''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 2

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Tuesday May 20, 2014 - The moving story of a man, who at age 66 decided to go for it and four years later at 70 graduated from college. Jerry Reid is an inspiration to all those who believe that age should not be a barrier.

CBS last evening broadcast the moving story of Jerry Reid who at 70, joined other college students in their twenties and teens to receive his well-deserved degree. As CBS noted on its website -

Many college graduates look back at their years on campus as the best time of their lives. One member of the Class of '14 might agree with that. He aced college on his third try. This is not the story of a 70-year-old going to college. It's the story of how this 70-year-old, Jerry Reid, went total immersion at the University of Virginia. He donned an orange wing and could been seen leaping up and down at a UVA basketball game. He rushed the passer on a flag football team named for him. You could also find him at his fraternity, Chi Phi, and yes, at the library working on his thesis.
Four years ago, at age 66, Reid decided not just to get a degree but to live the undergraduate life. Why did he make that choice? "I couldn't see doing it any other way because I missed it. The first time around I was too stupid and too self-absorbed and too self-destructive to realize what I was giving up," he said.

There you ago - a theme and scenario that could be facing many in Sierra Leone where the problem gets even more compounded with the political, social, economic and the get-rich-quick by any means malaise.

The moving story of Jerry Reid throws the spotlight on academic frauds in Sierra Leone who claim to have qualifications they really have not earned but would still want to sit out the grand deception of having a Dr before of a PhD after their names, to give a few examples. A wakeup call for those in that category and to hear Jerry saying there's a message in what he's done - Is there a message here for people in their 60s who feel like it's over?

"That message is that you're not over until you say it's over," ...."No matter how old you are, the world is still in front of you. It's not behind you".
Saturday May 3, 2014 - World Press Freedom Day 2014 - This year's theme is - "Media freedom for a better future: Shaping the post-2015 development agenda."  Sierra Leone is downgraded from Free to Partly Free in press freedom.Editor Jonathan Leigh

According to UNESCO this year the focus is on three inter-related themes: media’s importance in development; safety of journalists and the rule of law; and the sustainability and integrity of journalism. In 2015, the lofty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will come to an end. Their influence in shaping flows of development aid, and national policies and practices, has been significant. In their place will likely be a new set of goals, which are being debated internationally under the label of "the post 2015 Development Agenda".

It is time once again to see how countries have been performing with regards to freedom of the press and the rights of journalists to report on what they think is right, wrong or not just doesn't look good in the countries in which they operate. Sierra Leone has now gone from Free to Partly Free. According to Freedom House Sierra Leone declined to this status, Partly Free, "due to persistent problems with corruption and transparency" and that for a country where the rat is king does not spell well for a Sierra Leone still trying to rise from the ashes of a very brutal, destructive and all-consuming war. And the genesis of that war, declared over by the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 2002, could be traced to rampant corruption as highlighted in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. The reports of the Commissions of Inquiry set up by the National Provisional Ruling Council, the NPRC also highlighted the level of corruption that was encouraged which made honest Sierra Leoneans perceived as "stupid and unproductive".

This new and disgraceful status could be traced to the crackdown on journalists and press houses that refused to tow the government line because they do not want to feed fat on the droppings from the corrupt rat at State House. The order from above (read the rat's directive) that saw editor Jonathan Leigh and staff of his newspaper harassed, detained and incarcerated before being taken to court on trumped up charges and denied bail many times is just too fresh in the minds of journalists. Other media houses were ransacked by security officials acting "on orders from above" as the government tried to muzzle the press in Sierra Leone.

It would be recalled that quite recently, the government rushed through the Right to Information Act, which according to Freedom House - "aims to promote transparency, good governance, and accountability in the West African nation. It establishes the right to access government information and requires all governmental departments to widely distribute a formal strategy for making their records publicly available. The new law also imposes a penalty for those who fail to comply. In passing this legislation, Sierra Leone joined only 10 other countries in Africa with freedom of information laws in place. In the months to come, the government and the international community must ensure that the law is fully implemented, as observers have noted serious and growing problems involving corruption and a lack of transparency over the past year".

