Friday, April 27, 2018

Happy 57th Independence Anniversary to all Sierra Leoneans

We here at the Segbwema Blog would like to wish every Sierra Leonean at home and abroad a happy 57th Independence Anniversary. We pray that the next few years will bring positive and lasting changes in the country.

This 57th year, our celebration of Freedom coincides with the election of a new leader and the promise of a new direction. Just a month ago, the people of our country looked at the many candidates before them vying for national leadership and decided to settle for a familiar face.

Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who had briefly led Sierra Leone during the bitter years of the war and initiated the first dialogue with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) that ultimately led to the attainment of peace was chosen among the lot to help steer the country in a different direction for the next five years.

We wish the new President success. Unless the people of Sierra Leone have decided to embrace suffering and misery as their destiny among the countries of the earth, we are of the fervent belief that with politics aside, Sierra Leoneans of all stripes should pray for the success of this new government. We are not just saying this because we believe in the Presidency of Julius Maada Bio, but because we believe that after 57 years of suffering, after decades of blood, sweat and tears, the people of Sierra Leone need to see some improvement in their daily lives and in their standards of living. The people simply need a break.

A small country like Rwanda, even more densely populated than Sierra Leone, went through years of tense political strife that culminated in the death of over half a million of its citizens.  Much like Sierra Leone there was also destruction on a large scale.

Rwandan society was more fragmented, with tribal divisions deeper than they will ever be in Sierra Leone. Because were the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda largely avoided each other socially, in Sierra Leone all tribes coexist together, we marry each other, go to the same schools and have the same religiond. Political divisions in Sierra Leone are largely the machinations of failed politicians who try to incite ethnic and regional tensions and hatred with the sole desire of getting votes, as most of the time they  have no tangible record to show after spending years in power. However, the people of Sierra Leone have decided and for the next five years we implore the politicians who have failed the country to join the new leaders in working for a peaceful and prosperous country. It is the only we we can put Sierra Leone first.

To the outgoing All Peoples Congress Party (APC), you employed many shenanigans to perpetuate your rule, even after years of failed promises. You promised cheap food, and saw the increase in food prices by more than free fold. You promised to improve education and presided over the greatest decline in the status of our premier educational institutions since independence. Late President Tejan Kabba implemented an ambitious plan to professionalize the country’s police force and you succeeded in a few years to make it a tool for the suppression of the masses. Our foreign ambassadors, instead of representing all the citizens of their countries abroad became party agents, interested in spending time with only people who belonged to diaspora chapters of the APC party. In spite of all these you paid journalists to write glowing reviews about Koroma calling him the world's great, you harassed members of the opposition and gave crucial out appointments to unqualified people.

As the Accountant General reports of the past few years and the current transition team is discovering, APC robbed Sierra Leone blind, while giving pittances to their supporters and sycophants.

Just recently, a sacked Minister of Sicial Welfare Sylvia Blyden, was on private TV accusing her colleagues around the President Ernest Bai Koroma of being a corrupt lot. Sylvia’s deputy minister publicly accused her of massive embezzlement, nothing was ever investigated. The same drama had played out in the same ministry during the ill fated period of ministers Moijueh and Atilla.

During the deadly Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, while the whole world was rushing to save Sierra Leone from the ravages of the virus, members of the APC government were busy squandering resources meant for the fight against the terrible scourge and stealing funds that were to be used in alleviating the plight of the victims. Positions awarded for pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Mecca were routinely sold not to the righteous among the Muslims in the country, but to those who saw the titles of Alhaji and Haja as status symbols devoid of any religious piety.

In a country that depends on loans for public administration, new districts were created for political purposes, even though the cost of administering these districts would become a huge burden on the very limited resources of the country.

So it is but a shame to hear these same group of politicians vow to make the country ungovernable again because of reasons they can seek solutions to in court if they so desire.

