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NEWS : Politics  

APC Govt Commends Kenema's Female Paramount Chiefs
By Awareness Times
Sep 27, 2016, 17:18
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The ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) led government has highly commended female Paramount Chiefs of Kenema district for their laudable role in stemming what had been turning out to be an unstoppable uprising of Bondo Women from across the eastern region who had thronged to protest in Kenema city last week. (Please see page 11 for details on the reasons for uprising). The commendation for the female PCs was delivered by a very high-powered delegation from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs over the weekend of September 24th to 25th 2016. Led by the Honourable Minister Dr. Sylvia Blyden and including the Gender Director Mary Rogers, Policy Analyst Fatmata Ansumana and the ministry's focal person for FGM, Madam Fatmata Kargbo, the government delegation also used the chance to assure all Bondo Women of Sierra Leone that their all-female African secret society was not under threat from the government.


Hon. Blyden with PC Sallay Gendemeh

 

Responding to charges that certain other government officials were always quick to condemn unproven allegations levied against Bondo activities, the Honourable Minister assured all concerned that it was not the position of government to condemn based on unproven allegations.

 

"As a responsible government, when two groups of citizens make allegations against one another, we do not rush to condemn one side over the other. We wait for all the facts to come out whilst we provide fullest possible protection and psychosocial support for alleged victims and calm down irate protagonists. That is what I as a Cabinet Minister, have been doing and that is what you should focus upon. Please do not be distracted by irrelevant attention seekers," Hon. Blyden assured.

 

Hon. Blyden with three powerful female Rulers in Kenema

 

Blyden was speaking during an event hosted by a consortium of civil society activists trying to combat the menace of child marriage in the country.

 

As keynote speaker at the event billed as 'HER CHOICE' campaign with theme: "Empowering Teenagers & Community Leaders to End Child Marriage", the Minister listed vices of child marriage then went on to speak against initiating girls into Bondo.

 

Blyden taking a group SELFIE photo with PC Mariama Tamia and PC Theresa Vibbi

 

"Although we are here to raise awareness against child marriage and not for Bondo discussions but let me use this chance to continue my strong campaign against initiating and circumcision of our girls. If we want to end child marriage, we must also want to end child circumcision because when you circumcise a female, it means you are saying that she is ready for marriage.

 

No child under age of 18 is ready for marriage so no child under age of 18 should be circumcised," Hon. Blyden urged the gathering of traditional rulers from across the eastern region.

 

Hon. Blyden shares a joke with P.C. Amara Bonya Vangahun in Kenema City

 

Speaking specifically on the issue that sparked the uprising of Bondo Women, Hon. Blyden appealed to the Sierra Leone Police to speed up the investigations.


"My ministry officials have concluded our own findings within our mandate and we now await the outcome of the Criminal Investigation by the Police. I have personally been urging the Police to ensure they unearth the truth between the two versions of reports around the unfortunate incident involving two Kenema women. There are too many gaps and variations in the multiple versions of what transpired and so I don't intend to condemn any of the two women until those gaps are filled," the responsible minister firmly promised.

 

Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity with the female chiefs, Hon. Blyden personally got behind the wheel of her official black jeep and drove herself and the female chiefs around Kenema. Seated right at the driver's wheel with no bodyguard or assistant but only in the company of the female Paramount Chiefs with her in the jeep, Dr. Blyden drove a stretch of over one hundred miles from Nongowa to Malegohun with only female Paramount Chiefs seated with her.

 

Her actions and show of humility coupled with her speedy presence in Kenema as the Honourable Gender Minister, was highly welcomed by many in Kenema.

 

"This lady is an amazing minister in this government.

 

She is highly educated and so intelligent but yet look at how she humbles herself to citizens by respecting our traditional leaders to extent of personally driving them?," said Bonya Vangahun, the son of one of the Paramount Chiefs.

 

Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden has since returned to Freetown.


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

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