The expected second appearance of Haja Afsata Kabba to face trial for her alleged corrupt offences, yesterday April 19th 2010, the 39th anniversary of Sierra Leone turning into a Republic, saw the deployment of some 100 armed anti-riot Police Officers who were sent to control the surroundings as Freetown Law Courts was transformed into a jam-packed scene of thousands of Afsatu Kabba’s admirers, sympathizers, and supporters.
Afsatu Kabba’s supporters, made up of mostly students and women from the ruling APC party, swarmed into Central Freetown from all over, to show their unreserved support for their strongwoman. The precincts of the Law Court Building were very busy that Monday morning with a seemingly unceasing inflow of supporters of the erstwhile Fisheries Minister that commenced as early as 7am in the morning. This was the clearest demonstration that albeit the negative propaganda against her from and by certain quarters, Afsatu Kabba still stands tall in society.
|Haja Afsatu Kabba at Victoria Park|
As if it was a treason or cocaine trial, Anti-riot Police personnel barricaded every entrance to the entire court premises and as early as 7:30am brought about the diversion of both vehicular and human traffic away from the Courts.
Haja Afsatu Kabba arrived unnoticed in an unmarked vehicle. She was then picked up by the President and Executive of the National Union of APC Students who were smartly dressed in black suits, white shirts and bright red neckties. Accompanied by the APC students from the Courtyard, Haja Afsatu Kabba walked up the flight of steps to the High Court No. 1 which was already jam-packed with no seating place.
|The Crowd who could not make it into the Jam packed Court room waited patiently outside although anti-riot police drove many people away|
As soon as she entered the courtroom, everyone stood up and hundreds of supporters roared and clapped which echoed and re-echoed through the halls of the Courts. Haja Afsatu who was immaculately dressed in an Islamic gold outfit soon got attraction as a throng of sympathizers forced their way to either shake hands with her or hug her, some with tears in their eyes.
The Court Room had already filled to capacity even before the arrival of the former minister. Those who could find their way in afterwards contended with standing posture all in the enthusiastic zest to witness the court proceeding.
|A cross section of the placard-wielding crowd outside|
Meanwhile, several times the number of persons inside the courtroom had filled the courtyard whilst even more were sadly turned away from the court area by the anti-riot police officers.
After the court sitting, the entire Siaka Steven Street was a scene of jubilating supporters who were so many that they blocked the street and temporarily halted vehicular traffic. The sympathizers followed her to Victoria Park where traditional dancers, local authorities, religious leaders and a host of members of other associations were waiting to receive and honour her.
Like a heroine who has successfully returned from a battle, group after group was scrambling to get a glimpse of Haja Afsatu while others surged forwards just to embrace her.
Social Commentators over National Television and Radios last night compared the huge turnout to the scene of a popular masked devil parade known as Eastend Paddle.
"It made me remember my childhood days when Republic Day was a national holiday. Indeed, Haja Afsatu Kabba pulled out a large crowd of jubilant supporters just like it was a holiday," a radio station DJ stated.
Popular Television News Anchor Daniel Moseray (Dan Moss) and his female co-anchor insisted over SLBC Television that in all their lifetimes, they had never seen that kind of crowd come out in support of anyone indicted at Law Courts.
The popularity of Haja Afsatu Kabba which cuts across all sectors of the society, is no longer an issue for debate in Sierra Leone.