From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

SLPP Women Without Liz Lavalie & Bernadette Lahai?
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Jul 12, 2010, 12:24

Last weekend, one of my reporters covered a Sensitisation Workshop on the Gender Policy drafted by the dynamic Women’s Leader of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, Madam Isatu Jabbie ‘IJ’ Kabbah. From my reporter’s notes submitted, I gather that the United Nations sponsored programme went quite well and many lofty words were spoken by women present like my own dear adopted Aunty, Dr. Kadi Sesay whom I am told was present there not on a cheap publicity stunt to enhance her so-called ‘leading’ SLPP Flagbearer chances but as the ‘Deputy SLPP Chairman’. If you are confused, well ask those who see nothing unethical in Dr. Kadi Sesay’s two hats she wears at the same time!

Anyway, more on that later…

What concerns me today, and concerns me gravely, was the absence of Hon. Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie and Hon. Bernadette Lahai amongst other truly strong SLPP Women, who have proven their worth time and time again in this country. These are some of the women within the SLPP who have continued to inspire some of us younger generation of Sierra Leone women. I understand Bernadette Lahai is out of the country but the absence of Liz Lavalie and Bernie Lahai from what is supposed to be the launch of a worthy gender-sensitisation effort does not bode well for the efforts of I.J. Kabbah to present a convincing picture of a Women’s Leader leading all the SLPP Women!

To some of us outside observers, it is utterly ridiculous to speak of SLPP strong women or talk about propagation of an SLPP Gender Policy without including or accepting the input of our country’s proven dynamic female opposition leaders like Liz Lavalie and Bernie Lahai amongst other SLPP Women who were missing last weekend from the United Nations sponsored event.

The SLPP might seem to be united on the surface but for those of us who admire that Grand Old Party from afar, we are worried that all might not be as well as all should be. These small things are some of what the National Chairman, John Oponjo Benjamin might have to start turning his attention to. Mr. Chairman, the SLPP of your forefathers, at this point in time, is supposed to be in your care until you hand it over to the next generation of Leaders.

To paraphrase George Orwell’s Animal Farm, All SLPP Women are equal and no SLPP Woman is ‘more equal’ than another SLPP Woman. The range of SLPP Women from those now-neglected SLPP Rape Victims all the way up to the so-called ‘leading’ SLPP female Presidential aspirants are all SLPP Women who should be treated equally under the ambit of the SLPP’s Constitution.

I have said it again and again that the 2012 Elections are going to be determined by the Women of Sierra Leone! Any Presidential aspirant, male or female, who does not quickly realise this fact, is doomed to fail at those polls! Any Presidential aspirant, male or female, who cannot show compassion for his or her Womenfolk, is doomed at those polls. Any Presidential aspirant, male or female, who puts his or her ambitions above the interests of his or her Womenfolk, is doomed at those 2012 polls. Mark my words.

This is why all political parties must ensure their Women are standing united and strong by the 2012 Polls as the Women of Sierra Leone are going to determine the next set of Sierra Leone Leaders in the same way the Youths of Sierra Leone determined the 2007 elected Leaders.

And this is why I am PUBLICLY WARNING Mr. SLPP Chairman that the signs of disunity from the SLPP Women’s Wing are not appreciable. A stitch in time, saves nine and so I urge John Benjamin to immediately pay some attention towards uniting the Women of the SLPP as, I repeat, the 2012 Elections are going to be determined by the Women of Sierra Leone. LONTA!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.