ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION… Potpourris Of Messages: Bio, Dr Samura And Dr Ahonsi

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Potpourris Of Messages: Bio, Dr Samura And Dr Ahonsi

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

The European Union Election Follow-up Mission has said it on camera. Some diplomats have said it in camera. And the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, has concurred both in camera and on camera. But President Julius Maada Bio and his troop of hangers-on appear to be dead to diplomatic-speak; so they are still wallowing in willful ignorance.

And it is that willful ignorance that is making senior members of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to be now playing the proverbial stubborn flies who are destined to be entombed with decomposed corpses! And, from the look of things, it appears as if what members of the Diplomatic Corps in Sierra Leone are seeing whilst sitting down; President Bio and his hangers-on are still not seeing it even when they are now on tip-toes. The point is: the SLPP government will not see the tsunami when it eventually tsunamis! 

That the International Community and the main opposition, the All People’s Congress (APC), will not accept anything except free, fair, and credible elections in 2023 is as clear as the endemic corruption which is now drenching the SLPP government. And whilst in his New Year’s message President Bio engages in half-truths and vagueness; Dr Samura Kamara the leading contender for the APC mascot for the 2023 Presidential Election and Dr Babatunde Ahonsi are forthright in theirs. 

In his New Year’s message I was expecting our Commander-in-Chief to have addressed that portion in the 2020 Audit Report, by Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL), in which it is stated that he allegedly spent “US$352,481 (about Le3.5 billion)” of the tax payers’ money on his “honeymooned” medical adventure to Lebanon. I was also expecting him to have addressed the other section that alleges that “one of the receipts of US$156,113.73 for hotel accommodation dated 18th September 2021[which was submitted by the Office of the President] was marred by discrepancies, inaccuracies and inconsistencies.…” These and other issues of grand corruption in his government, and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)’s repeated cover-ups of those financial rots, are some of the concerns I was expecting President Bio to have addressed like the anti-corruption crusader he is professing to be.

Instead, he goes into other issues with half-truths and vagueness which appear to be insultingly insulting to our collective conscience as a nation. President Bio doesn’t seem to know what is actually going on with his flagship programme, the Free [minus “quality”] Education policy. When it comes to how many children have benefited from his Education policy he could only vaguely say, “In 2021, we kept millions of children in school…” and that “In 2021 we have trained thousands of teachers and education sector workers….” If the Head of State is incapable of giving us the exact figures of the children “kept in schools” and the “teachers and education sector workers” that are being trained; then it will be very difficult for us to believe in what he is saying. For truth goes with facts and figures not guesses!

And for that section where President Bio speaks about “the control [and] effective fight against corruption” and claims that “domestic revenue mobilisation is up, inflation is largely in check, procurement and other financial processes are better monitored, and public-sector salaries are paid regularly each month”; I will safely state here that our President should try his hand in Creative Writing for he seems to have the imaginative flair of a would-be blockbusting author! For this portion of his New Year’s message sounds like fiction, considering the realities on the ground!

But Dr Samura Kamara’s New Year’s message is an antithesis to President Bio’s. In his, he lays bare the fact that the Bio administration has instituted conscious policies that are “generating tribal and regional divide; of an administration anchored on persistent hate, blame and vengeance; of political intimidation, arrests, incarcerations and harassment of opposition members; of deepening state capture of both public institutions and strategic business enterprises; of human rights and constitutional violations; of overzealous police brutality often meted against peaceful demonstrations, and of untold hardship and deteriorating social and economic conditions….”

Unlike President Bio who is vague about “…the misinformation-laden rhetoric of bad politicians….[maybe, he is making indirect reference to his very own Professor Egregious Infractions One Percent]”; Dr Samura Kamara is very clear that “…one political party [meaning the SLPP] cannot use violence and intimidation to suppress or disenfranchise political opponents or of any citizen whatsoever.” And he, therefore, notes that it is “imperative that we create and allow an atmosphere that will ensure free, fair and unpolluted elections in 2022 and 2023”.

That last sentence resonates, or is telepathic, with some sections in the New Year’s message of Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone. This UN Point Man notes that, “…What Sierra Leone’s key political actors do this year will determine whether the country successfully holds elections in 2023 in a manner that helps to advance the process of democratic consolidation in the ensuing years”. But he seems afraid that “the signals from 2021 were not too encouraging as we saw more evidence of tit-for-tat than give-and-take politics across the landscape to the detriment of accelerated pursuit of the nation’s development priorities….”

