The aim of any given political entity is to make political gains out of a political situation, and that is what I want to believe is currently happening in the Kono scenario, mindful of the fact that, the APC are now in power and the SLPP, that used to be in governance are now in opposition. The SLPP must be trying to show the supremacy they used to have over Konoland and now that the APC are in power and with the second gentleman in the country coming from Kono, there is tension between the two parties.
I had been to Kono on a few occasions and the latest being my visit to interview all the Mayoral candidates for the city council. During that visit, I had the opportunity of discussing (off the record) with one PMDC official in Kono and what came out during that discussion indicated that the political marriage that was created between the PMDC and the APC was not that stronger in Kono. The district of Kono particularly the city appears to be a hot spot for politicians. Whether this has to do with that district’s mineral resource or something else, I can’t tell. Bo used to be that kind, and that was when the PMDC was at its childhood stage.
Again, I have been following media coverage on the Kono political violence. One Hon Emmanuel Tommy of constituency 21 in Kono was quoted by Premier News of Wednesday 18th June to have stated that, Kono was under seige. But the ‘News’ of the same date quoted Hon Phillip Tondoneh, another MP from Kono as saying that, Vice President Samsuma was the brain behind the recent political unrest in Kono and that “if the APC attack us again, we will also attack them…”, signs of bad omen indeed and I wonder if such words should be coming from a person like that.
In all of this, the police in Kono are having their own part on the issue and so “For di People” newspaper of 18th June quoted the Local Unit Commander of Tankoro Police division as saying that, he could not blame neither the APC youths nor those of the SLPP for the fracas in Kono because as he said, “…today, you’ll see them in red with the APC and tomorrow in green with the SLPP.” Well, this is what many had anticipated because, even the day for the fracas in Kono, I tried to get unto the LUC to get his reaction to certain claims by the SLPP that, while they [SLPP], were being attacked in the presence of the police, no arrest was made and that the police in Kono acted in connivance with the APC.
The police force has always found itself in the centre of political issues. When the SLPP was in power, the police were once seen as friendly with that party but that relationship went sour when the APC assumed political office. In fact, when the results were announced, police officers were seen dancing along the streets of Freetown and even when the SLPP headquarter was vandalized, Acha Kamara said, the act was perpetrated by SLPP youths who were angry at the party hierarchy over the treatment meted them. Unto this time, I still cannot believe that, a defeated man could go to the extent of stealing from within his own house.
There had been efforts to implicate the VP in this Kono trouble but the ‘Spectator’ newspaper of the 18th June said, the VP had been exonerated since he was not even in Kono on the day of the trouble, Perhaps interestingly of all is the report by ‘Exclusive’ press of Tuesday 17th June that the former Vice President Solomon Berewa was ambushed “by an alleged group of APC supporters during the launching of the SLPP campaign in Kono”. The same report was also carried by the ‘Democrat’ press of the same date, that Berewa’s convoy was attacked and that one Tamba Kellie contestant for the chairmanship under the SLPP in the Kono District Council, narrowly escaped “what eyewitnesses described as an assassination attempt.”
As I was writing this piece a caller from Kono told me the SLPP Mayoral candidate for the city council in Kono, Sahr Lawrence had gone into hiding for security reasons. So I decided to call him to confirm such claims and he indeed confirmed that he was in hiding because from what he alleged, his life was under threat by alleged supporters of the ruling party. I was somehow baffled by such latest development in Kono having monitored that district from the recent past presidential and parliamentary elections.
During my visit to Kono, what I noticed was that, and perhaps that is still the case, there was a big time political divide on party colours between the aged and the youths. From my observation during my one week stay in the city of Kono, I realized that, the SLPP is a party that has the support of the aged whilst the APC is a party that carries the support of the youths. But such political divide should not be allowed to go to the extent of dividing families.
Youths used to demonstrate in Kono, they used to agitate for their right especially when it deals with their God given mineral – but their recent turnaround from that to be involved in political violence is indeed disturbing. They have condescend to a level that some of us at the youthful age should not accept
The youths have been very instrumental in every aspect of our nation’s development. Even when we talk of the total collapse of this country some few years ago, the youths were very highly involved. There is need for that mentality to change among the youths. I am particularly concerned that, youths had also been at the forefront of the political disturbance in Kono and this must be condemned in no uncertain terms. The politics of party colour won’t take us anywhere as a nation that is still crippling from the effect of our civil war.
Vice President Sam Sumana cannot be pleased with what is happening in his hometown and the same goes to even the First and second ladies of the republic. But I am of the opinion that, they have a role in all of this; how you may want to ask. Now, they can help the situation by firstly taking chiefs out of politics because, it is no secret that, chiefs are used to intimidating people when it comes to party politics. This used to happen when the SLPP was in power and the APC need not allow that to continue. Remember, this is something that even our President, Hon Ernest Bai Koroma was not happy with.
Certain issues need to be made clear; if we are to go by reports that Berewa was attacked in Kono, then such an act must be condemned by all and sundry. This should not be seen as making a case for him, but my expectation is that, we must have respect for our past leaders. I would not want to see a situation wherein my current Vice President or even the President is being attacked and treated with dishonor when any of them would have left office. Our national offices must be respected not only when somebody occupies any of such offices but even after. It is true that Solomon Berewa is an ordinary citizen just like this writer. Berewa was Vice President and even as I call for honor to be given to those who had occupied public offices, they too must be seen doing things in accordance with the dictates of modern society.
Our political leaders must be seen condemning violence at all levels. We are just few days to the next local council elections and the latest ugly developments in Kono are unacceptable. I can understand the emotions, anger and frustration that are sometimes attached to political issues, but the words by Hon. Phillip Tondoneh of Kono that ‘if the APC attack us again, we will also attack them…’ are in my opinion sending wrong signals. It was also JJ Blood who said, if their party supporters are attacked, they have no other alternative but to do likewise. Political contest must be civilized and not brutish. Political players should also be seen promoting national cohesion instead of preaching messages that are synonymous to problems and outrage. JJ Saffa and his political brothers in the SLPP and even those in the APC must promote national interest than party interest at all times.
Therefore, even the SLPP hierarchy has its own responsibility in the current political violence in Kono. Somebody once told me that, they[SLPP] have still not been able to accept that power has changed hands as they[SLPP] are no longer in governance. The SLPP must accept the painful fact that, they were defeated democratically through the ballot box. What they should be embarking upon at the moment is to see how they could re-bounce into the political limelight. They know the factors responsible for their downfall and these factors, they must handle well if they are to make a come back.
Kono had a bitter experience during our civil war. Therefore one expects the youths of that district to be advocating for the reconstruction of the district. I recently wrote that Kono is a rich land of poor people and this is true. Go to Kono and see the bad effects of land and corporate mining. These are issues that youths and other citizens of Konoland should be seen pursuing rather than allowing politicians to continue using them for their political gains. Kono is a hot spot for our politicians but their desires would be realized with the support of the Kono people. This is my advice to Kono people.