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Usman Boie Kamara wins hearts and minds in the diaspora

Usman Boie Kamara wins hearts and minds in the diaspora

After launching his campaign in the South and East of Sierra Leone from 19th to 22nd November 2010, Usman Boie Kamara, aka UBK, (in photo) honoured the call of his supporters in the Diaspora who believe in his vision for Sierra Leone.

The man with a mission for Sierra Leone demonstrated his enthusiasm for real change as he left the shores of Freetown on Friday 26th November for the United States where he was joined by his beautiful wife who had come in from the UK to attend a “Dinner & Dance fundraiser.” He spent just over 24 hours in the USA before leaving for the UK on the evening of Sunday 28th November.

It was quite an exciting Saturday evening at the Bowie West Village Banquet Hall located just outside Washington DC, the nation’s capital. The UBK 2012 fundraising dinner and dance in the US attracted close to 500 people from all walks of life, Sierra Leonean as well as non Sierra Leoneans.

Tickets for the event were sold out long before the day. Nevertheless, those without tickets did not mind paying at the gate even when they realised there were no more seats available. One attendee said “I have heard so much about this man and his vision for Sierra Leone. Therefore, I don’t mind standing throughout the event because, I think it’s worth it to support someone who means well for Sierra Leone.”

On arrival at the banquet hall, Mr & Mrs Kamara personally greeted every guest in the ball room at their respective tables as a sign of respect. Only those who had known the couple before were able to notice their presence. They took their seats as normal guests until UBK was introduced to deliver his keynote speech. At this time most guests were not sure of his arrival as promised by the organisers.

UBK’s action to sit with the crowd was unprecedented in the annals of Sierra Leone politics and came as a shock to the guests of the evening. In most cases politicians in Sierra Leone as in many other developing countries believe they are superior to their electorate, therefore anticipating a very special treatment above those they are supposed to serve. However, this is the reverse for UBK. It is a clear manifestation that with the likes of UBK there is still hope for Sierra Leone.

All the guest speakers were effusive not only in their praises of UBK’s achievements but his philanthropic activities were acknowledged as well. This was noted by all the speakers that UBK’s philanthropy and compassion for others did not commence upon his declaration for political office. He is a man that has always been an anonymous and discreet sponsor of many community projects and benefactor to many deprived families and individuals in all the communities he served including Kono, Kenema and his home base in Freetown.

In his introduction of UBK as the keynote speaker, Mr Saidu Yansaneh took the jam-packed hall through a brief video slide of the UBK 2012 campaign in Sierra Leone and introduced a theme song in support of the campaign. Mr Yansaneh shared with the audience that as a young man growing up at the Magazine area, in the Eastern part of Freetown, him and many of his contemporaries saw “Usu Boie” as he is fondly known by many as a mentor. Mr. Yansaneh expressed that UBK always works hard, leads by example and sets a high standard in whatever he does. Furthermore, he is a man of the people, with friends at all levels regardless of one’s social status.

In his keynote address to the full to capacity hall, UBK thanked guests for their presence and acknowledged that he was really moved by the show of support from the cross section of Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone who attended the function. He took the opportunity to remind his guests why he decided to forego his quiet retirement and family life to enter politics at this time. He attributed this decision to the crossroads that Sierra Leone is at right now. He reflected on the squandered opportunities over the past fifty years and contemplated the fate of our beloved country if we fail to implement corrective actions as soon as possible. Therefore, he will consider himself a failure in life if he sits by to see Sierra Leone deteriorating more than it has at the moment.

Throughout his unscripted remarks, UBK laid out his vision for the revival of the Sierra Leone economy with investment in up-skilling and developing our human capital as a key factor for our development. He believes that our human resource is in abundant supply more so than natural resources. All that is lacking is the technical ability to deliver thus, creating a major loss in revenue paid to hire foreign experts. He cited Japan as an example of a country devoid of any natural resource but, has the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Furthermore, he reminded guests of trends of events perpetrated by the present ruling Government, the APC whilst in power for almost thirty years which had negatively impacted the country.

He highlighted the dates of 1973, 1977 and 1982 respectively as the years that would be remembered by all Sierra Leoneans as the period of political intolerance, bad governance and blatant corruption that eventually led to a ravaged civil war on our country for a decade. He expressed his fears that similar or worst tactics are once again emerging as the ruling APC party are unleashing their thugs on political opponents. He said this action is evident as he recounted a recent event in Kono where all the SLPP aspirants for the flag bearer were converging to be introduced to the delegates of that region. He apprised the guests with details of an organised attack with fingers pointing to thugs hired by the ruling party to intimidate the 23 SLPP aspirants including him. He however, assured his guests that as a product of the Magazine area he is well aware of how to protect himself.

He reiterated that, such tactics employed by the ruling party should be condemned in no uncertain terms as it is an unacceptable behaviour in any civilised democracy. However, he committed his utmost support for the rule of law as it is the bedrock of any prosperous democracy. He also paid tribute to the resilience of the Sierra Leonean  people considering what they had endured from successive governments and especially what hundreds of thousands endured during the senseless war. He cautioned that every step should be taken to prevent our beloved country from losing the gains made in restoring democracy after the war. Therefore, he is appealing to delegates to make a wise decision at the March 5th 2011 SLPP convention.

UBK emphasised to delegates present that, their choice for the flag bearer is crucial to stop the ruling party APC from consolidating their hold on power through violence and intimidation. Further in his remark, he expressed confidence in his ability to make substantial gains and hopefully defeat the APC in Freetown and its environs if he is privileged to be elected as the SLPP flag bearer for the 2012 elections. UBK assured all that, though he is the only aspirant that is capable to deliver Western Area, he is equally strong and popular throughout the country including the North and Eastern provinces. This is so because his family linage is from the North and he spent close to half of his professional career as a mining engineer in Kenema and Kono. In addition to his popularity, his main supporters are equally influential in their various areas as well.

During his closing remark, he once again appealed to delegates that, the future of the SLPP and Sierra Leone is in their hands. As a result, he hopes they will make a wise decision in electing him on March 5th, 2011 as their flag bearer so as to deliver on his plans for the betterment of Sierra Leone.

Finally, he thanked guests and all his supporters for their confidence in him. He assured all that he will remain humble as always and will not succumb to the trappings of power by ignoring those who were responsible for his success.

In her soft spoken but convincing voice, Mrs Isata Boie Kamara in her vote of thanks expressed her appreciation to guests and organisers for supporting the challenge of her husband – to build a new and better Sierra Leone.

After his speech, UBK got a standing ovation from the almost 500 guests and was almost besieged by those who wanted to congratulate him. He and his wonderful and humble wife joined in the party and used that opportunity to network with guests.

The couple left the United States on the evening of Sunday 28th November 2010 and arrived in the UK on Monday 29th November for a meeting with Sierra Leoneans in the UK.

You can join Usman Boie Kamara on Facebook and follow him on Twitter as well.

Ibrahim Sannoh

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