Thursday, August 22, 2013

One More Week to Minnesota Tegloma International Convention

Tegloma President Hassan &
Mrs. Safia Kamara
We are currently in a frenzy, running all over Minnesota,  knocking on doors, rekindling old alliances,  revisiting old allegiances, all in a bid to be ready to host a one time spectacular Tegloma International convention next weekend in Minnesota, the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.

All the sub-committees of the  Convention Planning committee are working at full capacity to ensure that everything goes according to plan and every eventuality is planned for, save for that occasional stochastic disturbance.
Minnesota Vice President Alice &
Federation Vice Chair Rebecca


The media committee consisting of Tegloma International Federation Vice Chairman Rebecca Johnson and Tegloma Federation Board Secretary General Sheku Sheriff, are working overtime to ensure  that each delegate among the hundreds expected is, welcomed,  recognized and catered for, and that the people of Minnesota and the world know about Sierra Leone, our culture, Tegloma and the humanitarian work we are doing here in the diaspora and back home in Sierra Leone.

Social Secretary Ann Marie
Mr. Ibrahim Seisay and members of his entertainment committee in collaboration with one of  Sierra Leone's premier cultural  ambassadors,  Mr. Raymond Kamara, who has represented Sierra Leone in cultural competitions overseas are working overtime to ensure that there will never be a dull moment. The full strength and unique beauty of Sierra Leone's extremely rich cultural heritage will be on display for the whole world to marvel at.

Mr. Lamin Jabbie and the members of the transportation committee are spending sleepless nights pondering about the logistics of moving delegates between locations,  ensuring that times are strictly adhered to and nobody misses any action, their way around,  or their flights back home.
Transportation Committee Head
Imam Lamin Jabbie

Ms. Alice Karpeh and the members of the great food committee are currently working on the Menus and traditional recipes that will make the guests pay attention close to all the details of the convention, while being fed on a well balanced diet.

Entertainment Head Ibrahim Seisay

Social Secretary Ann Marie Foday Kai and the members of the hospitality committee are committed to ensuring that the delegates feel welcome and comfortable throughout their stay.
Monitoring all the action, supervising the arrangements,  ensuring that everything is in place is the head of the planning committee,  Tegloma Minnesota Chief Hassan Hendrickson Kamara, whose attention to detail is extraordinary for a Sierra Leonean.
Chapter members Massah, Theresa &
Bernadette 

As an added attraction, the Tegloma International Convention is coinciding with the Minnesota State Fair, one of the greatest social attractions in Midwest USA, drawing over a million visitors every year. Guest have the chance of visiting the state fair or going to the great Mall of America.

The only appeal we have to our delegates are that they should send their itineraries as soon as humanly possible, come ready to discuss serious issues and enjoy themselves safely.
Minnesota Members

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preliminary View on Sierra Leone Corruption

Female Politician Banned in Iran for being too Beautiful

Too Beautiful to Serve
Nina Siakhali Moradi
A female politician in Iran who won an election to the City Council of the Iranian municipality of Qazvin some few weeks ago, has been barred from from holding office and her results overturned, because the mostly male Islamic authorities in her country think she is too beautiful!

 In the ultra-conservative Islamic country, women are expected to cover their faces in order not to attract unwanted attention and for fear of the morality police. However, a candidate running for office has to let people know who she is and cannot campaign with her face behind a veil. 

Unfortunately for Nina Siakhali Moradi,  the 27 year old Architecture student from Qazvin, the capital of the ancient Persian empire just 100 miles from the Iranian Capital Tehran, she was just too beautiful for the mostly male religious authorities, who view her as a negative and evil influence.

How Would you Know this Candidate
The new Iranian President  Hassan Rowhani, had promised during his campaign to improve the civil rights of women in the country, and this action by the ultra-conservative authorities in Qazvin is bound to test his commitment to that pledge. According to reports reaching the Segbwema Blog from Tehran via social media, many people would be observing whether President Rowhani would stand by his election pledge of promoting the rights of women or avoid infuriating the powerful authorities in his country, some of who think that their country was still isolated in the 12th century.

In objection to the election of Nina Siakhali Moradi, one member of Qazin's city council sad that they do not want "a catwalk model" on their city council, a statement indicative of the backward view of women among the men of the Persian Country. 

In some Islamic countries, women are treated as if they were just pieces of property or second class humans. The former Taliban government in Afghanistan banned the education of women and even in countries with close relationships to the West, such as Saudi Arabia, women are not even allowed to drive. In other countries a woman who is raped, is expected to marry her rapist or face serious consequences from the society. Some societies even go as far as engaging in infanticide to avoid raising female children.

