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Kambia in Sierra Leone: A home of Presidents - But yet very poor!
By Ishmael Al Sankoh President - NYC
Apr 19, 2006, 12:47
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The irony about Kambia district being the birth place of two Presidents, but yet the poorest in post independent Sierra Leone, can be easily noticed when one takes a conducted tour of the district.

It is vexatious to all well meaning Kambia indigenes to continue to endure the backwardness and unbearable poverty prevalent in all concerns of the district.

This district has produced two important personalities in its recent history - the late President Siaka P. Stenves, born in Kabassa, Tonko Limba chiefdom, and the current President, H.E. Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, born in Gbonli (a tiny and backward village) in the Brimaia chiefdom.

Go and visit Kambia and its surroundings, you will be greeted with ‘raw poverty’, and if you are not careful you will be forced to say your last prayer.

No one could believe this fact, that despite being a boarder town with neighbouring Guinea where commercial links should change the socio-economic status of the township in particular, the town is also blessed with fertile land where H.E Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah’s programme of food security could be actualized.

Kambia shows no symptom of developing in this very decade. We have to be pragmatic in rescuing this poor district.

This district also produced the first Temne First Lady, (Rebecca Stevens) and the first Limba Vice President (C.A Kamara – Taylor) who had all the influence and power to develop not only the infrastructure of the entire district but also to lay the solid foundation for the district’s development.

Sorry to digress a little bit. Few youths I charted with the other day, narrated some mythical events which they claim culminated to the seeming permanent backward state of Kambia district.

The name that featured prominently as one of the most industrious sons of the soil is Paramount Chief Bai Farama Tass 11. He is said to have brought series of development to the district.

Some of the developments he brought to the district include electricity supply, good road network, education etc. He even brought respectability to the township because according to findings, he had all what it took to clinch the leadership of the SLPP but because he had a lot of respect for the late Sir Milton Margai, all what he did was to step down.

Kambia mythology has it that the chief cursed the township because of the people’s ungratefulness and forgetfulness. Whether this myth is true or not, Kambia continue to be a backward town and by extension a backward district

Even the researchers of the PRSP indicated in their report that it is one of the poorest and most backward district in Sierra Leone.

During the war, it was hit hard in 1995, leading to the burning of houses and pillaging of everything left behind by the ancestors of the township.

Lest I forget, this district has produced the first Susu Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, and later Vice President – Dr. Abdulai Conteh, who was at one time rumored out of sheer ignorance as the most educated lawyer in Sierra Leone.

This district can boast of seasoned civil servants, including the former Secretary to the President, Abdul Karim, and former Permanent Secretary Hamid Kamara.

Apart from the costumed house these individuals built in the district, they can hardly pass though a crowd without people hissing at them. Kambia remains poor! Why?

The youths told me they appreciated the effort of the government during the early stages of the recovery programme with massive infrastructure projects initiated, like the reconstruction of the Kolenten Secondary School, rehabilitation of the district office, the police quarters etc. But the district still continues to ‘teteh’ in terms of development. Funnily, products of this district are seen in large numbers in big cities both in Freetown and Maryland, USA.

Few of them do pay visits back home during Christmas or Easter holidays to interact and discuss the way forward of the district, like those in Bo and Kenema do. All this will not be enough until pro-active measures are taken to actually enhance the development of the land.

We will say it is the responsibility of the government to cater for the development of the country as a whole, but going by the present situation, it is crucially important for indigenes of a given district, chiefdom, town or village, to take the lead in fostering the development of their places of birth. The question is, with all the high profiled personalities the district has produced, what have they done to carve out the development of their district. It’s really a pity.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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