Monday, October 29, 2012

Sierra Leone News Update: The Rat's Buttocks-"World's Best

RUF for Koroma
Last week Sierra Leone's presidential candidates were crisscrossing the country, appealing, begging and threatening for votes. The two main parties, the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) have been traveling in different areas of the country drawing huge crowds of revelers, onlookers, opportunists, traveling supporters and professional crowd swellers.

There was a huge hoopla about the statement American Ambassador to Sierra Leone Michael Owen made, telling a local FM station in the country that he thought there could be a second round of voting as the two main parties both seemed to have massive support around the country. This statement elicited an unreasonable outcry of political interference from ruling APC party supporters, who are of the opinion that football carrying President Ernest Bai Koroma, is the "world's best president", in spite of the fact that the level of unemployment in the country is over 80% and the devastation of the country by the preventable disease cholera is the greatest claim to fame that Koroma has had in 2012. Google cholera and the name Koroma will come up.

The funniest reaction to the Ambassador's assessment did not even come from APC, but from the presidential candidate of the United Democratic Movement Mohamed Bangura whose claim to popularity is his weekly release of ridiculous statement, each one somehow succeeding to be more juvenile than the other, all in a bid for publicity.

Poor Mr. Bangura stated that by saying that there would be a run off, the ambassador was interfering into the politics of Sierra Leone. What is so funny about aspiring president Mohamed Bangura's statement is that if there was no run off,  his party's total votes in the first round would not even be worth counting, let alone announcing. Political watchers in Sierra Leone state that Mohamed Bangura and UDM would only get 500 votes in the entire country if monkeys were also allowed to vote and as Christiana Thorpe did not open the biometric registration to these fellow primates, sane people everywhere are wondering what the garrulous Bangura is whining about. At least if there was a second round, he could legally go on TV and make a hug fanfare about endorsing his patron, the "world's best."

Now is time to dissect the anatomy of the new APC catchphrase "The World's Best." The political spectacle the last week in Sierra Leone, apart from the huge crowds of supporters milling behind the two major parties presidential candidates, is the ubiquitous picture of an eternally grinning Ernest Koroma riding everywhere with a football in his hand surrounded by the same people at every turn, calling him "The World's Best."

Politics is suppose to be serious business, it changes the destiny of nations and affects lives. The era of responsible leadership is upon the world. The world is heating up and the population of the world is increasing at rates that portend a terrible future in the developing world if the application of scientific methods to food production is not rapidly accelerated. It is the era for individual nations to be serious at seeking tangible solutions to getting their populations out of poverty and preparing for the impending challenges of the future. Yet in Sierra Leone, high on the index of human misery and low on the index of human development, stuck in an ocean of hunger and human suffering, afflicted with the world's most rapid decline in educational standards second only to Afghans under the Taliban, the president is masquerading with a football in his hand, surrounded by drunken revelers shouting that he is the world's best.

What actually is the APC government of Sierra Leone world's best at, the propagation of hunger? Facilitating the spread of cholera? Entrenching the spread of tribalism and regionalism? Converting Sierra Leone into a Narco state? Presiding over the greatest decline in educational standards in the history of Africa? Increasing the reliance on witch doctors and herbalists in the face of declining health standards.

The term world's best is symptomatic and symbolic of a rule that is based on a foundation of sycophancy. President Koroma has always been the sycophant's messiah. The most successful people in Sierra Leone today are those with the greatest aptitude for praise singing. Nobody amongst the president's team believes he is the world's best at anything, but in Sierra Leone, he can make or break the common man, so many people have decided to go along for the ride.

So make sure you are very close to the president's truck and as soon as he makes eye contact with you, shout "world's best" and you could be transformed from primary school teacher in Masiaka to the Ambassador of Japan. Ardent former critics of EBK's misrule like Ernest John Leigh, Sengu Koroma, Usu Boie and my own Segbwema Robin Fallay have all joined the Krishna chant of "World's Best" Ambassador Leigh makes sure that the last thing he types on Facebook when he sleeps at night is "world's best"

Judging by the crowds that Maada Bio and Kadi Sesay are drawing in every area of the country though, it seems not everybody is sold on the Koroma happy hour. World's best or world's worst, Sierra Leone is up for a tough challenge and with the growing opposition crowds, it seems the people have sensed that no matter how you decorates the buttocks of a rat, they will always be rats buttocks.

I blog with BE Write

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sierra Leone News Round Up: The Sheep's Buttocks

Ex. President Julius Maada Bio
President Ernest Bai Koroma
Today is Friday and as elections in Sierra Leone get closer the tension is rising, the expectations are high as the fissures in the society have deepened and are continuing to widen. As opposed to ex-President Tejan Kabbah who saw the need for national cohesiveness, President Koroma is pathologically partisan, with a winner takes all mentality. Politics in Sierra Leone today is simple, either you are with the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) or you are in the wilderness. With government being the largest direct employer in Sierra Leone the chances of getting a good job in Sierra Leone these days is directly proportional to the number of red shirts in your wardrobe. The situation is such that a man in Makeni almost divorced his wife for buying him a green shirt as a birthday present.

The need to identify with party extends even to funerals. Funeral convoys in Sierra Leone are now bedecked with party colors. Could you imagine, wearing red to a funeral! But this is Sierra Leone, and these days, we take politics to the grave. If red and hell did not have such an intense color similarity, there would definitely be a brisk business in red coffins these days in Sierra Leone, to convince the president that your dead uncle was also APC. Imagine going to meet your maker in a red coffin, the choice between heaven and hell would be just a little bit easier.

