Police Crackdown on Marijuana but failed to detain Morgan Heritage
Sometimes, I wonder why the police and military officers busy themselves cracking down on marijuana and marijuana users, when the majority of them are in fact ardent partakers of it. As a matter of fact, a whole lot of them rely far more on what they get from shady marijuana deals than on their paltry take home pay. That’s the plain truth. (Photo: Theophilus Sahr Gbenda)
As if security personnel in the police and military forces are the only ones destined to reap the benefits of the ganja, dressed in plain clothes, they have made it a habit to clamp down rather unnecessarily on marijuana users, while they enjoy the spoils.
The records at the Pademba Road Maximum Prisons show exactly the amount of useful Sierra Leoneans who have been made to suffer undue detention there on fictitious charges relating to their consumption or sale of marijuana; known worldwide as the international or natural herb… far from being a drug as far as Rastafarian are concerned.
While marijuana remains illegal in principle in Sierra Leone, the fact however is clear that it is in wide use across the four corners of the country. Even in the very remote villages, you will find scores of people, young and old, men and women, educated and uneducated, making the most of the stuff. Most people prefer it to a cigarette. The reason is obvious because unlike the cigarette, which is notorious for its deadly nicotine and other assorted chemical content, marijuana is natural and is used worldwide to cure a variety of ailments including tuberculosis, asthma and glaucoma, to name a few. It is also a pain reliever and a rejuvenator. Some people refer to it as the healing of the nations while others refer to it as the unifier. For reggae musicians, it’s a source of inspiration. For security personnel, it is considered a major moral booster.
Despite all the marijuana related arrests and detentions, and even the barbaric destruction of ganja farms by two-faced police and military personnel who on most occasions act on their own rather than on instruction, the number of partakers keeps growing.
The good thing is that like cigarettes, the users of marijuana cut across all disciplines in life. We have scores of seasoned journalists and lawyers, medical doctors, teachers and lecturers, engineers, college students, big time business people, top civil servants and other professionals, who are unregretful partakers of the weed.
As Head of State of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Captain retired Valentine Strasser, was an open partaker of marijuana. He was sabotaged by ‘Babylonians’ who ended up selling the country to rogues and political misfits who in turn betrayed the confidence of the people by abysmally performing and causing the war to enter Freetown… leaving over five thousand useful Sierra Leoneans dead, thousands mutilated and gang raped, and thousands more rendered either psychologically or physically displaced; not to mention the wanton destruction of state-owned and private properties.
It is assumed that out of every ten police officers, six to seven are partakers of ganja. In fact the military is very much attached or addicted to it. Out of every ten military personnel, it is almost certain that seven to eight are users of it.
We have seen cases wherein diamba farms have been raided by misguided security personnel and the confiscated product converted into their private use rather than being reported at the nearest police station as it should be. It’s open stealing.
We have also seen cases wherein the security personnel themselves are engaged in trafficking the substance from the plantation site to the market. We have also seen security personnel running or supervising marijuana sales spots.
Only recently, the official military vehicle assigned to the brigadier commander operating in the Makeni axis, was apprehended in the Kambia border loaded with quantum of marijuana.
Still in the Kambia area, three police officers, after apprehending a consignment of marijuana and accepting a bribe for the release of the said consignment, ended up stealing some parcels and hid them in a nearby bush. Other police officers later discovered the stolen parcels and further hid them in another bushy location rather than taking them to the police station as exhibit.
The number is countless when it comes to how many times marijuana and cocaine exhibits have disappeared right in the custody of the police.
I will bet my life that there is absolutely no police or military barracks countrywide, where you can’t find a marijuana sales spot owned and operated by a police or military officer.
Go to the Pademba Road Maximum Prison, and you’ll find there marijuana on sale. Take a walk just behind the Ministry of Defence close to the almighty State House, and you’ll find there countless military and police personnel attached to the offices of the president and vice president, puffing the marijuana to cool off from the stresses of their bosses. Visit the national secretariat of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) on Old Railway Line, Brookfields, and you’ll find there a functional ghetto.
Taking all these into consideration, one is left with the feeling that while many perceive marijuana as being illegal in principle, it is in actual fact legal in practical terms.
Much distress over the hypocrisy with which the marijuana and its users are being treated, are brethren in the Rastafarian faith, who perceive the ganja as Jah-ordained and therefore their Holy Communion representing the body and blood of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ… himself a Rasta man by ideology and conduct.
This is premised on the biblical reference in Psalm 104 verse 14 which states clearly that “He (Jah) is making green grass sprout for the beasts, and vegetation for the service of mankind”.
