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‘IB Kargbo Has My Vote’ – Karim-Sei

‘IB Kargbo Has My Vote’ – Karim-Sei

Journalist Ibrahim Karim-Sei has said that if he were a descendant of Bambali District and in particular of Constituency 30, he will be the first to cast his vote for veteran journalist Ibrahim Ben Kargbo (in photo), come 12th December 2015. Hear him in this article:

Two people have impacted greatly on my life in the field of journalism. The first is my former school teacher now Member of Parliament representing Bo District, Hon Frank Kposowa. The second is my subject matter, IB Kargbo. I have lived with these two people for more than three decades, contributing in their own little way towards my transformation – from a little known, novice, a shy but forward looking young man to a career journalist.

Thirty or more years ago, when I chose to become a journalist, not knowing what the future holds for me, it was Frank Kposowa who led and introduced me to the man who was to become my major mentor, literally opening my eyes to the world of journalism.

“This is my former pupil, he’s looking for job,” Kposowa said as we entered the office, turning to Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, Proprietor of the New Citizen Newspaper. “I think we can try him,” Kposowa said with a voice that eased the tension that was working through my veins as I stood there wondering in the air.

IB Kargbo barely raised his head and glanced towards me curiously, taking a mental picture of me, probably wondering if I could prove well in my new task. “Let him go to Bo and cover the southern region,” IB said, with a wave of the hand. And up I went into the unknown with no formal training in journalism.

The New Citizen had just been established under the rubric Modern Publishing Company when I applied there for a job, thus being fortunate to be among the first batch of reporters recruited and posted to different parts of the country.

After reporting from Bo for two years, I was asked to proceed to Kenema to replace Jon Foray (late) who had switched over to Bo. After another spell in Kenema (almost two years), I was recalled to head office in Freetown where I later rose to the rank of Assistant News Editor. It was from there that my relationship with IB (as he is fondly called) began to grow, the latter developing confidence in me such that when Frank Kposowa left I was asked to replace his gossip column ‘Ears To The Ground’ with ‘Top Chat’, a column I edited until I left and joined Philip Neville to start the Standard Times as Editor-in Chief in May of 1994, a move I thought IB never took kindly to. It was like I had betrayed his trust in me. But from the look of things, my sudden departure from his newspaper never bothered him as he never held me to scorn for that.

In fact, our relationship grew even much stronger when the two of us were elected President and Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), respectively, in 2004. That connection did not only concretize the love and respect we had for each other, it also extended to family level. Several years after our tenure at SLAJ had ended, Mrs. Kargbo fondly continues to address me ‘My Sec Gen’ whilst my wife often pays occasional visits to the home of the Kargbos at Spur Road, their official residence. Few days to the end of campaigning, my wife said to me, “aren’t you going to Makeni to join your man in his campaign, you know IB is your man.” I turned to her and smiled briefly. “No, I don’t need to go to Makeni to help campaign for IB. With or without me IB is going to win that election. IB has campaigned his way out many, many years ago. His openness, his generosity, his compassion for his fellow men, his respect for people, young or old; these are some of his campaign tools that will take him to parliament, mark this”.

Indeed, my long years of association with IB had taught me so many things such that I had tried to consciously model my life along some of his good moral qualities as a journalist, such as hard work, respect for the truth, respect for authority, a sense of humility and warmness towards humanity, and above all, team work – the ability to work with people no matter their dispositions or inabilities. Also, one other thing I tried to imbibe from IB is his writing skills: clear, simple and unambiguous. I don’t know whether I have been able to succeed in that.

Looking back to those formative years with nostalgia, it is sad to note that of the first generation of reporters employed by the New Citizen, dating back to the 1980s, only the two of us, Alhassan Sillah, the BBC Correspondent in Conakry, Guinea and yours truly, have survived the odds to this day. The rest including Fiji Johnson, Paul Abu Mansaray (who was killed together with his family during the January 6, 1999 rebel invasion of Freetown), Jon Foray, among many others, have succumbed to God’s mighty will (RIP).

I believe the souls of these departed colleagues who served IB Kargbo so assiduously will inspire the hearts of the people of Bombali to rise in their thousands and say ‘Yes’ to this great son of the Bombali soil. They may not be with him physically during this history making moment, but their souls shall be with him in spirit.

For me, my vote will go along with the living to ensure a clean sweep for our man. Make no bones about it.

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