Warning to every reader of this column! Any Sierra Leonean or foreigner who, in the course of this true tale of Sierra Leone’s newspapers, tries to find hidden meanings in this article would be given the task of cleaning Freetown and completing the Bumbuna electric hydro project in two days’ time. Another warning! All characters in this journalistic penning are fictitiously real as they have semblances to those now on the newsstand (do we have newsstands in this country, anyway? Sorry, the Post Office at Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown).
Now to the true tale. Sierra Leone, which published the first newspaper in West Africa in 1808, is one of the few countries in the sub-region where every newspaper claims that it is For di People, and that it has every right to Peep! on decent citizens’ private lives, professing to be the Independent Observer and at the same time The Spectator.
But what can decent citizens do after coming to reality with Walter Bagehot’s belief that, “a parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people.” I can not dare say such a thing about our parliament, except The Democrat is man enough to write it. Or Sheka “Shekito” Tarawallie would be so foolhardy to do so if his now defunct Torchlight were to beam in the House of Parliament and gets a month’s in jail.
Like all hapless citizens the world over, deprived Sierra Leoneans rely on the men and women of the Fourth Estate who often wallow in disillusion that they have monopoly over The Exclusive stories which are expected to make The News of the day so that they later become Premier News.
But should we forget about the news beacsue the times are now very hard for ordinary Sierra Leoneans. As the prices of fuel and food are shooting for the sky in the country, not all is well with the Salone Times. But as the Standard Times is writing about issues of President Ernest Bai Koroma being trapped in “Port Loko, Bombali and Tonkolili”, this has further helped to highlight that there is no Concord among Sierra Leoneans. Though the Information and Communications minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, is denying this, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Secretary General, Jacob Jusu Saffa aka JJ Blood, believes that this claim cannot be denied because our times can be described as Awareness Times.
And because of lots of awareness in the country, that’s why many media practitioners now hold the view that The African Champion had been championing the cause of the All People’s Congress (APC), during the pre-2007 elections period, because it had hoped of being a New Citizen in an Ernest Bai Koroma government.
But many citizens do not mind former firebrand anti-establishment journalists transforming themselves into politicians because all they want to see is that The Pool in every street is filled by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) so that the New Vision of the country attracting many investors can be realized before 2025.
That is why the New Storm now sweeping We Yone Sierra Leone is the clamour for Unity among Sierra Leoneans which should not only be the usual “Tok Tok” as in the Awoko but action and commitment to this concept. And by the way, what has become of the Positive News? Has it run out of cash or steam? Except that there is no longer Evening Scoop from which journalists could “coast” or blackmail decent citizens in the morning.
This is the true tale of Sierra Leone’s newspapers, as I see them. Do you have any comments? No? Then hold your peace and leave me in peace! And go in peace. Beacsue peace is here. By Mohamed Sankoh