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Farewell imperial, welcome metric?

Farewell imperial, welcome metric?

At long last, the old imperial measurement is giving way to the metric system. I look back with nostalgia on the old system, when Peter Clarke then a medical undergraduate student at Oxford ran the mile for the first time in under four minutes, it made history. Yes, and in Bo School, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma (SI) and George Gobio-Lamin were the champions for the half mile and the one mile respectively. These days we refer to the 100 metres etc. Then there were the imperial measurements which we were expected to memorise. eg: 12 inches make one foot, 3 feet make one yard, 22 yards make one chain, 1,760 yards make one mile and so forth. And now we have the metric system when everything, from weights to distances, is measured in multiples of 100s. The introduction of the metric system has also revealed the government’s cunning or should I say attempt at being clever? Hitherto we paid Le 17,500 for a gallon of fuel. Now we are paying Le 5,000 for a litre of fuel. A quick calculation will reveal that since there are 4.5 litres in a gallon, by yesterday’s measurement we are now paying Le 22,500 for a gallon. Don’t let our government fool anyone by saying that it is the oil marketing companies that have fixed the new price. As I said yesterday, any government which is genuinely committed to seeking the welfare of its citizens would always find a way to ease their suffering rather than resorting to slogans. But the I B M Kamaras will tell us that this government has transformed the lives of the people since it assumed office, even as we now pay Le 170,000 plus more for a bag of rice. I could hardly believe my ears when a government functionary was telling a radio interviewer the other day that the metric system was a blessing because owners of “Tiger” generators could now afford to buy a litre of fuel rather than a full gallon under the old system. When asked about the escalating price of rice, he admonished that “man should not live by rice alone” and that we should grow ours. What a caring government indeed.

Recalling the imperial system, here is a conundrum that we used to tease people in those days; it’s an arithmetic problem. Queen Elizabeth the second, plus what she wears, plus a kind of pig; plus a dealer in leather, plus what the Dutch use. For the answer, readers must go to the end of the column.


The main event of the golden jubilee celebration has come and gone. People have referred to the architects of our Independence, meaning those who actually ushered in the event in 1961. In this there is constant reference to former President Siaka Stevens. It is true that he participated in the discussions in Lancaster House, but it is also on record that he refused to sign the final document because of the defense clause with Britain. I was a Sierra Leone Student Union leader at the time and I recall that the poor Mr. Stevens was as it were, left in the cold. As Sir Milton described him, he was a man without a constituency at the time. As students we took a neutral position on political matters at home and since we were not participants at the conference, we did not give an opinion on the matter. However, I invited the then Mr. Stevens to my flat where he met with and explained his stance to a small representative group of students. We let him know that we understood his position. In the student body at the time were contemporaries like Sembu Fornah although I cannot vouch that he was in my West Kensington flat at the time. Others were late Francis Minah, Edward Lamin, Sahr Filli-Faboe and late Francis Conteh. In the light of the above I cannot see how Shakie, although a great and astute politician and President for some 17 years could be counted as a front runner of the historic event.” Sadly in his Excellency’s address to the nation, there was NO MENTION OF SIR ALBERT MARGAI; but nar Salone dis!

People forget that one cannot reverse the events of history. In a Daily Mail (a publication that the APC government has commandeered under the editorship of Wilfred Kabs-Kanu) Johnny Paul Koroma’s photograph appeared and yet there was no mention, let alone a photograph of Valentine Strasser. The irony of it is that Strasser was hailed and loved by the citizens and internationally recognized as head of state of Sierra Leone. Johnny Paul on the other hand was despised by almost everyone and completely ignored by the international community. But again nar Salone dis, APC style.

Readers must wait for the next edition of the Puawui column for the answer to the conundrum.

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