"..I said "Ernest is not my brother: I am Mende-Sherbro; Ernest is Limba-Temne. I am Margai; Ernest is Koroma," We are not brothers and the lawlessness, I think, is right in his house. If he cannot control that, then we will control it. So please, don't bring triviality into this matter.
… And woe betide them if they refuse to apprehend Sia Koroma because she is First Lady, I think that is when the problem of this nation will start because I no longer have confidence in the Police to protect me and my property.
But I have people in the provinces that are ready to protect my property. Don't ask me who, they are ready to come if and when I so demand. They think this is a joke; THIS IS NOT A JOKE. I am ready to defend my property come what may, I don't care. I have people who are interested in my well-being and who are ready to die for my well-being. So when the need shall arise, and I hope it will not, then I shall not hesitate to call them. I have my Plan A and my Plan B and my Plan C. I am sure all of them will not fail.
Ernest is doing his last term. I am not sure whether he will finish it. I hope he does. I have my people who are there ready to marshal and come down if the need arises; I hope we will not get to that stage.
I can tell you as I told Acha in 2007 when I was moving with Ernest in the southeast. Without me he could not have gone there. I told him that I had 20,000 kamajors at my command and I am sure I have more than 20,000 but I am not calling them, not at this stage. That will be when all else shall have failed.
After all, Ernest is not a God. Aye Bo! You think I will be afraid to say so? I will be very glad to see his back. We have drawn daggers . . . sorry; the battle lines have been drawn. (Culled from Awareness Times).
The above excerpt is what has been dubbed as one of the most memorable political statements of our time. The poignancy of this statement is not only down to the nature of its content, but the calibre of its author. Not surprisingly, reams of paper and significant air time have been spent on making sense of this. To say that such utterances came as a surprise, will be an understatement of the year. When judged against the political stature of Mr. Charles Margai, it is plausible to conclude that not only was it unfortunate and out of character, but it was a sad case of an error of judgement. The history of Sierra Leone will never be complete without that household name, Margai. The name, Margai, conjures the image of the midwife at the birth of present day Sierra Leone. How times have changed, that such an illustrious pool of political midwifery is threatening to be the hatchet man of this country.
It is obvious that such wild statements by any member, especially of such public and political standing are bound to draw controversy; which has seen opposing views battle it out on the media landscape. Some of these views have been tempered along political or tribal lines. While some have seen his statement as utter ….shit that should not have been dignified by the kind of response from both the government and the public, others have clamoured for the full force of the law to rain down on him. But if we have to call a spade a spade, Margai’s
“Ernest (Bai Koroma) is doing his last term. I am not sure if he will finish it,” can be translated as a veiled threat to the President’s life and the people of this country. The term “Kamajors” is not a synonym for a carnival or a tea party. Threatening to have “more than 20,000 Kamajors at my command” …”who are ready to marshal and come down if the need arises” can be seen as a treasonable offence by many. I cannot boast of being the custodian of the moral, social or political barometer of the country, but indications are that many people abhor such figmentations. I know a guy (deceased now) who harboured similar thoughts. The difference is that, he did not tell us until 1991. What followed after was what gave rise to terms like “Kamajors”; the very people he is threatening the whole country with; although the latter have reportedly distanced themselves from his view point. No one needs a reminder of the implications of such a situation. Every soul on this part of the planet was touched and affected in one way or the other by the kind of scenario that is being figmented. Many could do without the reminder.
In spite of all the political and social rumblings that this has caused, it might be safe to conclude that Margai’s “verbal eruption” is reflective of a man that is so frustrated; he forgets to put his brain in gear before he opened his mouth. History balances the frustration of 'how far we have to go' with the satisfaction of 'how far we have come.' It teaches us tolerance for the human shortcomings and imperfections which are not uniquely of our generation, but of all time. Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing. But frustration could be the compost from which the mushrooms of creativity can grow.
On the one hand, there are some people who could relate to and sympathise with Charles Margai, for what they see as a David and Goliath battle. For God’s sake, this man is having a tussle with the wife of the President of this country. We all know that we can choose our friends but not our family; but if you were to choose being a relative between the President and his wife, I know who your choice will be. Well that’s what the adage says. You wonder if only a David and Goliath situation could have been avoided in the first place.
Notwithstanding all the ramifications, Charles has to remember that, like the President, he was aspiring to lead this country, by virtue of his position as leader of a party that DEMOCRATICALLY contested the last elections; forget the results. So what does that tell us about the character of such an individual; that could so easily lose his rag over a plot of land? I am aware of how hurtful it could be to feel disadvantaged .But does that mean that if he was the President of this country, we could have been at war over Yenga by now? The fact that he is so legally minded that he can have the law for breakfast puts his political credibility into sharp focus. He leads the People’s Movement for DEMOCRATIC CHANGE, which by nomenclature supposedly has “the concept of democracy” as its white and red blood cells.
But threatening with his sermon of insurrection against a legally and DEMOCRATICALLY elected government is suggestively at odds with the birth certificate of his party. In January 2008, the Steering Committee issued a statement on the "Current Challenges to Democracy" with growing concern over the backsliding from democratic progress and the backlash against democracy-promotion work in many parts of the world.
Charles is reportedly on bail following a brief “getting to know you” session with the law enforcement authorities, As the enquiries continue, many are left wondering about the implications this will have on not only him as a person, but also his party. As his political obituaries continue to flow, some cynics have started asking, “where and what next” for Charles Margai? Some have even gone as far as declaring his position in his party as untenable. Other doom merchants have tried to give it a tribal slant. At this point, the hope is that the press will give a dim view of the latter and not engage in a trial by the media (guilty); especially along tribal persuasions., In as much as this is a major issue for us all, the hope is that, it does not get any undeserved oxygen to fuel the flames that some would seek to exploit.. For Sierra Leoneans are one people, one country, despite our differences. For it is the same differences that make us what we are. A mistake in judgment isn’t fatal, but too much anxiety about judgment can be. "It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it shows infirmity of character to adhere to it when discovered."
Don’t forget to turn the lights out before you leave the room.