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Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom demands an educated Paramount Chief

Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom demands an educated Paramount Chief

The people of Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom in the Tonkolili District, north of Sierra Leone, have vowed to reject any move to impose an uneducated paramount chief on them. They said one of the main reasons responsible for the backwardness of the chiefdom is the fact that it has produced a bunch of uneducated paramount chiefs in the last 200 years, who lacked what it took to effectively articulate the views and aspirations of their people to the authorities concerned.

This came out clearly during a public meeting summoned by concerned aspirants contesting the paramount chieftaincy elections in Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom, slated for Thursday 28th January 2009.

The main thrust of the meeting which took place at the Magburaka market square on Saturday 23rd January 2009, was for the aspirants in question to send out a clear message to the people that they are united in their individual fight for the chieftaincy, and at the same time to dispel certain misleading and unsubstantiated rumours aimed at injecting fear in the minds of the people ahead of the all-important and much awaited elections.

The show of unity by the said aspirants came in the wake of moves by one of them, Amadu Sankoh 1, to woo the support of the people using the All People’s Congress (APC) banner to project his candidature.

The show of unity also came in the wake of heightened political interference in favour of Mr. Amadu Sankoh 1, with suspicion that certain top guns of the party including the Resident Minister North, Alie D. Kamara, were openly campaigning for him.

There are reports that Mr. Amadu Sankoh 1, who initially appeared to be the poorest candidate amongst a total of 13, suddenly became the richest, reportedly sacrificing a fat cow in all the sections across the chiefdom and offering each Gbolie or chiefdom elector the sum of Le40,000 (forty thousand leones) in exchange for their votes.

In their individual statements, the concerned aspirants respectively assured the people that if elected they will change the present face of the chiefdom by ensuring community development, road maintenance, job creation and enhancing the maintenance of law and order.

They dispelled claims by one of the aspirants that the APC party has a candidate in the Kholifa Rowalla chieftaincy elections, making it clear that all of them are staunch members of the APC but have never seen the need to use the party as a campaign chit. They therefore described as “cowardice” moves by their co-contestant to campaign on party line.

Another issue that came out clearly at the well attended public meeting was the need for an educated paramount chief. On this, both the aspirants present (nine in all) and representatives of all the stake-holding structures within the chiefdom including the market women, drivers union, bike riders, teachers union, students union, youths, Attire Base, elders and chiefdom electors or Traditional Authorities, unanimously echoed that for the chiefdom to develop and be in competition with other chiefdoms within the Tonkolili District and beyond, the need for an educated paramount chief cannot be overemphasized.

Accordingly, the chiefdom has never had a paramount chief representative in the House of Parliament because the past chiefs were illiterates … a scenario that cost the chiefdom direly over the years in terms of development.

The issue of security on polling day was also raised. One thing that came out clearly on this was the fact that the people do not have absolute confidence in the police, although they were assured by the concerned aspirants that they will ensure that the process is conducted freely, fairly and peacefully. They praised the National Electoral Commission (NEC) over the way and manner in which its officials on the ground are conducting themselves.

One important message that came out of the meeting was for His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the entire APC membership: that Tonkolili District polled the highest votes all over the country for the APC in the 1967 and 2007 general elections respectively, and that a few people should not be allowed to reverse that by attempting to support one particular APC member against twelve other members of the same party within the same district.

The suspected undue political interference sparked on 31st December 2009 a strong worded letter of complaint signed by 12 out of the 13 aspirants for the chieftaincy. The main part of the letter reads “That some members of the APC District Executive Committee namely: Mr. J.S. Thorlie, Tonkolili District APC Party Secretary, Madam Kadie Larkoh, Tonkolili District APC party Treasurer and Councillor Henry Conteh of Ward 202, are currently parading the length and breadth of Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom with Amadu Sankoh 1, who happens to be a candidate for the chieftaincy, as the APC Party candidate, contrary to the Chieftaincy Act of 2009”. Going further, the letter in question states that “That the other candidates are prevented from using the SLBS community radio of Magburaka for their campaign and sensitization; that the above APC District Executive Committee members mentioned are claiming responsibility for the continuous postponement of the chieftaincy elections in the Kholifa Rowalla Chiefdom using their political connections”. The elections have been postponed for four times consecutively, without any clear explanation. There are also reports that the elections will not hold unless the purported APC candidate has an edge over the others.

In an interview with one of the leading contenders for the chieftaincy, Alfred Moses Kamara, he maintained that the 12 concerned aspirants decided to come together out of common sense, adding that they are all indigenes of the same chiefdom and therefore see themselves as brothers fighting the same course – to develop the chiefdom. He said each and every one of them will need the support of the other candidates and the different ruling houses if only to succeed.

The 12 concerned aspirants are Messers:

Alfred Moses Kamara,
Abass Kamara,
Alusine Kamara and Abu Rahim Kamara from the Masamuntha Kanayet Ruling House,
Alie Abdul Rahman Sankoh,
Anthony Sankoh and Obed Hamid Sankoh from the Karawullay Ruling House,
Abdul Satharr Fuad Sankoh of the Kabonkoh Ruling House at Mabom,
Abdul Bakarr Masakma Sankoh and Ibrahim Sankoh from the Masakma Kanamanka Ruling House,
Alpha Sankoh from the Lemboli Ruling House and
Amadu Sankoh 11 (relative of the aspirant complained about) from the Timpasoko Ruling House.   

By Theophilus S. Gbenda, UK

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