From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

EDITORIALS
Antecedent of My Piece on Kailahun Mess has nothing to do with Sia Koroma or John Benjamin
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden authored before she left for Kailahun where she is currently safely hibernating
May 15, 2009, 11:01

I have been inundated with phone calls ever since my last Tuesday edition about the mess in Kailahun. Many people who read my Tuesday article had not read Sheka Tarawalie, the President’s Press Secretary’s past Friday’s vicious newspaper attack on my integrity as a woman which was authored and published in the newspaper operated by the President’s Press Secretary.

This is because virtually all of Sierra Leone’s newspaper reading public read Awareness Times whilst only a handful read his own paper which the vendors refer to as the State House Newspaper.

They call it the State House paper because it is produced using State Resources like official State House vehicles and cameras. Thus, naturally, if such a newspaper funded through a clear mis-use of State House assets were to openly describe me to their audience as a cheap whore, then it makes perfect sense to ascribe the insults as probably having the blessings of State House especially as despite press condemnations, such misuse did not cease.

What makes it even more painful is that even as I had to suffer the vicious insults thrown my way from State House, I did not even have a way to seek redress!

I could not seek redress because the last time Shekito publicly wrote that I was a whore in July last year, I dragged him to court only for the Government of President Koroma to abuse their powers and nolle prosequi the matter. I went to the Courts to have my reputation restored and President Koroma’s Government through his Attorney General turned the matter to null and void (BUFF CASE)!

So, let me ask readers just what was I supposed to do after last Friday’s unwarranted attack on my person by the President’s Press Secretary? Did people just want me to just grin and bear the vicious insults or find a way to make it cease?

Anyway, as I said before, many people never got to read the overt vicious attack of last Friday May 8th 2009 which had a huge sized photo of my face plastered all over the front page of President Koroma’s Shekito’s newspaper with the headline SYLVIA BLYDEN EXPOSED with malicious attacks on me by President Koroma’s Press Secretary to the extent of calling me a fake doctor/journalist who was a cheap whore who sells herself around to men and who the President’s Press Secretary shamefully lied upon as haven used to be Dr. Abass Bundu’s concubine, Lans Gberie’s nocturnal action woman, Foday Sankoh’s lover who was now chasing a youthful APC man to marry her for a marriage that would never be, etc. etc. etc.

All the above are LIES but most of all it is definitely not the kind of language one expects to find in a newspaper operated and edited by the Press Secretary to the sacred Office of the President but that was exactly what happened last Friday May 8th 2009.

I was insulted and my womanhood mocked and abused to no end simply because I published an investigative story on the misuse and abuse of an official State owned vehicle by Shekito who used the vehicle to produce a newspaper that contained highly divisive, inflammatory materials that ran contrary to the spirit of tolerance we were fighting to promote in the country.

But as I always say, I serve a very powerful God who is always by my side and so it was that on Monday this week, my God allowed me access to an embarrassing development that hovered around President Koroma and which also happened to simultaneously be in the public’s interest. The people of Kailahun were being fooled into welcoming a woman who was not the First Lady but who was being portrayed as such.

Kailahun Chairman Tom Nyuma telephoned me all the way from Kailahun to ask me if my newspaper knew about the alleged pending visit of President Koroma’s wife, First Lady Sia Koroma. Now, my newspaper is virtually the only newspaper known in Kailahun District as we are the only ones who send copies in on a daily basis to all major towns so everyone in Kailahun including Nyuma knows we regularly cover articles written by the Communications Unit of the First Lady’s Office.

It was in that vein that Tom Nyuma called me to ask me if I was aware of the First Lady’s planned visit for Friday 15th May 2009. According to Tom Nyuma, both the Local Unit Commander of the Sierra Leone Police and the Local Radio Station Manager as well as Chiefdom Authorities had informed him of the First Lady’s visit but he was disappointed that he had not been officially informed seeing he was the Head of the District’s Local Government. He expressed this disappointment to me and said he wanted to express the same to the First Lady. I had no such idea haven not spoken to the First Lady for weeks and I told him such. Frankly, since I was too angry with State House following Shekito’s attack on me as a woman, I was not even interested to learn whether First Lady was going to Kailahun or not.

Tom Nyuma then said he would contact John Benjamin since the latter had direct access to the President and First Lady which he proceeded to do. Now, according to an interview I later conducted with John Benjamin, he himself had no such knowledge of any slated visit by the First Lady and he was also disappointed to learn that the Police and Luawa Chiefdom Authorities had been informed and he was bypassed even though he (Benjamin) had offered to ensure the First Lady got welcomed in Kailahun should she ever desire to visit there.

So, as I was made to understand, John Benjamin called the First Lady on her direct Zain line only to be told that she was not even in Sierra Leone but on an urgent family business in London and her phone was on international roaming which was even why he got on to her. John Benjamin then transmits the same to Tom Nyuma.

Tom Nyuma then calls me back and transmit the same to me telling me that it was a hoax. He then explains that when he summoned the Radio’s Station Manager to query him, he was told that one Lamin Vonjo Ngobeh was the architect of such a misconception.