In many areas of nuclear armed Pakistan, women are exchanged as if they were agricultural commodities by their families, especially in the Pashtun areas bordering the perennially troubled country of Afghanistan. It was in these areas that a young school girl Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Pakistani elements of the Taliban for the sole reason that she wrote on a blog advocating for the education of women, under a pseudonym.
Malala Yousafzai 

In Qazvin the reason given for the disqualification of Ms. Moradi by her representative in parliament was that the review board had not approved her credentials. However, both Iran's judiciary and Intelligence services had granted her approval to run, as is the custom in Iran where even candidates for President have to be approved by the country's ultra conservative Shiite authorities. Even during her campaign, conservative groups that had not expected her to win had attack her posters for being anti-Islamic, unholy and vulgar. The fact that she had run as an Independent candidate also did not help her cause.

Many youths in the country and other people around the world wonder why beauty should be seen as anti-religious, when the candidate was made beautiful by none other than the Almighty God himself. Others are wondering whether men that are attracted to beautiful women who are not their wives have to blame the women or have to blame themselves for being simply being weak idiots with a dirty imagination.

As a person who believes in equal rights for women, even when I was growing up in my small country of Sierra Leone, I believe that societies that prevent the progress of women are doing a major injustice to the entire human race. I think these societies need to move into the modern age and realize that women are every bit as valuable as men, if not even better. Most of the heinous acts in the history of human civilization have been carried out by men, and societies where women have influence are more caring and peaceful, as women have the natural ability to make decisions, free from the influence of testosterone, the main hormone responsible for aggressiveness in men in combination with adrenaline.

Sheku Sheriff
Segbwema Blogger


Monday, August 19, 2013

Sierra Leone Peoples Party's Ambassador Allie Bangura Exhibits Great Class.

Ambassador Allie Bangura
Over the weekend in Bo town, the famous southern provincial capital of the diamond rich West African country of Sierra Leone, delegates and party enthusiasts of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party gathered to elect new party executives, with the main contest for the party chairmanship being between two veteran party champions; ex-Paramount Chief of Mambolo Somano Kapen, who was the incumbent party Vice Chairman and Ambassador Allie Bangura a former diplomat and a leader in the struggle to reverse the brief period of military insurrection by members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council in the late 90s, that had resulted in the overthrow of the SLPP led government of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

Unfortunately, instead of having the election for party Chairman be the last contest or all elections be conducted simultaneously, the organizers and candidates had agreed that the election for the party chair precede all else. This decision proved to be a gross miscalculation, as many delegates immediately flooded out of the hall as soon as the results of the highly polarized contest between the ex-ambassador and ex-chief was announced in favor of the chief. Out of the 597 votes cast Chief Kapen garnered 310 votes to Ambassador Allies 287 votes, a margin of just 23 votes.
Chief Somano Kapen

The resulting pandemonium led to the withdrawal of most of the other candidates aligned with the ambassador, leaving candidates aligned with the chief to go unopposed.

Defeated candidates in intra-party election in Sierra Leone have the unfortunate but usual tendency of either withdrawing from politics altogether or defecting to other oppositions parties, a fact that is particularly true of the SLPP and has been a major source of electoral misfortune in the party's history.

In national elections in 1967, the decision of SLPP candidates like K.I. Kaisamba and Brewah to run as Independents effectively handed the country to the opposition All People Congress (APC) led by Siaka Probyn Stevens, which culminated in 23 years of single party misrule that reduced the country to being branded as the poorest country in the world, in site of its mineral wealth.
Always Defecting Margai

History repeated itself again in 2007 when another SLPP defector Charles Francis Margai, man who frequently defects, launched his own party the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and combined forces with the then opposition APC to kick SLPP out of power, a decision that would later come to haunt Charles Margai, who is now the butt of jokes, scorn and derision in APC circles and was recently locked up in the country's capital, for statements which the country's police described as reckless.

Amb. Bangura Talking to the Press
Many political pundits were wondering who will be the first to defect after the raucous election in Bo following the weekend, with many predicting that Ambassador Bangura may follow the lead of another failed party chairman aspirant, Ambassador Saccoh, into the always open arms of the APC, a party remarkable for its tenacity to cling to power by all means necessary.

However, in a surprise move, Ambassador Allie Bangura this morning released a press statement in which he affirmed his loyalty to the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. He stated that he was reflecting upon and analyzing the announcement of his loss in the bid to become party chairman and will soon make a statement on a future course of action. He however, advised his numerous supporters to be cautious, law abiding  and at peace with other party members. He emphasized that he remained conscious of his responsibilities "as a Party member to ensure that SLPP remains a strong, cohesive and vibrant political party and shall work towards realizing that responsibility." He ended his statement by thanking his supporters and thanking them for their cooperation.
Chief Karpen

This statement by Ambassador Bangura, puts him a class above other party members in the past who had left the party after losses lamenting about tribalism, corruption and what have you. A former Sierra Leone ambassador to the USA John Ernest Leigh went into such a temper tantrum at the first loss of his presidential flagbearer bid to Solomon Berewa, that he was smuggled from the convention center in seething rage. In the following flagbearer contest Ambassador Leigh's electoral fortunes did not improve by any means and he went into such a rage that he totally went bonkers, accusing the SLPP of tribalism, cannibalism, ritualism, jujuism, and many other unprintable isms that are not suitable for this blog.
Sour Loser Amb. Leigh

So for Ambassador Bangura to release such a statement two days after an election in which he had received the support of important party leaders like President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa, show shim to be a politician of class and dignity, a rare breed in the politics of Sierra Leone. Many people are saying that the ambassador may have a bright future in the politics of Sierra Leone, but only time will tell.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chief Somano Kapen's Monumental Task

Chief Somano Kapen
Yesterday Chief Somano Kapen astounded political pundits by his decisive victory in the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) chairmanship elections, a victory that instantly elevates him to the position of chairman and political leader of the oldest indigenous party in the diamond rich West African country of fewer than 6 million people.

