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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN: Osmond Hanciles!!!
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Feb 15, 2013, 17:02
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No, you dont need glasses.  It is not a mistake.  I am not exactly writing about myself here.  Not exactly!  I could be writing about half of me though.   I am writing about my twin brother, Osmond: both of us bounced into this   world from the same womb in the early hours of the morning of December 8, 1954, on Pultney Street, in Freetown.  Osmond Earl Sylvester Hanciles is the newly-appointed Deputy Minister (One) in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST).  When his appointment was announced on radio as the deputy in the education ministry early this year, this writer, Oswald Hanciles, received dozens of congratulatory phone calls; I had gone through the same routine like what had happened in 2009 when President Ernest Bai Koroma had appointed Osmond deputy minister of transport/aviation: Thank you for congratulating me, but, it is my twin brother who has been appointed, not me.   I understand why it has been easy for people to confuse us Osmond and Oswald does sound almost the same.  And, also, for almost fifteen years now, I have been a country-famous newspaper columnist; whilst Osmond has been a rustic, a bush man....

 

Mangrove Man passionately in love with Bonthe

I should have said mangrove man there for most of the vegetation in our paternal homeland of Bonthe Island is impenetrable mangrove, glossed with sparkling white Eden-like beaches on its Atlantic Ocean front.  It is there our paternal grandfather, V. Hanciles was buried; and our father, Ethelbert Samuel Hanciles was born, bred, retired to  Bonthe Island after about thirty years at senior levels in the British United Africa Company (UAC), and was buried there.  It is this sparsely populated island that my twin brother has fallen in love with, and spent much of his post-school professional and social life in.   

 

Within about two  years  of earning his A-levels in the Albert Academy in 1974 where he was Senior Prefect; and with grades that wouldve  gotten  him automatic scholarship in any of our tertiary institutions then Osmond was one of the founding teachers in the Minnie Mull Vocational Secondary School.  (Minnie Mull was one of the most famous primary schools in the country in the early 20th century; where British and Irish protestant Christian missionaries instilled the tenets of white civilization into girls; and where most of the new female elites in the country then were polished in).  The vogue then among many of Osmonds mid-1970s sixth form peers in the Albert Academy was to do graduate studies overseas Osmond did not go to the overseas (U.K.) he wanted to proceed to for a law course; but, he did go to overseas (Bonthe Island), where he started studying law by correspondence (through the University of London), and, teaching at the Minnie Mull.   Between 1996 and 1992, Osmonds hyperactive nature was a propellant in the new school where he would mostly acted as principal when the substantive head would be absent; and, where he was also in charge of a cultural dance troop of girls that would regal the public in the Bonthe/Moyamba/Bo axis.

 

By the early 1990s, Osmond was too embedded in Bonthe as Bonthe Man.  He physically helped to tote sand and rocks during the construction phase of the British Overseas Development Fund (ODA)-sponsored construction of the Bonthe Technical College (Bontech) in 1991/1992, where he was the Project Administrator.  He became the first Registrar of Bontech in 1992, serving in that post till 1995, until he became the Acting PrincipalBetween 1995 and 2009, as Principal, and about the most learned man in Bonthe Town, Osmond and Bontech AND Bonthe were fused as one.   I doubt whether Bonthe Town has ever had any indigene more passionate about Bonthe matters than Osmond.   His ardour for Bonthe was greatly admired, and supported by, the first wife of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, late Patricia Kabbah (nee Tucker also with her roots in Bonthe going back four traceable generations).  

 

Osmond wrote a lot of projects for Bonthes development within the aegis of Lady Patricia.  

 

Osmonds leadership role in Bonthes development was about the sole beacon of light in a district which had fallen into decrepitude in the 1980s.    Between 1996 and  2001, Osmond was a  Member, District Education Committee; 1996 to 2009, he was a  Member, Board, St. Josephs Vocational Secondary School; between 1989 and 1994, he was a  Member, Board of Governors, Bonthe Secondary School.  Osmonds leadership role was not just in development alone; certainly, Osmond greatest virtue was his making practical the Christian tenet of if you have two coats, give one to your brother who has none.  Osmond in Bonthe was generous almost to a fault. 

 

With his meagre salary, he would daily feed over a dozen people not part of his huge household; and pay school fees for many others.  He, naturally, earned a lot of goodwill and, unconsciously, a lot of political capital.  In 2006, he joined our maternal uncle, Charles Margai, broking away from the SLPP, and becoming one of the founding members of the People Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party.   Another part of Osmonds nature shone again in this more direct involvement in politics and uncompromising believer, and courageous fighter in whatever cause he would espouse.

 

When Osmond called Solomon Berewas bluff in 2007

Osmond was (is still) a fanatic about Bonthe Island.  When Osmond was SLPP, he was a fanatic SLPP and he would lambaste me any time he would be in Freetown and I would write articles even slightly critical of the SLPP in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  

 

When he became PMDC, he shouted to the rooftops about the PMDC, was belligerent about the party with his almost natural fanaticism.  

The goodwill Osmond had earned in Bonthe got him to play a key role in shaking the SLPP in what used to be its rigid traditional stronghold.  A few months to the 2007 elections, the Vice President and SLPP presidential candidate, Solomon Berewa, went on a campaign tour of Bonthe Island, with most of the SLPP heavyweights in tow.  Osmond refused to pay the traditional courtesy call on Berewa at the guest house where he was residing.  So, the next  day, V.P. Berewa and his entourage went to Bontech where he said to Osmond in the presence of his students, I noticed that you did not come to pay a courtesy call on me; so, I have come to you.  I have learned that you are turning the minds of people here from the SLPP to the PMDC.  I am now warning you, if you dont stop that, I would personally make sure you are sacked!  Osmond, naturally, call VPs Berewas bluff he was energized in his campaigning for the PMDC, calling regular meetings in his residence in Bonthe.  When SLPP had to go into a runoff in 2007, many SLPP bigwigs pleaded with Osmond to go back into the SLPP fold, and not campaign for the PMDC votes to go to the APC, but, to the SLPP.  Osmond was implacable.   With the passion, and credible track record of Osmond in the vanguard, the second round of the 2007 presidential elections manifested the APC winning a phenomenal forty percent of the votes cast in Bonthe that, in a district where the APC used to get at best, two percent, of votes cast.  

(Largely to the credibility Osmond had earned in the district, even when our uncle, Charles Margai, ordered Bonthe people to return to the SLPP in the months leading to the elections of 2012  which is also the home district of the SLPP 2012 presidential candidate, retired Brigadier Maada Bio the APC still won a record breaking eleven percent of votes cast in the district).   

 

Now that Osmond has resigned from the PMDC, and has pitch his tent in the APC camp, he has taken his natural fanaticism and stubbornness into the APC to make sure that in his new realm of education, the APC emerges as a winner. 

 

Education Sphere is the Forte of Osmond

The sphere of Education is really the forte of Osmond.  Including his quarter century saga as teacher, lecturer, registrar, principal in Bonthe Island,  Osmond was a Member, Njala University Senate 2005 to 2009; Member, Njala University Court 2005 to 2008.  When Osmond cried against   the appalling quality of education in Sierra Leone over the past two decades during his confirmation hearing in Parliament recently From Athens of West Africa...to ashes were his theatrical words he was articulating his anguish about what he has so much ardour for, and which he is now challenged to do something about.   To say that there is desperate need for change in the educational sector of Sierra Leone would be an understatement, and, thankfully, Osmond, who  has always been psychologically prepared for it, and in June, 2012, did a course in Leading Change: strategy through implementation,


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