The last past week the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) painted the city green and at the end of the week the APC plastered the same city red and as we did not see many other other paints, we can safely assume that the red and green parties are the main parties, ceteris paribus.

Then the political clowns also came out. Mohamed Bangura the flagbearer of the UDM was at the presidential rally of the APC as the presidential candidate of his own party endorsing the presidential candidate of the APC, Ernest Bai Koroma. If you are confused don't worry, even Sierra Leonean politicians are confused about Sierra Leone politics.

Then we heard news that President Ernest Bai Koroma and the SLPP leader Julius Maada Bio were supposed to have a presidential debate, American style. Sierra Leone Association of Journalists' Umaru Fofanah was giddy at the prospect of the intellectual tangle. But as with all things Sierra Leone, Sylvia Blyden came out the next day stating  that the debate would not happen and that she was due to talk to the president. Voila, by week's end, we have heard that the debates have been cancelled, much to Facebook's chagrin.

The disappointment of the president withdrawing from the debate is palpable on the blogosphere. Facebook has be a lit with apprehension. Many questions had already been generated. To Bio: what can you say about those passports? What about Bambay and all those Strasser killed, where you involved? Why does John Leigh hate your gut so much? Have you ever turned down a romantic offer from Sylvia Blyden, if not why does she hate you with such a passion? How are you going to treat all your party defectors if you win?

To President Koroma: If you believe in attitudinal change, what is the attitudinal change in reappointing a world renowned master scammer and celebrated 419 expert as a vice president? You promised that the price of a bag of rice will be twenty thousand Leones and now it is two hundred thousand would you say that you lied or you have failed woefully, or was it just a case of poor mathematics? When President Kabbah was leaving office he listed the roads that he had secured funding for and that were under construction. Now you are claiming most of these roads as having being constructed by your effort; why are you not honest with the Sierra Leone people? Your aviation minister was embroiled in a scandal involving a planeload of cocaine, why have you reappointed him as your adviser? Why did you create an aviation ministry for a country that does not have a single plane, was it the reward to Kemoh for sponsoring your campaign? Many American business men are after your vice president for him to  repay them after defrauding them of huge sums. Now that you have reappointed him are you going to convince him to repay these monies or are you going to tell him to tell them to go to hell? You promised that Freetown will have continuous electricity 90 days after you were president, where is the continuous electricity. You promised to run the country like a business, is Sierra Leone now a family business?

Well, the debate did not happen and Sylvia Blyden thumbed her voluminous nose at Umaru and said, "I told you so!".

So we did not get the presidential debate we wanted, what about a vice presidential debate between Alhaji Aljazeera Sumana and Dr. Kadi Sesay? The questions they will ask Sumana; he won't do it, he won't dare. It will be like a debate between an ebola virus and Penicillin. There will be no debate or may be there will be one between Mohamed Bangura and Charles Margai.

Then there was the case of convoy obstruction. APC operatives are hopping mad, saying Maada Bio obstructed the president's convoy and told the police commissioner to warn the SLPP not to do so again and of course IGP Munu warned the party. SLPP Secretary General Banja Tejan-Sie said that there was no blocking and the statement was meant to cause chaos ahead of the election. Many people are concerned that the president's convoy has started mysteriously appearing whenever there is a large gathering of SLPP. Is it Bumbuna all over again? Everybody knows that the president has right of way, but the president can also not be obstructive. The presidency is a respected position and politics must not be used to cheapen it.

In my hometown Segbwema, Robin Fallay is promising State House jobs to the youths, what a phenomenal rise in the APC for my brother, from Kenema jail to State House employment consultant. Well since he joined APC, the elections fraud case against him has mysteriously been dismissed by Sierra Leone's infamous Kangaroo courts. He was guilty when he was SLPP, but he has proven his innocence by joining the APC.

 However the wise men of Segbwema have told Honorable Fallay the following:
" A sheep will be dragging its buttocks on the street thinking that it is making the town dirty, but in truth it is just destroying its own buttocks."

Segbwema Blogger

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Tale of Two Elections: Obama and Koroma

President Barack Hussein Obama
President Ernest Bai Koroma
In November, Sierra Leoneans living in USA will be feverish with anticipation and excitement. Well this will at  least be true for those who follow politics. On November 6, 2012,  Americans will be asked to decide between incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican Challenger Mitt Willard Romney. Just a week and some days after the American election the people of the beautiful West African country of Sierra Leone, just north of the equator will also be asked to choose between incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma and a bevy of opposition candidates, even though the only one with any realistic chance of upsetting the president is the main opposition challenger Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra leone Peoples
party, the man who transitioned the country to multiparty democracy after a quarter century of one-party and military rule.

Julius Maada Bio
President Obama and Koroma have some real similarities. They were both elected on an agenda of hope and change, one economic and the other attitudinal, whatever attitudinal change means. Both were good looking and vibrant and both rode massive waves of popularity. Both also promised their respective citizens a lot. As they head into their respective  elections, both men still regain some element of popularity and are both predicted to be contesting very close elections.

At the end of both President Obama and Koroma's tenures, the two men have had widely divergent socioeconomic achievements in their respective countries.

