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Coming Back From The Brink In Sierra Leone :A Case of Selective Amnesia

Former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone has written a beautifully bound 359-page volume entitled Coming Back from the Brink in Sierra Leone, a must read for every Sierra Leonean alive for obvious reasons. For once, President Kabbah can now be credited for modesty with words. For those who are old enough to go down memory lane with me, he had actually plunged on the jagged edge. He is phoenix – he is rising up from the ashes.

 

And for those unaffected civil-war persons in search of the history of Sierra Leone’s recent past, the former president of Sierra Leone has written a perfect book of choice that is bound to ignite the curiosity of an attentive reader and/or the attention of a curious scholar. Indeed, the work is a recount of courage, resilience and steadfastness of the man who has been indisputably credited for coordinating the peace the war weary population and warring factions were ready to achieve in Sierra Leone.

 

Coming back from the brink in Sierra Leone is not achieved without the self-praise for courage, some obvious amount of forgetfulness and verbatim, gross over-burdensomeness of the narrative with legal materials and speeches already in the public domain.

 

And President Kabbah does not conjure the readers’ emotion when he refers to himself as being “courageous”. In the opening paragraph of the book he writes that he “… entered the world with a clasped left-hand containing what was thought to be a piece of paper with an Arabic inscription.” In the second paragraph, he aggrandizes himself with an effort of proving the truthfulness of the story of his birth when he states “Incidentally, I am left-handed.” But we know too well, according to the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran that God spoke to only two prophets, Abraham and Moses.

 

We know not that we had lost the opportunity of celebrating the birth of a prophet in Sierra Leone, Kailahun District, in Pendembu Township named Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Intriguingly, President Kabbah ends his memoir by stating in the last chapter that a maraboutic scholar had prophesied his Presidency, specifically his war-time presidency, in 1940. Nevertheless President Kabbah is right on the money in his wisdom in drawing our attention to the words of John Perkins of the Confessions of the Economic Hit Man fame: “Economic hit men (EHM) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.

 

They funnel money from the World Bank, the USAID and other foreign ‘aid’ organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. “President Kabbah writes: “Specific projects such as the Governance Reform Programme, the Justice Sector Reform Project and the Sierra Leone Security Sector Reform Programme had their project implementation units detached from the public service and DFID-recruited experts attached to them.

 

The fees for foreign consultants and the cost of sustaining the programme implementation units took an inordinate share of the funding for the projects.” The DFID-tormented President further reveals how his “government was often blamed for implementation problems stemming from such arrangement.” He further recounts that a DFID official, the Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, who was being investigated for corruption “claimed diplomatic immunity under the Geneva Convention.” While the DFID exposé makes a commodious good-sense read, the former president demonstrates copiously, a pathological case of forgetfulness when he falls short of shedding light on the critiques in scholarly publications, international reviews and mainstream newspapers locally and around the world his presidency attracted about other issues such as his connection with covert operations, deceptions and sometimes blatant lies in his quest for peace.

 

Top scholars have traced activities as far back as in the 80s when top grounded opposition leaders and rebel army were linked at the embryonic stage of the civil conflict with the aim of resurrecting the SLPP at all cost. It is believed that the rebel movement started with their active participation in the guise of PANAFU movement. Their strategy was incitement of students into demonstration against the then APC government. Some of these students were known to have ended up in Ghana enroot to Libya. Until now, there was a dearth of reliable information on those who went underground then, but we know a lot about those who were busy with the resurrection of the SLPP by any means necessary.

 

A briefing published by research group African Analysis International, written by Ibrahim Bangoura and Nhinson Williams titled, “Sierra Leone: The Pre And Post War Overview; A Combination Of Tragedy, Threat And Insecurity,” sheds some light in the subject: “Outstanding opposition figures both in and outside of Sierra Leone then were in for a change of regime in the country at all cost so that they too could participate in the dividend of the aftermath political equation. Obviously, that became real after the NPRC’s rule.

