Monday, February 20, 2012

SLPP's Mende Flagbearer Paradox

Segbwema MP Fallay
Winning Aspirant Bio
Yesterday, I spent some time looking at some internet clippings of the speeches of aspirants for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) flag bearer position on YouTube. SLPP famously had 23 aspirants for party presidential candidate.The number was eventually whittled down to 19 candidates as some candidates could not meet the criteria set for eventual qualification. The contest was not for financially handicapped candidates and one of the first to bail ship was our own Segbwema MP Honorable Robin Fallay. (An aside-Hon. Fallay should focus more on the problems of Segbwema, but I will address that another day)

Going back to the Internet video clipping of SLPP presidential aspirants, three common themes seemed to stand out:
  • Ernest Koroma had failed Sierra Leone and needed to be replaced for the salvation of the country, its future and for posterity.
  • Each candidate was the best that could replace Ernest Koroma and any of the other candidates would somehow not be up to the task.
  • SLPP should not elect a Mende candidate as most Sierra Leoneans were of the opinion that the party was a "Mende Man" party and electing a candidate from another tribe would somehow convince Sierra Leoneans that this was not true.
The matter of whether President Ernest Koroma was a failed candidate or whether each of the aspirants was better suited to replace him is not the subject of this particular article. This article is focused on the third theme, that a Mende candidate would somehow be unsuitable for the SLPP in order to challenge the perception that it was a tribal party. I will try to examine whether this statement can pass the rationality test or whether it is inherently fallacious and promotes reverse discrimination.
Dr. Kadie Sesay VP Aspirant

My own candid opinion is that the statement that a Mende candidate was somehow bad for SLPP as it would reinforce negative perceptions that people have of the party is illogical, fallacious and a promotion of reverse discrimination and I would endeavor to back my position by proffering a set of arguments.

To be very clear, I am from Madingo/Konyaka heritage. My people migrated and settled in Eastern and Southern Sierra Leone a couple of generations ago. My grandfather introduced the people of the then small town of Segbwema to the Islamic religion and up to this day, people come from all over Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to pray at his grave site in Segbwema. I nesaw my grandfather, but people of Segbwema are convinced that he had some wonderful qualities and as he is my grandfather, i am not willing to challenge this. But back to SLPP and the Mendes.
Second Place Usu, Skipping  ship?

The main parties in Sierra Leone, SLPP and APC, draw their support from the southeast and north of Sierra leone respectfully, unfortunately. Northerners mostly gravitate to APC and Southeasterners identify with the SLPP, the negative result being that Sierra Leoneans are now starting to ascribe party characteristics to certain people. It is now common for people to assume that you are SLPP as soon as you say you are Mende or APC if you are Temne. I have a friend from southern Sierra Leone who is a strong supporter of APC and an Ernest Koroma fanatic. My friend had a very hard time trying to convince members of our local APC chapter that he was genuine and up to this day there are those that view him with suspicion, especially when he sometimes hangs out with me, the nephew of SLPP agbagba, Late Hon. Salia Jusu Sheriff.

I believe that as citizens of Sierra Leone, Mende people or Temne people or even the less populous Krios should have an equal opportunity to become president of Sierra Leone and that the only thing that matters is the individual's character, experience and qualifications for the position. Saying that a Mende person should not be elected as a presidential candidate of a major party is an indirect attempt to strip that person of his full rights as a citizen of the country solely on the basis of tribal origin, a condition which nobody has control over. The only qualification of being a Mende man is that your mother loves a Mende man, they tangle, and they have you. As simple as that. So for you to be deprived of the right to enjoy the benefits of citizenship because your mother happened to marry your father is just grossly illogical.
Alpha Wurie-Intellectual

The candidates who state that a Mende candidates should not be voted for, to protect the image of the party, are however asking the Mende members of the party to vote for them. The ridiculousness of this position is that you are asking people to consciously discriminate against themselves. With the fact that every human being aspires to become the best they can, asking somebody to discriminate against themselves is asking them to reduce their own aspiration in support of yours, solely because they happen to be born one way and you another. Except in positions where you are a martyr or pretending to be Jesus Christ, discriminating against oneself is pretty hard to do as it defies all the rules of human behavior.
SLTU Timbo

Imagine again a situation in which the Mende candidate is the most qualified, the most charismatic, most popular and has the best plans. Should people vote for the less qualified, less charismatic and more mediocre candidate who is non Mende? Will the country be better served if mediocre candidates are elected solely to change people perceptions? Should not what is good for the country more important? Is the fact that a person is Mende so unacceptable that a mediocre moron would be more acceptable as a candidate because they are non Mende?

If somehow, some people do not want a Mende candidate or a Temne candidate just  because they happen to be Mende or Temne. Should the Mende or Temne candidate really care about people that do not like them solely because theyhappen to be Mende or Temne? If someone does not like you because of your tribe would it not just be an exercise in stupidity and futility to try to satisfy them? They are not going to like you anyway, as people who are prejudicial are pretty close minded.
Andrew Keili Preacher's son

The ruling All Peoples Congress manipulated their constitution and shifted their leadership elections to 2013, ensuring that there was no challenge to Ernest Koroma's leadership, effectively barricading the aspirations of the likes of Eddie Turay and other potential challengers. Was the fact that APC has only a single candidate through dubious manipulation better than what SLPP did only because they happened to get a Mende candidate?

A lot of SLPP supporters in Freetown are leaving the party claiming that the election of Julius Maada  Bio has confirmed their suspicion that SLPP was a Mende party. If you leave a party that is perceived as Mende for one that is perceived as Temne, are you really doing anything different? Why not just stay where you are and help change what you do not like?
Late Uncle Salia Jusu Sheriff

Sierra Leone has thousands of problems, social, economic and political. What we need are candidates with the ability, willingness and determination to put the country on the path to sustainable growth and development. Whether that person is Loko or Krim, Temne or Mende, Fula or Kissi, should not really matter. The only qualification is that the person should be SierraLeonean and willing to make big decisions. 


Anonymous said...

I pray that one day all Sierra Leoneans, specifically the politicians will be able to think critically or laterally as shown in this blog.
Irrespective of my Segbewema affiliation, I crave each and everyday for your artistic and honest enlightenment. Sierra Leone must be proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.

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