From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sierra Leone’s President & the Overt Denigration of his Womenfolk
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Jun 7, 2010, 00:00

Sierra Leone President’s oft-repeated professed respect for Women of Sierra Leone is now more of a self-mockery of his regime than anything else as he presides over probably the worst denigration of Sierra Leone women’s self-esteem. Even college elections featuring a female candidate in person of Francess Marke, has covert operatives interfering to deter the woman’s ambitions. The students’ elections saw APC regime members go to the depth of taking a pair of female panties from God-knows-where, splashing some filth on it, hanging it on a long stick and prancing around the campus waving the panties-on-stick whilst shouting out that was Francess Marke’s panties. Shortly after engaging in such unsavoury gender-based attacks on Francess Marke’s ambitions, President Koroma’s appointed Head of Attitudinal & Behavioural Change, went to the college campus and danced where the panties-on-a-stick APC students had left off. What an attitudinal and behavioural change indeed! And to crown it all, when exit polls indicate that Miss Marke had a clear victory, the elections were abruptly cancelled!

Still on the FBC Elections that are to be re-run today, female students were awoken past Friday to huge quantities of fresh blood being splattered all over the female dormitories and selected places on campus. The conclusion has been that the blood was a warning of impending violence against female students believed to be shoring up the candidature of Francess Marke. It reminds of gang-raping of female students on campus during past APC era.

However, truth be told, many observers are not surprised at the offensive attacks on Ms. Francess Marke nor with use of a filthy pair of female panties or the use of fresh blood to intimidate women with threats of violence. This beautiful country has come to recognise these filthy gender-based slurs and violent tactics as the status-quo in Sierra Leone under this Government of President Koroma.

This is a President who few weeks ago claimed he was apologising to the Women of Sierra Leone with his bodyguard Idrissa ‘Leatherboot’ Kamara standing right by his back as he ‘apologised’. The watered-down report of the investigative Bankole Thompson Report had no hesitation, even in its watered-down state, to indict the horrible abuse of their human dignity that SLPP women suffered at the hands of Mr. Leatherboot and others and for which no apology has been forthcoming to date.

Less than a year after SLPP Women suffered such indignities during which many of them alleged they were gang-raped by male ruling party supporters, there was Mr. President claiming to be apologising to us Women for what we suffered during the long-concluded civil war but with the SLPP Women’s tormentor standing by the President. He was apologising for what happened to Women years ago that this Nation had started to forget about but which his personal bodyguards have re-imported back into the national psyche with no apologies for the re-introduction of these abuse of the human dignities of the Women of Sierra Leone.

Whilst many patriotic Sierra Leone Women have rejected the apology as delivered, a few short-sighted ‘gender-activists’ have rushed to accept the President’s apology. And I must at this point insert that these same ‘activists’ will loudly wonder why despite ten years of so-called ‘gender-rights activism’ by these donor-funded ‘gender activists’, the country currently only has one female Cabinet Minister out of some two dozen Cabinet Ministers! As the popular Creole refrain goes, Look under you foot mama; look under you foot!

Raw Truth be told to some of these so-called ‘gender activists’, there is a difference between selfishly fighting for yourselves to be given positions under ‘30% quota’ and SELFLESSLY fighting for the rights of your female compatriots! The former leads to a patent lack of respect for ‘female activists’ as exemplified in President Koroma having no hesitation to maintain just one female Minister. On the other hand, had the latter, selfless service to women compatriots, been the true intent of these donor-funded ‘gender activists’, it would have led to far more respect for us as women and certainly more than one female Cabinet Minister!

It is certainly true, in my opinion, that President Koroma’s regime exhibits a patent lack of respect for us Women as exemplified in his continuous retention of certain of his appointees. It is not at all uncommon for Presidential Spokesman Sheka Tarawalie or Foreign Office Spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay to manufacture some of the filthiest gender-based allegations possible and publish them in newspapers under their control against female critics of the regime. Infact, Sierra Leoneans are now used to anomaly of State House serving as origins of some of the vilest possible gender-based insults against female journalists who write against excesses of President Koroma. This is the culture we are now cursed to live under!

Sierra Leoneans have learnt to just bear the shameful ignominy of having some of the handiwork of Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura and President Koroma’s chosen ‘valued’ spokespersons spread all over the Internet against women critical of the nonsense they might be perpetuating. This is the President we currently have and this is the shame that us women have had to bear as we are smeared all over the Internet from Presidential & Governmental reprobates!