In the interim, poor John Benjamin who had only been seeking clarification from the First Lady as to why she was visiting Kailahun without telling him, suddenly gets a telephone call from Lamin Vonjo Ngobeh saying John Benjamin had exposed him to the First Lady who was now angry with him. John Benjamin himself had no idea what Vonjo was insulting him for nor did he know the cited lady whose name he heard as ‘Isabella Foray’ but immediately the issue was now recounted back to me, as someone with my ears to the ground, I immediately knew what was up. I suspected I had a great story in the making!

So, I telephoned Mr. Lamin Vonjo Ngobeh but I ensured my telephone was placed on record mode and also that journalist Theophilus Gbenda was by my side. I then introduced myself to Lamin Vonjo and proceeded to ask if we could interview him. He agreed. With the tape running, Mr. Lamin Vonjo proceeded to tell me quite a lot of details about Arabella Foray and the President; some of which I already knew of since as far back as the Year 2004/2005 when I was running my Lumley Internet Café (more on that if need should ever arise). Vonjo stated that John Benjamin had complained him to the First Lady that he was taking one lady known as Arabella Foray to Kailahun and so John Benjamin wanted to destroy his relationship with First Lady as the First Lady was now angry with him, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, between Vonjo, John Benjamin, Tom Nyuma, the Radio Station Manager and a whole host of Kailahun residents who confirmed to me that they had been instructed to prepare to receive the First Lady on May 15th 2009, I had a very well sourced story on an issue that was of importance to the public especially the people of Kailahun who had been preparing to receive what was clearly a Gbaa Nya Fakei First Lady (an impostor).

My article was well sourced and with the background knowledge I already had about the said situation since the days I used to run my 24 Hours Internet Café at Lumley, I knew this was an issue that was hotly in the interest of the Public who deserved not to be presented with any Fake First Lady but the real one at all times.

Now, my article certainly touched the sensibilities of certain people and obviously hurt certain other people’s feelings but nothing in my article can be compared to the malicious, hateful May 8th publication against my womanhood by the Press Secretary to His Excellency the President.

I am not a concubine;

I have never been a "kept woman".

I am not a whore;

I am financially independent enough to choose whom I wish to date or keep company with;

I have never chased any man to marry me; in fact, it has always been the other way around.

I take pride in my success which is a result of nothing but hard work.

I love myself; I have self worth and I value and respect myself.

I am also very thick-skinned but I know how to effectively deflect rhetorical arrows when they get out of hand.

Now, just as I respect myself so also do I respect my President but my President has to realise that my respect for him is based on certain principles. For example, I expect our elected President to respect just how sacred his office is by only placing people of high moral stature and ethics to run positions at State House.

If President Koroma’s Press Secretary, Shekito, can call a woman of my standing in this country, a common whore using the same email he uses to email out press Releases for the President and get away with it through an abuse of State Powers (nolle prosequi) only for him to repeat the same action again a year later with even worse adjectives against me as a woman, then I do not know why all the noise about Arabella Foray’s sanctity.

Was Arabella Foray born on a day that the sun shone better than the day I was born? I do not think so! To paraphrase George Orwell in the book Animal Farm, All women are equal and some are not more equal than others! A famous song by Dr. Oloh easily comes to mind here!

Arabella Foray, as a close confidante to the President should be better placed to advise him (with her alleged imbibed Western Culture!) about the kind of characters that suit being present at the Office of the President. Afterall it is a sacred office that other people will one day occupy and we should not demean it by placing hoodlums in there who insult decent women without compunction.

If such hoodlums are placed right at the seat of power to insult decent women; if such lowlifes can seat at State House and hurl out that decent women in the society are whores and concubines who chase men, then of course let State House prepare for all hell to break loose because some women, after being denied JUSTICE in Court through nolle prosequi, will find other means of ceasing the unwarranted insults being heaped on them and if there is collateral damage along the way so be it! This is the price some people have to pay for being the female confidante to a Head of State.

So, let those now alleging that First Lady Sia Koroma or Opposition Leader John Benjamin cooked up this plot to embarrass the friendship of Arabella Foray and/or Ernest Koroma now know the antecedent of this whole mess. John Benjamin had nothing to do with it. He was merely interviewed over the phone to confirm what details Vonjo told him over the telephone which Vonjo himself had recounted to me and which I hope I will never be forced to publish.

Similarly, First Lady Sia Koroma herself has had no hands in any of this Mess. So let those with ears hear and understand that the origin of this Arabella article in Awareness Times is not John Benjamin or Sia Koroma but Sheka Tarawalie (aka Shekito).

As for those ‘ladies’ who have hired Paul Kamara to write what he has been writing over the past few days; Well, Paul Kamara is not the hired Press Secretary to the sitting President and I am thick skinned enough to understand that I should just ignore the ranting of a well-recognised mental nutcase like Paul Kamara whose license to publish should have been removed from him a very long time ago if the Independent Media Commission (IMC) was worth its salt. You ‘ladies’ can hire Paul to write all the four-lettered words he feels like. I do not really care about Paul Kamara nor do a significant section of this society care about Paul Kamara's writings which have no credenceBUT we care about what originates from our sacred Office of the President and those working therein.... LONTA!!



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