INTRODUCTION FROM BBC’S BUSH HOUSE IN LONDON: It is not often that we hear from the mother of an African President. For the first time Sierra Leone has an elected president whose mother is alive. So when our reporter Umaru Fofana visited the northern town of Makeni, he visited Mrs Alice Rosalyn Koroma, the mother of President Ernest Bai Koroma. He asked her what the responsibilities were of being the mother of the President.
ALICE KOROMA: Oh yes, there are many responsibilities... being a President’s mother because almost everybody wants to get help from you. They think you have all the money but in some cases, you just have to help.
UMARU FOFANA: Now, the help that they want from you; that you say people want from you being the mother of the President, does that help include coming to you and asking you to talk to your son to favour them or something?
ALICE KOROMA: Well sometimes they ask me to talk to the Pres.. to my son but sometimes they need help from me. Like people who are sick; people who go without food, people who go without jobs. Where it is possible, I give you food. If it is possible for me to give you money, I give you money. If it is possible for me to seek a job for you, I do it.
UMARU FOFANA: What do you tell those who come to you to try to influence your son in their interest?
ALICE KOROMA: Well, sometimes some people want to meet him but they cannot so I have to call him. I book appointments for them.
UMARU FOFANA: And eh, do they keep coming here streaming in or do they come in trickles?
ALICE KOROMA: (LAUGHS HEARTILY) They come in a lot.
UMARU FOFANA: Do his Ministers for example include those people that come to you to influence him?
ALICE KOROMA: No. Ministers don’t come to me. They can meet him.
UMARU FOFANA: And those times when you have talked to your son for people, has he said: Mummy, I am sorry, I can’t help them?
ALICE KOROMA: Well, in some cases, he do.
UMARU FOFANA: Do you advise your son on the way he governs the country? Have there been instances when he has done things that you have not liked and you told him: No son, you ought not to have done this?
ALICE KOROMA: Well, let me see... ...NO.
UMARU FOFANA: And are you satisfied with the way he is running the country?
ALICE KOROMA: Well, I am satisfied because I know how he met the country and I know that there are developments coming although the opposite side will not appreciate it but most people appreciate what is happening. I think he is very gentle to a fault. Some things which he should have done to makes his Government easy, he has not done it.
UMARU FOFANA: Such as?
ALICE KOROMA: Such as allowing people who have been in the office especially in the State House, he leave them there to stay with him. Even in America, when the outgoing President is going out, he goes away with his entourage and the coming President comes in with his entourage. So we need that change but he has not done it.
UMARU FOFANA: So you would like your son to sack all those that had worked in the State House before?
ALICE KOROMA: No, you don’t need to sack them but they should be given other employment or transferred other places and let him come with his people.
UMARU FOFANA: Maybe at the end of his first term as President, what would you want him to be remembered as?
ALICE KOROMA: As he has made a promise that at the end of three years, Sierra Leone will be a changed place. We should have light, water, good roads and I think he is working towards that.
UMARU FOFANA: If for some reason, he doesn’t do it, will you pull him by the ear and say “hey man come here! You have not done this!”?
ALICE KOROMA: (LAUGHS HEARTILY) I can’t pull him by the ear because he is big enough and he is now the President.
UMARU FOFANA: He is still your son though.
ALICE KOROMA: He is my son but sometimes, I can’t dictate to him again as I used to.
# END # (You can also listen to audio recording on our Website)
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