From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

As they learn from the watermelon experience…: Human Chameleons Practised ‘Cormuel Politics’ In Kailahun
By Bampia James Bundu
Feb 10, 2010, 17:28

Speaking in Kailahun during the visit of President Koroma in that part of the country, Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) former Ambassador to Liberia, Patrick Foya cautioned the President and the All People’s Congress (APC) party that the red dresses of residents should not be misrepresented to mean that the SLPP supporters have converted themselves to become APC supporters.

He emphasized that the move by Kailahun residents to put on red dresses was deliberate, adding that it was a show of their commitment to political tolerance and a way of giving a befitting welcome to the ‘red’ APC led President of Sierra Leone.

He insisted that Kailahun has been and will continue to be a stronghold of the opposition SLPP.

True to these utterances, I traveled the length and breath of Sierra Leone with the former Presidential Flagbearer of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Solomon Berewa, during the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections campaigns, and saw how APC supporters wore green dresses to either accord the former Vice President befitting welcomes or pretend to be his supporters for various reasons.

It was during this same campaign period that musicians from across the country joined the political trend and released several musical albums supporting one political group against the other.

But the song that stands out among all the numerous political songs was the one done by Daddy Saj titled: "Watermelon Politics".

The watermelon is a fruit with a green outlook, but its inner part is red.

Daddy Saj’s music by then created awareness that not all those who dressed in green are supporters of the green Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), and vice versa.

The musician insisted that people may wear green dresses maybe to satisfy the powers that be, but they will never cast their votes for the SLPP, simply because they are red APC to the heart.

Evidently, supporters of the then opposition APC in the party’s northern stronghold did wore green dresses in all of Solomon Berewa’s visits to that part of the country. In other words, Makeni for example, was always painted green whenever Berewa visited that city. All sorts of welcome and praise songs were sang for the green Solomon Berewa in the city of the red APC stronghold because of financial gains and the likes. But what happened during those elections? The northern people voted overwhelmingly against the green SLPP which they had earlier pretended to support in public.

It is no secret that the SLPP supporters in the eastern and southern strongholds of the SLPP have plotted to implement a similar strategy (the Cormuel strategy) in the forth coming presidential and parliamentary elections.

This was demonstrated when ardent SLPP supporters in those parts of the country claded themselves in red, with even some going to an extent of declaring their support and loyalty for the ruling APC party, during the visit of President Koroma.

But wait a minute; is the President and his APC supporters convinced that those people have truly converted to the APC? I hope not, because if they have digested what happened in those parts of the country to mean they have captured the stronghold of the opposition SLPP, they are sure to receive the shocks of their lives during the 2012 elections (the SLPP’s Solomon Berewa experience).

The move by the Kailahun people to clad themselves in red, forced me to speak with a few people in a bid to get their views. In the ensuing are some of the views expressed.

Sheik Boani of Kailahun Town said Ernest Bai Koroma is the President of the entire Sierra Leone. He furthered that they will not abandon him anytime he decides to visits the township. "We can even give him the human Cormuel welcome, just as Solomon Berewa was accorded Watermelon welcomes in the north" he said.

He explained further that the Cormuel (Chameleon) in its normal state is green, but it will automatically change to red if a red flower comes near it. "It definitely assumes it original and normal green colour after the red would have left it alone" he emphasized, adding that the Kailahun people decided to dress in red because the President who was visiting them is a member of the red APC party.

"We have resolved to pretend that we are supporters of the APC whenever they come here," he said, adding that the move was a tit-for-tat one.

He however emphasized that they are determined to whole heartedly support the developmental projects undertaken by the government.

According to him, since the APC has chosen to imitate the SLPP campaign strategy of investing in opposition strongholds in order to snatch their votes, they will accord the APC the same disappointment the SLPP received in the northern stronghold of the APC.

An elderly Sahr Boima in Buedu, Kissi Tongi Chiefdom, Kailahun District, confessed that the President has displayed good intentions for that part of the country, adding that God will richly reward him. "But he will continue to record void votes in Kailahun no matter what he does. This is simply because we prefer the ideologies of the SLPP to the APC, and nobody can change that overnight" he affirmed, adding "We can sing, dance, parade and even wear red dresses to satisfy our President in public, but we will never vote for him and his APC party".

Similar sentiments were raised by several residents of Kailahun.

If the aforementioned views are anything to go by, it would therefore be safe to say the SLPP supporters in the eastern and southern parts of the country are human Chameleons practicing Cormuel Politics.

His Excellency Sir, don’t misunderstood what happened out there as a political gain, you are advised to rather consider is as a political provocation.

Meanwhile, several APC supporters are confident that they have captured the votes of the SLPP in the latter’s stronghold.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.