In a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he has noted, among others -

"Journalists are singled out for speaking or writing uncomfortable truths – kidnapped, detained, beaten and sometimes murdered. Such treatment is completely unacceptable in a world ever more reliant on global news outlets and the journalists who serve them...There must be no impunity for those who target journalists for violence, intimidation or distorted uses of legal procedures to disrupt or impede their work. Freedom of expression, independent media and universal access to knowledge will fortify our efforts to achieve lasting results for people and the planet."

Long live press freedom.


Tuesday April 29, 2014 - Good morning Sierra Leone. Just a reminder that twenty two years ago on this day - April 29, 1992 - a historic event unfolded in Sierra Leone that ended 24 years of APC despotic and unconstitutional grip on power. And so was the National Provisional Ruling Council, the NPRC came into being, a military junta that was recognised both nationally and by the international community. Lessons learnt by the rat? We think not.

We believe that despite the many lives ruined, lost and left in disarray, the rat has refused to learn from the pages of history, refused to learn from the pages of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and above all he has allowed himself to hear what he wants to hear, see what he wants to see and feel what he wants to feel. This is a recipe for chaos and a sure sign that if he does not come to his senses and correct his myriad of mistakes in his second and final term in office, he will only have himself to blame. On our part we shall do our best to keep reminding him and his company of nation wreckers that they owe Sierra Leone a duty not to tread the path that we have been through - a path that saw for the first time in post-independence Sierra Leone an armed insurrection at the end of which some tens of thousands of lives were lost, snuffed out in sometimes extraordinarily brutal and vicious circumstances. It was a brutal war that witnessed rape and the disrespect for our womenfolk, the old and the disadvantaged reaching such high and violent levels that international justice declared rape used as an instrument of war - a war crime.

We have in the past written a brief account of how this day, twenty two years ago came into being. Recall this 2009 article, if you will and then this written just two years ago on the 20th anniversary of this historic day. Let us also remind the rat and his train of hired praise singers about a section of the TRC report relating to the 1991 outbreak of war on our soil.

"The Commission, as its first primary finding, found that the conflict represented an extraordinary failure of leadership on the part of all those involved in government, public life and civil society. No enlightened and visionary leaders emerged to steer the country away from the slide into chaos and bloody civil war...The Commission heard submissions from a variety of authoritative sources that the war in Sierra Leone was largely the result of failures in governance and institutional processes in the country. Successive governments diminished the state's capacity to meet such critical challenges as the security and livelihood of its citizens, let alone to provide for democratic participation in decision-making processes".

The present system of governance has seen the Judiciary and Parliament as well as the National Electoral Commission, independent bodies now only in name become compromised to serve the wishes of the Executive and this does not augur well for a country still trying to recover from the ravages of a brutal war. Repeating what has been warned against in that report and by wise counsel appears to be a deliberate attempt at not wishing to consolidate the peace.

To end, let us remind the rat at State House of the message sent to the people of Sierra Leone by US Secretary of State John Kerry and in particular this message - "There are still miles to go to build durable, democratic institutions, provide services, and improve governance. But Sierra Leoneans will not face these challenges alone. The United States remains deeply invested in peace and stability in Sierra Leone and will continue to lend its support." And that support, we believe does not include tampering with the constitution to stay longer in power.

Sunday April 27, 2014 - Today is another day to give thanks to Almighty God as we observe the 53rd anniversary of Sierra Leone's attainment of independence - political freedom that would allow us to take care of our own destiny. It has been a long hard road with unexpected twists, ironies and intertwined moments of joy, sorrow and sheer grief...but we plod on hoping that at the end of it all - all will be well for each and every one of us.Her Majesty the Queen visits Sierra Leone later in the year. On the day itself she was represented by HRH the Duke of Kent.The front page of the Daily Mail newspaper on April 27, 1961.

It's another April 27 and time to celebrate the only country that we can truly call our very own - Sierra Leone - the land that we should love. We state should advisedly because we have seen quite a flurry of "land that we love" expressions which could well be a slogan that does not come from the heart. Indeed if we all claim to love the country called Sierra Leone, then we should be asking and looking for avenues of making the lot of the people who inhabit the land better for the land is not just the territory defined as Sierra Leone with international borders, but the people who inhabit it especially the majority who are treated as if they have no right to be within the borders of the country.

