From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

A Tale of Two Sierra Leone Women in Politics: Navo & Sunkari
Sep 4, 2012, 17:16

Makeni is known to be a political stronghold of the ruling APC whilst Kailahun is known as a major political stronghold of the main opposition SLPP. Two women wanted two of the safe seats in those two places and contested for them on Sunday 2nd September 2012. Whilst Mrs. Sunkari Kabba-Kamara was dancing victoriously with her supporters up in Makeni throughout the night, Mrs. Navo Kai-Kai says she was fleeing for her life under cover of the dark and with police escort out of Kailahun district. Like a Tale of Two Cities, we today bring you a tale of two unique and dynamic women. Please see their individual reports below:
SLPP's Navo Kai-Kai (left) & APC's Sunkari Kabba-Kamara (right)


SLPP Males Chase Female Aspirant Navo Kai-Kai
By Aruna Turay (in Freetown)

The only female aspirant for the Chairmanship of the Kailahun District Council in the November 17 polls, Mrs. Navo Kai-Kai of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has reported of how she was on Sunday 2nd September 2012, intimidated and vigorously chased out of Kailahun Town by power thirsty male politicians of the SLPP ostensibly at the request of her opponent Lawyer Alex Bonapha.

Mrs. Navo Kai-Kai contacted this reporter in a distressed telephone call made at exactly 2:55am on Monday 3rd September 2012. She explained that she was calling from Kenema where she had just arrived to seek refuge and pleaded for the Awareness Times to make the world know of what she explained to be her ordeal. Unfortunately, this newspaper has by then gone to press and we appealed to her and her supporters to be calm.

At around 11am, Mrs. Kai-Kai again phoned and gave a more formal and composed interview to this newspaper. She and her supporters mostly women, were chased out of Kailahun by her own SLPP party males who used Kamajor ex-fighters and male secret societies against them at about midnight on Sunday September 2nd 2012.

According to her, on that fateful day, all the aspirants for the Chairmanship of the Kailahun District Council were summoned to arrive in Daru by the SLPP Elections Consensus Committee, which had been tasked with the responsibility to tour the district and get the views of the people regarding their aspirants.

She said after this exercise was done throughout the eight electoral constituencies in the district, she (Navo) won five constituencies in her favour with the majority of people in those five constituencies choosing her, whilst the other aspirants, Alex Bonapha won a majority support in only two and a third contestant, Sahr Lamin won in only one constituency.

Mrs. Kai-Kai maintained that after the results were read and she was pronounced the winner, Alex Bonapha stood up and challenged the results, stating that he will not accept results of such nature, whilst questioning the capability of a woman to hold such a leadership position in such a “traditional district”.

This according to Mrs. Kai-Kai resulted to a big fracas in the hall but she stood her ground inside the hall. She said it was at this point that the SLPP men folk supporting Alex Bonapha went as far as inviting the Kamajors and secret societies to intimidate her and other female supporters who are not members of these secret societies in the hall.

She said the Kamajors and other secret society members were chanting songs with terrible open threats to “slaughter any woman who stood in the way of men” in the district’s council chairmanship polls.

Navo said she was complacently sitting down in the hall when she got a telephone call from a friend outside the hall who translated the real society meaning of the society songs to her and told her they were preparing to unleash certain evil developments. She said there and then she tactically sneaked out of the hall before they could notice her movements.

According to Mrs. Kaikai, when the men inside the hall noticed that she had escaped from the hall, they set out to locate her and began to chase her female supporters.

Navo Kai-Kai explained that she was later escorted out of Kailahun to Kenema by personnel of the Sierra Leone Police leaving behind all her belongings as the police needed to be swift to move her away from her hiding place in the dark town.

According to her, it was whilst she was in Kenema, that she got reliably informed by her supporters back in Kailahun that Alex Bonapha and some of the party’s stalwarts in the district had now planned to nullify the agreed upon system which the Consensus Committee should have used and instead use another system which would go by the size of the eight different constituencies delegates and allocate percentages thus to each candidate.

As a result of this new system of percentage of delegates from constituencies, Alex Bonapha will then be proclaimed the winner of the symbol.

