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“Awant Yit, Wusai!”

“Awant Yit, Wusai!”

The slogan of the ruling All Peoples Congress Party APC before and after the declaration of the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary results was “O wai, Osai.” The APC we were told two years after those results, was performing miracles. The Behavioural and Attitudinal Change campaign had changed the way and behaviour of the Sierra Leonean. There was now an end to all kinds of “yukiyuki” that was the hallmark of the Tejan-Kabbah led Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) government. Prosperity was the order of the day as the lives of our farmers had been transformed by tractorisation and we no longer needed to import rice. Uninterrupted electricity was a phenomenon in Africa. Columnists were falling over each other to demonstrate who had coined the best superlatives. We had JB Roy (Kajue sometimes) of the African champion newspaper, Paul Kamara and his O Bai with Makuta and co. in the for-di-people newspaper, Septimus Siafa in the We yone, Kabs-Kanu and Thaim Kurugba in the Cocorioko online, Revs. Sulaimani, Sherman etc. Not to mention their editors who have constantly drummed it in our ears how today was better than yesterday. Of the entire lot, the pride of place goes to IBM Kamara of the Standard Times newspaper who keeps repeating very loudly for the hearing of his Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma how the latter had changed the lives of his people since he assumed the high office of President. As for the ordinary party supporters, singing and dancing mostly on empty stomachs, but sustained by ‘Pega Pack’, there was a new era in our country; Sierra Leone was now a showcase not only in Africa but in the international arena. When those of us who are foolhardy enough to tell them that yesterday was by far better today for the people of this country, we are described with indescribable adjectives. As for me hardly any of the “chuneh” columnists ever conclude their piece without reference to how old I am; but more of that later. In the last week I made a number of trips to Lumley and beyond. They were mostly by public transport, taxi and occasionally by “poda- poda.”  (Photo: Dr Sama Banya)

Travelling that way is quite an experience; today’s conversation is about the increase in fares brought about by this government which in their words had deceived them. Look at what they are paying for everything today compared to yesterday. “dat nar natin. How much we dey pay now for common tin dem, nor for tok but res en pamine en plassas. Wey we ask den say nar di new metric. Yesterday nar bin clobal (global) but mek den wait; 2012 nor far again.” (That’s nothing. How much do we pay now for simple essentials, not to mention rice and palm oil and green vegetables? When we ask them they tell us it is the new metric system. Yesterday it was Global, but let them wait, 2012 is just round the corner.) Just then, one who appeared to be a regular commuter quipped, “AWANYIT,”  and came the chorus “WUSAI.” I could not help but innocently ask with some amusement what that meant and the man who had raised the ‘awanyit’ answered, “Yesterday it was ‘Osai, Owai,’ but today it is I want to eat, but where? The message is clear and Mohamed one drop Sankoh, Sheik Sesey, IBM will do him a favour by conveying this to the boss man, ha ha.

Let me again educate the amateur peep in di-for-people newspaper that it is neither how young nor old you are that matters, but your output, your value to your community. John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Church was still preaching every day at the age of 88. Another famous Methodist Preacher Donald Soper was still speaking at Hyde Park Corner when he was 94. The oldest and widely accomplished delegate to the 1767 American Constitutional Convention was the 81 year old Benjamin Franklin’ whose reputation in Europe as a statesman, diplomat and author exceeded that of even people like Newton and Voltaire. He not only attended most sessions but also wrote a great deal of the document. At the end of what had been a long, arduous and complicated session he wrote: “There are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve but I am not sure I shall never approve them.” He would accept the constitution however, “Because I expect no better and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”

That was Benjamin Franklin at 81. I have in the past written about Winston Churchill of Britain, Conrad Adenauer of West Germany, Ronald Reagan of the United States and Den Sheng Ping of the Peoples Republic of China. So what’s all the fuss about age?

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  • This is the correct role of the opposition: pointing out where the government is failing. If there are queues at the petrol station or the price of basic foodstuffs are going up, no amount of praise singing will paper over these cracks. People feel them every day. It’s time for the government to get a grip..

    17th May 2011
  • BIG YAI TIN. LEF FOR YOU GRAN PIKIN NOW . LEF FOR TALK LEK PIKIN. WE NOR TO FOOL MAN THEM AGAIN.Any way as the proverb is often said – Once an adult twice a child .

    16th May 2011

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