Internal Affairs Minister and the Youth “Bo Paddle” Non-Violence Crusade in Sierra Leone!
Often times when I read commentaries from the opposition SLPP on the country’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Honourable Musa Tarawally, I see nothing but violence being associated with him. He is usually painted and dismissed as a man who condones violence within the APC party and some in the opposition call him “Musa Grenade”. This is sometimes the length at which a desperate opposition party could go to paint people that they know could be of tremendous help to the party in power. Hon Musa Tarawally happens to be one of such people in the APC whom the opposition has painted black; and until you come close to him and get to interact with him and get to experience his organizational skills, you would see nothing else but what the opposition wants you to know about him. Where Hon Musa Tarawally’s tactful and peaceful nature has come to be more relevant is in the second City of Bo in the Southern region where it would have been “Rocket Science” for any APC Minister to be able to energize and attract love from the youths of that City as much as Musa Tarawally has been able to do over the years. (Photo: Hon Tarawally; Youth Commissioner & Dep. Min of Political Affairs)
The annual observance of a “Paddle Masquerade” in Bo on the day of the Muslim second biggest holiday in the year has become a tradition over the years, especially amongst the youths; and this is a moment that no one; and I mean no one, should deprive the youths of. However, this could also be a moment when youths go wild with intoxicants and cause havoc against one another; especially between youths of different political parties in the country but predominantly between those of the APC and SLPP parties. There was therefore little surprise that the opposition SLPP would preach against the observance of a “Paddle Masquerade” in the city of Bo this year – fearing violent clashes between the youths just 4 weeks to the highly charged Presidential and parliamentary elections.
The APC party did not see it this way. To them, the crusade by the SLPP against the “Paddle Masquerade” is a ploy to dampen the momentum of the youths; the majority of whom were seen dancing and jubilating in favour of President Ernest Bai Koroma during the APC rally just the Friday before the Monday that this “Paddle Masquerade” is supposed to take place. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Musa Tarawally, in close consultation with the Youth Commissioner Southern region, Mustapha Massaquo, the Resident Minister South, Moijue Kaikai; the Deputy Minister of Political Affairs; the Local Unit Commander of the Police in Bo, as well as Youth leaders and other stakeholders, wasted no time in getting all stakeholders to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that preaches against violence and hold responsible those who commit or encourage any acts of violence during this masquerade.
Realizing that the “Paddle Masquerade” is going to take place after Minister Tarawally’s intervention, the SLPP went on radio and announced to all their supporters in Bo to stay home and not come out during this event. Responding to this socially dampening announcement by the opposition, Minister Tarawally went on radio too and energized the youths into coming out in a non-violent campaign mood to have fun and make the City lively. It was therefore very surprising to the entire township of Bo that the event was supervised by the Hon Musa Tarawally himself and members of his team and the positive response from the youths in appreciation of the Minister and his team was phenomenal. The crowd that came out that day symbolized the kind of political atmosphere we can create if we use just a little bit of common sense and help to inculcate tolerance and acceptance in the minds of our youths who are often times very vulnerable in moments like this.
What appeared to be mind blowing to me and to the many residents of Bo town is when we heard the youths chanting the whole time – “Musa Tarawally say, No Violence”! “Yete Yete say, No Violence”! “Bo Youths say, No Violence”! The majority of them also wore “T” Shirts that carried the inscription of “Internal Affairs Minister say, No Violence”!
The atmosphere was truly non-violent and there was euphoria of love and oneness, at least amongst those who came out that day to grace the occasion.
Everyone expressed their appreciation of the Internal Affairs Minister and his team for making this moment possible for the youths especially. The singing and dancing lasted up to midnight with no reports of violence.
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