 

Current president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, Lawyer Solomon Berewa, Dr. Joe Demby, Dr. Abass Bundu, Hon. John Kerefa Smart and Chief Hinga Norman were all amongst a long list of those who had this impulse and wished the change so dearly.” In 1998, President Kabbah wrote an article for the Daily Mirror in London denying an allegation that he used mercenaries provided by Sand line International and trafficked weapons to the Civil Defense Forces through the same source: “My government did not use mercenaries provided by Sandline.

 

It is true that a delivery of light weapons, arranged by a third party, was made by Sand line for the use of our Civil Defense Units. But that only occurred after the removal of the illegal regime.” But Wayne Madsen has it differently from President Kabbah in his Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999, “On Feb. 22, 1998, Sandline, with the approval of Britain’s Foreign Office and British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone Peter Penfold, arranged to ship 30 tons of Bulgarian AK-47 riffles to Kabbah’s waiting forces in Sierra Leone.” The Nigerians of the ECOMOG (Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group) troops at Lungi Airport “seized the cargo of ammunition bound for the Kamajor local militias who were waiting to stage a counter coup against the military regime that had kicked President Kabbah out of office,” Madsen explains.

 

President Kabbah hardly gives two pages of his memoir to the case of Chief Sam Hinga Norman. The way Chief Norman was whisked out of Sierra Leone, only to die in the custody of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, can only be compared to the story of George Orwell’s Boxer in Animal Farm after the completion of the revolution. And President Kabbah writes “His arrest was another agonizing episode of my presidency. … I could do little because we had promised the UN and other relevant bodies that we would not interfere in the work of the Special Court. “Nonetheless, President Kabbah also writes that “they were volunteers” referring to Chief Norman and the CDF fighters. “Whatever disbursement my administration made to them was nothing more than an honorarium for subsistence,” Kabbah writes.

 

And in spite of the total global criticism President Kabbah attracts in putting 24 persons to death for treason, he shows no remorse, instead he remains very defensive. One last observation; was Charles Taylor a foot soldier of the Sierra Leone conflict? If not, he must have been rightfully indicted amongst many other reasons by the Special Court of Sierra Leone for his financial and other logistical support to the rebels then. Thus this means that we are yet to witness another rightful indictment by the Special Court or is it a case of selective amnesia?

Former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone has written a beautifully bound 359-page volume

Former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone has written a beautifully bound 359-page volume

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9 Responses to Coming Back From The Brink In Sierra Leone :A Case of Selective Amnesia

  1. Adekunle

    July 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Kabbah was a traitor. He threw Hinga Norman and the SLPP under the bus.

  2. GABRIEL JALLOH

    August 1, 2011 at 7:50 am

    it is unfortunate and a mockery that the former president will be a free man whiles chrales taylor is hague

  3. GABRIEL JALLOH

    August 1, 2011 at 8:12 am

    it is unfortunate and a mockery of justice that the former president will be a free man whiles Charles Taylor is in the Hague,if taylor is in jail for his alleged support for the RUF why should tejan kabbah support for the kamajor be ignored

  4. Daniel Wah

    August 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    A redemtive start of sowing the seeds that the locus have eaten.

  5. IBrahim Sesay

    August 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

    People most understand that the jurisdiction of the Special Court is to punish the people who are most responsible, for instant Faday Sankoh(RUF), Inga Noman (CDF) and the rest. Tegan Kabba was not head of the Kamajoh, although they we fighting inline with the government of Tejan Kabba but he was not the leader. I agreed to certain extent that the international law is biased at some point by writing it mandate to prosecute the people they want to, for instance the war in Iraq and other international intervention. Also the ECOMOG committed a lot of atrocities but according to the jurisdiction of the Court, ECOMOG should be prosecuted by their government. At the end of the day the Special Court for Sierra Leone was necessary as it is one of the first courts to prosecute people violating children and women right. Our children were supposed to be going to school and look after by adult but instead involved them to commit and some of them were kill, women were raped, force marriage, was that good?