We pray that whatever residual evil political machinations the APC lot have up their sleeves for Sierra Leone shall not come to pass. For most of our history in Sierra Leone, APC has been in leadership. In all those years they have only succeeded in giving us mediocre leadership and institutionalizing a legacy of corruption, declining living standards and decline of public institutions.

Under years of failed APC leadership, Sierra Leone now looks like the failed prodigal brother of almost every country in West Africa. We we hope that members of the historic APC party do not continue to be the barriers to the progress that this country so badly needs. If only for the sake of the welfare of their supporters, APC members should say yes to progress and no to stagnation and backwardness.

Our prayers and good wishes are with the great and resilient men, women and children of Sierra Leone. Happy 57th Anniversary!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mohamed Bangura and the Sierra Leone Constitution


I listened to Mohamed Bangura, the SLPP turned PMDC, turned UDM, turned APC spokesman and truly, he sounded like a born joker trying to be serious. This very bloke who just a year ago was threatening to block social media in Sierra Leone is now preaching the virtues of the Constitution to others.

Honestly, APC members shouting about respecting the constitution of Sierra Leone is like a pickpocket preaching the Ten Commandments in church and skipping the line about, "Thou shalt not steal."

When APC was in power, they deprived lawfully elected politicians from their seats in parliament, stating they were paid from the consolidated fund. APC members created a legal loophole to get rid of the Parliamentary speaker, removed the Vice President by trickery, appointed the same Mohamed Bangura with bogus educational certificates, even though they had  allegedly removed Sam Sumana for doing the same.

APC even arrested our SLPP member of Parliament for Kailahun Constitution 007, Robin Faley, on a trumped up charge of false voter registration, locked him up and forced him to switch to the APC party, dropped the case, awarded him the APC symbol to contest in the same constituency and the made him deputy National Campaign Manager.

In the last election members of the APC could not even vote for their own presidential candidate in a democracy, but had that choice made for them in communist fashion by the then President Koroma, who also appointed himself chairman and leader of the party for life.

APC calling on others to respect the Constitution leaves on to ask the question; did APC even know that Sierra Leone had a Constitution? Were they not crying "more time" even when the Sierra Leone Constitution imposed term limits? Did President Koroma not say if he wanted more time he would do so and nobody would stop him, in blatant disrespect of the constitution?

Was this not the same APC that locked up respected opposition and political activist Allie Kabba, a Muslim, on charges of bigamy?

Mr. Bangura we know you are a born opportunist and a charlatan. But please stop talking about the Sierra Leone Constitution. It's a joke to you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two Tegloma International Inc. members Bag Impressive Awards in the USA

Mrs. Alice Karpeh
Mrs. Alice Karpeh, a Nurse Midwife,  pioneer and founding member of the Sierra Leone based- Minnesota, USA health care nonprofit Rural health Care Initiative (RHCI) will receive a Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA) on Saturday May 5th, 2018.  

The very competitive Distinguished Humanitarian Award is given by NOSLINA in recognition of outstanding contribution to poverty reduction, national reconstruction and rehabilitation, and supply of educational and health resources in ways that improve access and service to groups of needy, impoverished Sierra Leoneans at home. Mrs. Alice Karpeh was also the Vice President of  Tegloma Minnesota chapter.

Rural health Care Initiative works with the people of Tikonko chiefdom in Sierra Leone to provide culturally appropriate health care and improve quality of life by increasing access to family focused care. 

The organization recently inaugurated the Mbao-Mi Birth Waiting Home, the first such service in Sierra Leone,  where pregnant women in the chiefdom can receive crucial health care monitoring in the last few weeks of pregnancy, thereby reducing the incidence of infant and maternal mortality in a country ranked among those with the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. 

RHCI also provides support to the government run Community Health Clinic in Tikonko, has organized professional training for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), operates a weekly Outreach Motorbike Clinic to bring health care to remote villages, and is involved in farm based agriculture to supplement the nutritional needs of patients and the local population.

