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Dr Sylvia Blyden reacts to IMC in Sierra Leone

Dr Sylvia Blyden reacts to IMC in Sierra Leone

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Licensed Publisher
Awareness Times Newspaper, 17 Garrison Street, Freetown.
Tel: 076-812345    Tel: 076-812345    Tel: 076-812345
The Executive Secretary
Independent Media Commission (IMC)
Kissy House, Freetown
January 15th 2013
Dear Sir,


At 8 pm last night of January 14th 2013, I received a letter from the Independent Media Commission addressed to my editor, David Jabati. It had been delivered to the Awareness Times offices after working hours (i.e: after 5 pm) but it curiously had a demand for an “urgent reaction by mid-day 12:00 pm” today 15th January 2013.  It further demanded a clarification of our “journalistic intention” for naming and shaming two supposed leading journalists in Sierra Leone as nothing but lying purveyors of Tribal Incitement. Your letter is here attached.

Before going further, let me state that in this my formal reaction, I will make reference to the entire body of persons which make up the Independent Media Commission (IMC) as simply the “Commission” and describe it in the second person as “you”. In cases where I want to be specific like naming POLITICO’s Isaac Massaquoi who unfortunately doubles as an IMC Commissioner, I will identify the specific Commissioner by name.

It is going to be my pleasure to personally handle your letter, its attachment and your requests therein. However, I wish to first inform you, in the event that you are ignorant of this, that 17 years ago in the year 1996, I received my second academic degree from the University of Sierra Leone which is the MB.Ch.B that automatically qualifies me for the rest of my life to be formally addressed with “Dr.” in front of my name. Your reference to me therefore as “Miss Sylvia Blyden” was NOT appreciated and I wish to hereby formally extend my disdain for what I consider to be kindergarten attempts to denigrate my standing.  Plainly put, it was the height of pettiness. My name is Dr. Sylvia Blyden.

Now, I consider your letter as just another of your shameless and disgustingly biased manner in which the Commission has handled itself in total ultra vires of the intent and purpose for which the honourable House of Parliament passed the IMC Act of 2000 (with subsequent amendments).

I assume that this is probably another prelude to a “ban” or “fine” of my newspaper which, I assure you once again, will fail like your earlier ones have continued to fail having been carried out not with a sincere intention to serve this country; but out of malice, spite, pettiness, childish vindictiveness and a too hasty knee-jerk reaction – all borne out of your inability to look in the mirror and see the failings reflecting back at you.

Now, contrary to your ill-written and grammatically-impaired piece of paper attached to your letter, which you term as an “analysis”, let me iterate that I am still the recognised Publisher of the Awareness Times newspaper until such time as I inform you otherwise. I, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, in May 2005, was issued with a license to publish the Awareness Times newspaper in Sierra Leone and until I formally inform you that I am relinquishing such license, you should be professional and respect me as the current holder of the IMC license to publish the Awareness Times in Sierra Leone.

I thus consider your so-called analysis that “the editor’s note provides public notice of Sylvia Blyden’s departure from the position of publisher to politician” to be just another of your persistent and unfortunate kindergarten tactics whenever you have to handle issues pertaining to my newspaper. Not only did the note, in plain and simple English, NOT provide notice that I have departed from being a publisher into a politician but your claim of such, exposes an ill-understanding of written English or an over-exuberance in derogatory references to my person.

Please do not derogate from my current position as Publisher of Awareness Times. I am on the way out but I have not yet left. The written English simply states that I will “soon” be leaving my position as publisher but as of now, I am still the Publisher of the most widely read, the fastest selling and most widely circulated newspaper in Sierra Leone. You might wish to ask yourself why the public continues to love, cherish and trust my newspaper despite everything that has been thrown at it. There might be self-serving answers for you if you do honest evaluation and introspection.

Now, in my position of the IMC-licensed Publisher of this newspaper and given the very odd and late hour at which your letter was hastily dumped at my office last evening with a less than 24 hours notice to “react” and “clarify”, I will relieve Mr. David Jabati of the burden of returning back to the office to handle your “urgent” request and set to work on putting my thoughts down which I will then widely circulate as my newspaper’s reaction and clarification. The points are handled in sections with underlined headings:



The journalistic intention is stated within the report where we make it plain that “we are going to henceforth name and shame the true enemies of this country’s peace and unity”. It was a naming and shaming exercise in order to wake up the country to the dangers which the lies being published by these two journalists could wreck on the country. I am bemused to see you ask for clarification as to why we named and shamed these purveyors of hate speech and tribal stoking. Basically, you, IMC should have been at the fore of rushing to publicly condemn the overly tribal publications.

Rather, you now seek “clarification” from the good journalists who did what the IMC should have done which is loudly condemn such tribally motivated HATE PURVEYING. I do not need to remind you of what such tribal incitement did in Rwanda or how it was through such insidious slow poison that 6 million Jews eventually lost their lives in Europe. I am really flabbergasted to read your need for clarification as to why we named and shamed POLITICO and GLOBAL TIMES newspaper.

