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Interview with First Mother

Interview with First Mother

It is not often that we hear from an African First Mother. For the first time Sierra Leone has an elected president whose mother is alive. So when BBC’s reporter Umaru Fofana visited the northern town of Makeni, he visited Mrs. Alice Rosalyn Koroma, the mother of President Ernest Bai Koroma. He first asked her what it felt like being the mother of the president.

Alice Rosalyn Koroma: Being the Mother of the President of the country is a big blessing, I am proud of it.

Umaru Fofana: Right obviously because your son is President, but does it come with responsibilities  

Oh yes, there are many responsibilities being a President’s Mother because almost everybody wants to get help from you.  They think you have all the money, but in some cases, you just have to help

Now the help that you say people want from you being the Mother of the President, does that help include coming to you and asking you to talk to your son to favour them or something? 

Well, sometimes they ask me to talk to my son, but sometimes they need help from me, like people who are sick, people who go without food, people who go without jobs.  Where it is possible I give you food, if it is possible for me to give you money, I give you money.  If it is possible for me to seek a job for you, I do it. 

What do you tell those who come to you to try to influence your son in their interests?

Well, sometimes, some people want to meet him, but they cannot.  So I have to call him, I book an appointment for them.

And do they keep coming here streaming in, or do they come in trickles?

<Laughing> They come in a lot.

Do these Ministers for example include those people that come to you to influence him?

No, Ministers don’t come to me, they can meet him.

And those times when you have talked to your son, for people, has he said, “Mummy, I’m sorry I can’t help them”?

Well, in some cases he do.

Do you advise your son on the way he governs the country?  Have there been instances where he has done things that you have not liked and told him, “no son, you have not done this?

Well, <pause> let me see, <pause>, no.

And are you satisfied with the way he is running the country? 

Well, I am satisfied because I know how he met the country, and I know that there are developments coming, although the opposite side will not appreciate it, but most people appreciate what is happening.  I think he is very gentle, to a fault. Some things which he should have done, to makes his government easy, he has not done it.

Such as,

Such as allowing people, who have been in the office, especially in the State House, he leaved them there, to stay with him. Even in America, when the outgoing President is going out, he goes away with his entourage, and the incoming President comes in with his entourage.  So we need that changed, but he has not done it.

So you would like your son to sack all those that had work at the State House before?

No, there’s no need to sack them, but they should be given other employment, or transferred other places and let him come with his people. 

Maybe at the end of his first time as President, what would you want him to be remembered as?

As he has made a promise that at the end of three years Sierra Leone will be a changed place.  We should have light, water, good roads, and I think he is working towards that.

If for some reason he doesn’t do it, will you pull him by the ear and say “hey man, come here, you’ve not done this”?

<Chuckles> I can’t pull him by the ear, because he’s big enough and he is now the President.

He’s still your son though.

He’s my son, but sometimes I can’t dictate to him again as I used to.

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