When President Obama was elected to lead America, the country was in a very severe recession, with the economy shedding over 700,000 jobs a month, which is basically an underestimate. The three big American automakers were on the verge of bankruptcy, barely playing second fiddle to the Japanese auto firms Toyota, Honda and Mazda. The housing market in most of the major urban areas was in a real mess. Real estate prices were in free fall and foreclosures were becoming an everyday and common occurrence.  Foreclosures almost became accepted as the order of the day. The major American banks and major housing lenders were also in a state short of catastrophe  With the collapse of Lehman brothers, AIG and some of the institutional foundations of the American economy, President Barack Obama was inaugurated with two ongoing wars and an economic disaster of historic proportions, second only to the great depression of the 1930s.
A Day of Hope

When President Ernest Bai Koroma became president of Sierra Leone, the country was just on the verge of recovery from the devastating effects of a decade long civil war that had plunged the country into medieval barbarianism from the early 1990 to the early 2000s. The civil war brought on by a multitude of factors among which included; the corruption of the APC government of Joseph Momoh, the unreasonable over ambition of a semi-literate former corporal Foday Saybanah Sankoh, the deviousness of Sierra Leone rebel neighbor Charles Ghankay Taylor, the high Sierra Leone youth employment and high youth disaffection, the attraction of Sierra Leone's gem diamonds to unscrupulous international business individuals and entities, amongst many others, had laid waste the country and its economy. Many towns were torched by rebels and  rural population areas like Koidu, Masiaka, Mobai, and scores of others were left smoldering, buried under ashes of misery and despair  Against all odds the leadership of Ahmed Tejan Kabba managed to stabilize the situation while surviving two coups and a considerable period in exile. Tejan Kabbah  left the country with functional democratic institutions including; an independent electoral commission, a vibrant private banking sector, a currency that had been relatively stable for well over a year, a vibrant electoral commission, a reformed the police force and a smaller military that was benefiting from frequent training aimed at securing its modernization.
Rising Up To The Challenge

In essence, when Ernest Koroma took over as president, the hard work  of stabilizing the war torn economy had already been achieved by President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, albeit with considerable international goodwill and assistance.  Contracts for the construction of the country's road networks had already been approved and infrastructral development had commenced in many areas around the country. The country's decades old Bumbuna Hydroelectric project had also been a Kabbah priority and was near completion. The country had reserves of foreign currency for the first time in many years and most of the perpetrators of the near genocide of the 90s were either dead, in prison or hiding.

In America, president Obama took immediate steps to halt the economic free fall by bailing out the major banks on the edge of bankruptcy and infusing an injection of funds into the auto industry that permitted them to rapidly reform and transform their production methods, churning out more environmentally friendly and low fuel consuming high quality vehicles, enabling  more effective competition against foreign rivals. The "cash for clunkers program" also encouraged those with old cars to trade it in for new ones and receive a government credit for doing so. and in a relatively short time, Detroit was back on its feet, with General Motors achieving its market leader status once again. Major housing lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also received serious cash infusion to help finance and restore to health the very sick housing market. The Affordable Care Act was passed enabling millions of American to get access to health care coverage through insurance exchanges. The Act also prevented the discriminatory practice of refusing health care coverage to those with preexisting conditions and kept children on their parent's insurance until they were 26. In less than 3 years the economic free fall had been halted and the American economy was generating millions of jobs again.

In Sierra Leone President Koroma initially made some noises about fighting corruption and even set up an attitudinal and behavioral change secretariat that was charged with somehow changing the people's behavior,  staffed with the president's close political allies and lackeys. The president undertook a rebranding exercise that was meant to portray a positive image of the country and put the exercise in the hands of a new Minister Plenipotentiary Kabbs Kanu who saw this role as the foundation for the institutionalization of sycophancy and embarked on telling the international community about what the president had for lunch and what his wife had for dinner. The country's troublesome journalists were sent as press attaches to obscure countries and charged with painting rosy pictures of the country and counteracting any negative news emanating from the country even if it meant them propagating falsities. With journalism being a low paying position in Sierra Leone, many of the fierce, but broke journalist threw their professional ethics under their beds and joined the bandwagon of praise singing and Koroma deification. The president who had perceived the Tejan Kabbah led ex-government of being southeastern dominated proceeded to purge the civil service of southeastern elements, replacing them with  northern APC allies and kinsmen. In less than a year the great Koroma southeastern civil service purge was well underway starting with the establishment of a cabinet that was 80% northern based and then institutionalizing and entrenching regionalization and tribalism as a government policy. 
APC's Creation Sankoh

In a span of four years the Leone, the Sierra Leone currency was in free fall, with devaluation over the period exceeding 200%. Ministers and heads of parastatals were being dragged by the ACC to court for corruption and drug smuggling. The vice president was caught by journalists in an embarrassing bribery scandal and the president's siblings were international business magnates importing goods into the country while benefiting from custom waivers while other business people were paying increased custom duties through their noses, with many  forced to abandon their goods at customs and duties.

After 4 years in America and five years in Sierra Leone Barack Obama and Ernest Koroma, whose sharing of a table at the United Nations became a stuff of legend for the nations pro government journalists, are both up for reelection and both face tough competition and both are still drawing huge crowds, which ironically demonstrates how hard it is to rule in the West and how easy it is to rule in Subsaharan Africa.

Barack Obama's crowds are those who appreciate all that he has done in the short period. The rescue of the economy and the ending of the Iraq war and the setting of a time table for withdrawal from Afghanistan. He is resisted by the Republicans who see his rule as an expansion of big government and a period of increased deficits and big spending, even though the spending was necessary to dig the country out of the whole it had been buried in by the bush administration. His support is not due to demagoguery nether is his resistance wholly due to poor performance, but sometimes merely on the diametrically opposite view of the world as seen by liberals and democrats.