What I sense is that Commissioner Isaac Massaquoi, being one of those who operate POLITICO, is trying to use the IMC as a possible shield to hide the shame which his newspaper has been exposed to. It is quite frankly, a disgrace for the IMC to ask us why we named and shamed Massaquoi’s POLITICO as being one of those fermenting problems in our post-war country. Sierra Leone needs unity and not Temne versus Limba/Loko hate purveying in the local media. Sierra Leoneans need unity and not Southeastern Mendes versus rest of the country hate purveying in the media.

I also wish to direct the attention of the IMC to the current Media Code of Practise and even the proposed Code. The POLITICO’s rush to run that story especially as a lead story is a journalistic disgrace which breaches Articles 1, 2, 25 and 26 of the IMC Media Code. The fact that an IMC Commissioner Isaac Massaquoi is involved in such publications, make it even more of a disgrace. GLOBAL TIMES article also breached articles of the IMC Media Code of Practise.



“This historical analysis is presented as a reference to the caution required by the current Koroma Government to appoint Miss Sylvia Blyden into government at any level” were the words in the written IMC “analysis” it asked my newspaper to comment upon.

Since the analysis itself is badly written, one might be tempted to assume that the crafter of that “IMC analysis” was trying to speak of a reported allegation by a third person and not presenting an IMC statement of fact. However, until the IMC clarifies that indeed it was not making an original statement of fact attributed to yourself, I am going to take the sentence at its face value which is that the IMC subscribes to the view presented therein that the Koroma Government should be cautious in deciding to appoint me into government at any level.

My take is that IMC’s stated assertion is offensive, derogatory and unnecessary of what is supposed to be a respected national body. I am thus, in reaction, demanding an IMMEDIATE APOLOGY from the Commission for making such a derogatory assertion that the Koroma Government requires caution in appointing me to a government position. If you fail to apologise in writing, I will be left with no option but to exercise all remedies available to me including seeking civil redress in court from the IMC as a body.



I note your “analytic” conclusion that Sorie Fofana was provoked into writing his rubbish published yesterday. You are in a most sly and unfortunate manner, trying to make excuses for Mr. Fofana’s personal attacks on my person in his yesterday publication. The truth is that if anybody has a perfect and legitimate reason for publishing personal attacks on the person of Sorie Fofana, it is Sylvia Blyden.

The laws of Sierra Leone, to be specific, the Public Order Act of 1965 dictate that it is 100% legal to strike back at another person if you were first offended. However, I have not done so despite all the provocations of my person which Mr. Sorie Fofana has engaged upon in the past two months in particular and for years and years prior; without the IMC seeing reaction from me.

For example, Mr. Fofana published the same article attacking me in vile terms in at least FIVE concurrent publications within a period spanning two weeks in December 2012. I did not make a single reaction to his sustained attack on my person which were full of outright and obnoxious lies about me and the President of this Republic. The IMC did nothing to stop Sorie Fofana’s campaign of calumny. On my part, I simply ignored him as it was clear the IMC was enjoying to read the personal attacks on my person. That was in December. Prior to this, throughout the entire electioneering campaign period, it was attacks of a most nauseous nature which Sorie Fofana launched on my person; all of which I ignored since the IMC was obviously quite happy to entertain such personal attacks on me in the local media. Should the IMC need my assistance in citing those dozens of unchecked personal attacks and made-up lies around SYLVIA BLYDEN, it will be my pleasure to assist them with copies of those articles which even included patent death threats by one James Saa Momoh.

Momoh openly threatened Dr. Christiana Thorpe, Philip Neville, David Tam Baryoh and myself, with grievous bodily harm, physical damage to our family members and infrastructural assets. Mr. Tam-Baryoh was forced to file a complaint with the IMC. I did not. I simply ignored the constant provocations including within Independent Observer.

I am therefore bemused to see your conclusion that Sorie Fofana’s latest personal attack on my person was “analysed” by you to be a reaction to our naming and shaming of him & Umaru Fofana for promoting tribal divisions in a country so badly need of unity. What then would you say about Fofana’s sustained attacks prior to this time?

All I did was name and shame Sorie Fofana for his inciting article meant to divide the country along lines of South-East versus the rest of the country.

If anyone had all right to make a reaction to series of unwarranted and unprovoked personal attacks, it was SYLVIA BLYDEN who was subjected to such by Sorie Fofana, Jonathan Leigh and a whole bunch of SLPP opposition writers! I did not react as my personal consideration was not of that much import. However, out of national considerations, I simply could not sit down quietly and watch Hate Purveyors promote TRIBAL HATE in our country as the IMC fiddled.

Against the backdrop of Rwanda and even against the backdrop of what happened in nearby Guinea in October 2009 when tribal hate brewed into deaths and carnage, I should be most highly commended for naming the dangerous, tribal-hate-inciting journalists in this country such as Umaru Fofana of POLITICO and Sorie Fofana of GLOBAL TIMES.

Rather, I am slammed an “urgent request” for “clarification”. Historians will find a lot of ironies to report about this period of IMC regulation of the local media. It has been, quite frankly, a disgrace of no mean proportions. The sooner the Government looks into this issue of the IMC and the pervasive lawlessness in the media, the better for all.

