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Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

I must crave the indulgence of my readers for recalling the above headline which is actually the title of  a book by Al Franken. I am constrained to do this because of two recent events. I am reminded of the story of a preacher who had asked his congregation to read the SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER of Mark’s Gospel in the Holy Bible. When he eventually asked from the pulpit for those who had remembered to do so, to put their right hands up, more than two-thirds of worshippers did so. After telling them to put their hands down he announced that the subject of his sermon which  was “The world’s greatest liars “ was most appropriate because there were only SIXTEEN CHAPTERS IN Mark’s Gospel.  Although today’s column is about liars we refer here to the handful of notorious ones in our society.

A couple of months ago, a local tabloid, the African Champion, carried a headline that read, “Africell fined 50 million leones.” The story went on to say that it was because the mobile phone provider had been in breach of one NATCOM’S regulations. The company issued a statement denying having being in breach of any NATCOM regulation, let alone being fined at all. Honourable Eddie Turay, a prominent Freetown lawyer and the Majority APC leader in Parliament has been in the news lately but for the wrong reasons. 

First it was his alleged controversial involvement in the buying and selling of state land in the western area. When a young popular lawyer MS Turay died two weeks ago there were rumours all over the city that the honourable Member of Parliament and lawyer Eddie Turay had died. Even as it was being made clear that “not the honourable, but the other lawyer Turay, speculations were rife about the cause of Eddie’s rumoured death and it was traced to the state land debacle. The next news was that Eddie Turay was to be our country’s High Commissioner to the Court of St. James in London. The rumour mills immediately went into action with suggestions that President Ernest Bai Koroma had given Eddie the appointment to save his face from the embarrassment over the state land affair. And not to be outdone, that fabricator of libelous stories and  scandals the African Champion came out with a headline that Eddie was in a critical condition from a sudden illness in London. As if that was not enough, the paper’s wild imagination flew the honourable Member of Parliament out to India for emergency treatment.

In its Tuesday December 1st edition the paper had to eat its words with the story that a furious Eddie Turay had called them from London to not only debunk the story, but threatened them with action for defamation on his return to Freetown. The newspaper told all that story without a word of remorse or apology for the embarrassment it had caused the gentleman. Not one word; rather it went on with previous stories of the man’s death.

An interesting question is why India for treatment, was it because our President had previously gone there for treatment? The first rule (of thumb) in the newspaper world is for editors to cross-check their story which newspapers like the African Champion never do. They are only interested in sensation. Readers may recall that this was the same newspaper which reported some years ago that I was acutely ill; that I had to be taken on board a London plane in a wheel chair and finally that I was in the intensive unit of a London hospital. The irony was that I walked into an acquaintance on Siaka Stevens Street who had just read the story. The poor fellow nearly dropped dead with shock and then immediate joy.

These are the newspapers who believe that the best way of showing loyalty for President Koroma is not only to flatter him, but to constantly come out with falsehoods that only create fear and disaffection.

A crap in the same Tuesday edition under the heading “SLPP makes bogus claims” is a story that only makes sense to the anonymous concerned citizen and his editor. Needless to add that as usual there is a photograph of yours truly. The editor of that paper may have been one of the worshippers who raised their hands at having read the seventeenth chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel!

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