Thursday August 27, 2010 - Sierra Leone in mourning - The Grand Old Man of national politics has gone to the great beyond. Dr John Albert Musselman Karefa-Smart is no more.
The living lexicon of the politics of Sierra Leone, the one and only Dr John Karefa-Smart is no more having succumbed to an illness that had left him weak and feeble in the last days of his sojourn on earth. This first Foreign Affairs (then known as External Affairs) minister of the country is a man of many disciplines a true symbol of what can be achieved if one sets one's mind to achieving set goals and objectives. He was not only a trained and distinguished medico, but scan through the world of Theology and you will find the name Rev John Karefa-Smart, sift through the records of the United Nations and there will you see a true son of the soil giving off his best in debates at this world body meetings as a representative of a newly-independent Sierra Leone. Observers are only too ready to recall that it was his stance, uncompromising at that, on certain issues that could have made him become Sierra Leone's political Moses as he never became the de jure President of a country he loved so dearly.
May the Good Lord have mercy on his faithful servant, Dr John Karefa-Smart. The Sierra Herald is with grieving relations and acquaintances in beseeching the Good Lord to grant them the strength and courage to bear this great and monumental loss.
Thirteen years ago today and on a Thursday too all hell was let loose on innocent civilians of Mabaylla in eastern Freetown as junta operatives slaughtered many in a calculated murderous operation that was meant to put pressure on the Nigerian ECOMOG peace keeping mission. The junta "Trojan Horse" was meant to get the troops out of Sierra Leone so that the killersw and rapists could "really go to town" and teach a lesson to a civilian population that refused to recognise the murderous human rights abusing AFRC/RUF outfit. Cracks began to appear even before the blame was put on ECOMOG Nigerians as victims shown on junta-controlled TV clearly had bullet wounds!!! Those who visited the scene patrolled by wild-eyed junta gunmen advised themselves not to question the tell-tale marks left by bullets and Rocket Propelled Grenade explosions. And it was on this day, thirteen years ago that one Victor Sylver reporting for the BBC from Freetown became the subject of a massive manhunt...and his crime? Well dare to ask Gibril Gbanabome Koroma and Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, the junta apologists who even today continue to deny junta abuses despite them enjoying the benefits of good governance and the rule of law in Western countries. Remember the junta-organised forced march on Sunday September 7, 1997 that never got off the ground despite the threats of summary executions as civilians were herded into marching lines to shout "We want peace" as they were used as a human shield in the planned assault on ECOMOG positions at Jui?
Some 5 million Rwandans vote today in an exercise that is largely seen as giving legitimacy to an increasingly intolerant Kagame government intent on giving the "Great Leader" another 7-year term. Opposition parties and individuals critical of Kagame and his Rwanda Patriotic Front party, the RPF say the government had not created the necessary level playing field needed for true democracy in a country still trying to recover from the ravages of genocide with pundits questioning why an opposition candidate Victoire Ingabire was not allowed to register her party. And this even though watchers of the political scene knew that she could not create any meaningful dent in the RPF's grip on power. Amid accusations of repression of critics including the murder of a well-known journalist as well as the near decapitation of one murdered opposition party leader, the Kagame government, just before the polls launched what could be seen as an aggressive international campaign aimed at making nonsense of the claims of critics. And the government official heading this campaign was none other than the country's Foreign Minister herself Louise Mushikiwabo. Any lessons for the desperate AFRC Mk2 of Ernest Bail Koroma? Yes!!!
September 11, 2010 - Nine years ago today. Terrorists attack the United States, exposing the flaws in a system that believed in giving everybody an opportunity to do good to self and others. Exposing just how good can be exploited by evil if good men do nothing. The lessons - any? Remembering those who perished, those who survived and still going through trauma and all those affected by the action of killers in our midst. May the Good Lord in His Mercy be with the departed. May He comfort those who live showing them compassion and mercy in their pain and grief.