Ironically,  winning the chairmanship elections is the easy part, as the chairman inherits a party beset with internal divisions and strife and held hostage to parochial political interests that have become so solidified in the internal workings of the party that it would be a miracle for him to get the majority of party members to put the interest of the party ahead of everything else once again.
I. J. Kabbah Withdrew

In summary, Chief Somano Kapen may be in celebratory mood right now, but he has his work cut out for him.
The first assignment the chief has to effectively undertake is to convince the party's various factions that he will not use his position to further the interest of any particular faction, but would rather work assiduously to provide a level playing field for all
In the lead up to the election for chairman, many people were afraid that if the chief were elected he will be beholden to the interest of ex-party flagbearer Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. The onus is now on the chief to prove those skeptics wrong and demonstrate to them that his concern would be for the interest of all party members who may have presidential ambitions in the future.
President and Mrs. Kabbah

One serious mistake that came out of the convention was the decision to have the election for the chairman of the party first, before the lower level positions in the party hierarchy,  in direct contravention of the logic of saving the best for last. I have been part of many organizational elections and it is always prudent to have the most important election last or have them all together. The decision to have the election for party chairman preceeding the other positions meant that upon announcement of the chairmanship results,  many party members who would have played crucial roles in the executive withdrew their candidacies,  probably on the assumption that with such a lopsided victory they did not stand a chance if they had been opposed to the chief in the first place. This is an ominous sign that is usually the signal for cross party defections,  a popular characteristic of the political landscape in Sierra Leone.
Julius Maada Bio

In our country disgruntled politicians who see their aspirations frustrated are quick to change party allegiances,  regardless of the number of years of work they have put in the party. Sierra Leone is full of politicians like Tom Nyuma, Ambassador Saccoh, Usu Boie Kamara, John Leigh, Lansana Nyallay, JB. Dauda, and many others whose political allegiances are strictly dictated by self interest. Chief Kapen should move very swiftly to dam the floodgate of defections that usually follows SLPP elections and keep people like ambassador Allie Bangura firmly within the party fold, otherwise the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party is always just too willing to dangle the appointment carrot, which for ambitious politicians is always difficult to resist.
John Benjamin

Another major task in the party will be a proactive attempt to tackle the growing hooliganism within the party. SLPP that was once described as a party of peace has had that reputation sullied in recent days by the uncouth behavior of rowdy youths who are rumored to be mostly supporters of Julius Bio, though he has been at pains to portray himself as a man who values peace and has distanced himself from the rowdy behavior of some of these mobs who have made it a habit of attacking other people in their own party whose actions they view as being antithetical to their own political interests. The new chairman has to adopt an attitude of zero tolerance to hooliganism,  which attracts unnecessary intervention from the police who are not currently good friends of the party.

Chairman Kapen also has to streamline the various interest groups and caucuses that are sprouting on a daily basis within the party and channel the energy of these groups towards the interest of the party. SLPP members in the diaspora also need to brought on board to not only help finance party activities,  but to help in various ways to plaster the cracks that have proliferated in the party, as long as they too do not become part of the problem.

On a penultimate note, Chief Kapen has to ensure that past party leaders like Ahmed Kabba, Solomon Berewa, John Benjamin and others are given the respect they deserve,  even if they had not thrown their weight behind the chief's quest for the top party job. There should also be a serious attempt at starting to pay party leaders for the jobs they do. It was a surprise to me when I learnt that many executive positions within the party were on a volunteer basis. Politics is tough business involving time away from family and intimidation from adversaries,  SLPP has to find a way to compensate these people who sacrifice their time and energy for the party.

Finally and most importantly,  Chief Somano has to work on a strategic plan to increase the attraction of the party in the North and West of the country. In the past election,  too much money and time was wasted campaigning in party strongholds. A strategic and public relations plan has to be developed for the North and Western Area, as APC is very formidable in these heavily populated areas. The perception of SLPP as a "Mende Man" has been solidified and made part of Sierra Leone folklore and having a northern chairman is not enough,  much effort has to be made to give the party a broad appeal. The rampant corruption that is now part of APC order of business should help to make this fight easy, as hunger does not engage in tribal discrimination.
I J's Sister Victim of Hooliganism

As Chief Somano Kapen gets ready to lead SLPP, should not in anyway think that this is going to be a walk in the park. He should be able to predict and tackle the uncertainties,  volatilities, ambiguities,  complexities and opportunities that will be part of the future of politics in Sierra Leone. He should also keep eyes on the electoral commission like a laser beam, as APC has, never known that there can be fairness in politics,  as amply demonstrated by the fact that most APC conventions are mere political charades.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chief Somano Kapen Wins Sierra Leone Peoples Party Chairmanship.