Most Rastafarians refer to it as “Sensimilla” because it was originally discovered at the grave of King Solomon, known in biblical terms as the wisest king ever. All reggae music doing the rounds worldwide and not only listened to but admired by many including the highest personalities you can think of, are marijuana-inspired. Just think about the conscious and never-fading rhythms left behind by reggae prophets in the likes of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Joseph Hill, Gregory Isaacs, Lucky Dube and Sierra Leonean born Amara Kabbah to name a very few. What about those of Burning Spare, Burning Wailer, Sierra Leonean born Bush Doctor, Riche Spice, Ijahman, Nasio Fontain, Luciano, Cocoa Tea, Sizzla, Don Carlos, Alpha Blundi, Mutabaruka, Turburance, Ziggy Marley and Tiken Jah Fakoly amongst others.
For decades, Rastafarians, in their move to promote the judicious use of the marijuana, have been calling for its legalization. Although it is still being unduly listed amongst very harmful drugs such as cocaine, brown-brown and heroine etc., etc., marijuana could today be puffed in open in well developed countries such as Canada. It could be found in many backyard gardens in Canada and elsewhere in the civilized world. Of course it is not newsy to state that high-placed medical doctors across the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Canada and Switzerland for example, are prescribing the marijuana as treatment for various ailments. All these, one way or the other, contribute to the legality of the ganja.
What has come out clearly is the fact that our so-called security personnel are clamping down on the marijuana and its users with the sole purpose of filling their pockets with bribes, and not really to control it. In fact the police and military lack what it takes to control marijuana, because they themselves are traffickers and dealers of it. So what’s the fuss about?
Just recently, the Morgan Heritage crew who were in town on invitation by the Government of the Freetown Municipality, demonstrated their seriousness in seeking the outright legalization of the marijuana when on disembarking the flight at the Lungi International Airport, lit their ganja packs and started puffing in the full view of onlookers including police and military personnel who could not help but clap rather uncontrollable for the majestic and untouchable looking dreadlocked guys.
At the National Stadium main bowl where the classical Morgan Heritage performance was staged, the security personnel, rather than concentrating on providing the required security, busied themselves cracking down on marijuana and its users.
This was in direct contrast with what was obtained on stage where the Morgan Heritage crew were openly puffing the weed and calling for its legalization. At one time when Peter Morgan, the lead vocalist was delivering a teaching on the relevance of the marijuana and calling for its legalization, a number of high placed citizens including a uniformed inspector of the Sierra Leone Police attached at State House, jumped on stage
with the ganja in their hands in what was seen by many as a remarkable show of solidarity.
Crammed by scores of police recruits, or call them potential thugs from the newly established Samu Training Camp, the outside of the National Stadium was a completely different world on the day in question. Pretending to be searching for harmful weapons, the money-thirsty looking police recruits and their seniors including their military counterparts were actually looking for ganja.
In an unauthorized condone and search warrant that was staged, fans entering the stadium main bowl, were subjected to physical searching. Scores of people lost their valuable properties in the process. A lot more who were in possession of marijuana had them confiscated and even threatened with arrest.
What came out clearly as a blatant mockery of justice and good manners was the fact that the police officers themselves, after making a huge marijuana catch, started puffing right in front of those who had their parcels seized. Most of those affected were Rasta brothers, who had gone there to eek a living but due to unwarranted police interference had to go home penniless and in outright frustration.
Those who had money to bribe the officers had their seized parcels of marijuana returned to them.
Prominent amongst those affected by the dastardly joint police and military raid on the day under review, is Big Brother Tamba Fabundeh, the High Priest of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the parent body of the Rastafarian Movement in the country. His parcel of weed valued One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Leones and meant for distribution amongst brethren, was grabbed by security miscreants calling themselves police and military officers. The priest watched the heartless officers smoking his tie and referring to it as “perfect grade”.
What came out of the whole show was that while the Mayor of the Freetown Municipality, George Herbert Williams and his cohorts were desperate in their poise to use one of the most renowned Rastafarian musical groups, the Morgan Heritage, to raise much needed funds to augment the operations of the Freetown City Council, Rastafarians who were showing up to make the show boom and the substance which would have added a spark to it all, were being unnecessarily subjected to unauthorized seizure and deprivation. Little wonder why the show ended in a flop. Hundreds of enthusiastic reggae fans who were unprepared to face the imprudent police and military harassment, returned home to enjoy their night in their little quite corners. It’s safe to state that the show was sabotaged by… you know them.
While Rastafarians have learnt a very good lesson dealing with mongrels such as those who invited the Morgan Heritage crew for a ransom of Twenty-Five Thousand United States Dollars, the message has to be sent that it will reach a time when Rastas and their ever increasing associates will take it no more. It’s a complete standoff in the making. The late Joseph Hill posed the question, “How can you get peace without justice?”
I rest my case!
By Theophilus Sahr Gbenda, Freetown
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