The city that I am about to tell you about is Bo city. ‘Sweet Bo’ as it is commonly referred to and which now seems to be turning into a political city which has spurred me to write the things that I did not know of my city.
I was born in a city that was quiet, peace loving, enjoyable and educationally active. For most of my stay in Bo, violence especially that emanating from politics rarely happened. The only violence I could recount were the ones done through sports when, either Christ The Kings College (CKC) or The Bo School and Ahmadiyya will clash in an athletics or football competition. Also when the Saint Andrews Secondary School (UCC) either clashes with Bo Commercial Secondary School or the Milton Comprehensive Secondary School. But what will follow after the clashes will either be a school picnic or an after School jam at Up Town Disco, Bo City Hall, Club House or YWCA. The indifference will end there.
There might at times be some scuffle when either Ahmadiyya will celebrate for topping the A levels result for the South or Bo School topping the O levels category. And lest I forget when the two leading social clubs, Death Row and Bad Boy will clash when they meet in clubs.
Such was how we were in our city as we knew less about politics as it was always peaceful as was in Makeni because the two cities are the dominant base of the two leading political parties.
Political violence in my city from enquiries from my late Father could be traced during the one party era when thugs were imported. He mentioned the frequent use of the Internal State Security (ISU) or Special Security Division (SSD) who are now Operational Support Division (OSD) as the significant tool against political opponents. Rather than that, my late father told me Bo was supposed to be peaceful when it came to politics.
It is now all a different situation in my city when it comes to politics as it has not only become a cosmopolitan one but one where a third party PMDC is posing a serious threat to the SLPP as does the ruling APC. This political mixture is what the SLPP is seriously fighting against and which is what always causes the fracas in the city. This is bad for my city as politics has engulfed them forcing the active arguments in world football, entertainment and international discussions to the background.
My city was not akin to discrimination despite the large presence of especially the Northerners. They have several settlements in the city and they have even named an area where they are settled as Bo extension. They dominate the petty trading business and also populate the stalls right in Bo central market. We grew up never making xenophobic remarks against anybody. Being a madingo, we have always been respected in that city.
We have intermarried ourselves and we have built mosques bearing the names of our tribes, the Temnes inclusive. The elders will always be careful not to harm any stranger. But why should they allow the 2007 elections to start nursing indifferences against one another, it is really sad to write the things you did not know about your city, a city which used to tolerate all but now holds others in contempt.
Is it correct that the city now does not respect people in authority because of politics, and is it also true that one group always tries to forestall the effort of another when that group involves in developmental activities. No, I definitely do not know my city to be such and for it to be always in political violence. What I know of my city is to stand against insecurity or threat of it nor intimidation or other suppression.
I used to know my city where the youths were very active, ambitious to pursue higher education not a city where the youths will be reduced to serve as party thugs or task force youths. What is now happening in my city is definitely not a characteristic of the city I know. It used to be an enviable one please please leave my city to continue enjoying its civility and let us continue to be proud of its title ‘Sweet Bo’.
By Ishmael Bayoh