 Chief Bai Sherbora Somano Kapen
Supporters of the ex-Paramount Chief of Mambolo Chiefdom, Bai Sherbora Somano Kapen,  are in a jubilant mood in Bo the southern regional capital of Sierra Leone as news is gradually indicating that he has narrowly won the chairmanship of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) by a vote of 310 to 287, much to the joy of supporters of 2012  party presidential  flagbearer Rtd. Julius Maada Bio, who had thrown his political support behind the candidacy of the chief, against his rival Ambassador Allie Bangura.

Chief Somano Kapen is the understated Deputy National Chairman of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party and a former Paramount Chief in the north of the country. In July 2011, Chief Kapen was elected Deputy Chairman of the Sierra Leone People's Party after defeating his challenger Hon. Eric Jumu by 413-184 votes. The position of Chairman then was won by John O. Benjamin who defeated Dr. Abass Bundu, a veteran politician and former Secretary General of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Benjamin had supported Kapen in 2011.
Ambassador Allie Bangura

In recent weeks the working relationship between Chief Somano Kapen and John Benjamin had deteriorated sharply. John Benjamin was rumored to have expressed preference for him to be succeeded by Ambassador Alie Bangura, another veteran SLPP member. Speaking a few days ago in the Eastern Capital Kenema, Chief Somana Kapen was very critical of the political antics of outgoing Chairman John O. Benjamin who has announced that he will be be contesting for party flagbearer for 2017.

Just a few weeks ago Ambassador Bangura seemed to be on an unstoppable roll to become the Party's Chairman,  as he had received early endorsements, praise and support from prominent members of the SLPP such as former President Tejan Kabbah, Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa and other prominent individuals aligned with the anti-Bio faction of the SLPP and new vocal groups such as the Movement for the Transformation of the SLPP (MTS).
Team Kapen
Kabbah and Berewa endorse Bangura

 However, in a stunning blow to Ambassador Bangura's hopes, certain other prominent candidates for the chairmanship, such as Dr. Abbass Bundu and Dr. Prince Harding had withdrawn from the race in favor of Chief Kapen and thrown their weight and  political muscle behind his candidacy, much to the chagrin of the Ambassador whose supporters dismissed the endorsements as inconsequential, as they believed Ambassador Bangura had enough delegates to counter any surge in support for Chief Somano Kapen. 

In expressing support for Chief Somano Kapen, one of the withdrawn candidates Dr. Prince Harding, made historical comparisons between the chief and a prominent late party founder, another ex-Paramount Chief Bai Farama Tass III, both of whom were Temnes from the north and had both been paramount chiefs who had lost their thrones because of their affiliations with SLPP. Dr Harding stated that Chief Kapen was a senior figure who would be able to unite the disparate factions within the SLPP.
Kapen Flanked by Supporters

Chief Kapen a deep traditionalist and member of a prominent northern royal family is also an economist by training and has been a prominent figure in Sierra Leone for decades.

Disapointed YG Leader
Jaiah M. Koroma
Reports from Bo indicate that Chief Somano Kapen had gained traction over the past two days after a radio talk in the provinces in which he appealed directly to the youthful supporters of the party.  His narrow defeat of rival Ambassador Bangura by just about 23 votes, will be a major disappointment to groups like the MTS who had used their position of influence with the outgoing Chairman to get 4 seats at the convention, whilst some prominent party members were refused mere observer status. This victory is a manifestation of narrow level of support Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio still enjoys among the party's faithful as the fight between the Ambassador and the Chief had basically degenerated into a Pro-Bio Vs Anti-Bio contest. 

Segbwema Blog correspondents in Bo and Kenema report that both cities erupted in loud jubilation when the news was announced on regional radio and the Kenema correspondent reports that youths have descended on the streets of the town chanting praises to the retired chief and the retired brigadier in the middle of the night, leaving the town covered by a haze of dust.

Ongoing reports from the convention hall indicate that some other candidates for other positions who had been anti-Kapen are withdrawing from their races, to avoid near certain defeat as the crowd assembled now has a general idea of how the cookie will crumble.
Pouring Libations.

The social media is alight with praise for the Chief who has just demonstrated that at least in politics, opportunity comes more than once.


The Sierra Leone Peoples Party National Convention

Benjamin and Bio 2012
This weekend, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, the party that liberated the country from the clutches of colonialism under the leadership of Sierra Leone's first provincial medical doctor,  Sir Milton A. S. Margai, is having it's national delegates conference in the sprawling southern regional capital of Bo.

