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NEWS : Local News  

Female Journalists on the War Path in Sierra Leone
By Bintu Sesay
Dec 4, 2008, 17:18
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Scores of female journalists have yesterday resolved that as far as they were concerned, the National Organizing Secretary of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) was Hawa Georgette Tucker and not Amadu Daramy. The women, who have solicited and received the support of numerous women groups around the country over the last 24 hours, have also vowed that should any attempt be made to take away the announced victory of Hawa Georgette Tucker, all female journalists would quit SLAJ en masse and simply concentrate on WIMSAL (Women in the Media Sierra Leone) as it was obvious that their male counterparts did not want women holding positions of trust in SLAJ.

Betty Foray, Mariama Coker, Marian Samu and Mariama Sesay raise their fingers to warn male colleagues that enough is enough

The whole debacle started a good 72 hours after the declaration of Hawa Georgette Tucker as the winner last weekend; when it emerged that SLAJs Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Samuel John alleged that he made a mistake in computing the figures as read out to him from the regions and that his alleged proper computation now showed that the winner was not Hawa Georgette Tucker but Amadu Daramy.

Some of the agitating Female Journalists at SLENA yesterday

However, upon the announcement of Hawa Tucker as winner of the post last weekend, there had been no expressed doubts and even Amadu Daramy had walked over to shake the hands of the winner Hawa Tucker and to concede defeat. It was therefore a shock to many female media practitioners for Mr. Samuel John to attempt to take away Hawa Tuckers victory and hand it over to Amadu Daramy citing a mistake on his part.

According to the female journalists at yesterdays jam packed resolution meeting which was chaired by Veteran Female Journalist Betty Foray, the alleged mistake was on the part of the figures from the Southern Province but the candidates representative in that region was deliberately sidelined during the elections and was not even allowed to verify and sign the final results sheets thus leading to widespread suspicion that the Southern Province figures that placed Amadu Daramy as the winner, were "cooked up".

It was a scene of anger and disillusion as female journalists saw the disenfranchisement exercise by Samuel John to be a direct attack on them as a body and not only on Hawa Georgette Tucker as a person.

"If we do not put a stop to this nonsense now, they will move on from Hawa and try to petition to remove Mariama Sesay next," Betty Foray, herself a former SLAJ Organizing Secretary warned.

"They think women can not come together and present a formidable challenge to them but this time we will show them how determined we are to ensure that our rights are respected and our ability to hold positions of trust are fully recognized," Rachel Horner of Concord Times asserted.

"What a man can do, a woman can also do. Just look at what Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh is doing at the helm of Judiciary," another veteran female journalist Mariama Coker added her voice.

The female journalists have formed themselves into sub-committees to handle this matter that is of burning importance to them. They would be taking out air time on special Radio Programmes throughout Sierra Leone to make their position known. At mid-day today 4th December 2008, at least three top female media practitioners would be guests of the popular James Cullenzo Cullen at FM96.2 during which the position of female media practitioners would be spelt out clearly to be either Hawa Georgette Tucker remains as SLAJ Organizing Secretary or a Special Bye-Elections be conducted for that position.

The meeting saw a diverse group of women attending in solidarity with the call. Young female cub reporters, several former SLAJ Executive Members like Madam Marian Samu, who once served as Vice President of SLAJ up to the usually busy Female Media Owner Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden attended. Every single woman present was in solidarity with the unanimous call for Hawa G. Tucker to stay as National Organizing Secretary or for a Bye-Elections to be held.


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