In Sierra Leone President Koroma's crowds are an epitome and a benefit of leadership on a continent of high illiteracy, ethnic divisions and low expectations. No American president that has presided over a 200% devaluation in the value of the dollar or a tripling of food prices will even hope of reelection, let alone boast of doing so with a landslide. But the benefits of tribalism, demagoguery, illiteracy and low expectations means that people will dance on the streets for the election of the Sierra Leone president, go home, collapse and die from hunger, only because he is from their tribe, full stop. Cholera patients will leave their IV drips hanging in dilapidated hospitals, jump onto the streets and dance for a government whose poor sanitation policies has put them at the door of an early grave, just because they do not want to be ruled by their perceived rivals, even where those rivals have a better agenda. 
The Face of Change

Sierra Leone has been the poorest country on the face of the earth for a long time and it is definitely not because of a shortage of resources or human capital, but because of the magnification of the trivial and the minimization of the important. This trip though it is hoped that will all the wrath of God that he has brought down on the country over the past decade or two, the people will wake up from their slumber, shed their cloaks of primitive loyalty and do the best they can to better their lot. If they decide to vote in the current government again, then they should remember that God gave them a chance to answer their own prayer of redemption, but they decided they decided to take their destiny once again and hand it to the agents of deceit.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Thriving Business of Crowd Swelling in Sierra Leone

Professional Crowd Sweller
The All Peoples Congress party in Sierra Leone may not have the best legacy of government. In fact it is under successive APC governments that the nation has experienced the worst geometric economic declines in its 51 year history of independence. In spite of this sorry legacy, the party is extremely adept at concocting mechanisms for survival and all other parties may want to learn a bit from APC's ingenuity for presenting their dirty linen in public and simultaneously convincing people that it were silk and velvet.

The presidential and legislative elections in Sierra Leone is less than a month away and every party is busy creating the impression that it has enormous support in the country. Smaller parties mask their small crowds and lack of support by engaging drummers and beating up these drums as loud and fantastic possible to attract onlookers who they will then say are possible. More creative types like Mohamed Bangura of the PMDC breakaway UDM give outrageous press conferences to journalists attacking their opponents, thus increasing their visibility and an appearance of political relevance. This fellow is so creative that he was able to somehow able to piggyback on one of President Ernest Koroma's large UN General Assembly trips to New York to promote and created the fable that he had sponsored himself as a delegate. Unfortunately in the era of electronic records he was soon found out to have traveled at the Sierra Leone taxpayers expense as a reward for poking his finger in Charle's Margai's over ambitious eye.
Crowd Swelling Pioneer and Entrepreneur
Retired Minister Logus Kaoroma

PMDC is usually anxious to arrange their events around Mighty Blackpool events to benefit from the color similarity with the Tiss Tass boys and give the semblance that it was Margai himself who had "baranta'd".

The Moving Forest
SLPP with its traditional green forest color will mask the size of their crowd by the green leaves and palm fronds everywhere, as if they were a forest on the move in JRR. Tolkien's "Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers". Movie buffs will know what I man is talking about.

Creativity at creating an illusion of support is however won hands down by the party founded by Bandalay himself, APC.

The New APC publicity organ has under the leadership of the former minister turned propagandist Balogun Logus Koroma developed and perfected the new and thriving business in Sierra Leone known as "Crowd Swelling.

 Crowd swelling is the practice of either busing in or travelling with trucks of youths to a locality to create the crowd effect and strategically photograph the crowd giving the semblance of massive support in the area. The phenomenon is particularly useful in areas where the local population does not even want to see your party's ugly face, let alone support you.
Expert Certificated Crowd Sweller

Crowd swellers are usually perennially unemployed youths and stragglers who will be grateful for even a meal a day and if you promise them some Leones, some Pegapak and some blessed herbs, they will even attend your grandmother's funeral.

Such is the extent of unemployment, poverty and deprivation in Sierra Leone that crowd swelling is easily becoming the highest employment industry in the country. Not all crowd swellers are equal. While beginner or amateur crowd swellers will be satisfied with wearing the party's T-shirts, professional crowd swellers will volunteer to have even their whole body, with the exception of their eyeballs, painted in party colors. Crowd swelling which owes its genesis to football supporters painting themselves in team colors and could be trademarked by Fifa, but the creative government in Sierra Leone has added a new dimension.

Crowd swelling pay depends on appearance and pay, as Alpha Kamara, a professional crowd sweller who has been in the business for four years now told the Segbwema Blog correspondent in Segbwema. The correspondent who was born and bred in Segbwema was surprised that on the day Honorable Fallay was presented in the town as the new APC turncoat, he could not recognize most of the Segbwema APC supporters in the crowd and almost all could neither speak the local Mende or spoke Mende with a Waterloo accent.
Bin Ladin Terrorist Crowd sweller

The Segbwema blog correspondent's opportunity arose when one of these Segbwema citizens approached him and asked him where he could buy the local pamwine "poyo". Though surprised that anybody born in Segbwema would not know where palmwine is sold, he obliged the "Segbwema" APC supporter and led him to the palmwine corner on the Daru Road.

