‘Female Generals’ in Sierra Leone’s Development
Writing in 2004, a piece titled, “Public Opinion: Criticizing the Critics” David Tam-Baryoh, a Sierra Leonean based journalist wrote that “There are a few members of the Sierra Leonean public who would want this society to be ruled by politicians without the impute of the medial…” (http://allafrica.com/stories/200401210318.html). This was the best description one could give at the time, taking into account how the media landscape was, inSierra Leone. David Tam-Baryoh, just like Paul Kamara, and Phillip Neville has seen the good and bad sides of journalism especially from the viewpoint of politicians using criminal laws to silence the activities of independent journalists, following the return of democratic rule and following the end to a civil war that lasted for over a decade. (Photo: John Baimba Sesay, author)
I reported for a number of newspapers in Sierra Leone, including Independent Observer, For Di People and Awoko newspapers and I still recall, when hired thugs invaded the offices of For Di People during the era of Tejan Kabba(h) and our then Editor, Harry Yansaneh was attacked and beaten. Later about 90 days or so, Harry Yansaneh died. Weeks or months later following pressure from SLAJ, an inquest was set up by government to look into the circumstances leading to the death of Harry. But the interesting part was, government, through then and late Attorney General, Fredrick Carew, nullified the inquest (http://www.panapress.com) on the grounds that the investigation panel did not follow the law. As all this was happening, our Managing Editor at the time, Paul Kamara was in jail (http://business.highbeam.com), for expressing his views on national issues. He was never allowed to see the remains of his staff.
I need not talk of what Mr. Philip Neville of Standard Times also encountered prior to the 2007 general elections, or we need not have a reflection of late Olu Gordon of blessed memories for the facts are all there for people to see. Olu was detained over an article criticizing President Ahmad Tejan Kabba (h), (http://www.unhcr.org) but later released without charge. What these people went through were all efforts by the political system at the time aimed at silencing the independent and vibrant media in a country that was taking a direction not expected.
But today, Journalism in Sierra Leone has taken an exceptional direction, with more critical views coming from media practitioners against government officials and with no efforts or plans to use criminal laws like the 1965 Public Order Act by government. Today, one can proudly say, we also have ‘female generals’ in the filed of journalism as there is today a female publisher in the country. Women have also today taken a centre stage in the profession, with groups like Women in the Media making an impact in Sierra Leone journalism. What we are today seeing in Sierra Leone, especially under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma is worthy to speak high of, in terms of not just ensuring media freedom, but in also promoting the concept of public communication and media participation in the sustenance of democracy.
But that is not just the issue; rather, I want to also look at how women have been major players in the development agenda of Sierra Leone, from the view point of holding positions of trusts and living up to expectations. Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals talks about Promoting Gender Equality and Empower Women. No need denying the fact that Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress in achieving this goal. I am moved by a recent article written by Dr. Sylvia Blyden of Awareness Times online newspaper on the aspect of women empowerment and 2012 contenders. The only female publisher in Sierra Leone brilliantly looked at how the government of President Koroma has today not only demonstrated high trust and confidence on women, but has shown, that women are also paramount in a nation’s development process by appointment them into positions of trust (http://news.sl/drwebsite/publish/article).
Sylvia has told us of what many APC strategists told her they are going to be fondly terming as the ‘Female Generals’ next year during the APC Campaigns. (http://news.sl/drwebsite/publish/article). She looked at how women have faithfully served not only the government but the country as a whole, starting with a woman like Haja Kallah-Kamara, Acting Commissioner-General for the revenue collection agency-NRA, Solicitor-General Madame Martina Koroma, Administrator & Registrar-General Madame Mariama Seray Kallay and Auditor General in the person of Lara Taylor-Pearce. May I also add that in the list of these ‘Women Generals’, there is, I want to believe, Elizabeth Kamara, Assistant Inspector-General of Police . Dr. Sylvia Blyden made no mistake in commending President Koroma for this move because this government has succeeded in empowering women to exhibit their ability to help in national development. This is another area that the Koroma government has made a difference and a record that could be used to campaign.
Since Haja Kallah-Kamara took over NRA about two years ago as Acting Commissioner-General, there has been tremendous improvement in terms of revenue collection at the local level, with the institution now collecting over a trillion Leones for government. She has also succeeded in putting measures in place aimed at addressing the problem of revenue leakage, like the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data. When one looks at the revenue collection pattern of the NRA prior to the coming to power of the Koroma led government, one could see some discrepancies since there were not much control mechanisms to ensure, the revenues collected are properly accounted for. But that is a different scenario altogether today.
A staff in the Public Affairs and Tax Education Unit of the NRA Brima Karl Samura wrote, thus; By the 28th October, 2011, the total actual revenue collected and banked by the Authority amounted to Le 1.123 trillion as against its recently revised target of Le 1.321 trillion. What remains for this revised target to be met stands at Le 197.4 billion which is expected to be achieved by the end of December, 2011. (http://africayoungvoices.com). This is under the leadership of a ‘Female-General’ appointed by President Koroma.
Madame Mariama Seray Kallay is the country’s Administrator & Registrar-General. Under her leadership today, Sierra Leonehas made serious progress, as Sierra Leonehas made great improvement in doing business ranking (http://www.doingbusiness.org). Today, one could take few hours, or at most a day to register a business inSierra Leone with the introduction of the one-stop-shop. These are all great achievements which can be attributed to the role that has been played by these ‘women generals’ as being referred to by Dr. Blyden. Also, under the women leadership of Umu Tejan Jalloh, the Judiciary has, in my view, today gained some level of sanity and there has been positive results coming from our judiciary. So, these, plus other achievements by women, under the Presidency of President Koroma are indicators of the desire on the government in not only making women part of the development process, but in ensuring that they are fully involved.
But not only do we have ‘Female Generals’ in politics but they are also in the field of journalism and they have all been exceptional in their practice of the profession. No one can therefore beat President Koroma’s record in terms of women empowerment.
Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!
© 2011, https:. All rights reserved.