If indeed you love the land called Sierra Leone as well as its peoples, then as from today start thinking and actually planning on how to lift them - from being the dregs of society to be used for political gains - on to a people who should be proud that they can still live life to the full in the country without the benefit of political connections. If indeed you love the land and the people of Sierra Leone, then as from today kindly put a stop to all the manipulations and shenanigans that see you and your ilk becoming rich at the expense of the poor - simply put, start becoming honest in all that you do and put the country and people first rather than personal bank accounts and wealth. If you start doing this as from today, then "Land that we love" becomes more than a slogan but something which means that you care for your neighbour and we don't mean the person next door but neighbour as explained in the pages of the Good Book, the Bible and the parable of the Good Samaritan.

We would not bother you about the details of how Sierra Leone got to this stage in 1961 nor about why the government of Sir Milton thought it a wise move to have a group of people including one Siaka Stevens who were opposed to independence at that time, firmly locked up at Pademba Road until all celebrations were done in peace and harmony and in a joy-filled atmosphere. Could this be the reason why Siaka Stevens tried to impose April 19 as the day to be celebrated instead of our true date of independence as he had declared Sierra Leone a republic on April 19, 1971?

We would urge you to read the whole text of the last independence day speech in 2007 delivered by the one and only Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the man who, together with true and determined patriots brought the peace that we all now enjoy within the borders of Sierra Leone, never mind the fact that a chief operative of the destructive and murderous Revolutionary United Front, the RUF, one Omrie Golley has now been appointed Sierra Leone's envoy to some country. Yes indeed. It was this man who was on the international media, the BBC in particular who told the world that the RUF does not commit atrocities and that if any of their commanders are involved, would be brought to trial and punished!!!. Yes indeed.


Friday April 25, 2014 - The thieving games of the rat and his cohorts - manipulating tax and other concessions in secret deals. The APC and the duty free money-making machine. One fine day the truth will out as Sierra Leoneans discovered in the matter of one Michael Abdulai who went as far as to bequeath payment deals from the Sierra Leone Ports Authority.

The government of the rat as well as all his operatives must have read the recent report from Christian Aid titled LOSING OUT REPORT in which the government's attention was brought to something it already knew about and failed to do anything concrete to correct because the entire scheme was in place to benefit the corrupt. The report notes, among other issues that  - "transparent tax system supports good governance and the accountability of policy-makers towards the public. But the granting of special tax incentives in opaque deals, at the discretion of individual ministers, without public scrutiny, undermines good governance and can increase the risk of corruption"

"There are three major problems with government policy on tax incentives. First, too many tax incentives are granted to individual companies at the discretion of a very small number of ministers and officials. Such a system can lead to an increased risk of corruption and the possibility that deals will be offered to companies that are outside or go beyond national legislation. In fact, Sierra Leone’s constitution requires tax waivers to be approved by parliament. Secondly, related to this, transparency is extremely poor. Many of the tax incentives are negotiated behind closed doors between government and companies, with no effective parliamentary or media scrutiny. The government does not publish any figures on total tax expenditure. Thirdly, the government has produced no solid economic rationale for offering widespread tax incentives in Sierra Leone."

We would again remind the nation wreckers sailing under the flag of the rat that one fine day, there will be initiated many hours of reckoning that will reveal all that is done in the dark as we witnessed in the wake of the historic event of April 29, 1992 when the autocratic, despotic and human rights abusing citadel of the "Live Forever" APC was brought down. We predicted and we know that if given State House again, those who benefited from twenty four years of misrule would still be clamouring for the heads of those who dared to boot them out of power. We would again ask them to re-read the revelations recorded in documents of the Commissions of Inquiry instituted by the National Provisional Ruling Council, the NPRC so that they may know how the country was taken to the cleaners during twenty four years of thieving and undemocratic behaviour that made corruption the core of governance in those terrible days.


