President Koroma and Sierra Leone

Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray, author

The last two weeks in Sierra Leone has been extremely interesting. Much electronic diet has been fed into the stomach of the elite class. The independent “monologue” program of David Tam Baryoh has occupied the centerpiece of the media landscape as one of the freest and most objective avenue of debates. The program chaired by David has been hailed as the most recent elixir to the ills of the contemporary world of journalism in the country. It seems democracy is being fully practiced. Congratulations to the people of the country. The radio station and the print  media is being used as the process through which individuals negotiate, argue, struggle against or agree with each other and with the centers of political and economic authority.

Last week saw the re-emergence of the affected family members of the fatally executed James Bambay Kamara and 29 others. Watching the scene of emotional outburst of the affected families left a trail of fear and insecurity, guilt and mistrust- emotions that cannot be easily allayed but which seek reassurance in the apparent certainties of political identification. Even the erudite Dr. Abdulai Conteh has added his voice for an inquest through his interview with the publisher of the Awareness Times newspaper. Say what you may, Dr. Abdulai Conteh is respected and honored by millions of Sierra Leoneans. As a former APC heavyweight, his call for an inquest is understandable as he considered himself lucky of being alive. Unlike other politicians whose gimmicks and mavericks are still being frowned at by millions of Sierra Leoneans as a result of their active and senile participation into the body politic of the country, Dr. Conteh has maintained a respectful distance from the dirty politics of some politicians.

Last week was also interesting as the Awareness Times newspaper editor, Mr. Shaw was denouncing gutter journalism in a leading newspaper about an alleged arrest of one of the members of the Bo fiasco and worst was the insinuation of an alleged presidential bodyguard involved in the inferno. Well, Mr. Shaw, welcome to the political journalism of Sierra Leone where editors develop into errand boys for presidential flag-bearers overnight.  Incase Mr. Shaw is perturbed and perplexed; this is the country where some journalists hurriedly post news on the internet just to lend credence to their skills. This is the country where some journalists malign people just because of their political identity. This is the profession where reporters file reports even before an incident takes place. That is what it means to live in a democratic society. If the Sierra Leonean political system continues to be distorted by the manipulation of public opinion through spectacle lenses, then it no longer represents the ideal of democratic deliberation propounded by the founding fathers.

Politics is always about experiment; some policies succeed in the sense of increasing the legitimacy of political institutions, and others fail. Success, to some extent, depends on underlying structural conditions. Even in the great United States, some of the policies of President Barack Obama have fallen short of expectations whilst others are grappling against the economic trends of hardship and unemployment. The APC party has secured victory in some areas of governance and must improve in other areas especially when the elections are just around the corner.

The crux of attention is drawn towards President Koroma’s nationalism. How far has President Koroma rebranded Sierra Leone? Is the President loved and respected outside more than in his own country? Trust me, I won’t elaborate the significance of the Koroma-Obama dinner Hollywood convention. As a Sierra Leonean living in the west and seeing the President of the world (Barrack Obama) dispatching Alayne (his personal friend and bodyguard) to invite President Koroma to sit by him says it all. As stated earlier, the political commentators like Major Sengu Koroma, Dr.Sama Banya, Oswald Hanciles, Slyvia Blyden to name but a few to espouse on its ramifications.

Nationalism, they say, is not invented or engineered; rather it is reconstructed and reinvented out of the past. One of the earliest theorists of nationalism, Heinrich von Trietschke, argued :’It is only in the common performance of heroic deeds for the sake of the fatherland that a nation becomes truly and spiritually united”. Echoing Heinrich, “the individual must forget his own ego and feel himself a member of the whole; he must recognize what a nothing his life is in comparison with the general welfare…. The individual must sacrifice himself for a higher community of which he is a member; but the state is itself the highest in the external community of men”. The denunciation of the violence related incidences in Bo and Kono respectfully  by the President has momentous implications. Firstly, it sends a clear message to all and sundry that ‘violence’ is a redundant word in our new vocabulary. It is insecurity and frustration resulting from dramatic structural change that provide a more convincing explanation for why today’s generation, often brought up in multicultural environments, are so vulnerable to exclusive ideologies.

Secondly, it is common knowledge that some restless youths, often educated for roles that no longer exist because of the decline of the state or of the various sectors, often unable to marry because they lack income, and sometimes needing to legitimize semi-criminal activities in which they can find their only source of income may want to use violence to smear the hard won reputation of the country.

It is therefore no secret that President Koroma must instill decency and discipline into the veins of Sierra Leoneans. It is in situations of pervasive insecurity that fear and hatred, passion and prejudice are more likely to come to dominate political choices.

President Koroma has built a tremendous task for himself; he is being treated like the last child of the family by world leaders. He is loved, liked, pampered, soothed and admired. As might be expected, his figure is chiefly cinematic. The President’s famously stem-winding stump speech at the United Nations has been drawing huge crowds to hear him talk of uniting rather than dividing the country.

 President Koroma’s fame right now has little to do with his political record. It’s the way he has said words that counts the most. It is his manner, which, as president is remarkable as his tone is genial, his voice warm and unthreatening, and he hasn’t called his opponents names (despite being baited by the media).

President Koroma has the onerous responsibility and chance to rebrand the country from the ashes of war to the pedigree of wealth, respect and splendor with disregard to tribe, ethnicity and political party. With fairness, sincerity and patriotism, we hope the President will succeed so the country will enjoy its place in the world stage.

Long Live Sierra Leone

May God bless us

About Othman Sheriff 347 Articles
Born and raised in Kenema district, eastern Sierra Leone, Othman Sheriff began practicing journalism during his school days as a youthhood hobby. With a bachelor's degree in mass-media and communication, and a Master’s degree in development and peacebuilding, Sheriff is the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Critique Echo Newspaper. While tirelessly using journalism as a tool to place his country’s socioeconomic and political landscape under a magnifying glass, Sheriff is deeply involved in community development projects. Over the years, Sheriff has formulated and implemented billions of Leones worth of development projects with funds from Europe and USA. He is chiefly focused on community infrastructural development and economic resuscitation projects, fostering interethnic, interreligious and sociocultural cohesion among the young population in Kenema district. Sheriff is a member of many international peacebuilding initiatives including the United Religious Initiative (URI), International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), Intercultural Leaders Network and Youth Solidary Fund program of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC)