From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
Why Salone? Why?
By Sahr Musa Yamba from Canada
Apr 8, 2009, 05:08

I was bombarded left, right and center by colleagues when violence broke out again in Freetown in March between the two rival political parties, All peoples Congress (APC) and Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP). Everybody was asking whether I was going to write an article regarding the said violence which allegedly was carried out by APC hot-heads against their SLPP counterparts.

Sahr Musa Yamba

To name but a few, Comrade Osman Benk Sankoh, in Liberia, while chatting with me on Facebook, asked whether I had retired from writing while fellow colleague journalist, Alhaji Jalloh in the USA, called to ask why I was quiet over the issue. I told them I was thinking about it and will respond appropriately, and I think the time is now.

Since I left the shores of Sierra Leone in December of 2006, there has always been one thing on my mind. That thought has never wavered and I had never stopped to think the contrary. When I speak to my colleagues, friends, family et al daily, I always emphasize my desire to return to my mother country and continue where I stopped to contribute my little quota to nation building. Some even think I was joking or dreaming of something I will never attain. But I have always stuck to my desired goal. One of my Canadian friends once asked, "Do you really think you want to go back to that country of yours where I read so many terrible things happeningÖ? My response was an emphatic "YES!... I have the prospect to be a minister or even President in my country, but here in Canada, I can live here for donkey years but the chances of becoming a Minister or Prime Minister is almost zero, if not in the minusesÖI am Mr. Nobody here and you donít even recognize the education I have from my countryÖ" the friend looked at me, shook his head, acquiesced and replied, " there are very few Africans like you, You have a very good intention but unfortunately most of your brothers donít get itÖ"

However, the events of March 16th, 2009, that saw the burning of SLPP Secretary General Jacob Jusu Saffaís vehicle and ransacking, for the second time, of the SLPP office since the APC assumed power really made me stop in my tracks for a rethink. During the said attack on SLPP headquarters, 20 people were reportedly wounded. Six women also claimed they were raped during the clash.

To say I was shocked when a colleague journalist, while we chatted on MSN Messenger, informed me about the violence, is an understatement. I could hardly imagine that after all the violence our country has gone through, after all the suffering, maiming, killings, amputations, you name it, some people of Sierra Leone still donít get it that if you go burn your brotherís house, maim or kill him for the sake of politics or in support of Ernest Koroma or John Benjamin, when push comes to shove they will leave us suffering and go away while we remain back home bearing the brunt of the violence. Donít you remember January 6th, 1999? Was Pa Kabbah or any Minister hurt? NO! They all got protection from ECOMOG and were flown out of Freetown and who did the rebels massacre? Poor innocent civilians who are struggling to make ends meet! We stayed back during the REVO, ate bulgur and corn flower under hails of bullets when the staple food rice was no where to be found while Pa Kabbah and others stayed in luxury hotels in Conakry. So why donít you get this up your stony heads? It pains me a lot when I see innocent youths being used as political tools, I hope Sierra Leonean youths that claim to have seen the light and helped boot the SLPP out of power because of non-performance, can see the same light and realize the APC is not the Messiah to save mama Salone.

I have always maintained that the APC Leader, Ernest Bai Koroma, is well-intentioned for our country, but unfortunately, he is weak and the people that surround him are not making his rule any better, mark my words. My gut tells me if he cannot control his own party members, what control will he have over a whole country? A word for the wise!

And when my Canadian friend, heard about the violence that resulted in reported raping and burning, he asked me whether I still stuck to my guns of returning home. It took a while before I responded dejectedly with some hesitation, "I am thinking it over."

But why am I saying all this? I am of the conviction that I am not the only Sierra Leonean that intends returning to our country. There are many out in the Diaspora looking at how they can return home. I remember some time ago the APC administration was campaigning to those in the Diaspora for them to return home, but how can people return when our political leaders still fan violence? How can people come invest in a country their hard-earned cash when there is no guarantee some crazy dude is not going to wake up one morning and set everything ablaze? Say what you may, it is good living in the West, but my brothers, home is home. You see the glamours and the glitters, and you think itís a bed of rose! He who feels it, knows it!

I was a little relieved and had the courage to sit behind my laptop to write this article when I read online that Sierra Leoneís rival political parties, which were involved in bloody clashes in March, last Thursday signed an agreement brokered by the international community to end the violence. It is my hope and that of many Sierra Leoneans that our political leaders and their cohorts see reason and give peace and tranquility a chance. We hope our police force will live up to its name, "A force For Good," and not the contrary by standing idly by while the opposition headquarter is vandalized. Otherwise, we will be asking over and over again, why Salone? Why? Nar "Sweh we get? (Are we cursed?)

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The author of this piece is Former Editor Concord Times Communications and also former Editor, The News newspaper, Freetown Sierra Leone.



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