CRAWLER'S SPECIAL WRITTEN SOMETIME IN MID-NOVEMBER, 2007
By Sheka Tarawalie (Shekito) in
On the same Sylvanus Street is the Wesleyan-founded Birch
Memorial Secondary School, my humble alma mater. Adjacent to the school gate is
a thick-wall-encircled magnificent house - Sylvanus compound. But the
relationship between Pa Sylvanus and the Wesleyan Church is not just
infrastructural; it is also personal. He sat on the Church’s national executive
(WCSL has dozens of
local churches dotted across Sierra Leone) for many years. The wisdom he brought
to bear in the leadership of the church earned him the nickname “Rock of ages” -
in apparent comparison to his Master, Jesus. And, poor me, I was privileged to
sit with Pa Sylvanus on the Church’s executive prior to his death when I acted
as ex-officio member/ Secretary. It’s an experience of a lifetime when you hear
Pa Sylvanus speak.
Pa Sylvanus mastered the art of public speaking, my father
learnt from him. Pa Sylvanus was a master English-Temne interpreter/translator,
my father (who never went through formal education but benefited from a pastoral
education), learnt from Pa Sylvanus - this is still being resonated in my dad’s
local radio messages in Makeni. Pa Sylvanus was even at one time a regional
electoral commissioner (a page of which Christiana Thorpe may have learnt about
when she was Principal of St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Makeni).
Hailing from the same Bombali South constituency (with a couple
of villages between his village and mine) is one thing, but to have come to know
Ernest Koroma intimately was as good as having known his father. In Freetown we
attended the same Kissy Dockyard Wesleyan church and we used to sit and stand
side by side in worship and prayer. What was more, at one point the future
president would drive me to and from church (wow) when it was a bit difficult
for me to have done so.
After that meeting, it was not hard for the sons of Pa Sylvanus and Rev. J.S. Tarawalie to find common ground for personal connection. Perhaps the greatest impact of President Koroma on my life came in 1996. After the SLPP government had imprisoned me for exposing the corruption that was being perpetuated at the highest level of the then establishment, disowned and found my Torchlight newspaper in tough financial difficulties following a blanket ban on advertising, the person that came to my rescue (you guess right) was Ernest Bai Koroma.
I am making this known because he is now president. But at the time, when Ernest Koroma (as he was commonly known then) summoned me to his Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation (RITCORP) office on Siaka Stevens Street, he vehemently warned that he did not want this to be known.
Reason? The SLPP could target to destroy him if they knew that he was supporting a newspaper they hated so much. But what impressed me most was the man’s modesty. It would not take long for two of his best friends, Siray Timbo of IDEAS Partnership and Alimamy Koroma (now Minister of Trade), to let me into the secret that Ernest Koroma would want to enter into politics for no other reason than to bring a change.
Indeed, I agreed that if certainly he would do so, it would not
be for another reason, having known his
But I first had to pay the bitter price of going into hiding (like brother Chernor Ojuku Sesay) from military interventionists who had quickly learnt the art of burning people alive and getting some satisfaction from it.
I knew the intervention was as wrong as the coup; and I knew - as common sense teaches - that two wrongs could not make a right. In the midst of the melee, and from my research of the situation, I developed some interest in Johnny Paul Koroma, who was mainly innocent but found himself trapped between an SLPP government that hated the Sierra Leone Army and an army that cannot be cowered by political demagogues.
The effect was political skulduggery and military coup-making.
What I did was to register my protest by supporting the Peace & Liberation Party - but not without explaining to Ernest Koroma and his friends in word and in action, in bits, what I was doing.
In parliament, I had advised Johnny Paul to lean towards Ernest
Koroma, and they had started
getting on well before the SLPP orchestrated another coup scare and botched an
operation to catch Johnny Paul.
I told him how Britain needs to know about what is going on in Sierra Leone, and how I might be a vehicle to carry this information.
A good listener, and a man of brevity, Ernest agreed with me -
before I ran to the new national headquarters of the Wesleyan Church on Berry
Street in Freetown to get some valedictory prayers and blessings from church
I know he would look back and reflect on where we are coming
from; and I know he has the vision not only to know where we are going, but also
how to go there.
For him to be inaugurated as the fourth Executive President of the Republic of Sierra Leone can only be the work of God.
Ladies and gentlemen, please accept my very personal
presentation to you of your president, my president, our president ERNEST BAI
And if you think that's the
end of the story read this and get an
insight into the mind of President Ernest Bai Koroma's "press officer". While
you read also remember that this is what he has written for the consumption of
the public and well imagine what he could have been saying to others including
the APC Presidential candidate!!!! Imagine what he could be telling the ruling
APC party echelon on "who are the new enemies of the state", who deserves "the
death of a thousand cuts" etc etc. NOTE THAT ALL THIS IS COMING FROM AN