August 04, 2010 -
Kenyans go to the polls today to determine the fate
of a new constitution - a referendum in governance language.
More than 12 million Kenyans go to voting centres today to decide, in a referendum, whether a new constitution should now rule the politics of this key East African country. There had been fears that the exercise would spark off the kind of violence that erupted after the country's ill-fated 2007 general elections with some communities leaving their normal area of abode to what they believe would be safer areas, thereby affecting the demographic pictures in these parts. President Mwai Kibaki, in a broadcast to the nation last evening and which was reported on global news outlets, appealed to his compatriots to go out and express themselves without fear or favour reminding them of the importance of today's exercise. Security forces are said to be on the alert with thousands deployed to sectors likely to be flashpoints. In the run-up to today's polls, Kenya's electoral body, the IIEC slammed the government for its attempt to use senior civil servants to campaign for the "YES" vote. Electoral Commission chairman Issack Hassan said it is wrong for permanent secretaries and other senior government officials to participate in the campaigns. According to the BBC, both the President and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are backing the "YES" vote.
of it all - a
self-serving and anti-people government that ignores
commonsense. Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura admits
there are rotten eggs in our missions. Talk about
When it comes to picking characters to represent Sierra Leone as envoys, AFRC Mk2, the government of Ernest Bai Koroma knows how to pick the rotten ones in contempt of good advice from the past and from the Sierra Herald. Take the matter of one Abdul Karim Koroma, a former Foreign Minister whose thieving, deceit and outright corruption were brought out by the Beccles-Davies Commission of Inquiry. Part of the report showed how he changed his name from Abdul to Abdel on signed official documents and how aid meant for the country became a part of his personal treasure trove. It was against this report published by the Sierra Herald that AFRC Mk2 went ahead and made him our ambassador to Russia. Well in an interview with the BBC, Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura has now admitted the presence of rotten eggs in our missions abroad and has revealed some token measures taken by the government. She still has not commented on that rice from India deal, nor has she stated a thing about the illegal employment of party stalwarts including, according to some reports, her son, nor the scholarships manipulated by her ministry instead of the Education ministry, nor about gifts she had received on behalf of the country. And she still keeps one-time AFRC Bank Governor Christian Kargbo under whose direction that institution was ransacked, as our representative to the European Union.
It was the considered view of resource management experts that given Sierra Leone's past in making unwholesome deals that have never been in the interests of the people, war-weary and impoverished Sierra Leone would think twice, even three times before mortgaging the country's mineral and natural resources to the devil again. Not so it seems as Parliament, acting like the proverbial sacrificial lamb allowed itself to be led to the slaughter, allowing one company to exploit the country's iron ore for ninety-nine (99) years and not a whimper of protest either from these bleating goats in the law-making body nor from journalists. Not one - be they from the government side, nor the independent press dared to come out with a critique of this kind of agreement in 21st century Sierra Leone raising suspicions of just how much African Minerals could have splashed out to muzzle them - the parliamentarians and journalists. And the Western governments are there, uncomplaining, without lifting a finger and waiting until Sierra Leone is again plunged into the doldrums of massive and unbridled corruption and the accompanying strife.
The Nazis at State House have done it again. Like the evil ogres of old, the APC of Stevens and Momoh who boasted that the only thing they could not do was convert a woman to a man, AFRC Mk2 has indeed shown its disrespect for all things decent, all things transparent and has once more shown what it truly represents - an uncaring good for nothing unrepentant cabal of the desperate and spoilers to the core. Just when they were being praised for daring to make the very first and bold move to make the former SLBS an independent body free from government control, there they go again, spoiling everything and making a mockery of the profession. This is what was contained in the advertisement for the post of Director-General and his deputy, the Deputy Director General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation. The Sierra Herald is now bringing the said appointments to the attention of the United Nations in Sierra Leone as well as representatives of Western backers resident in the country. The United Nations because Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in throwing his support behind the new national broadcaster was convinced like many professionals that it would be good for the country. It would seem the APC has not learnt the lessons of the past, the alienation of certain sections of the community because of political, patronage and the dangers inherent in such moves. More so in a country still described as fragile and trying to come to terms with the horrible past. The two top posts are now occupied by people with no experience in broadcast journalism and management nor are they qualified in terms of the advertisements. Such appointments are not only demoralising to staff, but again brings into the spotlight, the insincerity of the Ernest Bai Koroma set-up. And there are other posts, two, still to be filled that had been advertised in a similar manner. Time to end this smoke and mirrors charade for the good of the country. Please.