Mr. Moses Baryoh, the former President of Tegloma Indiana Chapter has also been named recipient of the distinguished Paul Harris Award from the Rotary Club of Naperville. 
Mr. Moses Baryoh
The first Rotary Club was established in 1905 by Paul Harris with the aim of providing an opportunity for professionals and business men to engage in fellowship and friendship. Today the Rotary Club is a world wide organization that promotes friendship as an opportunity for service, promotes high ethical standards in business and professional life, promote personal development,international understanding, goodwill and peace.

Mr. Moses Baryoh is deemed by the Rotary Club of Naperville to have met all the standards set by Rotary Club founder Paul Harris. Members of Mr. Baryoh's organization bring modern health care technology and training to many areas of the world.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ex-Vice President Retires from Politics in Sierra Leone

Former VP
Victor Foh 

Sierra Leone's outgoing Vice President, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh, has in a letter written to his All Peoples Congress (APC) party, tendered his resignation from active party politics in the country.

Victor Bockarie Foh who was the former Secretary General of the All Peoples Congress party and also very instrumental in that party regaining its former glory, was the Sierra Leone Ambassador to China prior to being given the Vice President portfolio following the scandalous removal from office of the then Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana.
Vice President
Chief Sam Sumana

The role that Victor Foh played around the removal of his immediate predecessor still remains murky and shrouded in mystery, as he was initially seen as being very close to Chief Sam Sumana. However, many Sierra Leone political pundits agree that the decision to remove the then vice president  may have cost the the APC party the presidency, as many of the people from Sumana's Kono district defected from APC in droves during the past elections. Sumana was a presidential candidate in the last election, but his party only gained traction in his home district.

In a country where shifting political affiliations are very common, Victor Foh holds the distinction of being among the few politicians in the country who never changed political parties. Even at the time when his APC party was buried in the political mud after the military coup of 1992, he was one of the few who did not abandon APC.
APC Candidate
Dr. Samura Kamara 

Last year, Victor Foh's decision to contest as a presidential candidate of the the All Peoples Congress party in the hope that the party will have the very first candidate who was not from the north of the country led to what he has publicly described his public  humiliation at the Makeni convention. On the even of the selection the then President Ernest Bai Koroma stated publicly that he had no regional consideration of whom he wanted to replace him, but then went about to select both  presidential and vice presidential candidates from the north of the country.

After the decision Victor Foh felt very humiliated,  as rumors had been afloat that the president had assured him not to worry and that many of the party top brass had thrown their weight behind him, praising his loyalty to the party. After the convention,  VP Foh largely disappeared from public view.

In recent days, VP Foh had publicly endorsed the current President, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, a man who he had known for more than forty years. He praised the president's character and removed himseld from all court cases brought against him by members of the opposition APC party. Victor Foh also urged members of his APC party to drop all frivolous lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of Brigadier Bio, reminding them that, "power comes from God" and "the voice of the people is the voice of God."

Victor Foh, in a shortly worded letter to the leadership of the APC, wrote that he was retiring from active party politics, but would always be available to help in the national interest.

There are currently court cases brought by the defeated presidential candidate of the APC Dr. Samura Kamara and the journalist turned APC political hack, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, both seeking to nullify the votes of the recent elections and probably find a legal loophole to instal Samura Kamara as president, even though all foreign and domestic election observers have described the results of the elections as reflecting the will of the people and APC had won the majority of the parliamentary seats.

APC's removal of Sam Sumana with the support of the Supreme Court has emboldened members of the party to think that the courts of Sierra Leone will rule in their favor against the will of the people of Sierra Leone.

Vice President Foh is seen by many as a man with many political lives and many are waiting to see whether he will just hibernate or go into political retirement for good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Democracy Can be Beautiful When it Works

Sierra Leone President
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio 
When it works, democracy can be truly  beautiful. For many years in West Africa, the only way you could get leaders out of  power was through military coups, natural deaths or violent and sometimes bloody political insurrection.
Vice President
Dr. Juldeh Jalloh 

Most post-independent West African leaders only left power dead or exiled. Those that stayed in power for long left legacies of political disappearances and the graves of their political adversaries. Up til now, Gambians are still coming to grasp with the legacy of their last President Yahya Jammeh, even as mass graves are discovered on a regular basis.