Looking at the three New Year’s messages, Dr Ahonsi’s message is a sort of buffer to President Bio and Dr Samura Kamara’s. If the Head of State is “determined to keep our nation on the path of a New Direction” but the leading contender for the 2023 APC Presidential ticket believes that under the New Direction majority of Sierra Leoneans “…have witnessed a deliberate and systematic deterioration and the re-birth of those major factors that were blamed for our 11 years civil conflict…”; then Dr Ahonsi’s closing by borrowing from Sierra Leone’s “National Pledge” is appropriately appropriate.   

But with President Bio’s determination to maintain the status quo and Dr Samura Kamara’s vow to “work tirelessly to ensure that our votes…be protected in the 2023 Presidential election”; then Dr Ahonsi’s fear of Sierra Leone’s two main political parties purely functioning “as vehicles for winning elections” is in place. And the unpleasant fact is that SLPP supporters appear to be determined to always use violence to get their way whilst there are now indications that APC supporters have reportedly resolved to react to violence with violence. This could mean that Sierra Leone is, at present, masturbating with caustic soda!

It is on that note that I will end this year’s first One Dropian dropping with an excerpt from the preface of Wole Soyinka’s prison memoir, “The Man Died”, which says, “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” Truly true. But I’m not insinuating anything apocalyptic or being engrossed in wishful-thinking; it just that coming events have ways in casting their shadows.

The British government spends € 600 million annually on the BBC World Service (the BBC’s international advertising branch).  And every week, this World Service reaches 96 million people in Africa, the channel’s largest audience.

 Now ask yourself, why would the British government spend 600 million euros EVERY YEAR to inform African people?

 As Carter G. Woodson said ′ ′ If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions.  When you determine what a man should think, you don’t have to worry about what he is going to do.  If you make a man feel inferior, you don’t have to force him to accept an inferior state, because he will look for you himself.  If you make a man think he is just an outcast, you don’t have to send him to the back door.  He will go without being told;  and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one. “

 Now, here it comes: France.

 Every year, France spends 273 million euros on 3 international advertising media: 140 million euros on Radio France Internationale (which reaches 40 million people every week mainly in Africa);  80 million euros in France 24 (the aspiring French CNN, which hit 45 million people a week, mostly in Africa);  and 63 million euros on TV 5, a channel to disseminate the French language and culture of French-speaking countries in the world, which reaches around 55 million people weekly, mostly in Africa.

 Again, ask yourself, why would the French government spend € 273 million EVERY YEAR to inform the African people

 The answer is simple.  There is a war in your mind!

 As George Orwell said, ′ ′ The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and destroy their own understanding of their history “, and these means, disguised as informing and amusing the African people, have only one Agenda: to corrupt our understanding  of ourselves, our reality and the world, implanting in the minds of our young people ideas and concepts that ultimately lead us to believe in what will happen in the period of political or economic crisis.

 The logic behind the huge media domination in Africa by these Western powers is to prepare Africans for a subservient role in this world.  It is a process of dehumanization as Steve Biko put it some time ago.

 ′ ′ The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed ′ ′ – Steve Biko

 From Genghis Khan to Hitler, they know that once we win the propaganda war, it is easier to conquer any nation.

 ′ ′ The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and their own are the same. ” Marie-Henri Beyle>

 The African elite now receives 100% of its information from Europeans.  If something happens in Lagos or Accra, they would receive news from CNN or the BBC.

 ′ ′ We become slaves the moment we hand over the keys to defining someone else’s reality, be it a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN. “

 ~ B.W.  Powell

 African governments must take strong measures to restrict the issuance of foreign propaganda in their territory.

Africa’s intellectuals must step out of their comfort zone and join the frontline of offensive intellectual independence.

 Any country that does not print its own dictionary is colonized or will be soon!

 He who defines, governs.

 Words are the building blocks of reality.  The reality belongs to whoever makes the blocks!

 As Marimba Ani said ′ ′ Your culture is your immune system “, once taken from you, you are helpless, vulnerable. This is why Africa’s enemies are investing so much in destroying your immune system.

 Deep Africa

 Mental Decolonization

The Nuances of using _ad hominems_ in a group discussion

By Christian Lawrence

Social media discussions are too often punctuated with ad hominems these days. Not just ‘riff-raffs’, but some intellectuals too have been struggling to resist the temptation of using ad hominems, especially in a group discussion. Why is this the case?

I have just completed a social research (using 30 WhatsApp groups I am a part of as my small sample size) to better understand this seeming malaise. I found out that the reasons…vary. Some colleagues in trying to _look out for a friend/political party or some other form of political, economic, religious or social groupings_ spare no time to exhaust the use of ad hominems to dominate or evade, as it were. If their persons or friends seem to be under scathing criticisms from others, they hurry to their rescue, using ad hominems to silent the critics.