As my Latin teacher in Bo School Mr. Pendema used to say, 'in vino veritas', there is truth in wine. As soon as the palmwine had hit the mouth loosening the talkative part of this supporter's brain, he confessed that he was Alpha Kamara from Kissy in Freetown and had been doing the lucrative crowd swelling business for four years now. It was beneficial he said. You get free food, drinks, money and women, -the fool's paradise.

Korean APC?
He asked the Segbwema Blog correspondent if he would like him to introduce him to his boss, but the correspondent declined rather vigorously. The pretend Segbwema citizen even said that there had been some plans to bring in crowd swellers from North Korea, but Kim Jong Il had refused before he died. How APC would have been able to convince people that it had korean voters is a mystry we will never fully understand with the death of Kim Jong IL

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sierra Leone's Discredited Government Grows Reckless in Desperation

Maada and Kadi In Freetown Monday
The saying "you reap what you sow" has never rang true in Sierra Leone as it did this week for the nation's embattled president who is in a state of panic, as the euphoria to replace his inept and monumentally corrupt government reaches fever peak in the nation's capital Freetown and other major population areas in the country.

Ernest Koroma, who came into office on a wave of promises has presided over the greatest accelerated decline in the living standards of the people since the nation became an independent state in April 1961. In a period of just 5 years, the national currency declined from approximately Le. 2000.00 to 1 dollar to the current exchange rate of over Le. 4500.00 against the dollar. The price of the country's staple food rice tripled in price from a high of Le. 60,000.00 to almost Le. 200,000.00 from 2007, an astounding 200% while wages have grown during this period at an anemic 5%. The national banks are currently facing severe currency shortages, having to turn away customers who want to access funds or are rationing the amount that customers can withdraw in a single day, in spite of the fact that the country's rich natural resources have been almost handed over to unscrupulous foreign investors under the pretext of running the country like a business.
Toward The Electoral Commission

And in a classic case of reckless corruption that can only rival the Italian Mafia, the Reuters News Agency reports from West Africa that 9 out ten vessels that are responsible the greater percentage of more than 250 reports of illegal fishing off Sierra Leone's coast are cleared by the nation's so called government to export their illegal catch to Europe with the benefit accruing to the nation's top brass. Read the link for more indormation:
A Fed up People

Fuel lines in the country's petrol stations stretch for miles, with drivers spending up to 12 hours to get just a few gallons of the now precious fuel. After an initial pledge to electrify the country in a few years, resulting in the senseless Income Electrix deal in which nearly useless generators were bought by the country's  discredited former Energy Minister Hafsatu Kabbia in a deal that netted the insiders millions of dollars, the nation's capital and many areas of the country continues to be in near perpetual darkness.

Just in the past two weeks  the president for pure political reasons and to the amazement of the country's intellectual community and foreign diplomats decided to reappoint the country's notoriously corrupt and greedy Vice President Sam Sumana,  probably in fear of what he would reveal if he was not reappointed and to encourage the people of his traditional SLPP district to switch to the ruling APC. Sam Sumana's reappointment makes the president's catch phrases of "zero corruption tolerance", "attitudinal change" and "rebranding exercise" sound like the jokes of a constipated comedian, to which only he is laughing.
The Rape of Sierra Leone

The starvation in the country combined with hopeless sanitation practices in the capital where pigs are freely allowed to breed in the slums has resulted in the greatest case of severe cholera to hit West Africa in well over half a century. Cholera like a black plague spread rapidly over the few months to every corner of the country, killing hundreds and compromising the health of thousands.
Voting Again for This?

With the country going to elections in less than 40 days the president and his party's desperation is palpable. This week, the national parties were scheduled to formally present their candidates to the country's electoral commission under the leadership of former clergy Christiana Thorpe, whose historical legacy depends on her conduct of this most contentious of elections.
The Rape of Sierra Leone

Earlier in the week the Pro-APC United Democratic Movement (UDM) headed by the PMDC defecting duo of Mohamed Bangura and Dennis Saidu registered their candidacies without much fanfare.

Atrocious Revolutionary United Front commander Eldred Collins also registered the rebel party RUFP to participate in the coming elections to lead the country, having failed to do so afters years of amputating  the limbs of innocent people, decapitating old men and disemboweling pregnant women. But such is the nature of democracy that Collins who should either be rotting in a Rwandan jail or dancing to Satan's beat in hell, is running as a candidate  reminding the people of Sierra Leone once again of the depravity and manic senselessness of their rebel movement,which found pleasure in killing fetuses in the wombs of their mothers.
Eldred Satan Collins RUFP

Such is the nature of the hypocrisy of Sierra Leone politics that the ruling APC party which has been crying murderer over the candidacy of retired Brigadier Maada Bio of the SLPP, is loudly silent at the prospect of having this degenerate human rights abuser Eldred Collins as the head of a presidential ticket, largely because he poses no chance of winning the elections and so the fact that he murdered and supervised the torture of thousands of peaceful citizens does not really matter as he poses very little risk of upsetting and upending the APC gravy train.
The Confident Duo

On Monday the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party presented their presidential duo of Julius Maada Bio and Dr. Kadi Sesay to the electoral commissioner bringing hordes of crowds out of every corner of the capital Freetown and bringing the city to a virtual standstill and sending the APC into a state of shock, awe and panic. People from all walks of life who were fed up with the hopeless situation in the country came out in their hundreds of thousands to join the slow procession of Maada and Kadi as they confidently walked up to the electoral commission. Civil servants who were afraid to join the masive rally for fear of being targeted by the jittery government stood at their office windows and cheered the peaceful crowd on. The festive atmosphere continued till the end of the day, sending chills down the spine of government politicians who were for the first time brought to the realization of just how frustrated the people of Sierra Leone were even in the period were Ernest Koroma was spending millions paying journalist to write news to the contrary. A frustrated Sylvia Blyden almost went crazy on Facebook and her awareness Times Rag concocting crazy conspiracy stories.
Loving The Crowd
APC Supporters Being Bused Into Freetown
From the North

