From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Afsatu Kabba
Afsatu is not the Problem: Arrogant Journalism Is!
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Feb 25, 2010, 15:17

This is a direct response to Oswald Hancileís article published in several media yesterday entitled AFSATUíS PUBLIC RELATIONS BLUNDER. I would have let Hancileís opinion pass by without a comment but for his reference to himself as a so-called PR Expert whilst he disdainfully refers to the "big PR guys/gals" he bitterly complains against as dominating the PR terrain but whom he believes to be "charlatans".

Maybe Oswald is a PR expert as he self-describes himself and maybe as he boasts, he has all the answers to the PR woes of the APC Government and maybe he has all the answers to the PR woes of every Tom, Dick and Harry in Sierra Leone as well as that of Hon. Afsatu Kabba but this gives him no right (I repeat, NO RIGHT!) to pen down the shameful and disgraceful attack he launched at Hon. Afsatu Kabba yesterday.

Oswald, you simply disgraced journalism with your defence of what our dear brother, Umaru Fofana has done. It is untenable for anyone to attack Afsatu Kabba for standing up for her inherent constitutional right to her reputation.

Afsatu Kabba was not arrested for corruption.

Afsatu Kabba did not employ her two sons at her Ministry.

Afsatu Kabba has never been found wanting by the ACC of "fraudulently" awarding a contract to a Nigerian company for "personal interests".

All the above facts were presented to an international audience as fallacies by Umaru Fofana, a journalist most of us (including yours truly) have all come to admire, love and wish to emulate. And worse of it all, she was freely available for her side to have been solicited but not only was her side not solicited but attempts to get Umaru to air her side resulted in him sending childish school-ground kind of insults to the lady via SMS text! Scandalous!

By the way, the correct quote should have been "FAULTY LINES IN A FLAWED & COSTLY CONTRACT" and not "fraudulently awarding a contract which served only personal interests".

Instead of Oswald being a big brother to Umaru, calling him to the side and chastising him quietly, he is massaging Umaruís ego by telling him even though he has committed the worst possible sin in journalism, he has an army of pen-pushers around the world who would make him get away with it and in the process, turn the victim of his reckless journalism into the villain. What a shame Oswald! What a shame! You truly ought to be ashamed of yourself Oswald Ernest Hanciles!

Oswald, you are right that we are now in the 21st Century which makes it even more important for us to avoid creating Feudal Overlords in the Journalism world who get to live by one set of rules whilst the Serfs live by another. Umaru Fofana is no better than Afsatu Kabba in the realm of Public Opinion simply because he is a journalist and she is a politician. He has acted recklessly and I have told him that privately only for him to react negatively to a nicely worded SMS text of concern I sent to him. At the time, I just assumed he was having a bad day and I had disregarded his angry response back. It was only after one or two colleague journalists started to telephone me up to say Umaru was angry with me that I realised Umaru had arrogantly abrogated to himself the right to smear anyone and get away with it because he was a powerful pen-pusher.

Yes, Oswald believes that Afsatu Kabba versus Umaru Fofana will be like putting Grannie Olabunmi Gresham Davies Cole in a boxing ring with Mike Tyson but this will only be allowed to happen if sober minded, conscientious journalists do not step up as referees and allow a fair exchange to occur. The interjections of Oswald Hanciles therefore into this fight makes it look like poor little David faced with two Goliaths! But you know the funniest thing? Little David (i.e.: Afsatu) seems to be trouncing the Giant Umaru and Oswald all on her own even when she is saying little.

All she has said so far is to express an email out to BBC in London! Nothing else! The people who have been saying things in her defence are Brother Umaruís own brothers and sisters in SLAJ! Public Opinion and sympathy currently heavily lies with her as against Umaru Fofana. People are not fools you know and many citizens do not trust many of the so-called journalists and experts as seen in the dropping sales of certain newspapers. I am happy that my newspaper remains still at the helm of things in newspaper sales volume.

Oswald Hanciles has promised that the army of journalists and friends that the credible Umaru Fofana has in and out of Sierra Leone will gang up to bring down Afsatu simply because she dared to stand up and cry out to the BBC for her right to be respected. What a disgrace for anyone to even think of such a tactic let alone actually pen it down for Posterity to record!

When I read Oswaldís threats to Afsatu Kabba, I actually hung my head in shame to have to share citizenship with Oswald; though after a few minutes of ruminating on the good aspects of my big brother Oswald, I quickly changed my mind! (-SMILE-)

But honestly, it has been a shame to read the attack on Afsatu by Oswald Hanciles. I am really only happy that contrary to his empty bluffs, no respected or sober journalist in this country has come to Umaruís defence. There can be no shielding of the fact that what Umaru Fofana has done to Afsatu Kabba is indefensible but hopefully, if quickly amended, it will be forgivable and efforts would be made to create reconciliation.

Reconciling Afsatu Kabba and Umaru Fofana is what senior citizens like Oswald Hanciles should be doing rather than making Umaru Fofana feel like he can get away with character lynching simply because he is Umaru Fofana, a man we all love and admire.

Oswald, contrary to your predictions, I recommend you read the articles by Mohamed Sankohís newspaper yesterday entitled AFSATU: SACRED COW OR SCAPEGOAT? I also recommend you read the one by Abdul Fonti entitled ADVISING MY PRESIDENT and the one by Prince Kamara in The Senator as well as the one by Cornelius Babaogun Deveaux to name a few of the numerous opinions emerging in this matter amongst journalists. I can assure you that many of Umaru Fofanaís closest journalist allies have quietly expressed to me serious discomfiture with how he has treated Afsatu Kabba which is why you do not see them in the Boxing Ring as you had predicted.

Finally, I call on Oswald to try to obey the Golden Rule and to do unto others as he would wish to have them do unto him. His frontal attack on a woman who was only crying out for her reputation to be respected is a shame to him. A big shame!

Now, having finished with Oswald, can I ask the author of that Page 2 article in Global Times yesterday if he was aware of the fact that when Global Times was unfairly targeting Zainab Bangura a few weeks back, it was the same way my pen had defended her that I am today defending Afsatu from the rumoured involvement of Zainab Bangura in her downfall? So why insinuate that I am an SLPP agent trying to bring disunity within the APC simply because I am defending Afsatu? I am not even an SLPP member!!

I have on my desk a special OBSERVER STATUS Invite from J.J. Saffa to attend the SLPP Convention but I will not be attending but will second my able Editor Abdul Karim Kabia to deputise me. I did the same thing last March when I boycotted the SLPP Convention. I deliberately boycott SLPP events but I am however a strong advocate of the good things within the SLPP and I do not hesitate to fight for the rights of SLPP members when they are trampled upon and so people always mistake me to be an SLPP member. The reality is that I have never entered the SLPP Party Offices for even a Press Briefing let alone a Party Meeting.

I am not an SLPP member but a non-partisan citizen who believes that the good aspects of the legacy left for us by our forefathers must be upheld by all. This is why I am standing in solidarity with Afsatu Kabba until such time as I am presented with clear and convincing evidence that she is a corrupt woman. I am not by her side because I have a hidden agenda for SLPP to split APC. Only APC can allow itself to become split!

Having said all the above, let me reiterate that the purpose of this piece is to let Oswald Hanciles know he needs to take a closer and more analytic look at the unfolding issue of Hon. Afsatu Kabba in the Public Domain. If he is not careful, he will find himself and Umaru Fofana suffering a serious dent to their credibility from the manner in which they are eager to smother Afsatu Kabba.

May God Bless Sierra Leone.



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