I also realized that the up-bringing/environment in which people grew up or are still part of can dictate the frequent/infrequent/ types/ and length of time devoted to unleashing ad hominems. Some people are notably calm (by disposition), but when they are in a _sour_ mood can throw out caustic ad  hominems, even when unwarranted. They may regret their unsavoury conduct not too long, and sometimes tender apologies.

 To some others, dishing out ad hominems comes naturally – they are surprised that others are ‘making a big fuss’ for something simple. They ask that others develop a ‘thick-skin’ and stop complaining too much!

Of all the reasons I harvested for the use of ad hominems, its use as a shield to evade ‘defeat’ in an argument takes center stage. What do I mean? These WhatsApp groups are formed, some are highly-intellectually driven. It is not uncommon for a given group to have members of different ages/sex/intellectual capabilities (higher degrees and common sense) etc. So some members may find it hard to ‘loose’ an intellectual argument in the presence of say, 200 other members. So they employ ad hominems as a means to cut short the argument/discussion at hand to save face.

We are pretty sure that when ad hominems are used indiscriminately other forumites or the admin(s) will be tempted  to intervene. In this way, others’ attention may have conveniently been taken away from one’s poor facts/arguments.

Lawyers would say something like, _a lawyer is only as good as his/her case_. Meaning, in a WhatsApp group for instance, an issue may come up for argument/discussion and a WASSCE certificate-holder (depending on his/her confidence, facts at hand, skills etc) may make more sense than say, a PhD holder. Is this scenario improbable? No. If the PhD holder realises that the far-less educated forum member is doing better than him arguing his case and therefore gets emotional and embarrassed and decides to use ad hominems to deflect attention…, it will be unfortunate.

I have seen instances where ‘non-legal minds’ making more sense on few legal matters than some lawyers! Different reasons may be responsible for that outcome, but that is not to say that you do not need to study law to know the application of law.

My conclusion on this subject is that when an intellectual argument/discussion ensues (especially when two forum members are principally trading points) the first to deep his/her hands in the bag to bring out ad hominems is usually the one whose case or standpoint is weak/ standing on jelly-legs. The one making more sense usually keeps his/her poise.

Also, the frequent use of ad hominems discourages some forum members with wise contributions to be actively participating. They keep quiet when debates are on for fear of others hurling ad hominems at them. It’s good to have a _thick-skin_…but not everyone does. Having a thick-skin should not be a prerequisite for joining a group. That’s why it’s good to have a vigilant administrator in WhatsApp groups to be checking those who all too frequently use ad hominems deliberately to hurt (intimidate, silent, embarass) others

S/L Library Board Receives 22,715 Textbooks from Book Aid International

By Musa Kamara

On Thursday 6th January 2022, the Sierra Leone Library Board has yet again received one 20ft container of 22,715 textbooks that include core materials and other relevant texts. The books were donated by Book Aid International- a UK based charitable organization.

The event was held at the Library grounds on Rokel Street, Tower Hill in Freetown amongst a cross-section of teachers, pupils and the media.

In his remarks, Musa Bala Mansaray, who is the Acting Chief Librarian informed that a total of 22,715 books were donated by Book Aid Int. and the books target: early childhood education (nursery schools), secondary schools, universities and other institutions and communities.

He maintained that Book Aid Int. has been a long standing friend of S/L Library Board and by extension the people of Sierra Leone. He went on to say that the charitable organization has been providing quality books that boost education.

By extension, he mentioned that Book Aid Int. through S/L Library Board has been complimenting government’s drive- bent on improving quality and accessible education for students. 

On monitoring, the Acting Chief Librarian said that his institution remains very committed to ensuring that the books are effectively used, and he also stated that Book Aid Int. do visit the country twice a year to also undertake monitoring and evaluation.

Musa           Bala Mansaray enlightened that through S/L Library Board, the country can now boast of 24 libraries directed to the service of ensuring that quality education is achieved by every Sierra Leonean child.

He assured that a quantity of some of books donated would be distributed in all 24 libraries across the country, universities and nongovernmental organizations- committed to the development of education.

In his statements, Solomon Fofana who is the Acting Chairman- S/L Library Board underscored the relevance of the institution- towards the development of education in the country.

He applauded Book Aid Int. for the consistent donation of quality books and he called on teachers and parents to ensure pupils make use of the materials.

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