When the History of this period in the party called All Peoples Congress (APC) will be written, one name will shine bright and that is of one of Sierra Leone’s esteemed sons, Ambasador Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh. He has been in middle of biggest political move in contemporary Sierra Leone polity and he has proven he is made of stern stuff.
A university graduate with degrees including LLB (law degree), a diplomat, astute politician and one of the most noted Sierra Leonean Muslim scholars, this plenipotentiary ambassador has steered the APC Secretariat ship with aplomb. He has ensured fairness and decency in proceedings. A hallmark of all what has transpired in APC during this period has been adherence to its constitutional dictates.
Alhaji Osman Yansaneh has supported the National Chairman and Leader of APC to protect the party; especially against indiscipline. As a result, he has now become marked for ridicule by detractors.
A detractor recently posed a seemingly innocuous question but it was aimed at embarrassing this great pillar of the indomitable APC. The wise ones say that if you stop to turn at every dog which barks whilst you are on a journey, you might never reach your destination. So rightly so, this amiable Head of the APC Secretariat simply ignored the question as his hands are too full with worthy assignments. However, younger cadre of APC have much time on our hands and so we will respond.
Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh is a born Muslim from Kamakwie in the Bombali district and he has never changed his religion. Majority of the residents of that part of the Northern Province are Muslims. However, the best school in that area is a Christian school, the Wesleyan Secondary School and that is where many Muslim students attend. Sierra Leone does not have religious discrimination and so Muslim students are not forced to convert to Christianity to enrol at Wesleyan school.
Alhaji Yansaneh not only attended the Wesleyan Sierra Leone but he became a class prefect of the form that started the school. Being the true leader that he is, he was identified from way back then as leadership material and so be was made Senior Prefect of the school and Head Boy.
The Muslim schoolboy Osman Yansaneh was very first person to pass GCE exams from that school and with help of Professor Edward W. Blyden, he bagged a scholarship to enter Fourah Bay College.
Osman Yansaneh believes in giving back to his roots and so upon his graduation, he went back home to Kamakwie and became the first Sierra Leonean graduate to teach at the Wesleyan School which had prior to his return, only had white teachers.
This Muslim teacher rose to become Vice-Principal of the School and later Principal. He was a Muslim Principal for 8 years in a Christian-funded school that had 85% Muslim students. When the question of Religion came up, the Wesleyans provided a Christian Chaplain to serve Christian needs of the school whilst the Principal handled administrative and educational aspects of the school. Is Sierra Leone not a beautiful country? Yes, we are!
Alhaji Osman Yansaneh never changed his religion and there was no reason for him to do so. The requirement to be Principal was five years post-graduate teaching experience by a holder of a professional Teaching Diploma. There was absolutely no religious requirement.
All of the above are facts that can be checked with the current Wesleyan Superintendent, Reverend Dr. Osman Fornah. Any journalist worth his salt would have first done this than make a caricature of himself thinking he was mocking Alhaji Osman Yansaneh.
Prominent Christian leaders of Northern Province, like late Reverend Mans, knew importance of separating religion from education. Muslim boys were just as important as Christian boys in gaining education. The late Sylvanus Koroma (the father of President Koroma) never looked at religion when he traversed the North enrolling children into school. This unique tolerance is seen in how son of Sylvanus Koroma is today presiding over Sierra Leone; the Muslims are not regarded as different from Christians. They are all Sierra Leoneans.
The same thing exists within the APC Secretariat now headed by Alhaji Osman Yansaneh. Prior to now, there was some emphasis on religious pedigree of leadership but now emphasis at APC Secretariat is how to eliminate tribal and regional differences; because our religious differences have never been challenges for us. We all serve the one God and that is the way it is going to continue to be for us.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.