This according to Navo is blatantly against the Consensus Committee Regulations earlier on setup by the party and that it is also a calculated ploy to intimidate her and all the women who are aspiring for leadership positions in the party come November 17.

However, Mrs. Navo Kai-Kai intimated this medium that she will be traveling to Freetown to meet with the party’s National Executive on the issue, noting that she will not take it lightly if any attempt is made to manipulate the Consensus Committee’s result which she had already won. Reports later emerged that the SLPP had endorsed Alex Bonapha as the winner of the symbol. We were to later learn that Mrs. Navo Kai-Kai had engaged in a closed-door meeting with some of the SLPP hierarchy in Freetown but as of press time, the outcome of those talks were unknown.

Meanwhile, all attempts to reach Alex Bonapha through his Airtel and Africell phone lines proved futile on to press time. We solicited the assistance of the Editor of SLPP’s Unity newspaper in tracking down Alex Bonapha for his own side of what happened but Mr. B.W. Bockarie also explained that his efforts to reach Bonapha were also futile. However, Awareness Times stands ready to publish his side of the story whenever he is reached if he so desires.

Makeni’s Women’s Redeemer thanks Supporters & APC Leader
By Sylvia Blyden (in London)

Madam Sunkarie Kabba-Kamara who emerged victorious at the Sunday 2nd September 2012 electoral college decision for who should run for Mayor of Makeni City Council under the APC party symbol, has expressed deep gratitude to her grassroots supporters and the APC leadership whilst calling on those who contested with her to please join her in ensuring a resounding victory for the party in Makeni in the November elections. Her supporters have nicknamed her as ‘Makeni Women’s Redeemer’.

Speaking in an exclusive phone chat with Awareness Times on Monday September 3rd, the dynamic female politician spoke of how humbled she was when throngs of her supporters from all corners of Makeni City mobilized themselves to ensure the country’s highly possible first female head of a local council in the Northern Province, emerged. It is well known that the Makeni City Mayorship is a very safe seat for the ruling APC and anyone who clinches the APC symbol is assured of victory at the polls.

“It was an emotional moment when I saw the look on the faces of the crowd as we all waited to hear the results and when the final results were announced. The anticipation and then the spontaneous joy on their faces humbled me so much. I realized just how deeply they had wanted me to win. I heard them singing out, especially the women, our mothers of Makeni, our sisters, our daughters of all ages, they were singing and calling me the Redeemer for the women. I cannot thank them enough,” Madam Kabba Kamara said adding further words of thanks also for “our fathers, our brothers, our husbands and sons of Makeni who also worked to make my dream come true”.

Sunkarie Kabba Kamara had special words of appreciation and deep respect for the leadership which she said the President, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, had shown ever since he emerged on the country’s political landscape over a decade ago. She further thanked him for his “brilliant initiative” of instituting the electoral college method of granting symbols to APC aspirants which she said ensured the grassroots and foot soldiers of the APC had their say in who emerged victorious.

To her APC colleague partisans who lost to her, she thanked them for contesting with her and appealed for their support as she said she needed them now more than ever before.

A full-length interview with Mrs. Sunkari Kabba-Kamara will be published before the November elections.

Meanwhile, there has been applause for Mrs. Kabba Kamara ever since the news was announced. Her Internet Facebook wall got instantly filled with congratulations messages from her fans in and out of the country. Indeed, her numerous friends all tell Awareness Times that she is an achiever and has always been a leader since her school days.

"She's a very hardworking young woman that will transform Makeni City if elected. She's also very tough but not arrogant. She was my Head Girl and currently she is the President of the Convent Old Girls Association, Makeni. She has been in the NGO world for several years, first with CARITAS-MAKENI and later with UNICEF, her current employment," one of her close friends Mrs. Maria Umar Kamara told Awareness Times last evening.

Maria's words of commendation for her close friend are being re-echoed all over Makeni and beyond even in the Makeni Diaspora.

Awareness Times wishes to join to congratulate the country's first female aspirant for a Local Council Mayorship in the Northern Province.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.