On March 23rd 1967, a pivotal event occurred in Sierra Leone when newly elected Prime Minister, APC Leader Siaka Stevens was transferred from State House to Pademba Road prison after him and some of his able aides like Ibrahim Taqi had been put under gunpoint two days earlier by late Chief Hinga Norman, the then ADC to the British Governor General. After a series of military adventures, one Brigadier John Bangura was to reach the helm of power and later hand over power back to Siaka Stevens in April 1968.
On March 23rd 1971, the same Brigadier John Bangura was captured as he allegedly tried to execute a coup plot to overthrow Siaka Stevens. He was tried and sentenced to death and his sentence was carried out when Siaka Stevens refused to exercise his prerogative of mercy. One of Banguraís foot soldiers, a corporal by the name of Foday Sankoh, was found guilty of Misprision of Treason and sentenced to several years jail time. Few years later, Ibrahim Taqi and others from mainly the Temne Tonkolili grouping were also caught allegedly plotting a coup to overthrow Stevens and they were also executed by Siaka Stevens after being found guilty of alleged treason; their trials have remained a source of controversy with Aminata Forna, the daughter of one of those executed, diligently exposing alleged inadequacies of the witnesses and evidence used to set-up and convict her father.
On March 23rd 1987, Gabriel Mohamed Tennyson Kai Kai and others were arrested as they prepared to execute a coup to overthrow the APC Government of President Momoh. The then sitting Vice President, Francis Mischeck Minah, was roped into the coup barely a week later, arrested, tried and sentenced to death and later executed alongside eleven others from mostly the Mende Pujehun and to a lesser extent, Freetown Creole groupings.
Twenty years after March 23rd 1971, on March 23rd 1991, the same Corporal Foday Sankoh of March 23rd 1971, led a group of rebels and launched what was to be a bitter civil war that shed blood all over the four corners of the country.
So without a doubt, March 23rd is a significant date in the annals of Sierra Leoneís History. It is a date that should be spent in deep and truthful reflection and such reflections should not be limited to only the start of RUF War in 1991 but also a time to reflect on some of the injustices carried out in this country by lynch-mobs & war-cries orchestrated against those who fell foul of an entrenched system run by a select few.
This is why the inclusion of the indictment of Afsatu Kabba in the so-called unfortunate Press Release by the misguided YOUTH ARISE! members should be strongly condemned by all patriotic concerned citizens. A person is innocent until proven guilty and with our March 23rd History which shows how the father of Aminata Forna and others were systematically set up for elimination by the APC of Siaka Stevens, it is our hope that people of Sierra Leone should now be wiser than to immediately fall hook, line and sinker that if a person is charged to Court, he is already guilty because a hired lynch-mob is shouting out using the BBC, other Media Outlets and unscrupulous persons that such a person is already guilty.
Those who have abused their influence with some of the progressive and promising youths of this country to misguide them into issuing out such a Press Release, ought to be so ashamed of themselves!
My Call for today is that on March 23rd 2010, I hope the Youths of Sierra Leone will realise the true History of their country and to the guilty ones, please express remorse for joining the character-lynching squad of persons who really ought to know better. So it was that innocent persons were led to the gallows in this country because those who ought to have known the rules of civilisation abdicated their responsibilities to please the ones in power.
The Result of such abdication of duty has been a repetitive March 23rd of death and destruction that can only be repeated if we do not stop these kinds of wicked politics. Wicked politics where a select, small group of persons with connections to the helm of power, can plot and plot to bring down another person and get away with it because no one tried to challenge such.
My Call today March 23rd 2010 is for the Youths of Sierra Leone especially the promising ones at Youth Arise! to RESIST being used in this shameful manner where they allow themselves to becoming tools of lynch mobs determined to persecute another Sierra Leonean but needing a veneer of legitimacy for their abhorrent acts.
May God Bless Mama Salone and all progressive Youths of the Republic of Sierra Leone! Amen.