In the past few years there have been democratic transfers of power with the defeat of ruling parties in polls in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia and now Sierra Leone. In West Africa of the 60s, 70s and 80s,  this was mostly unheard of.  But these days, it is becoming the norm, and West Africans are liking it.

In the past, West Africa's intellectual elite who advocated for changes in leadership or the conditions of the people such as Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria and Jim Fornah in Sierra Leone, paid with their lives, for trying to upend the status quo. Many others  either fled, dropped out of politics for the sake of their families, or gave up and joined those in power.

In many of these countries the leaders just formed one party states. After the 1977 national election in Sierra Leone, President Siaka Stevens declared the country a one party state and made all political opposition illegal. His All Peoples Congress party was in power unchallenged, until it was forced out of leadership by a military coup in 1992.

People all over the world have aspirations for a better life, and Africa is no exception. With increased globalization and a revolution in communication, media outlets and platforms, the people in West Africa are seeing the living conditions of people in other areas of the world and asking themselves why their own societies are stagnating or regressing, while there was progress in so many  other areas of Africa.

In this day of Facebook and WhatsApp, the young people are acutely aware of the  possibilities that their societies can achieve through better governance,  especially now that migration to the West is becoming much more difficult than in the past.  Young  Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora frequently travel to the country and educate their folks about the fact that Sierra Leone has too much resource potential for the people to remain mired on poverty.

Past African governments had tight controls over both the source and the distribution of information in the country. In the past, national radio stations, television stations and many newspaper outlets were controlled by either the governments or the agents of those in power. Those days, the governments fed the population a steady dose of propaganda and public corruptiom scandals were few and far between.

Unfortunately for African leaders the emergence of social media has made the control of information practically impossible. Even when ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone sent many good journalists in the country as press attaches to overseas embassies where they effectively became propaganda agents,  most of them only succeeded in becoming  subjects of ridicule, as ordinary citizens with cellphones became the most trusted reporters in the country. Cellphone recordings of a fight between the former Social Welfare and his visually impaired deputy where they used some pretty unsavory language led to the dismissal of both of them.

Campaigning 

A massive corruption scheme around last year's pilgrimage to the Muslim holy land of Mecca made many people lose faith in the present government, as people just did not believe that public servants would descend to the level of corruption that would involve selling places for pilgrimage to such a religiously revered place.

When Mohamed Bangura, the intellectually challenged information minister of the outgoing government boasted that he would ban social media in the country, he became the butt of many jokes, as he had no idea the challenges that would entail and was a man known for talking before thinking.

Against all odds the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP over the past weekend won the election in Sierra Leone. After pouring massive public resources into a campaign in which the President personally hand picked both his successor and the running mate, the ruling party lost, even though they had embarked on a campaign that they were very confident of winning and describing the opposition party of being penniless and broke. They were buoyed by the defection of the last chairman of the SLPP Chief Somano Kapen,  a man seemingly cursed to die in opposition.
SLPP Turncoat
Chief Somano Kapen 

The reading of the country's election  results had to be variously delayed, as the outgoing government wanted to engage in every known political shenanigan in order to ensure that Dr. Samura Kamara, the president's own choice was elected by hook or crook.

However the electoral commissioners held firm. Many people became increasingly aware that the tides were turning when government agents ridiculously started accusing election observers and foreign agents of trying to rig elections. It was an act that smirked of desperation.

When the election results were announced and Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio the opposition candidate was declared the winner,  the losing Dr. Samura went on TV to say he will challenge the outcome. However,  nobody in the country paid him much attention. It was like someone cooking soup and then blaming others for its poor taste. Samura lost a historic opportunity to behave like a gentleman. However he seem to be accepting reality and went to church with the President where he acknowledged him as the President.

