From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

EDITORIALS
How Soon “Government” Conveniently Forgot
By Editorial Board
Jan 11, 2010, 17:38

We are now learning that "Government" has "forgiven" our Publisher but we just wonder how soon "Government" forgets. Let us recall...

It was September 2008 and Sierra Leone was subjected to the publication of a particularly vicious article the likes of which this country had never seen before. It was published by two Sierra Leoneans; a male and a female. In 2007, they had both merged their newspapers with the one incorporating the other following which a pictorial release had stated that the two persons were now the co-publishers of that tabloid.

So it was that on Wednesday September 24th 2008, these co-publishers had a screaming front page headline which asserted to its readers that President Koroma’s marriage was on an irrevocable freefall with a break-up looming. Inside the paper, there was even more sordid details of these alleged marital problems that President Koroma was supposedly facing.

The article strongly insisted, quoting alleged sources close to the marriage, that President Koroma could not stand the sight of his wife and was not even speaking to her. It went on to describe the appearance of Sia Koroma and painted a dismal description of her even to how she supposedly walked down stairs of Miatta Conference Hall.

The publishers of that malicious article proceeded to cite as "evidence" of their unfounded allegations, the public occasion of the President’s First Anniversary Press Lunch where President Koroma’s wife, according to the vicious article, allegedly was uninvited but forcibly invited herself to the occasion thus causing the President to ignore her throughout the occasion with the two people supposedly even exiting by separate exits without even an acknowledgment of each other the whole time. The publishers deliberately went on to totally misinterpret an innocent comment made by the Chairman of that occasion, Hon. I.B. Kargbo as their confirmation that the First Lady was uninvited. Here is an extract of the vicious, unfounded article:

"The source further said that they are not even on speaking terms. This latest development, according to our source, is just a continuation of what started before the 2007 elections when the then opposition leader, Ernest Bai Koroma, pushed his wife at arm’s length. She only returned home around the period of the vote. Recently, when the president was meeting the press at the Miatta Conference Centre, on Thursday, 18th September, as part of the President’s 1st year anniversary in office, the First Lady turned up over an hour early - apparently uninvited. Nobody on the podium, except for the Minister of Information Mr. I.B. Kargbo, recognised her presence. Endorsing this, Mr. Kargbo told the audience, which included foreign dignitaries and cabinet ministers, that throughout the night the First Lady was making calls to him to inquire the nature of the meeting taking place on that day. It was embarrassing that when the president later turned up no words were exchanged between him and the First Lady even in the form of greeting."

As if those vicious attacks on the President’s marriage was not enough, the publishers of that article went on to inform readers with confident assertion that President Koroma did not sleep with his wife in the bedroom. Not only did that article categorically state that the President did not sleep with his wife but the vicious article went on to state that even when the President’s wife cooked food in the home, the President will refuse to eat it. Here is another extract from that unfounded article:

"At home," our source said "they don’t even sleep in the same room. And Mr. President does not eat food he knows was prepared by the first lady. The cooking is done by a cousin of the president". A break up would be Sierra Leone’s first divorce of a sitting President. "But frankly, this would be nothing new under the sun. Better they live apart than pretend to be happy living together" a friend said.

The article got tongues wagging all over the place and ‘bush-radio’ soon spread that the President would soon divorce his wife. What made the unfounded article to have some credibility was the fact that the President had gone to America to attend the U.N. General Assembly but he had left his wife behind. Infact, the article had been timed to be published when the President was in New York and his wife was here alone in Freetown.

Many people, who did not know the real reason why the First Lady had been left behind, made their own conclusions. It was Sylvia Blyden of Awareness Times Newspaper who would later correct that public misconception! How soon "Government" forgot when it sent hounds after our blood in May ‘09.. Anyway, further strengthening the erroneous conclusions that the President’s marriage was on the rocks was the silence from the Presidency itself especially in light of who were the two people who published the said article! Following this September 24th 2008 article, the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr. Sheka Tarawalie saw nothing wrong with such an article. Infact, the entire "Government" machinery that was to start a manhunt in May 2009 for Sylvia Blyden after the Kailahun Fake First Lady publication, did not see anything wrong with the above publication cited.

They were so content with it that they sent one of the publishers (female) out to represent Sierra Leone as a diplomat in New York and continued to maintain the other publisher (male) in a position deserving trusted integrity! The female, a sibling to a certain other woman, was sent out as a Diplomat shortly after that offensive publication which has never been retracted upto now despite a Release from the Office of the First Lady that called for this! (See Page 4).

As a result of not a sigh of protest from the Presidential Press Secretary, many citizens had concluded that the article must have some credence to it even though, as has now been proven, it was a totally baseless article with no merit! It was the Awareness Times publisher Sylvia Blyden who personally helped to restore public confidence in the strength of the President’s marriage when on October 23rd that same Year 2008, she published an article and photograph that laid bare the facts of the matter. The start of that October 2008 article follows:



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