Friday, June 8, 2012
Bambay Kamara: A Tyrannical Saint.
Mrs. Ibrahim-Cole, my class five teacher at Samaria Primary School, Wellington Street Freetown, just behind the Red Lion Bakery used to say that the "the patient dog gets the fattest bone." That was then; when things were better. Sierra Leone then had a population of just over 3 million, the Leone was more valuable than the US dollar and Siaka Stevens was just deciding to host the OAU. Those were the days of economic sanity. Samuel Lansana Bangura was still governor of Sierra Leone, a righteous man, later cut down in his prime by Siaka Steven's malevolent ambition and violently murdered in 1979 in connivance with Bambay Jamara then CID boss and the notorious Highwayman of Samuels, Kissy.
Samuel Lansana Bangura
Of all the sins of All People's Congress party (APC), the murder of Samuel Lansana Bangura, for the simple reason that he objected to the hosting of the OAU which he saw as a monumental waste of the young nations resources, represents one of the darkest chapters in that party's history or even in the history of Sierra Leone and those now clamoring for justice for Bambay need only to realize that God may occasionally close his almighty eyes, but he never sleeps. I will never justify the way Valentine Strasser treated Bambay and others, because I strongly believe that every human being, regardless of the enormity of his crime, deserves his day in a free and fair court. However, sometimes people do reap what they sow. Bambay may have been a great dad and a great family man, a loyal police officer to his political masters, a benevolent person to the numerous students he gave scholarships to, but deep down he was a very bad and malevolent human being who had no second thought in eliminating any and all that he considered as a barrier to his enormous ambitions.
For objecting to hosting the OAU, which Siaka Stevens wanted to do to satisfy his monumental ego, Samuel Lansana Bangura's premises were gotten into by collaborating with a relative of his. He was then dragged and thrown over the rails of his balcony in his upstairs building after been manhandled and fell to his certain death. I was too young at the time to know how the case was tried, but the main perpetrators went scot free, as highway man lived to further terrorize the poor residents of Kissy.
Bambay Kamara Villainous Saint
Under Bambay Kamara, the Sierra Leone police became one of the most corrupt law enforcement institutions on the face of the earth and appointments to key areas of the country in the police force was openly bought and sold. When I was a student at Fourah Bay we had an incident in which a burglar went to block H at night and got into a room. Unfortunately he was caught and students started beating him badly. Some of us who thought he would most likely be killed were able to convince some of our rowdy colleagues to have him be taken instead to the small FBC police station that was located near the Library studies department. When we took the thief there he was locked up in the cell and the opportunity made me befriend the police boss that was there. The police boss, whose name I cannot now remember, was a very bitter man. He had been sent to run the FBC police station, which was one of the most miserable police appointments at the time, because he had had the bad luck of falling out with Bambay Kamara. As a supposed punishment he was sent to monitor Fourah Bay College, a place in which the students at the time had no business with or even cared for the police.
Under Bambay Kamara's police, Sierra Leone became a contraband state in which smuggling became a thriving business. Police along the Pamalap axis with Guinea did not only let smuggling go on brazenly for cash, they were partners in the crime and provided protection and security for smugglers. All police bosses assigned to border areas like Koindu and Pamalap were expected to make monthly visits to Bambay's headquarters with monetary gifts, and it was the size of the gifts that was used in determining whether you stayed in your particular department or were posted to a far away place like Bonthe or assigned to be the commander at FBC, guarding students who were among the most broke and "hard up" students, anywhere in the world.
One of the gravest injustices that Bambay Kamara ever inflicted on a fellow human being was the treatment meted out to the former head of Liberia's senate Mr. Kekura B Kpoto who became a refugee in Sierra Leone during the Liberian Civil war. Senator Kpoto was a prominent Liberian politician and one of the foremost West African farmers and businessmen at the time of the war in Liberia. He historically had strong ties to Sierra Leone and all his male sons Ziama, Bayoh and William, got their education in Sierra Leone at the presitigious Bo School in Bo town, the nation's second capital. During Taylor's NPFL invasion of Liberia, prominent politicians like Kpoto were targets for immediate execution. Kpoto managed to escape from Liberia and sought solace and political refuge in Sierra Leone. Ever the businessman, Kekura Kpoto saw a chance to invest in SierracLeone's massive cocoa and coffee trade as APC had run SLPMB into the ground.
Kpoto was licensed to operate in the country as produce dealer, but he made the unfortunate mistake of starting to pay the farmers far more than James International was paying at the time for a pound of cocoa or coffee.
After the demise of SLPMB, local business magnate Eric James of James International saw the opportunity to operate in the business like a monopoly by supplying prominent local farmers strong small trucks on loan and thus getting their loyalty. At the time he had no strong private competitor and he was sure of easily recouping his investment in these trucks that were widely distributed in the eastern region, Sierra Leone's bread basket, and some areas of the south. Kpoto's presence in the form of his company VOLCAFE seriously complicated things for James International as farmers were rushing to Volcafe with their higher prices motivated simply by the law of supply.
Kpoto's boss K. Doe
Eric James saw a great threat to his business model and sought the help of Bambay Kamara to control Kekura Kpoto. Bambay staged managed the arrest of Kpoto and trumped up charges of him engaging in arms trafficking for rebels. He was locked up and he lost most of his investments in the country. Later Kpoto returned to Liberia after the war and Samuel Doe's death to once again enter into Liberian politics. Kekura Kpoto may have been one of the most cunning political chameleons of contemporary Liberian politics, but he was never a supporter of Taylor during the war.
Eric James -James International
All this hoopla and cry about justice for Bambay Kamra is a patently false and hypocritical stance by politicians and pseudo-journalists who have very little interest in the man, but are just capitalizing on using the families of those killed in the infamous SAJ Musa massacre as pawns in a wider political chess game. APC has been in power since 2007, is it just now that they realized that Bambay was killed almost twenty years ago? If the truth of the action is what is being sought, why not go after Valentine Strasser who is living in plain site in Freetown? He was the president for Pete's sake!
Bambay Kamara is unfortunately part of the cabal that brought the country Sierra Leone to its knees and reduced the country in their time to the poorest country on the face of the earth. His massive corruption, especially during the period of the buffoonish Momoh was one of the catalytic factors that precipitated the decade long RUF violence in the country that led to the massacre of thousands of Sierra Leoneans. Though I will never endorse the way he was killed, it will be better for everybody in Sierra Leone if he just remains dead. Dead as a doornail, dead as an ancient Egyptian mummy, as dead as dead. We all lost close people and relatives in Sierra Leone. Jim Fornah, Francis Minah, Brigadier Bangura, Kula Samba, Johnny Moore, and even Sam Maskita Bockarie all had relative. If all the relatives of those that have unjustly died in Sierra Leone are to open inquests into their deaths, we will have to spend the next twenty years blaming each other. Let us bury these crimes of the past and use them to vow never to go down that road again.
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