July 23, 2010 -
The One-Party hangover - APC directs Accountant General to deduct from salaries of
diplomats - and this in a multi-party state!!!!
Update - It was while covering the African Union summit hosted by Sierra Leone in 1980 that one international news magazine TIME wrote that corruption was so ingrained in Siaka Stevens that he found it difficult to differentiate the national treasury from his own pocket. Of course copies of that magazine were all bought off and never hit the streets of Freetown. The 1978 One Party Constitution brought in by Siaka Stevens to ensure that no other party exists legally in Sierra Leone was to provide the Stevens and Momoh administrations an atmosphere where party functionaries played god, made a mockery of law and order and the tenets of basic human rights and created so oppressive an atmosphere that it took an armed insurrection for them to realise that the people had had enough. And just as the mother country is beginning to enjoy the fruits of pluralism, in step the ogres of the past threatening to take the country backwards.
July 18, 2010
United Nations Mandela Day is observed as the
grand old man of world politics, Nelson Mandela is 92 today -
Congratulations Madiba - Congratulations!!!
The Sierra Herald joins well-wishers in congratulating a man who was put through the crucibles of hate and torture, legal shenanigans and all what the apartheid regime could conjure up to break his will. He and his colleagues of the African National Congress withstood it, with a good number succumbing to the physical pain and torture unleashed on all those, black, white and coloured who wanted freedom for everyone in South Africa. In the end, the freedom fighters of all descriptions won and Nelson Mandela became the first African President of a truly independent South Africa. What makes Madiba outstanding, what makes him tall among leaders, past and present on the world stage is that this icon, this example to what governance is all about, refused to make himself a President for Life. One term of the Presidency and he was willing and ready to move on leaving the stage for the young to follow his example and live in harmony with all within the borders of South Africa. On your 92nd birthday Madiba, on the 2nd anniversary of Mandela Day, we say Congratulations and long may you continue to enjoy God's favour!!!!!!!
At last a member of the
Bar Association stands up to Serry Kamal, the nolle prosequi
exponent of the government.
Some sections of the press (Sierra Express Media included) within and without the borders of the mother country, have in the recent past carried a story of the frustration of a member of the Bar Association at the dispensation of justice by the Ernest Bai Koroma set-up. Legal practitioner Blyden Jenkins-Johnston's letter to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Serry Kamal who in all proportions now behaves like a judge of the Nazi regime, should be seen as a wake-up signal to the government that all is not well and given what led to the mother country's ugly past, behoves the President and his team to immediately put in place structures that would see justice being seen to be done rather than to see justice trampled underfoot by a government which ignores the basics of the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution as well as in the Manifesto of the ruling APC party. The Office of the Attorney General still continues to be combined with that of the Minister of Justice despite Ernest Bai Koroma's promises thus allowing political considerations that make the nolle prosequi the favourite card of Serry Kamal. Did we hear apologists cry "But we do have such in the United Kingdom too"? Here's something for you.
July 15, 2010
- Death sentence passed on eight alleged
coup plotters in the Gambia.
