Is Kono a fiefdom within the Republic of Sierra Leone?
When the final dust of the ten years of senseless carnage resulting from the civil war was settled in 2002, it ushered in the return to multi-party politics inSierra Leone. Besides being the indicator of the rebirth of hope and a new era in the political history of the country, the return to multi-party democracy was seen as a positive move towards putting behind us one of the root causes of the civil conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans. lt is an indisputable fact that, coupled with the poverty and general downward drive of the system, the forceful imposition of one -party rule by the All Peoples Congress (APC) under the late Siaka Probyn Stevens, which culminated in the suppression of alternative political views, was the root cause of the decade long civil conflict. So the reintroduction of political pluralism in the post conflictSierra Leonewas indeed conceived as a recipe for political stability. This was greeted with open hands by all Sierra Leoneans and the international community. Notwithstanding hiccups here and there, the system seems to be working and the apprehensions of potential conflict is slowly giving way to assurances of permanent tranquility, a positive indicator being the peaceful transition from SLPP to APC rule in 2007. (Photo: Samuel Tamba Musa Saquee )
As a country, with due regards to the numerous diversities of tribe, religion, social and cultural orientations,Sierra Leoneis expected to manifest a unitary political character as stipulated in the national constitution. This being the case, it is prudent to assume that since the country is now operating on the mechanism of political pluralism, it should be the case that every corner of the country must be seen to practice the same in accordance with the same rules of the game. In other words, now that the constitution ofSierra Leoneprovides for multi-party democracy, it must be the case that the entire country should conform to it, irrespective of the diverse cultural, religious and ethnic nature of the country. Consequently, all the twelve districts and the western area must provide an ideal environment for the people’s realization of their right to freely associate and belong to which ever political party they wish, without fear of intimidation from any body. Any abrogation of theses rights is tantamount to a travesty of democracy and the principle equal rights.
This piece is motivated by the unfortunate political situation in Kono District in relation to the free association of people with the political party of their choice without hindrance. It is expected that like in other districts and the western area, the people of Kono should exercise their right to choose and associate with the political party of their choice. At this point in time, if we are to go by the outcome of the parliamentary and Presidential elections held in the country since the return to multi-party democracy, it is without doubt that they are very much affiliated with the SLPP. This is evident in the fact that at the moment, 7 out of 8 parliamentary seats in the national assembly are occupied by the opposition SLPP and both the first round and run-off in the Presidential elections in 2007 in particular, were carried by Solomon Berewa. But since the coming to power in 2007 of the APC, with the honorable Sam Sumana as Vice President, the people of Kono are in fear of having their inalienable right of freedom of choice and association being violated, as a result of unsavory moves by the honorable Vice President and his band of political thugs. It is common practice for the Vice President’s agents to go around intimidating people they believe are staunch opposition party supporters, accusing them of behaving contrary to the tenets of the adage “kono ae Kono faah”, which literally translated means, a “Kono must not kill a Kono”, little realizing that the honorable Vice President is not the only ethnic Kono in national politics and that the majority of Konos are supporters of the opposition SLPP. Besides, the honorable does not even have the moral authority to impose his will on the people because since his assumption of office he has done nothing tangible to affect the lives of the people. All he has succeeded in doing is to subject them to humiliations of various nature thus manifesting that he is not representing their interest in politics but riding on their backs. It is no secret that their actions are calculated to make the district a no go area for other political parties but the ruling APC party. And by all indications they are prepared to subject whosoever behaves contrary to their wishes to the most unpleasant treatment.
It could be recalled that soon after the coming to power of the APC party in 2007, the Vice President went all out to make sure that all prominent Konos in top positions in the civil and diplomatic service, like Mr. A.C. Ngaujah, Justice Konoyima, were removed from office because they were believed to be sympathizers of the SLPP. Shamefully, he made no effort to elevate any indigenous sons to prominent positions for the sake of uplifting the lots of the Kono people. I doubt why his surrogates do not consider this as a violation of the “Kono ae Kono faah adage” they are now preaching. Or is the Vice President more Kono than these gentlemen, who have even positively impacted the lives of the Kono people than him?
Having apparently succeeded in eliminating those in the civil service, his attention is now turned to the traditional rulers in the district. He has set his thugs against them, and through these thugs, he his endeavoring to make their chiefdoms ungovernable, as they deliberately obstruct them in the implementation of their administrative policies. They forcefully take over mining lands that are supposed to be sources of revenue for their chiefdoms and in the case of the paramount chief of Sando, the largest chiefdom in the district and where the Vice President hails from, he instigated his surrogates headed by Bashiru Gborie, to file accusations of corruption against him at the Anti Corruption Commission. This is nothing but witch hunting.
Much as it is an accepted convention in the politics ofSierra Leonethat the Paramount Chiefs are expected to be with the government of the day, the Vice President is using this as pretext to subject the Kono Paramount Chiefs to humiliation. It is common practice for him to drag them all over the place, almost always making them part of his political entourage wherever he goes even at the expense of them staying in their chiefdoms and attending to matters relating to the welfare of the poor people. The chiefs have no alternative, knowing the track record of the APC in dealing with chiefs believed to be unsympathetic to its course, but to be up and down with him in his political campaigning. This is to a certain extent disrespectful to our traditional rulers, more so when other Paramount Chiefs in other districts, even in the heartland of the APC, are not subjected to such indignities. Meanwhile his surrogates and praise singers do not believe that this negates the true spirit of “Kono ae Kono faah” .
The million dollar question that deserves to be answered at this juncture is whether Kono is a fiefdom within theRepublicofSierra Leonethat it should be subject to different rules. Is Kono exempt from the multi-party system that pertains to other districts in the country? I believe that as Sierra Leoneans the people of Kono are entitled to their political freedom of association as stipulated in the national constitution. So the Honorable Vice President is indeed sowing the seed of discontent in the district by creating situations that will make the people to feel intimidated in the execution of their inalienable rights. Kono is not meant for any single political party and as such all political parties should enjoy equal freedom of their supporters to openly identify with their choices. The Vice President should note that the days are gone when a handful of thugs imported from outside the district dictated the voting pattern of the district, failure to do which resulted in them suffering dire consequences. Unless the VP is bent on fomenting political chaos in the district, he has to stop his act of political intimidation of the people. Kono is part ofSierra Leoneand not a fiefdom within a Republic.
By Samuel Tamba Musa Saquee
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