    Ibrahim Sesay
    ibsay2002@yahoo.co.uk
    07506713276 or add 0044 if you not in UK

  6. IBrahim Sesay

    August 2, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Tejan is one of the best President Sierra Leone ever produced. He was democratically elected in 1996 and he was overthrown twice. To be frank the country was at war when he took power. The first five years of his term he cannot do anything as I mention because of instability. Their government put various things in place, such as better democracy compared to other past government. Although there was a lot of other bad practices, but that the African society which we have to try and get these bad practices away. His government has set the pace to development we are now looking forward to the APC to follow was his government lack. The problem with Sierra Leone, is that our leader are not seeking the interest of the poor people, the poor people are more in number than the rich. We need leader who understand international politics to address issue like, Education for all, food security, health etc. The whole problem is with the process of Globalisation which is biased in our favour, The Green Revolution changed our food supply. early in the 60s and beyond Sierra Was producing food for it people and even export some such as rice, in the early 70s to 80, the IMF gave support to farmers with seeds, machinery etc, and most of the farmers who used to produced for the population started to produce cash crop for export for foreign exchange and stopped producing for the people. We then exposed to imported food like rice, sardines, oil which we don’t produce and if the ordinary Sierra Leonean wants any of these foods they need to pay them. How can they buy when there is no job? The other thing which is the most important is the natural resources’ which is what the country depend on to look after it citizen but all the government of Sierra Leone after independence are so weak to handle this issue. We are total backwards; we need positive people who can come forward and save the people of Sierra Leone.

    Ibrahim Sesay
    Ibsay2002@yahoo.co.uk

  7. Abdul Abass Kargbo

    August 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Mr. Ibrahim Sesay you are speaking with both sides of your mouth. You wrote “People most understand that the jurisdiction of the Special Court is to punish the people who are most responsible, for instant Faday Sankoh(RUF), Inga Noman (CDF) and the rest. Tegan Kabba was not head of the Kamajoh, although they we fighting inline with the government of Tejan Kabba but he was not the leader”. Have you ever heard the word “guilty by collaboration” besides Kabbah told the world that anyone who does not leave the country will be treated as a rebel, indeed he did just that. Sierra Leoneans who are not rich and can not afford the cost of transporting themselves and their families to another country became ponds for kamajor and ecomog-we saw how they were butchered. We saw those who were also slaughtered by Kabbah’s government because they chose to be neutral and did not speak out against the junta. If Kabbah was a man that truely loves his country and peeople why did he authorize the Mabella bombing? better yet, why didn’t he condemned such acts for the sake of his people? he has never apologised to those families. Kabbah approved of the activities of the kamajors and gave them his blessigs as long as they reinstate him back to power was all he cares about. That is why he never condemned Hinga Norman or the kamajors, insted the very moronic kabbah lavish them with praises and rewarded it leaders with cash and political appointments, some of those illeterate and bush hogs were instantly recruited into the Sierra Leone Army and were generously promoted. One would have thought kabbh would do the honorable thing by first condemning violence regardless who perpetrates it and bring those rejects to justice but oya! this former diplomat never cares about international law all he wanted was power at all cost, and he got it at the expense of countless lives, rape, torture, amputations and other extrajudicial means. I don’t see how this man is allowed to breath fresh air he is no different from Hinga Norman and Sankoh-he should have been locked up. The TRC needs to be revisited I believed the only reason they let him off the hook was to save sierra leone from further embarassment, since he his the poster boy for democracy in Sierra Leone and West Africa the international community paid lip service into the whole brouhaha and ignored the obvious facts of his crimes.

  8. Gabriel jalloh

    August 18, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Mr Kargbo don’t be deceptive and self centered,if tejan kabbah should be exempted because according to u the expression of taking the greatest responsibility does not include those who don’t go to the battle front then Charles Taylor should be acquitted.even the charges of the indictment does indicate that he Taylor ever help a pistol in sierra Leone,give me a break,tejan kabbah openly supported the kamajors,when he was in exile in guinee,he had several interviews where he said the kamajors are fighting for democracy,he never condemned them,he even retained hingha norman in his government when he was reinstated,pls we are decent men of intelligence

  9. Capt. Borobh A. Kallon

    August 19, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I have gone through the above comments, please let us assume that if there was kamajors and no other militia group to engage the rebels, the then elected government will just sit down and wait for God to save the nation. While massive unslaught is taking place. Most us of talking today, our parents, sisters, brothers, and other relative were not killed or raped, instead of applauding the Kabba government for a job well done, we are criticising.
    This is our normal habit.

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