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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Politics in Sierra Leone: Navo Kaikai's Personal Perspective
By Mrs. Navo Kaikai (female opposition SLPP politician)
Jan 16, 2013, 17:04
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It is so difficult to understand politics in Sierra Leone that I sometimes wonder why I am in it. Politics seems like a witch hunt that once you join, it is difficult to get out. I spent a year in Sierra Leone prior to last years election, which really gave me an insight into the way politics is practiced here.

 

Over the years, family, colleagues and friends have told me that I am not a typical African politician. I had always denied this until the recent election when I contested for the symbol of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party to run for position of Kailahun District Local Government Chairman.

 

There are so many things I learnt and went through that I feel it would be worth sharing with others. It might sound rubbish to some whilst to others it would be valuable. I never expected that people would want me to change into something else, all in the name of power.

 

I was often told by people within my culture and party that, for me to stand any chance of succeeding I have to change and adapt. I have no problem with change provided it is a good change.  I have adapted a lot but accepting all those changes would have meant changing as a person which I was not and will not accept.  What people do not realise is that you cannot forcibly change another person. You can only change yourself.

 

What I could not understand is the level of hypocrisy. People I know of having relationship with our president, Dr. Ernest Bai  Koroma and the APC government were the same people telling me not to talk to him or any of his officials!

 

I was even asked to avoid Maya Kaikai, my nephew because of his prominence as APC in Kailahun until I was awarded the symbol. I was criticised for accommodating Mr. Moijue Kaikai and other people on separate occasions in my own house in Kailahun because they are APC.  I dont ask for party cards when I deal with people or accommodate them in the house my husband and I built because it is irrelevant.

 

Where is the one country, one people ethos that we are so proud of as a party? The only reason I could think of for all the unsolicited advice (presented as genuine) is for one not to get the link and privileges these SLPP kingpins and advisers secretly enjoy from the president and his government.

 

Everything you do is scrutinised which I expected as a public person. What I did not expect is being questioned about my relationship with family and friends. Also criticised for talking to a radio station or writing in a paper perceived as APC was unbelievable. I use services that in my opinion provide good service and careless about which party they belong or promote. How are we expected to promote harmony and peace in Sierra Leone if family, friendship, service provision and delivery are based on political membership?

 

Attributes I have acquired and learnt over the years as being good for leadership are the same attributes you are expected to drop. Being honest, bold and accommodating to name some, are debilitating factors in SALONE politics.  I felt disturbed when those I respected were asking me to fake things. When challenged I was often told that politics is a dirty game where you are expected to lie. Why do we then grumble and criticise present government when they lie if lying is a requirement for politicians?

 

The other disturbing thing is my party that boasted of promoting gender with the appointment of Dr. Kadi Sesay as running mate was the same party who objected to me being awarded the symbol because I am a woman.


According to party officials, argument was that Kailahun is a traditionalist district where the poro society is prominent, and a woman chair would not cope. Had I known that being part of the poro society is a pre-requisite for that position I would not have contested.

 

This just goes to show that all this business of promoting women is lip service. Being district treasurer, womens leader, chief cook are positions the party is happy for women to have but not those that gives you the ultimate power.

 

Worst of all is being advised by so-called SLPP members, who call themselves strategists and think tanks. Most of them would not even dare be seen in Lightfoot Boston Street let alone Wallace Johnson Street or the SLPP office. They portray themselves to be so powerful as SLPP godfathers and threaten that not conforming to their ideologies dooms you to fail. Yet they do not even register to vote in their constituencies, neither contest for positions.


It is therefore very important that you are grounded as a person before joining politics otherwise you will be forced to change into who you are not. Research has shown that changing your personality can lead to depression and mental health problems.

 

My last word? It is better to be yourself & happy than be an unhappy politician.


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

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