In summary to this lengthy section, your attempt to provide justification for Sorie Fofana’s personal attack on me, falls flat on its face because Fofana’s series of prior personal attacks on my person had, to my credit, gone unchallenged by me. Fofana is, just plain and simply, a nasty character who has no business being allowed to operate a newspaper but for the hapless state of the IMC.



I stand by this position of mine. The recent manner in which Umaru Fofana reacted to mild criticisms by claiming to have gotten 17 persons out of a 600-member organisation to “expel” me for criticising him speaks volumes about his penchant for intolerance and/or inability to survive/compete in an ordered society.

As for Sorie Fofana, his continuous use of denigratory attacks on my person is predatory! It is the unhealthy sign of one who sees a competitor he has been unable to outwit intellectually or in business savvy so he resorts to compensating for his inability to compete with me in the newspaper business and in the business of influencing public opinion. He compensates for his inadequacies and inability to ‘conquer’ Sylvia Blyden by launching a ceaseless stream of nauseous personal attacks on me in the hope that will help him gain some emotional balance in his constant state of inner battle to feel supremacy when it comes to Sylvia Olayinka Blyden. This is not decent or civilised behaviour but one of an un-ordered bushman.

In the process, both of the Fofanas sacrifice value for the truth, for civilised order and even for the basic laws of natural justice.



Unless the IMC can provide some justification for why Umaru Fofana rushed to produce the article in which POLITICO spoke to a single Temne fellow of questionable morals, did no other cited cross-checking and dismissed the professional need to have the input of the other side, I see no sense in asking me to clarify what I mean by saying there must be subterranean motives behind such rabid unprofessional behaviour.

Out of concern for the tribal stoking in the media, I personally spoke to a series of Temnes within the APC including Attorney-General Frank Kargbo who revealed their Temne lineage to me. Thus, I am correct to conclude that POLITICO ran unsubstantiated garbage which was only meant to incite and whip up serious tribal animosity between major ethnic groupings. Nothing else can explain the Temne versus Limba/Loko nonsense which IMC is curiously unable to condemn! I guess Commissioner Isaac Massaquoi’s POLITICO should not be condemned for terrible HATE JOURNALISM!

In the same vein, the article on NaCSA supposedly sacking South-Easterners and claiming the President of the Republic as being averse to a major tribe like the Mendes and citizens of South-Eastern descent, is of such serious national import that Sorie Fofana should have made attempt to speak to and include the side of NaCSA and/or the President’s Office in such a report. That he did not means there is a hidden motive not to do such basic professional reporting. He wants to whip up tribal and regional division and it is sad the media regulator was unable to quickly nip the tribal baiting in the media nor name and shame the perpetrators of such ignoble actions.



In the interest of the reputation of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, many professional journalists and members of SLAJ have decided to just quietly allow the two years of Umaru Fofana’s second term to pass by. The fact, as was so eloquently published by Mustapha Sesay the former Secretary-General of SLAJ, is that the process leading up to the supposed re-election of Umaru Fofana two years ago, was illegal as it went totally against the SLAJ constitution.

Additionally, steps which the SLAJ constitution instructs Fofana to take as President were not taken. This includes steps which would have assured of his ability to be fiscally prudent in managing the finances of our noble association. A real President would have long submitted audited and acceptable financial statements within the specified period of time.

Thus, I am well within my right to refer to Mr. Umaru Fofana as the “supposed” President because his election was not constitutionally conducted and his actions have been ultra vires the SLAJ Constitution.


I have dealt with the editor’s note which IMC unfortunately misconstrued to mean I have left the business of publishing.

However, I note your interpretation of the Publisher’s note to be that, “Politico story was highly exaggerated by referring to the Politico story as evidence of ethnic cleansing”. I am seriously perturbed as to how you arrived at such an analysis because the Politico story did not mention ethnic cleaning neither did I say it did. The reference to ethnic cleaning was in the GLOBAL TIMES story.


In conclusion, your urgent request for my newspaper’s clarification is bizarre. I hold the strong view that instead of requesting clarification, you should have issued out a strong commendation to Awareness Times for nipping in the bud, the tribal and regional divisions which supposed leading journalists had tried to purvey within the local media landscape.

I took the liberty to copy certain diplomatic offices & the Office of the President into this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Licensed Publisher of Awareness Times Newspaper.

CC: Secretary to the President
CC: The Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Sierra Leone
CC: The UNDP Resident Representative
CC: The British High Commissioner
CC: The American Ambassador
CC: The European Union Representative
CC: The Nigerian High Commissioner
CC: The Guinean Ambassador to Sierra Leone.
CC: The Media.

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  • Lee Brown was the police chief of Houston Texas during Mayor Cathy Withmire’s administation in the 1980’s but no one referred to him as Dr. Lee P. Brown. It was never an issue. but I guess Slyvia Blyden’s Sierra Leone is different.At one convocation at Texas Southern University commencement speech,Lee Brown stated among other things that the only reason he spent almost 15 years in college as an African-Americam was not decause he was dumb. dut not to let a potentail employer bypass him due to incomplete resume (curriculum vitae)for the job he will be looking for.
    Personal academic achievement does not require public coronation.

    17th January 2013

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