From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden Has Too Much Self-Confidence To Be Intimidated!
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Apr 30, 2010, 17:08

Contrary to the claim in a recent obscure attack on my character in the media, my two grandfathers are both still very much alive. My paternal grandfather, Professor Edward Wilmot Blyden III is still alive and residing at his residence at Smart Farm, Off Wilkinson Road here in Freetown. My maternal grandfather, Professor Solomon Athanasius James Pratt (commonly known as SAJ Pratt) is also still alive. I spoke to him yesterday in London where he resides and he had just flown back into London from attending an important Masonic Lodge meeting in Paris, France.

I do not need to recount my very rich heritage with respect to these two great men. Their own ancestors also had lofty illustrious antecedents. Browsing through the Archives of the New York Times or Boston Globe or other leading American newspapers, it is not uncommon to see Op-Eds by Edward Wilmot Blyden I or by Reverend H.N. Erskine that dates back into the 1800s. These were men who did not fear to take up and write on controversial issues they believed in; which is why their names have lived on long after their deaths.

I grew up knowing I had a rich heritage and having all reasons to be proud of myself and have self-confidence in what I do. And indeed, I have applied that self-confidence to everything I have turned my hand to especially when it comes to issues concerning my beloved homeland, Sierra Leone. I am extremely proud of every single thing I have ever done for this country and concerning this country. No bigot can put me down with gender-based attacks. This is one African woman whose place is not in the kitchen or some other subjugated location.

This is why those persons who brought my grandfatherís name into the issue of the Tony Blair debacle need to rethink their strategy. They might wish to know that the very same Edward Blyden III they are referencing remains one of the few Sierra Leoneans who actually took the British Governor General to Court leading to supportive newspaper headlines. I do not come from stock that shies away from controversy. I am not afraid to take any bull by the horns if I know I can legitimately do so.

My paternal grandfather, earlier referenced in this piece, was Sierra Leoneís Ambassador to United Nations and also to Russia and he served as a diplomat in America and Russia with distinction. I grew up taking turns as a young girl, in my pre-teen years, with my siblings and cousins, as to who serves tea to visiting American Ambassadors and other foreign diplomats at either of my two grandfatherís house. By my teenage years, my parentsí residence was a regular place for British and American Ambassadors to visit. The former American Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Lauralee M. Peters was so close to my family that she actually preached the sermon during my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary Thanksgiving Service in November 1993 at Zion Methodist Church, Wilberforce Street. In other words, I grew up with and amongst diplomats and I know what is expected of diplomats sent to represent their countries. In America, I lived in Potomac, Maryland with my neighbours being former senior diplomats who served America well. I believe I have a fair idea of what a good diplomat is and I can tell a bad one.

Unlike many Africans, I have an in-built sense of confidence that will not deter me from condemning a white man who deserves to be criticised. There are many Good White Men in Africa but at the same time, there are loads of Bad Diplomats who undertake actions in Africa or endorse regime excesses in Africa that would be totally abhorrent in the places they claim to be representing here.

Some Western diplomats sent to Sierra Leone, especially in these latter years, carry out undiplomatic acts, involve themselves in our local politics, misbehave with impunity in Sierra Leone and generally make diplomatic nuisances of themselves here because they know most Africans do not have the self-confidence to challenge questionable acts of a White Man; especially if the white man is an Ambassador from a powerful Western Nation or, may be, a former British Prime Minister.

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden does not fall into that category of Africans! Sylvia Blyden is full of self-confidence in herself and in what she does. This is why I now own and operate the most widely read newspaper in the country to the chagrin of a tiny handful of longstanding Ďjournalistsí who cannot understand why people leave their papers and rush for Awareness Times in the morning. But in all of this, despite my tremendous self-confidence in myself and my ability to hold my own in the upper tiers of our society, it is also a fact that I can socialise easily with that segment of our society referred to as, "dregs", "illiterate marketwomen" and "rarray-boys".

I mingle easily with any category of Sierra Leoneans all over the country because I was brought up to respect every human being as being moulded in the same image as myself. I give out respect to the smallest child in remote chiefdom villages in the same way I will give out respect to the filthiest Omolanke driver in Freetown because I do not see myself as being better than them. I am just blessed to own the family heritage, education and worldly exposure which I own but I am no better than them. And this accommodating aspect of my character is what makes me so appealing to these "illiterate marketwomen" and "rarray boys" and "dregs" whom others are now publicly denigrating forgetting that these categories of persons make up the largest percentage of Sierra Leoneís demographics.

If I have the ability to get these "dregs" to follow me or to listen to me, despite my "high educational and social standing", then I consider it another of the pluses that make up the charisma known as Sylvia Olayinka Blyden. I am charismatic enough to ignore Lilliputians in the Sierra Leone media landscape. These Lilliputians make our journalism world to be intellectually very boring! I write on issues and expect to be challenged on these issues I bring up but what do I get in return? An ill-bred man exposes what he probably perceives of his mother and his female relatives by using invectives and gutter language to respond. Of course, I will not respond but it sure gets boring in the Sierra Leone media!

I sometimes wish my detractors could develop the intellectual muscle to take me up on the issues I raise. But it appears I am too formidable an intellectual force for them to take on, so they dive into the gutters saying they are defending Mr. Tony Blair with gutter language!

I am however not going to be distracted but will keep on hoping that one of these days, a more formidable intellectual might emerge to take on the ISSUES I raise rather than bore us with gutter language like the guttersnipes now do in a bid to bring me down. They will fail to bring me down because I have too much self-confidence to be distracted. I owe no apologies to anyone for being who I am. I am what I am and I am very proud of who I am. So, my detractors can go and bite the dust.

Meanwhile, the exposures on Tony Blairís hitherto unpublicised handling of monies meant for the betterment of Sierra Leoneans will continue on these pages. In todayís edition on Page 5, we have published incontrovertible evidence of that Blair collection of equivalent of ten billion leones as well as a copy of a page out of Britainís Companies House Ledger which clearly reveals that Tony Blairís entity used to collect the money ostensibly for Sierra Leoneansí benefit, is registered NOT as a Charity but as a Profit-Making General Business Company. In subsequent editions, we will have more startling details on Tony Blairís unpublicised financial dealings and his quiet operations in this beautiful country called Sierra Leone. This newspaper and this news publisher cannot be intimidated with gutter language attacks or complaints to Independent Media Commission. STAY TUNED RIGHT HERE!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.