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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

SLPP AND OMINOUS “7TH YEAR OF EVERY DECADE!” ! (Part I of 3)
By J. Alusine Kamara E-Mail jalusinekamara@yahoo.ocm
Apr 12, 2013, 17:00
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An article first published in 2006 “RESTORATION 2007! APOCALYPSE FOR THE SLPP!” and re-produced recently as a forerunner to this one detailed cogent reasons why in failing this nation, ex-President Kabbah and his clique advertently or inadvertently internalized and bequeathed the SLPP with the “OMINOUS 7th year of every decade” in perpetuity. Detractors were quick to charge me with nursing anti-Kabbah and SLPP negative biases. They warrant my forgiveness and so stand pardoned!

 

With the present top hierarchy at the SLPP tilting towards moral relapse at loggerheads with ideals its founding members anchored patriotism and unity around, no full-blooded progeny of the SLPP should look askance when decadence threatens to destabilize and destroy it. The party ought to rank high above everyone, be it Robin Fallay, John Benjamin, Captain (rtd) Maada Bio, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, or this justifiably aggrieved J. Alusine Kamara. Inclusion of J. ALUSINE KAMARA in the group is not a printer’s devil but conditioned on fact I was well-positioned to agonize over, and observe sacrifices some altruistic founding parents of the party suffered through. Can anyone be more “Catholic than the Pope”? It thus irks me no end when impostors and ne’er-do-well political neophytes seeking to dismember the party. Please indulge my fantasies as I nostalgically waltz through memory lane to recall lofty ideals the SLPP once pursued and promoted.


J. ALUSINE KAMARA

On a particularly bright and sunny April 27 day in 1951 in the “Fire burn” area of Fourah Bay Road, east of Freetown, were gathered leaders of thought from various regions of Sierra Leone. In attendance was a patriotic admixture of traditional rulers, doctors, lawyers, business people, professionals, and sundry others who shared one passion, one vision:. SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR SIERRA LEONE! Nationalistic political activism spurred belief Sierra Leoneans were better-positioned to explore, promote and achieve self-rule and thus should be extricated from the stranglehold colonialists yoked Africans with while exploiting the continent’s vast resources.

 

Educated and trained in some of the finest educational institutions in the world, a cross-section of the august leaders gathered that memorable day were known to have academically outperformed counterparts from the so-called advanced countries in their chosen disciplines of study. Blessed with foresight as student activists during educational pursuits, who consequently aligned with like-thinking Africans and descendants of Africa globally, an inflexible agitation and thirst for political freedom kick-started and fuelled nationalistic fervor.

 

The eminent body assembled was there with a nationalistic intent to fuse the various political factions from what was then referred to as the Protectorate and the Colony into one political entity which would be charged with the pursuit and achievement of self-governance from the British colonial overlords for Sierra Leone. At the meeting were the Margai brothers – the doctor, Dr Milton and lawyer/ younger brother, Albert, Dr John Karefa-Smart, Amadu Wurie, the then re-christened “Lamina Sankoh” Pa Bai-bai Kamara. In noteworthy attendance too were traditional rulers in the persons of Paramount Chiefs Bai Farima Tass, of Kambia, Alikali Modu of Maforki, Julius Momoh Gulama of Kaiyamba, , Alimamy Dura of Binkolo, Kai Samba and Kenewa Gamanga of Kenema. 

 

Ya Bomposseh Alikali Modu, who had accompanied her husband Paramount Chief Alikali Modu remains the only surviving member still around. Attendants who died very recently were Dr John Karefa-Smart, PC Alimamy Dura and Pa Bai-Bai Kamara.

 

Framers of our political destiny angling for a wholesomely embodying name seen national in scope to warrant and signify oneness unanimously endorsed the name Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for the embryonic party. Green represented lushness of our natural terrain and so became colour of choice.Preference for the palm tree as party symbol was believed logical since this tree was found dotting every region of the country. Omnipresence it thus symbolized was meant to underline the unifying message of the patriotic motto then settled upon: “One Country, One People.”

 

Specific choice of this particular “palm tree” party symbol branched with exactly13 fronds had a two-fold message, which was to be replicated by the opposition All People’s Congress’ (APC) in choice of 13 rays for its “sun”. The crucial parallel which the fronds of the SLPP “palm tree” and the APC “sun” outline is that they always should number exactly 13! With the Siaka Stevens-led APC being an off-shoot of the SLPP, it decided to copy the message of its political alter ego in very telling ways. In fact it can be rightly claimed that choice of the APC “sun” was enhanced by wish to have a symbol that could be used to conveniently display “13” facets.

 

One of the two-fold official reasons advanced for institutionalizing the number totaling “13” for the SLPP palm tree fronds in 1951 rotated around intent of the assembled illustrious patriots to identify and signify the !2 Districts, and the Western Area of Sierra Leone. (It is worth noting there was no “Western Urban” and “Western Rural”, only a “Western Area” in existence then!)

 

The nationalistic and historical statement for the 13 indigenous tribes of Sierra Leone to reflect symbolic oneness through the fronds, and sun, was illustrated and adopted by the SLPP and later the APC as second of two-fold reasons why the palm tree and rays of the sun was to total identical numbers. It was resolved that the 13 indigenous tribes of Sierra Leone should be reflected. They were then in alphabetical order determined to be, (1) Creole, (2) Guisi/Kissi, (3) Kono, (4) Krim,  (5) Kurankoh, (6) Limba, (7) Lokkoh, (8) Mende, (9) Sherbro, (10) Susu, (11) Temne, (12) Vai, and (13) Yalonkah.  

 

Suffice me to state that though the Susus, Foulahs and Mandingoes are indigenous to the Republic of Guinea, inclusion of the Susu tribe as indigenous to Sierra Leonean was not accidental. What does distinguish them is that the Susus have legitimately established Chiefdoms in Sierra Leone! Lest misguided minds having just come across the English word, xenophobia, decide to jump on the high horse of negativism mischievously seek to charge me with fanning trivial xenophobic biases let me educate them.It will behove them well to know I flaunt a lineage which boasts a pure-bred paternal grandmother of Foulah origin, and maternal grandfather lineage defined by Mandingo procreation. Of significant note also is that when determination of the 13 indigenous tribes was made, inclusive in that body was the erudite and visionary academic of Foulah origin and blessed memory, Amadu Wurie, who voiced no objection during or after the meeting!

 

My research tends to show a salient and silent point the party’s framers may or may not have taken into consideration were the following factors. The 1 shilling (1sh) monetary coin used throughout the British West African colonies of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia carried a “palm tree” on the flip side of King George V1th’s portrait. I hereby charge historians to deepen the research and discover whether those SLPP leaders wished t to portray unity of purpose with their sister colonies. What however might be hard to explain to this numerologist mind is that the “palm tree” therein also had, guess what? You are right on target if you said, 13 (THIRTEEN) fronds! Me? Ah tire sef!

 

Nostalgia will be shelved for now as I re-focus on the issue of the “SLPP AND OMINOUS 7th year of every decade” presently bedeviling the party.

 

(To be continued!)


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