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Sierra Leone.
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Meeting Emmerson after 5 Years
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Aug 17, 2011, 17:18
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It was sometime in early June when I got a phone call. The distinct big man voice of Sierra Leones music Super Star Emmerson Bockarie was on the other line. He was getting married to his sweetheart and wanted me to attend the ceremony. I told him to drop the invitation off at the newspapers offices.


Doc, it has been a while that I have not seen or spoken to you and I also want to introduce you to my fianc, Emmerson appealed.


So, I gave him an appointment to see me at my residence. He eventually drove into my compound in his Four-Wheel Drive Jeep to the thrills of my domestic staff and bodyguards who all adore him.

Doc, you have put on some weight since I last saw you, was one of Emmersons first comments to me when settled in to my living room.


Of course I expect to have put on some weight. It has been over four years since the two of us last saw each other, I responded to him in laughter as I served him a glass of soft drink.


No Doc, you are mistaken. It is not 4 years. It has been over five years since I last saw you in 2006, Emmerson softly corrected me.

I initially denied but eventually, indeed, I realised he was right. I have been assuming that the last time I set eyes on Emmerson in person was in February 2007 when it should have been February 2006. I could recall the exact day but it seems I had missed the year. It was February 15th, the day before former President Kabbahs birthday  and I had summoned all the leading musicians to my office at SYLVIA BLYDEN DOT COM along Garrison Street. Emmerson, Pupa Baja, DaddySAJ, etc. etc. had all trooped in to my office.


Since I returned home from America, I have cultivated a very, very strong relationship with most of Sierra Leones youths; musicians not excluded. This is not as a result of just being nice to the youths but by undertaking actions that have resulted in them developing a massive amount of respect, admiration and adoration for me. It sounds boastful but it is quite true. I command tremendous respect from the youths of Sierra Leone.


In the case of local musicians, not only did I act as a mentor to so many of them (male as well as female) but I had played a significant role to reduce tensions between the then SLPP Government and the Musicians; tensions which had risen over anti-system lyrics of these young talented artists.


I had helped in my own small way to soothe the tension by making links between the then Minister of Information Prof. Septimus Kaikai and the musicians which had led to the formation of a Government endorsed musical conglomeration of all artists. The musicians ended up seeing the good Professor as a father-figure rather than an antagonist; all due to my direct intervention. So, a summons from me to musicians for them to assemble at my office was instantly obeyed.


Anyway, on that particular February day before Pa Kabbahs birthday, I had a simple request for the musicians who had responded to my summons. I told them to be appreciative of the freedom that the then President was offering to all Sierra Leoneans to sing and write what they felt like. I told them of other West African countries where I had worked, where some of the songs and lyrics would have seen them go down six feet below the earth. I revealed the former Presidents birthday was the next day and I asked them to make a show of appreciation to him for his tolerance by giving him a short Surprise Happy Birthday message over the next days UN Radios Tea Break programme.


The reaction was two-fold. Some of the musicians instantly bought the idea whilst others pondered. One person who was particular opposed to the idea was Emmerson. I clearly recall as he responded that day as follows:


Doc, you know I have so much respect for you but if I go over the air to say happy Birthday to the President, my fans will be so disappointed in me, Emerson had stated as he further explained how he got his inspiration from observing lapses in the society caused by failures of the SLPP Government.


We all eventually dropped the Happy Birthday Mr. President concept and the small crowd of musicians dispersed. It was the last time I recall talking to Emmerson before October 2009! Thus, it was a tremendous shock to me when in October 2009 he released his hit song Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday and gave me a high-five commendation in the song calling for me to keep the fire burning. It was a shock but very pleasant especially as throughout the entire hit song about social issues affecting the common man, Sylvia Blyden was the only name he singled out for commendation.


I did not even know I was mentioned in the song until Victor Lewis of Spectator Newspaper phoned me up at 4pm on the day of the release and was already being played all over town. He asked me what I thought of my name being mentioned inside the hit song and I responded What Hit Song? It took Victor a while to really believe that I had no idea of what song he was speaking of!


I sent for a copy and I was pleasantly surprised but also so grateful for the recognition. I wanted to thank Emmerson but I did not even know how to locate him as I did not have his current number at the time. I had to locate a number printed on the cover of the music case. A lady answered and promised to transmit my message of appreciation to Emmerson. After a few hours, Emmerson himself called me and he told me of how proud himself and most musicians were of what I was continuing to do as a Sierra Leonean in this country.


Even then, since he released the song in 2009 until this year June 2011, it was his visit to deliver his wedding invitation that was the first time I set eyes on him in over five long years!


Despite all of this, there are people, (including envious journalists) who had massively spread a false rumour that I paid Emmerson a huge sum of money to include my name in the Hit Song. I have usually just ignored them.


I attended Emmersons wedding and it was truly one of the best weddings I have ever attended in Sierra Leone. The wedding at the church and the party later were simply superb. Emmerson thrilled us all at his wedding party when he metamorphosed some of his Love songs into a combined piece dedicated to his beautiful Augusta. We had such fun that day! Such wonderful fun!


This is why when I later read the utter trash about the wedding, I had just dismissed it in the same way I had dismissed the Sylvia bribed Emmerson allegation. Thankfully, Emmerson has now decided to break his silence on the matter. If you want to hear from the musical star himself on his wedding et al, then turn to our center pages.


Interestingly, you will find that even though Emmerson had suffered trepidation to give an appreciation to President Kabbah back in 2006, he was not at all hesitant this time to ensure the whole world knows of just how much he appreciates the former President.


Indeed, I could not agree with Emmerson more on this point. Former President Kabbahs level of tolerance for free speech was a Gift to this Nation. As the days draw near to the 2012 campaigning, I only hope the politicians will be emulating former President Kabbah and allowing us to speak freely without hindrance.


Not just the ruling APC politicians but also the SLPP opposition. The SLPP of Tejan Kabbah has disgracefully been transformed into an entity that does not debate on issues but has specialised into lobbing sex-based insults to emotionally cow critics. Age is not even a barrier anymore to such depraved acts. 80 years old SLPP Elders are lobbing sex-based insults across the Nation in a bid to emotionally cow critics away from the issues.


Instead of allowing us the freedom to criticise their electoral candidates without let or hindrance, Emotional violence and Physical Violence are now the order of the day from the SLPP end.


I must opine that Violence of the kind being meted out by the Maada Bio SLPP Gangsters and their Unity Newspaper are betraying the lofty ideals that were left behind by that wonderful old man known as former President Kabbah for whom Emmerson now finally reveals he has deep appreciation for Kabbahs level of political tolerance!

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

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