From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Politics
APC Loyalist Sidi Sheriff Recounts the History of APC in North America
By Mohamed Kamara
Nov 4, 2013, 12:20

A faithful supporter of Sierra Leone’s ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) has called for recognition of the roles played by persons like Dr. Abdulai Conteh and late A.N.D. Koroma in the rebirth of the APC in North America. Mr. Sidi I. Sheriff says he is doing this “to set the record straight regarding the revival of the APC Party in North America”. Meanwhile, we can state upfront that we have documents of transactions between Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu and landlords of the Bank of America building where the first APC party offices were rented along New Hampshire Avenue in Maryland at the turn of the 21st century. These documents incontrovertibly confirm that the very first APC party offices in America were rented for and down payment undertaken by and in the name of Ibrahim Bundu.

 

However, whilst Mr. Sheriff acknowledges roles played by Hon. Ibrahim Bundu, Osman Conteh and Sylvia Blyden, at the turn of the century in helping to resuscitate and strengthen the APC into a more viable and structured entity in North America by renting formal office space and opening up modern communication channels like fax lines, phone lines and a website, he vehemently insists that APC was already re-organized and functioning well in America since the nineties; years before Bundu and his group joined the fold.

 

Sidi I. Sheriff: Setting the records straight


In a piece entitled as “The Rebirth of APC in North America in late 90s”, Mr. Sheriff says at the “height of the NPRC euphoria” in July 1992 when he arrived in Washington DC, “for many during this period, talk about the APC could only be exclusively negative!” He says some brave APC supporters would quietly try to set some negative records straight but that “Many of the folks were so subjective that they cared less about using accurate information in their discussions about Sierra Leone politics and history”.

 

Continuing his narrative, he said “Such was the state of the APC when Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh arrived in the US in late 1995. There were no APC activities because people were afraid or embarrassed or disdainful to be associated with the Party following the NPRC Coup”. 

 

“As old APC folks began to meet during frequent visits to Dr. Conteh’s residence in Silver Spring, they would engage in discussions around organizing the party in the US ahead of the 1996 elections. During this time also, members of the group would write articles highlighting the party’s positive record when it came under attack from opposing forces. Some of the bashing, unfortunately, came from former APC operatives and prime beneficiaries. The small group’s defense publications appeared in The West Africa Magazine”.

 

“The news of an ORGANIZED APC GROUP IN THE U.S. was greeted by Party loyalists in Freetown, with great excitement and relief” Sheriff informed adding that the overseas-published articles in defense of the APC were “later, enthusiastically, reproduced by Mr. William Juana Smith in the Party’s newspaper, “We Yone” in Freetown”. 

 

He said their group “painfully tried to swell the ranks of the faithful but this did not meet with much success”. 


However, he continued, “Even though we faced enormous challenges trying to swell our ranks, we went ahead with convening our maiden meeting at the residence of Ambassador Patrick Ojong in Gaithersburg, Maryland” to which he listed attendees as being: Ambassador Patrick Ojong, Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh, Sidi I. Sheriff, Alhaji Abu Bakarr W. Jalloh, Ms. Augusta Wellington, Retired Captain Sammy Conteh, Dr. Ibrahim S. Yansaneh and Dr. Alimamy N.D. Koroma.

 

He said others who would later join the group of pioneers when they moved to the Washington area, are: Late Hon. Ransford Jarrett Coker, Mr. Saidu Davies, Hon. Edward M. Turay; Mr. Santhikie “Shilling” Sesay. He said Mr. Saidu Davies was so passionate about the APC that, he loaned the APC party funds to finance a banquet in honor of late President Momoh in the US during the difficult times.

 

He cited another group of APC faithfuls as follows: Francis Kamara, Logus Koroma, Martin Bash-Kamara, Victor R. Doherty, Abdulai “Sorsor” Conteh, Dr. Charles S. Kargbo, Alhaji Chernor Maju and Prof. Michael Sesay.

 

He then gave vivid recollection of how APC meetings were subsequently held at nursing school offices offered by Mr. Francis Kamara. Other meetings were hosted at Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh’s residence or his own Sheriff’s residence. This continued until Mr. Saidu Davies offered a central meeting place in Washington, D.C.  The leadership comprised of a small nucleus with Dr. Abdulai Conteh chairing most meetings. Martin Bash-Kamara served as the group’s Secretary with Sidi I. Sheriff assisting. When Dr. Abdulai Conteh moved to Atlanta after 1998, late Dr. A.N.D. Koroma took over the Chairmanship of meetings”. 

