Bio, but the poor judgment of the current party leader and nation's president Ernest Bai Koroma. Bai Koroma is typically a product of his generation, a man of 60s and 70s Sierra Leone when the fight between Siaka Steven and Albert Margai for national leadership was reduced to an inter tribal rivalry that the country has still not recovered. Albert Margai, seeing the popularity of Siaka Stevens in the north, after the Marginalization of Karefa Smart, decided to appeal to the southeastern part of the country while Siaka Stevens appealed to the northwestern region. Ultimately, Albert Margai's disagreeable nature cause SLPPers like Brewah and Kaisamba to run as independendents and effectively hand over leadership to APC.

Ernest Koroma took up office on a wave of personal popularity and disenchantment with the relative slow pace of development under President Kabba. An internal SLPP rebellion led to the creation of PMDC as Charles Margai felt that he should have been anointed leader of SLPP instead of Solomon Berewa. When there was no outright winner in the first round of the presidential elections, Margai threw his weight and support behind the candidacy of Ernest Koroma, hoping to promote inter regional integration. Ernest Koroma however proved to be a leader whose mentality was stuck in the politics of the 70s, the politics of tribal and regional identity. 

One of the first acts that Koroma did, an harbinger of things to come,was to create the least ethnically diverse cabinet in the history of Sierra Leone, with over 70 %of the ministers coming from the north of the country. APC supporters defended the practice by stating that the president appointed people he was comfortable working with and those he trusted. Most skeptical observers were however of the opinion that if the president could only work with or only trust people from the north of the country, then there must be something fundamentally wrong with his world view. Ernest Koroma in the first year of his leadership engaged in recklessly removing seasoned civil servants who had years of experience and on the job training and replaced them with party loyalists, the majority of whom had dubious qualifications or were graduates from American universities with questionable credentials. 
Kabbah-Not a fan of Tribal Politics
EBK as he is popularly known has promoted tribal and divisive politics to insane proportions. The argument currently in Freetown, being fueled in Machiavellian fashion by his supporters to deepen ethnic fissures is whether the president is Loko or Temne or a combination of both. Most people in Sierra Leone know president Koroma's family. His brothers are awarded lucrative contracts all over the place. He is a relatively young man so his playmates and school mates must be alive. If people really care to know the presidents tribe, why not ask his family members? All this talk about the president's tribes takes away valuable time talking about his failed policies which have led to the disapperance of the Sierra Leone middle class and the creation of a society in which there are now only the very rich (associates of the president) and the very poor (the majority of the people). I was at a party last week in which an APC friend asked me if I knew the president's tribe. "Hutu" I replied,  "but there are no Hutus in Sierra Leone," he said. 
"Well the rate at which tribalism is being promoted in Sierra Leone, we will soon degenerate into a Hutu and Tutsi situation reminiscent of Rwanda"
Crying Tribalism on Flagbearer Loss
Krio from Komende Leigh
President Koroma could be from Mars for all I care. If a Temne is going to provide good leadership for Sierra Leone, then any well meaning Sierra Leonean should pray for that Temne man or woman to rule Sierra Leone. What we need in that country is leadership that would save that country from the nightmare of hunger and abject poverty the majority of the people have descended into. President Koroma could be Gola or Bambara and that is of very little importance. What we need is an administration that would not just be mortgaging the country's future in the name of foreign investment.

Whoever becomes the next president of Sierra Leone should not follow this insane path of blatant tribalism masquerading as governance in Sierra Leone today. Some months ago residents of the town of Makeni rebelled against the Catholic church for appointing a church leader of southeastern origin. The people of Makeni's action was just a manifestation of the toxic tribal environment existing in Sierra Leone today. Jesus Christ was neither Temne nor Mende, but a Jew. If the people of Sierra Leone are prepared to have a Jew from the middle east as a savior, why should anyone have a problem accepting a fellow Sierra Leonean as a messenger of God. 
Maada Bio-Could Be Zulu
The greatest nation on earth, the USA shows what happens when people put aside ethnic, religious and regional differences and work together for the betterment of their society. Asians, African American, Europeans, Native and Caucasian American all work together to build a society that is working towards equality for all and progress for the human race. Americans value their differences but do not let such differences become obstacles to national progress and Sierra Leoneans should learn from that.
Segbwema Blogger-Madingo of Bambara, Mende and Konyanka Heritage
Could be Chinese


saltsmom said...


Sam said...

Sheku is a decent son of the soil therfore, he has no space for tribalism in his heart for anybody. God bless you for shearing such a brillant idea with young men like us.