Eight people have been sentenced
to death by a court in the Gambia after they were found guilty
of charges relating to treason. According to a
report, the men were accused of
procuring arms, ammunitions,
equipment and mercenaries from
Guinea (Bissau) to stage a coup. "After going through the
evidence of the prosecution and
the defence, I find all the
persons guilty and accordingly
sentence them to death on all
three counts," Those
sentenced to death include
chief Langtombong Tamba, former
intelligence chief Lamin Bo
Badjie and former deputy chief
of police Modou Gaye. So what
happens now to plans by the ruling APC to arrest and try some
SLPP functionaries after those incidents following the Mayor's
clock fiasco when government outlets were coming out with
reports such as
and so on with the Standard Times Philip Neville even claiming he had a recording of a meeting held where the SLPP solicited funds for overthrowing the APC...and by a party that stepped aside after the Electoral Commission ruled it had lost control of government!!!! Whatever happened to the APC plan to try key SLPP functionaries for treason with targeted NPRC members hooked in for good measure?
July 15, 2010
- Rwandan opposition party Vice
President found dead. Has this become the calling card of
The Vice President of an opposition party in Rwanda, the Democratic Green Party has been murdered. Reports say Andre Kagwa Rwisereka was found dead with his head almost completely severed from his body close to the Makula River in Butare. One report says that "...the President, Vice Treasurer, Communications Secretary and Secretary-general of the Democratic Green Party travelled to Butare yesterday in response to reports that Rwisereka had disappeared and that his car had been found abandoned. Today the party issued a release announcing that Rwisereka had been assassinated and that his brother, Antoine Haguma, had confirmed seeing his body, with his head almost completely severed. The Rwanda Greens also reported that Rwisereka’s national ID, driver’s license, house keys and car keys were found inside the car, now parked at police headquarters in Huye-Butare town and that his passport had been found in his house in TABA-Butare. He was 61 years old and is survived by four children.
On government property, allocation, rent
A couple of news outlets have been reporting on the misuse of government property by government officials with the Cotton Tree News, CTN, reporting that "The Chairman of the National Assets and Government Property Commission Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay had said that the misuse of government property in the country is very much alarming...that the act was more common among middle level and senior civil servants in the country." The Standard Times did not mince words in naming and hopefully shaming those involved - " The data collected showed that the government of Sierra Leone including staff of the Ministry of Defense, State House, Office of the Vice President and the House of Parliament of Sierra Leone owed a huge amount of Le1, 136,862,059.35 (One Billion, One Hundred and Thirty Six Million, Eighty Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand and Fifty Nine Leones) to the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation. The Sierra Herald can authoritatively state abuse of privileges by government and party officials is not new. After the APC was kicked out in 1992, the gadfly of the APC, the National Provisional Revolutionary Council, the NPRC (not to be confused with the APC-backed AFRC) set up three Commissions of Inquiry to look into how the APC administrations had been handling things. This is a part of the findings in relation to the Sierra Leone Housing Corporation, SALHOC.
July 13, 2010
- Russian lady spy Anna Chapman stripped of British citizenship.
The woman described by many news outlets as the youngest and most glamorous of Russia's 10 spies (self-confessed) has been stripped of UK citizenship. According to the BBC, Ms Anna Chapman is expected to be "formally excluded" within the next few hours meaning she cannot travel to the UK. She was among 10 Russians arrested in the US who admitted to being agents for a foreign country. Last week her lawyer said she would like to come to the UK as she has a UK passport through a previous marriage. Russia agreed to exchange four US spies for the 10 Russian agents and the swap was carried out in Vienna on 9 July. Ms Chapman, who is also known as Anya Kushchenko, is the daughter of a Russian diplomat. One news source stated - "A red-headed former Barclays Bank employee who holds British citizenship, Chapman became suspicious when an FBI officer, posing as a Russian consular officer named "Roman", summoned her to a meeting on 26 June in New York, gave her a fake passport and asked her to pass it on to another purported spy. Until the Home Office's decision, she had dual Russian-UK nationality.