However, despite the level of subliminal acceptance of the crude methods being employed by President Koroma’s appointed Spokespersons against his female critics, citizens around the globe and locally were shocked to the bone recently when the crudeness reached an unacceptable level.

This was after President Koroma’s Foreign Minister Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura through her so-called spokesman brought in the name of neighbouring Liberia’s Immigration Chief & Deputy Attorney General into their nasty fray. A fine lawyer and gentleman, who does not have a biological brother, suddenly found his name linked to a cruelly manufactured incident of having caught his biological brother in bed with his former Sierra Leonean sweetheart. Nothing like that ever happened but not only was it manufactured up to suit the Sierra Leone Foreign Minister’s purposes of intimidating a female critic but the poor gentleman’s photo was splattered all over the Internet by Zainab Bangura’s mentally sick ally, alongside the manufactured nasty allegations. Just like the APC students danced all over their campus with the filthy female panties on a stick, only persons with no self-respect behave like this!

This nastiness that now crosses our borders into Liberia, is what our country has been reduced to under President Koroma! The nasty false allegation involving Liberia’s Immigration Chief was propelled by the Foreign Minister Zainab Hawa Bangura through her Spokesman and reiterated from within desks at State House, the seat of the Presidency simply because the said sweetheart happened to be critical of the excesses of this corrupt and errant regime in Sierra Leone. This is President Koroma’s regime for you.

No self-respecting woman will participate in the manufacturing of the kind of gutter material that Zaina Hawa Bangura has participated in alongside her very sick ally mis-labelling himself as a journalist!

The Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura sees nothing wrong with the foreign relations debacle of such a dastardly move she openly gives her blessings to. Manufacturing nonsense against a very senior Liberian Government official simply to get back at a Sierra Leonean female critic is probably seen as a responsible act by this Government of Sierra Leone we are now living under! This Government of President Koroma sees nothing wrong with this dastardly move because the Government includes persons like Zainab Hawa Bangura who is a dastard herself working in a dastardly regime which gives no ear to the current World Order that calls for respect for Women. Poignantly though, the woman that President Koroma has given us as Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister simply does not respect herself so how can she be expected to respect other women? Food for thought!

This is President Koroma’s Government for you! This is what we are living with in Sierra Leone today. Filthy panties on a stick and nastiness spread on to the Internet right from within the corridors of power. This is our bitter pill. Little wonder the country’s opposition recently opined upon the character content of the President going by the character content of his appointees - male as well as female! Birds of the same feather flock together and if you show me your appointee [friend], I will tell you your character Mr. President! Your appointees and their actions are saying a lot about you Mr. President of Sierra Leone! One can only wonder what the Liberian Government officials will be saying to each other about your regime’s patent nastiness towards Sierra Leone Women!

Oh how President Koroma loves to cite his appointment of the country’s first female Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh amongst his gender-sensitive acts but it is a fact that the President repeatedly treats the constitutional powers of the Chief Justice with overt contempt as exemplified by his utterances on several occasions. One time, during the opening of a ruling party office in Makeni, it was shameful to me to hear my President tell his Makeni compatriots of how he had summoned the Chief Justice to threaten her that by the time he returned from a short trip to The Gambia, a Nigerian cocaine dealer should have been re-arrested and re-tried for an offence he had been tried and acquitted of! So despite all his loud self-praises of his appointment of a woman as Chief Justice, many people quietly wonder if he would have been so contemptuous of the doctrine of ‘Separation of Powers’ if the Chief Justice had been a man! Would he have proudly boasted and had it broadcast over National Television that he summoned the Chief Justice to order her around if the Chief Justice had been a man? Food for thought my fellow citizens when next we hear our President speak of his empowerment of women!

Anyway, from all the above, it is clear that the issue of Gender-sensitivity and respect for the aspirations of women should not feature in the achievements of this President as supporters of strong women who truly understand what it means for a President to respect Women of his country, will denigrate any such inclusion. This writer herself will certainly loudly denigrate any such inclusion in the September 17th 2010 Third Anniversary Speech of the President of Sierra Leone. As far as I, and many right-thinking Sierra Leoneans are concerned, President Koroma’s regime does not at all respect Women. The self-praising words saying they respect women are simply a farce in the face of over-riding evidence otherwise. So His Excellency should stop making a mockery of his regime’s status quo by saying they respect Women in Sierra Leone. Our elected President’s regime does not respect his Womenfolk. That’s my view!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.