 

Continuing his narrative, he reported of how “Raymond Kabia and Hon. Alimamy Kargbo, Mohamed Afric Bangura, Hon. Benneh Bangura, Capt. Allieu Pat-Sowe, Hon. Kombo Sesay, Sid Mohamed Kargbo, Mohamed Komkanda Bangura etc, would later join us”.


Mr. Sheriff claims that it was at this point after the nineties that Hon. Ibrahim Bundu  joined the group following which Osman Conteh and Sylvia Blyden were “brought to the fold by Bundu (Bo School)” after the death of Hassan Benson Turay. He wrote that “Dr. Sylvia Blyden indeed contributed the wonderful web site pro bono and Hon. Ibrahim Bundu persistently called to remind me about completing some of the literature for the web site”.

 

However, writing adamantly, Sheriff stated: “For the record, one can categorically state that, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu, aka Bo School, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, late Benson Turay and Osman Conteh, were not and I repeat, were not members of the small nucleus of the founding members of the APC in North America after the NPRC Coup of 1992”.

 

“I still remember, like it was yesterday, when we would spend late nights on conference calls discussing the way to redeem the APC when it returns to power in Sierra Leone. Alhaji Abu Bakarr W. Jalloh, Dr. Abdulai Conteh and I would initiate these conference calls to some of our active members across the US and the Atlantic. We would talk to APC members who visit Europe or the US using conference calling. We also visited others at their lodging places or homes when they visited the Washington Metro Area. Some of those we visited, I recall, were late Dr. Jim Funna when he lived in Bethesda, late Dr. John Kerefa-Smart at Takoma Park, Maryland, Alhaji Alim Awoko Sesay when he stayed with a relative at Langley Park Maryland, Hon. Abdul Iscandari when he visited a relative on Newhampshire Avenue and Piney Branch in Maryland, Hon. Dauda S. Kamara when he stayed with his niece at Fort Washington in Maryland, Mr. Paul Bangura of Tonkolili when he stayed at a hotel in DC during a US visit. On top of this, we will visit the State Department and meet with senior State Department officers like Ambassador Howard Franklin Jeter to share the APC’s view on the civil war and the AFRC Coup. At the State Department, it was me, Alhaji Abu Bakarr W. Jalloh and Hon. Eddie Turay” Sheriff informed.

 

“I, Dr. Abdulai Conteh, Alhaji Abu Bakarr W. Jalloh and Hon. Edward Turay would spend late nights working on a statement that Hon. Edward Turay read at a Congressional hearing on Sierra Leone during the AFRC period. These were all efforts at reorganizing the APC following the 1992 Coup. I can go on and on” Sheriff stated.

 

According to the APC loyalist, “The courage to nurture the APC between 1995 and 1998 was the unattractive heavy burden of the pioneers already mentioned” and he spoke further of how they decided to bring on board more popular persons than themselves into the fold in order to make the party more attractive. In the process, he recounts, a sacrifice was made by them to surrender the position of leadership of APC in America to Raymond Kabia to serve an “intention to swell the membership of the party”.

 

Continuing, he says: “As a strategy, the small group of pioneers made enormous sacrifices to see Raymond Kabia and Hon. Alimamy G. Kargbo enter into the leadership. The reasoning then was simple! Give them the leadership and they will stay with us. We were desperate to have more “popular” folks join us to make the APC “attractive”. From this point on, Raymond Kabia, Hon. Alimamy G. Kargbo and Hon. Bash-Kamara continued as the new face of the APC in North -America with the rest of us providing support in the background. I would later come back to serve, first as Financial Secretary and later Secretary General in the Interim Washington, DC chapter executive under the leadership of Leonard Balogun Koroma in 2005. To this day, I have minutes of meetings as well as a postal mailing list of active APC members in the Washington, DC area”.

 

He furthered that “There was a change in our fortunes in the 2000s. The emergence of President Koroma as leader of the party in the early 2000s, saw a surge of new members” of whom he identified Hon. Abdul Ignosi Koroma and Mr. Albert Mansaray.

 

Bottomline, the APC loyalist wants it to be clearly recounted for posterity that what is today seen as an APC  entity in North America was “preceded by a small, well organized, efficient and brave machinery of foot soldiers” in persons of Dr. Abdulai O. Conteh, late Dr. A.N.D. Koroma, Martin Bash-Kamara and himself, Sidi I. Sheriff.


Meanwhile, Dr. Sylvia Blyden told Awareness Times last Friday November 1st 2013 that she has written to thank Mr. Sheriff for his historical perspective whilst urging him to “stay the course and to also focus on messages of unity within” as she said “messages of unity are what is best for the overall good of the APC and its continued sustenance in governance”.



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