Today is the APC's turn to present President Koroma and "Alhaji" Sumana. The APC in response to SLPP turning the seat of power and the president's supposed  base Freetown green has been spending millions of leones busing villagers from the north of the country into the country's cholera infested capital to outdo the SLPP crowd, disregarding the health implications in a country already struggling under the weight of the cholera epidemic. APC T-Shirts have been distributed all the week in Freetown at giveaway prices and thousands more are being distributed for free. The main northern town of Makeni is reportedly a ghost town as most of its prominent citizens and populace have been bused into Freetown to create the illusion of massive support for the desperate government.
APC  Today

The Crowds Are In Town
Just a few weeks ago, APC supporters were bused into the Eastern City of Segbwema with free distribution of red APC T-Shirts to create the illusion that Segbwema, the home of the SLPP chairman is now in government hands. A few days later APC T-Shirts were being handed to SLPP party leaders as the people rallied to demonstrate their support for the main opposition and express their disgust at the lies in government newspapers that the people will follow the lost MP Robin Fallay whom many accuse of being an overambitious and misguided individual.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sierra Leone Roundup: The frog's Buttocks

It is Friday October 5, 2012 and to say that it has been an interesting week in Sierra Leone is basically an understatement.

A snake was out of control in the Northern Region of Sierra Leonean allegedly killing many people in the area. In response to this menace,  the APC government hired a group of witch doctors to investigate and solve the mysterious occurrence, thus making the Sierra Leone government the second government in West Africa to officially sanction herbalism and witchcraft, after Gambia's own President Alhaji Sheikh Professor Dr. Yayah Abdul-Azziz Junkus Jammeh who claims to have discovered a cure for AIDS and Asthma and has a whole ward at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul devoted to care of his patients, who he cures with an elaborate combo of herbal remedies and Juju. Both of these governments in 2012 twelve have decided to resort to wizardry and witchcraft to address ailments in their countries, taking their countries back to the post medieval dark ages.
Segbwema Iscariot

In the small Eastern town of Segbwema in Sierra Leone, the sitting opposition member of Parliament for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party,  a certain Robin Fallay made quite a show of defecting from his opposition party to the misruling All Peoples Congress party in a classic move that was made to make betrayal look cool and sexy. In a highly choreographed and carefully stage managed event, he brought out a large group of onlookers and bored youths bused in from Kenema to lend credence to the claim that the people want him to adorn the mantle of Judas Iscariot. Most people there were just excited to see the MP act the fool and get free T-shirts to wear on the farm. Unfortunately for poor Robin, Maada Bio and John Benjamin also made a counter trip to Segbwema and the people came out in full force to label Robin Fallay as an ungrateful heretic and an ego-maniacal jerk. They said he was an uninfluential reprobate and an opportunistic narcissist who was ready to be soundly rejected, but had decided to jump of the political cliff before he was pushed and they prayed that the APC will keep him, and keep him permanently.
Maada in Town

The President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma decided to hunker down at the beginning of the week and reappoint scam king Alhaji Sam Sumana as vice president, effectively endorsing his crooked actions and corrupt practices that have dragged the reputation of Sierra Leone into the mud. The President's actions nullifies the arguments of those of his supporters who had been arguing that he was not aware of the Vice President's nefarious activities and reinforces the view of those who were of the opinion that birds only converge together when they have identical plumage. By reappointing Cocaine suspect Kemoh Sesay and 419 specialist Sam Sumana, Ernest Koroma's reputation as the Jesus of Sierra Leone is now looking more like the Pontius Pilate of Freetown.
VP Reject Tarawally

The people of Sierra leone, in the midst of the devastating poverty, increased fuel prices, astronomical food prices, lack of money in Banks, non payment of salaries, fuel shortages and cholera devastation, have taken to religion with a new found zeal, filling Nigerian churches and Mosques looking for salvation. I would like to tell the people of my country that God is listening and ready to answer their prayers. The onlty thing the Almighty wants them to do is come November 17th, vote out this thieving and corrupt cartel. God is giving Sierra Leoneans the chance to answer their own prayers and if they do not do so, it will be upon their own heads.

Ernest Koroma will promise better days in his second term. He will promise that food prices will go down, petrol will become plenty, jobs will be plentiful, everybody will enjoy and say Kumbaya. But I want to remind the people of Sierra Leone of an old Krio saying which I will translate in English'

" The frog that does not have a big buttocks when it is young, will not have a big buttocks when it is old."
The Frog Has No Buttocks

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Is Wrong With Charles Margai

Dennis T. Saidu

I just heard that my friend and buddy Dennis T. Saidu, who I have not heard from for quite a while is now the running mate of the All Peoples Congress friendly United Democratic Movement Party's leader Mohamed Bangura, who spends more time attacking Maada Julius Wonnie Bio the opposition Sierra Leone People Party's leader, than criticizing the Ernest Bai Koroma led government. In a remarkable case of political straight man talk, Mohamed Bangura admitted at the Electoral Commmission that his party had no chance of winning the presidency, but they just wanted some seats in Parliament, implying that his candidacy was either an ego trip, a popularity campaign or a bargaining chip.
Dennis and I