The convention which started yesterday amid unfounded rumors that the party's past presidential flagbearer Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio intended to disrupt proceedings if it did not go his way, a charge he has steadfastly denied,  is largely going on in a very peaceful atmosphere,  albeit in the presence of heavy state sanctioned security.
Campaign 2012

The build up to the delegates conference, in which new national party officials were to be elected,  has been a dramatic affair pitting supporters of the past party presidential flagbearer Julius Maada Bio and his political rivals within the party, namely the party's chairman and leader John Oponjo Benjamin and the Women's leader Isatu J. Kabbah, and some lesser know prominent party members.

Since the end of the presidential elections in 2012, the SLPP has been mired in public controversy.  Even before the conduct of the elections there were some disquieting rumors that the party Chairman Benjamin and the flagbearer Bio were very uneasy bed fellows. Even though some prominent party defectors like current trade minister Usu Boie Kamara had accused the party chairman of influencing the flagbearer contest in favor of Bio, causing him to abandon the SLPP for the comfort of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC), rumors still abounded that the chairman's actions were antithetical to the flagbearer's interests.
SLPP Supporters

Things got worse after the 2013 elections when the flagbearer's supporters tried to use their influential positions on the party's National Executive Council to retain him as political leader of the party, in direct contravention of the party's constitution,  apparently over mistrust of the chairman, who it was rumored harbored presidential ambitions of his own. The chairman who was the constitutional leader of the party,  saw this move as an effort to undermine his constitutional authority and adamantly refused to concede to the scheme.

After that particular incident the relationship between team Bio and Team Benjamin took a nose dive, a situation that is only bound to get worse now that outgoing party Chairman John O. Benjamin has publicly expressed his interest to contest as party flagbearer for the 2017 elections, somehow confirming Bio's fears that this had been a long term goal of Chairman Benjamin all along.
Rtd Brigadier Bio

Also adding to the above aspirational tensions between the two party leaders has been some actions over the past few months by some overzealous supporters of Brigadier Bio that has led his detractors to portray him as a man ready to use any means necessary, including violence, to obtain his goal of once again leading the party in the next presidential elections in the impoverished West African Country.

A few months ago, supporters of Bio waylaid Chairman Benjamin at party headquarters in Freetown attacking his vehicle and threatening to physically assault him. The chairman was rescued from the mob by the personal intervention of Bio, but he was appalled at the unprintable verbal invective launched by Bio supporters at his mother, who was not even present during the incident. Chairman Benjamin was appalled that Brigadier Bio did not ask his supporters to stop insulting the chairman's mother, the woman who had personally provided food to Bio when he was assigned as a junior military officer in the eastern town of Segbwema during the rebel war in the country. Following this, another incident occurred when it is alleged that members of Bio's team manhandled party young generation leader Jaiah Koroma, whacking him over the head with a chair, wounding him in the scalp,  pictures of which Jaiah is only too proud to display over the Internet and social media. While Bio was also on a trip to London, one of his female supporters it is alleged verbally attacked the party's Women's Leader Isatu J. Kabbah who also happens to be the wife of the country's ex-president. IJ Kabbah as she is popularly called, wasted no time in involving the country's police. After this incident a group of people attacked IJ's vehicle and in a recent party meeting in which police wanted to prevent Brigadier Bio from attending her sister was physically manhandled and her face roughed up.
John Oponjo Benjamin

The latest attack and rumors of a plan to disrupt the convention has caused some recent headache for Brigadier Bio. In the past week his office has been searched twice by heavily armed police purportedly looking for weapons and his home was also invaded by state security forces on the pretext of looking for weapons and looking for some assailants he was believed to be harboring.

To add to the existing quagmire the current campaign of party officers has degenerated into shouting matches and cyber attacks between those supporting Brigadier Bio and those party supporters opposed to him. The candidates for the Chairman of the party which was initially contested by approximately 5 prominent party activists, is now a two horse race between two of the party's strong northern leaders,  former Ambassador Allie Bangura and former  Paramount Chief Somana Karpen.

SLPP members largely supportive of Bio have flocked to the former chief and those opposed to his leadership have flocked to the former ambassador.

The convention itself is going on, though some prominent party members are accusing the organizers of bias in delegate allocation.  Suspicion has been raised over the fact that a new group that has branded itself as a peace movement with the label Movement for the Transformation of SLPP (MTS), many of whose members are prominently anti-Bio has been given four delegate seats at the convention, while some prominent party activists have been denied even observer status.

The Segbwema blog correspond reports that with all the intrigue and imbroglio,  the town is in a festive mood and traders are busy capitalizing on the presence of SLPP bigwigs in town.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Joseph Sherman's Meaningless Rant on Lies

Joseph S. Sherman, the corrosive journalist for hire, who just a few months ago was wailing about not being given a government position in Sierra Leone, after pledges purportedly made to him by the Sierra Leone's Ambassador to America and the Minister Plenipotentiary in charge of rebranding, seems to have  wrapped his tail, licked his wounds and gone back to the type of meaningless articles that has so far not given him any inroads in President Koroma's government of close friends and confidants.