The new President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has many challenges. He is inheriting a country that is now more corrupt than at any time in its history, with an economy that is in the doldrums. The saving grace is that Maada Bio is no political novice and there are people around him with serious experience who can proffer good advice.  His main challenge will be how to distribute leadership positions among his many supporters without alienating many at this crucial time.  One only hopes he has been planning for this outcome.
Proud Defector
Kapen 

Regardless of what happens, democracy in West Africa is maturing.  Probably in our lifetime the people all over that area of Africa will be able to choose their leadership unhindered and hold them accountable to their promises.

In spite of the fact that it occasionally leads to tyranny of the majority, democracy is beautiful when it works.

Sheku Sheriff.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Maada Bio Becomes President of Sierra Leone

His Excellency
Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone 
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is once again the leader of the Republic of Sierra Leone! As they say, you can never put a good man down. He may stumble, but he will always rise up again.

Yesterday, His Excellency, our President, the Fountain of Honor,  Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Wonnie Bio was sworn into office by Sierra Leone's Chief Justice immediately after the results of the runoff elections were announced and he was declared victorious.

Many of Maada's political adversaries never truly believed that he would lead the country again. Many had long ago written his political obituary. But like a bad dream, he is back. Ready to lead.

With singular determination and tenacity, Maada has weathered all the storms of doubt and has given a new meaning to the adage "who God blesses no man can curse."
In these days of WhatsApp and Facebook, Sierra Leone like many other countries, has seen an unparalleled  introduction of nastiness into the country's politics. Maada Bio became a prime target.

Those who claim to have know Maada's private and personal life were all over social media with their stories, smears and allegations. Tonight many Sierra Leoneans will quietly delete many of the intensely personal things they either wrote or spoke about the Brigadier. Thankfully, he will have the last laugh.

What many naysayers and Maada's critics failed to grasp was that APC had nothing more to offer to the people of Sierra Leone, nothing, but the same broken promises and lies.

After ten years of mismanagement and corruption, even the man in the village wanted change. With nothing to offer many ardent APC supporters turned to tribalism and sectionalism. It was a failed strategy,  as every tribe in Sierra Leone had suffered under the failed promises of the outgoing government. People wanted change and preferred a familiar face.

The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) can learn a lot  from the mistakes of APC. People everywhere in the world want a better future and not just some token act of goodwill when you need them. APC operatives thought that a few bags of rice, some small money,  alcohol and preaching tribalism was all it took for the people to forget the suffering of the last ten years.

After the Ebola mess, mudslide mess, cholera mess, bus-gate, hajj-gate and the corruption, cronyism and negativity of the last 10 years, the people had had enough and said no to the outgoing President's hand chosen successor Samura Kamara who has said he is going to court.

All we can say is this; it will rain once more in Sierra Leone as the people take shelter from the sun and enter the green shade of the palm tree. Let us turn over a new leaf.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ghanaian Ex-President John Dramani Mahama Addresses Bogus Allegations of Election Interference

Ghanaian Expressed
John Dramani Mahama 
I arrived in Accra this evening to a flurry of social media stories and other worrying reports attributed to officials of the Sierra Leonean Government, that I had cut short my mission and left Freetown because of my support for one of the Candidates and Political Parties in the just ended Presidential Run-off election.

As Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the Sierra Leone Election, I was officially due to complete my Mission and leave Sierra Leone on Monday April 02, 2018, via Kenya Airways as per the ticket bought and issued to me by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
Following multiple issues that arose just when the tallying of the result from the run-off began, I was requested through a call from the Secretary General of The Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, to stay one more day to work with my colleague Heads of International Observer Missions to resolve issues that had stalled the tallying process.
My departure was therefore delayed until Tuesday April 03, 2018.

With this extension in mind, I joined my colleagues in multiple meetings with the political stakeholders on April 01, 2018 until well after midnight to achieve consensus in order to have the tallying process proceed. All these meetings were chaired by Professor Amos Sawyerr, Head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission.