Tuesday February 25, 2014 - Save the Children releases new report on ending newborn deaths as well as ensuring every baby survives. It is a crucial report which puts the spotlight on maternal and child health picture throughout the world. The report is not only critical of health delivery systems, but offers a way out for governments that have fared badly on the scales as Save the Children reveals that "One Million Babies Die Globally on the First Day of Their Life".

The Children's Advocacy group, Save the Children has issued a report that clearly puts the spotlight on why, for example, Africa has scored so badly with specific examples that should guide government on how best they should go about saving the lives of mothers as well as the newborn on a continent beset by many problems. In a statement issued by Save the Children, the organisation notes - "The new report, "Ending Newborn Deaths," shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife. The children's aid agency says the deaths happen because of premature birth and complications during birth, such as prolonged labour, pre-eclampsia and infection, which can be avoided if quality health experts are present. The research also found an additional 1.2 million babies are stillborn each year, their heartbeats stopping during labour because of childbirth complications, maternal infections and hypertension. In a bid to save millions of newborn lives, Save the Children has called on world leaders to commit in 2014 to a blueprint for change – The Five Point Newborn Promise – which focuses on training and equipping enough skilled health workers to make sure no baby is born without proper help, and removing fees for all pregnancy and birth services.

In a part of the report titled - "Ten countries with the highest rates of first-day deaths and stillbirths during labour" Sierra Leone has been ranked near the top of this group after Pakistan and Nigeria - a clear indication that more needs to be done in this direction by backing words and intentions with real action on the ground. We were impressed to hear today's report from Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital that things appear to be improving as narrated by the BBC's Umaru Fofana when he visited the Ola During Children's Hospital where mothers says they were not being charged or harassed for fees and other needed support services. We hope that this was not a show for the BBC reporter and that the same could now be said of the many health delivery systems in the country.


Wednesday February 19, 2014 - Human Rights Watch slams London Mining in report out today. A new 96-page report throws light on a number of issues relating to the company's operations and its treatment and relationships with workers, traditional authority, labour unions and that Bumbuna protest in which Musu Conteh was murdered by a Sierra Leone police armed with weapons of war. "Sierra Leonean authorities should also meaningfully address longstanding human rights problems such as corruption, opaque governance, unrestrained security forces, lack of clarity in land ownership, and abuses of authority by powerful local chiefs."One of the victims of the Bumbuna police human rights violationsHow Sierra Leoneans in their own God-given land get moved to satisfy the hunger of extractive companies.

According to Human Rights Watch, The 96-page report, “Whose Development?: Human Rights Abuses in Sierra Leone’s Mining Boom,”  documents how the government and London-based African Minerals Limited forcibly relocated hundreds of families from verdant slopes to a flat, arid area in Tonkolili District. As a result, residents lost their ability to cultivate crops and engage in income generating activities that once sustained them. Police carried out a bloody crackdown in the town of Bumbuna in April 2012 to quell a protest by workers who went on strike after being barred from forming a union of their own choosing.

The report's author Rona Peligal, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch insists that "the African Minerals Limited case shows that, unless the government puts a stop to mining operation abuses, the people who most need to benefit from development will be excluded from it.”

Human Rights Watch slammed the government for what the organisation sees as a deliberate ploy by it to please extractive companies rather than the people whose resources were being exploited - "The government also did not take action in response to apparent African Minerals Limited violations of Sierra Leone labor laws concerning employment, termination, and benefits for its workers. The government’s narrow reading of national labor law as well as political wrangling denied the company’s workers the ability to form a union of their choosing, rather than belong to an established union that the workers regarded as ineffectual." For its part London Mining has provided answers to questions raised by Human Rights Watch. It is a written response and we would not be wrong in assuming that it was a well-thought-out document that provided answers to questions the government should have been asking of the company rather than having a rights group taking up matters on behalf of the disadvantaged people of Sierra Leone whose natural resources are being depleted all the time. Kindly read through the African Minerals answers and you decide what picture we have here in one of the many extractive concerns that operate in Sierra Leone...and ah yes, they were asked about the shooting incident in Bumbuna in which Musu Conteh was murdered.


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