The latest meaningless rant by Joseph Sherman concerns what he describes as an article on "the lies politicians tell", with the sole exception of President Koroma, of course, who in Sherman's words "has gone beyond expectations of serving the people of Sierra Leone with truthfulness and dedication to the mandate he is elected for as president," whatever that means.
Sherman, who claims to be an editor-in-chief of his blog Salone Monitor, which he has convinced himself is a news outlet, has always wanted to walk in the footsteps of his mentor Kabbs Kanu of Cocorioko. While Kabbs Kanu comes across as a seasoned propagandist ready to write anything to support his political patron Ernest Bai Koroma, the " world's best President," Sherman comes across as a cheap nonentity looking for attention; a political pimp, simply trying too hard.

Well, I can now also pass as Editor-in-Chief,  CEO and managing director of the Segbwema blog, how about that. My family would be proud of the person I have become,  editor in chief without pay! At least Sherman gets the occasional propaganda allowance under the table. The only benefit I get is having the chance to write my thoughts and expose the journalistic charade that is passing for news in my country, where our current President is not only the world's best, but the most truthful politician since Mahatma Gandhi,  unless of course he does not give Sherman a job, then he is reminded of the buttocks of a baboon.

Every man should live by an important advice; "if you don't have anything to say, don't say it." The past few months I was not really blogging. I was very busy with some other chores. So I wrote an article every month or so and did not write at all when I was not following the political drama in Sierra Leone.

People like Sherman have dug themselves into a hole. By claiming to be a writing a newspaper instead of just an ordinary blog,  he can either continue educating us about the adventures of John Baimba Sesay and Ambassador Foh in China, as Ambassador Stevens in USA failed to give him the job he promised,  or he can also decide to write an article as editor in chief, even when he has nothing to say, which brings me to his latest unnecessary rant about lies and African politicians, with the exception of President Koroma, who he likens to Moses.

Sherman starts by telling us what we already know, that African politicians are liars. What a great revelation, we did not know, I was in Segbwema and he was in Liberia! What a genius, this Sherman. What a great guy.

He then goes on to define a lie. According to the wise Mr. Sherman, "a lie is a statement,  believed by the liar to be false." What a laugh! Mr. Sherman, even a pack of gorillas knows that the reason it is called a lie is because the person making it knows it is false. Otherwise it would not be called a lie. It would be the truth. And according to the incorrigible Sherman,  he came upon this definition after much analyzing and synthesizing. What a wise guy. A classic definition of a lie for our local Kindergarten.

Does Sherman stop here? No, he goes on and on. He goes into analyzing lies and deceits and even throws in a few quotations.  I really tried very hard to read the meaningless drivel and understand the essence of what poor Seidu was trying to write, but all I succeeded in getting was the worst headache of the year 2013.

Poor Mr. Sherman, he is trying so hard that I am now really starting to feel sorry for him. This guy could be a wonderful press attache to Cambodia, to tell the country's ruling generals about the necessity for politicians to stop telling lies. At the rate at which we are going, Sherman will soon resort to defining what rice is to the population of Sierra Leone.

The only advice I have for Mr. Sherman is this. Stop writing articles in the middle of the night while sitting alone with a bottle of whiskey. Everyman becomes the most intelligent writer after two tots, until you read what you wrote the next day. While trying to be the next critical thinker from Sierra Leone, do so while sober.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What was the Real Reason for the Raids on Maada Bio?

Maada Bio Under Siege
Two days ago, police in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown raided the offices of Rtd. Julius Maada Bio, the main opposition rival of the ruling All Peoples Party on the stated mission of searching for arms and ammunition. This morning, another raid was conducted on both the office of the opposition leader and his residential premises by police who turned up with officially issued search warrants.

It is reported that more than twenty well armed members of the country's police force descended on the office and residence of the former military head of state on what the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Samura Bangura stated was a police mission based on a tip that the opposition leader was planning to perpetrate violence during the upcoming convention of his opposition Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) that was scheduled to be held in the regional capital city of Bo this coming weekend.

SLPP Outgoing Chairman
John Oponjo Benjamin
In this morning's raid, the entire residence of Julius Bio and his office were ransacked and every nook and cranny searched by the police who it is reported did not find any cache of ammunition or tools of violence, contrary to the alleged tips that he was stockpiling an arsenal to perpetrate mayhem. The personal belonging of the ex-military leader were haphazardly strewn all over the place.

In a statement issued after the surprise police raid, Julius Maada Bio stated that the raid by the police was a direct attack on democracy in the country and reiterated his condemnation of violence. He stated that contrary to perceptions about him, he had always been someone who valued peace and had always counseled his supporters to resist being drawn into acts of violence.
Maada Bio at Law Courts

Many supporters of Julius Maada Bio are seeing these current police raids as intimidation tactics by the government on a man who the Special Executive Assistant to the president had publicly vowed they will humiliate and incarcerate some weeks ago in the capital Freetown. They view the raid as just a pretext by government to use the current internal party discord between members of the SLPP to weaken the opposition and convert the SLPP into just another political Paper Tiger like the Mohamed Bangura led United Democratic Movement (UDM) or the largely irrelevant Peoples Movement for Democratic Movement. (PMDC)
President Koroma

While some people believe that the raid on Julius Bio is an attempt by those in the opposition who have influence with the president to prevent him from leading the party again, many see the targeting of Maada Bio, following several weeks after the public humiliation of Charles Francis Margai another opposition political leader as another ploy by the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party to reverse the democratic gains made in the country after the civil war and a sinister plan to convince the population of the country that only President Ernest Bai Koroma, among the current political leaders, is capable of leading the country, giving the government the impetus needed to manipulate the current constitutional review in the country to extend the term of office of the current president.