In the afternoon, just before my departure from Freetown, I joined my colleague former Presidents, Amos Sawyer of Liberia, Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas at the Presidential Lodge to brief President Ernest Bai Koroma on our efforts in reaching an agreement between the political parties and the National Electoral Commission in order that the tallying process could proceed.
I bid farewell to President Koroma before I drove to the sea coach to leave for Lungi Airport.

My departure from Freetown was not sudden and when I bid farewell to President Koroma I did not get any indication in word or deed that I was not wanted anymore in his country.

I was leaving because by my agreement with The Commonwealth my mandate as Head of Mission had ended. The Commonwealth technical team were also due to leave Freetown on April 03, 2018 but a cancellation of their Air France flight is keeping them there till Wednesday April 04, 2018.

International Observers have no capacity to change the will of the people, in any election. I, John Dramani Mahama, have no interest in who governs the people of Sierra Leone. The long nights, early mornings, long meetings, diplomatic shuttles were all aimed at helping Sierra Leone choose their leader freely, maintain the peace and consolidate their democracy.

As President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2014, I visited Sierra Leone when all others abandoned the country and foreigners were leaving. I offered my country as the staging post for the fight against Ebola.

I have expressed openly to anyone who would listen the progress Sierra Leone has made since I last visited when the country was at its most vulnerable, at the height of the Ebola crisis. I have absolutely no interest in who becomes President of Sierra Leone at the end of this elections. I just believe that a credible election would consolidate not only Sierra Leone's democracy but also its peace, bearing in mind it's past gruesome civil war.

If my presence, in the midst of a volatile and violent situation, at Goderich during the first round of voting to prevent what would have clearly marred a beautiful day of election, or my actions in conducting my mandate as head of my mission has so angered some people so much, as to throw such accusations at me, I can only respond that, I wish Sierra Leone well and that on this exhausting mission, I put my best experience at the service of that nation's democracy and I pray that the in the end, whoever emerges as leader will continue to consolidate this process and continue to build on the good works of his predecessors.
Let us all continue to join the good people of Sierra Leone in prayer.


John Dramani Mahama

Bubu King Ahmed Janka Nabay Passes Away in Sierra Leone

Ahmed Janka Nabay
"King of Bubu Music" 
Ahmed Janka Nabay, who popularized the uniquely Sierra Leone  "Bubu Music" has sadly passed away in his country of birth Sierra Leone at the age of 54.

Bubu is traditional music of the Temne ethnic group of Northern Sierra Leone, but it's infectious horns and captivating beats always made it a popular form of music in all corners of the country.

For those of us who grew up around the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, Bubu was the staple music of the popular lantern parades that were part of  the Muslim festivities associated with the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Bubu added a unique Sierra Leonean flair to the Muslim festivities.
Many people occasionally associate Bubu as being somehow affiliated with Islam, but Bubu Music predates Islam in Sierra Leone and is part of the indigenous musical landscape of the country.

Ahmed Janka Nabay rose to prominence in Sierra Leone during the tough years of the civil war when he released a popular hit "Somebody" that infused the traditional horns and drums of Bubu music with western instruments,  giving Bubu Music a modern feel

Bubu is not for the slow, it both fast paced and groovy, requiring arduous quick dust raising movements. Bubu combined with the local brews of Sierra Leone was a potent mixed that had people gyrating from dusk to dawn.
Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang 

Ahmed Janka Nabay moved to the USA around 2003. Between odd jobs here and there, he joined with some local musicians on the US scene to form a band called Janka Nabay and the Bubu gang that recorded several songs and was very popular in the indie music performance circuit.

Last year Janka Nabay went back to Sierra Leone and died last night after some stomach illness. He will be buried tomorrow April 4th in Freetown as his label reports.

Because of his pioneering work in pioneering Bubu Music, Ahmed Janka Nabay will always be remembered as the King of Bubu Music. He joins a revered list of Sierra Leone musicians such as Dr. Oloh, Ebenezer Calendar, Salia Koroma, and S.E. Rogie, to name but a few, who introduced the world to the tapestry of music that is at the heart 
of the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone. We will miss him.