What really surprised me about the candidacy is the fact that my own man Dennis T. Saidu (Seiko 5) has left the People's Movement For Democratic Movement (PMDC)

Many people claim to have been PMDC pioneers or strong men. But Dennis Saidu epitomized the meaning of commitment to party and leadership. Dennis' love and enthusiasm for PMDC during the heydays of the party was simply phenomenal and that is putting it lightly. This young man committed almost 70% of his waking day to PMDC in those days and he would make the flight from Wisconsin to Sierra Leone anytime PMDC was having any major event, at considerable personal expense, talking time away from his family and relatives.
Dennis and Daughter

Those days I was not an active participant in Sierra Leone politics and Dennis somehow wanted me to jump on board the PMDC political bandwagon and pursued this conversion agenda with missionary zeal. Though I told him time and time again that my sympathies lay with the SLPP, he never relented. Anytime he went to Sierra Leone, he would take his video camera and record hours of PMDC events and bring them to Minneapolis from Milwaukee and make me sit through hours and hours of PMDC political events.

Dennis loved and cherished Charles Margai with messianic fervor in those days and Charles could do no wrong in his book. He simply adored the man, respected his political ideology and totally believed his litany of excuses for leaving the SLPP to form the PMDC. When Dennis came to Minneapolis, he never slept, but spent hundreds of dollars on phone cards talking to Freetown about PMDC. I would go to bed at 2.00am in the morning and get up at 7 and meet Dennis still on the line to Freetown. When I wanted to buy refreshment for Dennis, he would rather prefer we buy telephone cards, such was the extent of Seiko's commitment to PMDC.

Dennis and his sister Bridgette invited and hosted Charles Margai and PMDC in Wisconsin at the peak of the party's popularity at a fundraising event. The man drove to Minneapolis from Milwaukee twice to ensure that all his friends and relatives travelled the long distance from Minneapolis in Minnesota to Milwaukee in Wisconsin. His persistence led to a 7 car delegation of Minnesotans to the state of Wisconsin to hear and welcome Charles Margai. Before Margai's trip to Milwaukee, I had never left Minnesota since I came to USA and was not ready to go anywhere. But Dennis was so relentless that he was able to convince me to drive the almost 400 miles or more from Minneapolis to Milwaukee to see the great Charles Margai.
Sisters Bridgette and Elizabeth in Minneapolis

Of course when I heard Charles Margai talk in Milwaukee; stating that his party had given up on Segbwema but was hoping to win all the major towns in Kailahun District and that he intended to establish a benevolent dictatorship if he became president, I told Dennis that I would never support anybody who tells me he intends to be a dictator even before he became president. In my opinion dictators, even benevolent ones were at a threat to democracy. Hitler had started as a benevolent dictator and ended up dragging the world through hell, killing over 6 million Jews and over 15 million Russsians to name but a few. The word dictator somehow conjured in my mind a person who does not listen to others, nor valued their opinions and I told Dennis there and then that I would never support Charles Margai if he maintained that position. Of course to Dennis I was just talking to myself, as Charlie Boy could do no wrong. I saw the parallel between Margai and the other Charles in Liberia, the Taylor variety.

So when I read this morning on Awoko that Dennis quit PMDC for UDM, all that came to my mind is what the hell is wrong with Charles Margai?
What Is Wrong With You Margai?

In Milwaukee I met Ansu Lansana, Charles Margai, Dennis Saidu, Mohamed Tombo Bangura, Varfie Sheriff, Amara Mustpha, Ngaojia and many other PMDC enthusiasts at the time who were just in awe of Charles Margai. These guys would die for the man and were more than liking to do so.

Just recently I learnt that Ansu Lansana, Aggrey Aruna, Arrow John Bockarie, Steven Gaojia, Dauda Tombo Bangura, Mohamed Bangura and many other prominent PMDC pioneers and supporters have all left the party due to Charles Margai's messianic complex. But with Dennis Saidu leaving, the question I asked myself is, what the hell is wrong with Charles Margai? All these guys and many ladies were so loyal to this man. They stood by him even in defeat. 

Like all other dictators though, Charles always wants hundred percent loyalty. His decisions were not to be questioned and given the number of intellectuals in his party, I once told Dennis that with him at the helm of the party, PMDC will implode and though it is still a party, it is no longer a major force, as the giants of the party, the real foot soldiers have abandoned PMDC.

Charles Margai, what the hell is wrong with you, are you an ............

Monday, October 8, 2012

What is Wrong With You? You are a Sheriff.

I am just being Me.

Have you ever seen that Pastor's son who was brought up the right way? From the moment he was a toddler his father taught him right from wrong. He taught him about the essence of living an ethical and moral life. A life dedicated to the praise and service of God. A life devoted to the love of mankind and charity. A life full of selfless devotion free of vanity, greed and over ambition.

Yet somehow as the pastor's son grows up he starts to rebel against all these moral teachings. He becomes rebellious and rejoices in causing discomfort for his righteous dad. His rebellion is usually a reaction to years of trying to live up to the expectation of an authority figure who always wants a little bit more out of him. A father who expects him to behave like a saint because he was his son.
His rebellion is a rejection of society's expectations of him. A society that expects him to be somewhat better than others because he was a pastor's son. A society in which other children were forgiven for doing wrong. A society that said boys will be boys and interpreted the rebellion of its children as acts of youthful indiscretion.