Many people are not buying the security of the country excuse for the raid on the residence and office of the opposition leader. One prominent opposition activist questioned why the residences of the Senegalese arms trafficker Ibrahim Balde, who was wanted on charges related to the rebel atrocities in Sierra Leone, was never ransacked for arms and ammunition. The Senegalese mercenary, a major player in the rebel war in the country, with a UN travel ban and a warrant for war crimes, had been living openly in Freetown, right under the nose of the police. With the international clamor to have him prosecuted mounting, the current Sierra Leone government had claimed to have deported him from Sierra Leone to his native Senegal, though the Senegalese government had denied knowledge of his whereabouts. With the timing of the deportation of the Senegalese arms trafficker coming close to the opening of charges against him by some people in Kono, many people are wondering whether the government is just paying lip service to national security in order to clamp down on the members of the opposition they have failed to compromise.

We will keep up monitoring the situation in Freetown as it unfolds and provide timely reports and opinions.

Maada Bio's Office Raided in Freetown

Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio
News filtering through to the Segbwema Blog this morning indicate that several Sierra Leone police contingents have been hastily dispatched to the offices and residence of Rtd. Julius Maada Bio, the flagbearer of the main Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the elections conducted last year in the small West African country of Sierra Leone.

Julius Maada Bio and a group of prominent people close to him have been embroiled in a bitter public dispute with the outgoing party chairman and leader John O. Benjamin that seemingly emanated from the decision by Bio supporters to pass a resolution meant to keep him as the political leader of the party after the 2012 election that was won by the incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress (APC). 
John Opponjo Benjamin

The SLPP constitution clearly states that former flagbearers and their running mates automatically become ex-officio members of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party. However, people close to Maada Bio, fearful that the Party Chairman John Benjamin harbored presidential ambitions of his own and feeling that the chairman had not adequately supported the party candidate in the past election used the opportunity of the NEC meeting to propose that he remain the political head of the party, a moved that was swiftly rejected by the Party Chairman who saw it as an affront to his authority and by other party members who saw it as a ploy to keep Julius Maada Bio as a flagbearer in perpetuity and thereby skew the playing field in his favor when the time came for elections to the role of flagbearer in 2017.

Maada Bio's supporters stated that since he had appealed the results of the past presidential election, which he had described as fraudulent and rigged in favor of the incumbent President, he was technically still a flagbearer as he had not conceded the elections. Others were of the view point that keeping him as a political leader for whatever reason was was unconstitutional and a bad precedent. 

This impasse between Bio loyalists and other party members has degenerated over the past months into growing animosity that has resulted in attacks on the party chairman, attacks on the party's young generation leader and attacks on the wife and sister of the wife of the country's Ex-President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP, all attacks purportedly perpetrated by supporters of Julius Maada Bio. Maada Bio has consistently maintained that he had no hand in any of these intra-party attacks, but many party operatives were of the opinion that he had not come out to forcefully condemn these attacks and has maintained unhealthy silence on the growing chaos in the party.
Ex-President Ahmad Tejan-Kabba

Maada Bio's supporters on the other hand believe that he is being unfairly targeted by the many members of the party with presidential ambitions of their own and members of the ruling party, especially the defectors who he had defeated in flagbearer elections preceeding the 2012 presidential elections. They also argue that as Maada Bio has thousands of youthful supporters, he could not be held accountable for the action of each of them. Others however maintain that he was not trying hard enough.

Things got to a head over the past few weeks when a NEC meeting was convened at the SLPP headquarters in Freetown. According to the blog correspondent, it was reported that Maada Bio arrived for the meeting to find that his name was not on the list of attendees and there was a police presence at the gate preventing those whose names were not on the list from attending the meeting. It is alleged that Maada bio proceeded to enter the premises and enter the meeting. One of the aspirants for party chairman Chief Somana Kapen had to give up his seat at the high table to accommodate Julius Bio, it was reported. It was during the raucous that ensued that the wife of the president's sister was attacked.

The police descended on the offices of the Julius Maada Bio this morning, reportedly acting on a tip that he planned to disrupt the party upcoming party convention in Bo, the capital of the Southern Region of Sierra Leone. They proceeded to search his offices, reportedly looking for for arms and ammunition.

After the raid on his offices this morning, Julius Maada Bio convened a press conference in which he made the following press release:



INTRA-PARTY DISPUTES, INTIMIDATION, VIOLENCE
AND CALL FOR UNITY.