July 12, 2010
- Evil stalks Uganda - Terrorists target
civilians watching World Cup Final between Spain and Holland -
At least 60 killed, scores wounded
The hand of evil has struck again. The target - ordinary and innocent civilians whose only crime was to have gathered at centres yesterday evening where they could watch the concluding match to the month-long competition to find the world's best country when it came to the beautiful game. And this beauty was turned ugly for spectators in Kampala who had converged at the Ethiopia Village and the Kyaddondo rugby grounds to ease their minds and enjoy the beautiful game. At the time of writing this report, the BBC's Joshua Mmali on Network Africa this morning told presenter Audrey Brown that 64 people had been confirmed dead as security forces launched investigations into the attacks. Uganda's President Museveni has visited both sites and vowed that the "cowards would be hunted down wherever they may be". Reports say at least one US citizens were killed. President Obama has described the attacks as "deplorable and cowardly". It is believed that Somalia militants with links to Al-Queda could have been behind it. They are reported to have threatened Uganda for sending troops to Mogadishu to maintain some semblance of law and order for the Transitional Federal Government, the TFG.
UK supermodel, the one and only Naomi
Campbell agrees to testify in Charles Taylor trial at the Hague
UK supermodel Ms Naomi Campbell
expressed her readiness to testify at the on-going trial of
former Liberian President Charles Taylor at the Special Court of
Sierra Leone sitting in the Hague. According to
Ms Campbell's public relations company, Outside Organisation,
announced late on Friday that she would attend. A spokeswoman
said: "She is a witness who has been asked to help clarify
events in 1997. Miss Campbell has made it clear that she is
willing to help the due process of law. For avoidance of doubt, she is not being accused of any
wrongdoing and is not on trial." Prosecutors want to know whether Ms Campbell received
diamonds from Mr Taylor at a reception hosted by Nelson Mandela
in South Africa in 1997. She is scheduled to appear on July 29
and this announcement comes in the wake of recent legal moves
that she could be in contempt of the court if she continues to
ignore requests by the court to appear as a material witness in
the ongoing trial.
Prosecutors had complained
that they had tried
unsuccessfully to contact Ms
Campbell several times since
June 2009, when they first
heard of the gift. They
cited public statements in
which she said she "does not
want to be involved".
State House creates a
new and powerful position of Chief of Staff.
What are the challenges for the first man to occupy such a post?
State House in Freetown now has a new office - that of the Chief of Staff and the first person to hold what has been seen as a vital arm of the Ernest Bai Koroma set-up is Dr Kaifala Marah believed to have been seconded from the Commonwealth Office in London. It is not yet public knowledge just what his duties would be and how this would fit in with that of other offices at State House where there is a Secretary to the President as well as other top management and civil service employees. Whatever the case, the Sierra Herald hopes that the man would be given a free hand to give State House some degree of respectability, accountability and financial probity given the awful mess going on behind the scenes as hustlers manoeuvre themselves into "blessed" and "unblessed" positions. How he fits in with the President's hand-picked human rights abusing and criminally-inclined security detail headed by the notorious Idrissa Kamara aka Leatherboot remains to be seen. He would no doubt also have to move mountains in regulating the flow of visitors/hustlers to the seat of political power. Is his role going to be in the template of the United States White House Chief of Staff?
July 7, 2010
- Five years ago today,
killed and many wounded and traumatised as
evil hit the
transport system of London. Death and destruction delivered by
Five years ago today, on July 7, 2005 the forces of evil struck unsuspecting and innocent commuters using London's transport system - a system that facilitates the movements of millions who make the capital tick, who make the capital London the vibrant and all-embracing and all-welcoming metropolis that is the pride of residents as well as visitors. And when the smoke cleared, the debris removed, bodies patched and those beyond repair buried, it was discovered that horror upon horrors, the four perpetrators of this act were not from an invading army, but from beasts born within the borders of the United Kingdom whose parents had worked hard to make a new home in a country they were proud to call their home. They were not to know that their offspring would bring such shame and disgrace, such lack of appreciation. such lack of respect for humanity. The Sierra Herald is with all those affected, relations of the dead, the survivors, the traumatised and pray that the Good Lord will comfort the living and grant the dead sweet repose. Amen