Yet, in the midst of all this forgiveness and understanding, no one is willing to give the pastor's son a break. "He is the pastor's son", they cry, " he ought to know better". "What is wrong with you?" They cry.
Nothing is wrong with the pastor's son. He is just being a boy, a kid. He is just learning to grow up. Society just expects so much more from him. His friends party, enjoy games, are allowed to be wild. Yet he is expected to be an adult child. To grow up leading a life that is not that of a child because he is the pastors son. He grows up with a bitter mind, a fractured spirit and a rebellious nature.
The pastor's son grows up bitter at a society that expects so much from him. A society that does not give him a chance to be himself. A society that does not accord him the opportunity to develop his own identity.
I grew up in Segbwema a Sheriff. My family is a family of Imams. I have so many Imams in my family that in heaven I expect that every fourth person I come across should be an uncle. There is so much piety in my family that if Heaven had real estate, my family would definitely be agents. I went to Christian schools with normal friends from regular families. My life growing up was one of contradictions. My friends would be having fun and look at me in amazement if I join in. They would say " but you are a Sheriff!" I would say to my friends "but I am doing exactly what you are doing so what is wrong?"
" Well we are not Sheriffs" they would say, "you are"

Thus started my years of discontent and rebelliousness. I was tired of people not letting me be me, but expecting me to be what they wanted me to be. I was tired of living up to expectations I had not set for myself. I had never gone to a Quranic school. I had gone to Christian and government schools. Yet my peers and adults expected me to behave as if I was an Imam in training. I just wanted to be me; Sheku Sheriff, Moi Segbwema, who wanted to do all the things his friends were doing. I wanted to go to Discoramas, to go to parties, to have a girlfriend, to be loved. I wanted to be a young boy in my teenage years, I wanted to just be me.

To those cousins who thought I would go astray, well I did not. I grew up regular and in my own time, and at my own pace, have developed a love for and a close relationship to good. To all those uncles who thought I was a Munafiq, a Kafiroon, well I am not.

Pastors and Imams teach your children right from wrong, but allow them to be children. Do not let them grow to be bitter, frustrated and rejected. Human life has stages if development. At each stage an individual has to learn and master some aspect of life. Toddlers learn to crawl, the teenager learns who he is and learns to accept himself. The man in his twenties learns to develop a family and the old man in his 80s learns to accept the life he has led. Let your children learn who they are, give them chance.

To all the sons of Pastors and Imams all over the world, may God help you discover who you truly are. As for me, I was just being me.
Sheku Sheriff
Segbwema Blogger

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tegloma Minnesota Chapter Fundraising

Tegloma "Sowie" in Minnesota
In the biting winter Minnesota cold, Tegloma Minnesota Chapter hosted a great fundraiser yesterday Saturday October 6, 2012 at the East Side Neighborhood in Minneapolis Minnesota.
 Tegloma Minnesota Vice President Ms. Alice Karpeh was the MC for the occasion.
Board Secretary General Sheku Sheriff

The Secretary General of the Board of Directors Tegloma Federation Mr. Sheku Sheriff of the Tegloma Minnesota chapter told the mixed audience about Tegloma; its history, its past achievements, current projects and projects and plans for the future. The secretary general told the audience that Tegloma was a family organization that came to the support of its members who were either experiencing problems, loss or just wanted to do a joyful celebration. In the diaspora Tegloma supported its members with immigration issues, bereavement, illness, or celebrating weddings, graduations, baby showers and so on. Tegloma has also engaged in shipping food, supplying medical supplies and giving scholarship to students in Sierra Leone. Tegloma has also acquired a five acre land in Bo, Sierra Leone that will be used for the establishment of a Tegloma Complex.
Tegloma Vice Chair Rebecca Johnson
Mr. David Wonnie

Ms. Rebecca Johnson of Tegloma Minnesota the federation Vice Chair went into details about the formation of Tegloma in 1975 and stated that although Tegloma was initially formed to promote southeastern Sierra Leone culture, the organization is now open to all who had an interest in Sierra Leone as a whole.

Mr. Hassan Kamara the President of Tegloma Minnesota, one of the most dynamic of the 24 chapters in the Tegloma Federation told the assembled members about the benefits of belonging to Tegloma, which included among other things; life insurance for all members, the chance to have a school in a member's hometown receive an annual $8000.00 educational supplies assistance from the chapter and assistance in times of bereavement, sickness or to celebrate life's joyful milestones.
Minnesota President Hassan Kamara

Minnesota Soc. Sec. Ann Marie Foday Kai
Mr. David Wonnie a dynamic member of the chapter who was also a Farmers Insurance Agent told the audience about the need for insurance and also entered those interested in giving their particulars into a drawing for the New Ipad with Retina Display.

Dr. Jonathan Rose the head of the Sierra Community in Minnesota , which was the umbrella group that brought all the various Sierra Leone organizations including Sierrasota, The Kono Union, Sierra Leone Union and Sierra Lone Aid Initiative (SLAI), etc together, commended Tegloma and called for Sierra Leoneans to belong to associations.
MC and Minnesota VP Alice Karpeh

Ann Marie Lamin the Social Secretary gave the vote of thanks and the rest of the night was a celebration of Sierra Leone culture involving a feast of a huge selection of Sierra Leone food.
Lahai Ansumana Entertainment Coordinator

Thanks to all the many guests who braved the cold to come and celebrate with the chapter.

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