Freetown August 13, 2013: As we prepare for the first National Convention of the Party after the 2012 elections, let us be united, respectful of our party’s values, and mindful of the fact that in adversity or in joy, we belong to the same family – the SLPP family.

Recently, elections and related conflicts within our party have opened up raw emotions. Some in our SLPP family have abandoned the family for diverse reasons; some have regrettably joined those who detest our party and who have made no secret of their ambition to destroy the good image of our party. Within the SLPP family, it has been a long nightmare of anger, mistrust, disrespect and violence.

As we go to the Bo convention, I strongly urge each and every one of us members of the SLPP family to desist from violence in all forms – verbal or physical. I strongly urge each member of the family to cease all campaigns of vilification and disrespect against fellow party members.  I strongly urge each member to desist from making threats or using agents and armed men to intimidate fellow party members.
Political violence and threats of violence against fellow party members do not benefit our party in any way. Our legacy as a party is a rich one of inclusiveness and free democratic expression; ours is a culture of embracing diverse views, and we have a proud and enviable historical standing as the party of peace and peacemaking. We gained independence for Sierra Leone; we made peace after eleven (11) long bloody years of conflict and set this country back on a sound democratic footing after decades of corrupt autocratic rule under the All People’s Congress. Our contribution to this nation and this nation’s history is a proud one. Let us continue to protect that.
I personally have nothing to gain from participating in, orchestrating, aiding and abetting, or causing violence in my party and in this country. I have never directed, participated in, and caused violence in this party. I denounce in the strongest terms all forms of violence inflicted or threatened on members of our party and my sincere sympathy to all persons who have been victims of intra-party violence and that by external agents. I have been a victim of political violence too when I was attacked and wounded in Bo. My response to even that incident was to urge all of us to protect the peace and democratic governance we brought to this country. Those who use violence as a form of political expression do not do so in my name and not even in the name of our party. I therefore strongly advise all persons who perpetuate violence in the name of anyone or in the name of any interest group to desist forthwith. Ours is a party of peace and law and order. We resolve our differences by negotiating win-win outcomes in the best interests of everyone in the party just as our founding fathers did in the party’s and in the nation’s interest. Those who use violence are not preserving our proud legacy as a party of peaceful co-existence.
As party leaders, elders, it is our responsibility to advise overzealous members and to encourage them to engage with one another peacefully and not intimidate and attempt to humiliate fellow party members. I will continue to support sanctions against all persons who engage in acts of political intimidation and violence. I will continue to speak out against violence in all its forms. Our party gains only when we work collectively, respectfully, and in good faith in the best interests of the party and the country. Let us go to the Convention not to seek our selfish agenda or intimidate and threaten other party members with violence. Let us go there to peacefully and respectfully discuss and act on all that make us a better and stronger party.
Finally, I am reliably informed that persons determined to impose their will on the people have already brought into Bo mercenaries from Liberia and thugs from Freetown to be used as Marshalls in Bo during the Convention. The objective is to provoke persons they think are loyal to me and in the event of any scuffle that may ensue, arrest these persons with the single objective of tainting my image as a violent person and possibly extend the violence to me. I am regularly updated on the situation that is unfolding in Bo. I would like to humbly appeal to those who are perpetrators of this plan to desist from this dastardly plan and call my supporters to restrain themselves in the face of such provocation. If allowed to go through, such an act has the potential to undermine the peace and stability of not only Bo but the entire nation as a whole.
I therefore call on the Government and the international community to strictly monitor this threat. In particular, I call on the police to discharge their responsibilities in an impartial and just manner.         
As the Press Conference was about to commence, trucks of police officers arrived at my private office and residence. The head of the operations informed me they have a tip that I am in possession of offensive weapons and that I was training thugs and plan to violently disrupt the Bo Party Conference. So far, nothing of security interest has been found. I will update you on this.

I thank you all
One Country, One People

Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio
SLPP Presidential Candidate 2012



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Last Minute Touches to Tegloma Convention Preparation

President Kamara addressing Planning
Committee
There are barely 20 more days to the spectacular Tegloma International Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 The Convention Planning Committee is dedicated to ensuring that the delegates have a great and productive stay and are currently doing dry runs to ensure that everything goes according to plan, save for unavoidable random or stochastic disturbances.

In a bid to minimize the impact of unforeseen contingencies, the head of the planning committee, Minnesota President Hassan H. Kamara has appealed to all chapter members to put their shoulders to the wheel and push with all their might, metaphorically speaking.

Transportation and Media committees are therefore appealing to all delegates to send their names to Minnesota as soon as humanly possible and contact the chapter with their transportation itineraries to arrange for pickup.
Planning Committee

Delegates interested in rental cars are advised  to rent from The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). Cars can be cheaply rented through www.hotwire.com it is a tried and reliable service.

First time delegates who want us to know who they are can also sign up on the Tegloma Federation Social Page at www.tegloma.ning.com The page works just like Facebook, but membership is open only to Tegloma members.

The Media Committee is committed to providing regular updates.