Is SLPP a party of the South& East?

By Philip Neville

Maada Bio

The Sierra Leone’s Peoples Party came into existence some decades ago with a define position, among which was to cushion the socio-economic and political problems of the people and the country as a whole. Its formation was to further improving the lives of the ordinary men and women of society and to get them appreciate Sierra Leone as their country of birth. The party is one of the oldest political parties on the landscape of the West Coast of Africa, and should be a mentor to other political parties not only in this country but countries also in the sub-region. The founder members of this oldest party laid the foundation for others to learn how to manage and run a political party. It was seen as the party of the natives and started as a Movement, with Bai Faramah Tass (PC) of the Kambia District to be the Head of the Movement when he turned it down in place of Sir Milton Margai, the First Protectorate Medical Doctor.

The Movement was later transformed into a political party and addressed itself among other things with the opposition of the colony whose political party was the United Peoples Party (UPP). The UPP was regarded as a party of the elites and intellectuals with strong membership from the Krios and among them were C.B.Rogers-Wright alias Shependa, Mr. Blyden from the Western Area, Dixon Thomas from the Mountain District who was former Minister of Housing and Country Planning, John Nelson Williams, a one-time Minister of Information and Broadcasting, R.G.O.King from Waterloo, former Minister of Finance, Gershon Collier who briefly served as Chief Justice of Sierra Leone and more. These individuals and those who went for the attainment of independence at Lancaster House in the United Kingdom later joined the SLPP.

But it would surprise readers to know that the late Siaka Stevens was also a member of the SLPP, but called it quit together with Sir Albert Margai who later after the death of Sir Milton Margai, his elder brother was appointed Prime Minister of Sierra Leone. This led to the resignation of Dr. John Karefa Smart who was the then Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Sir Milton Margai,s Cabinet.

The appointment also led to the frustration of Sanusi Mustapha, Minister of Finance who had on many occasions acted as Prime Minister during the absence of Sir Milton Margai. Both Karefa Smart and Sanusi Mustapha were pictured to be the successor to Sir Milton Margai, but the emergence of Sir Albert Margai as Prime Minister in 1964, who had previously betrayed the party, followed by Siaka Stevens to establish the Peoples National Party,(PNP) created shocks and surprises among the electorate in the country. This was perhaps one of many reasons why more people defected to the newly formed APC, as it was perceived that the SLPP was now a monarchy or hereditary. The APC took advantage of the prevailing situation and quickly galvanized support from the Western Area and the Northern Province from young intellectuals and professionals like Dr. Mohammed Fornah, the Taqis, Sherif Esmon, T.S.Johnson, Davidson Luke, Berthson Wilson, just to name a few.

The founder members of the SLPP continued to maintain their loyalty and dedication to the party to the extent that they prevented the newly formed APC from conducting political campaigns in their respective areas during the 1967 elections, and Paramount Chiefs who compromised their offices were subsequently deposed by the Dove Edwin Commission, which was set up by the First Military Government headed by Juxon Smith. Some of them are PC,s Bai Koblo Pat-Bana(Lunsar) Yumkella(Kambia) Adekailie Modu(Port Loko) Komkanda of Lungi and a few others. Other members like I.B.Taylor-Kamara, Kandeh Bureh, Alhaji Sheik Gibril Sesay, Constance Cummings John, Kai Dumbuya, Zainab Kamara, Julius Cole, Sonny Browne-Marke, Fatta Rahman, Lamina Sankoh, Alhaji Tejan Jalloh, Multi Kamara, Barba Sillah and others served the party with enthusiasm until most or all of them departed for the underworld.

This brief political history of the SLPP is a clear indication that it was not a party of the South and East, but a broad based political entity whose ambition was to be a melting pot. Unfortunately, what was perceived to be a political melting pot to serve the people of Sierra Leone, not only was it hijacked but has showcased itself as a party meant only for the South and East as evident by its leaders and heads whose place of birth is either from the South or East and is now described as a party for the Southeasterners or Mendes.

It goes further to qualify this assumption that every child born in a Mende House is automatically a member of the SLPP, but not every child born in a Temne House is APC. This argument is buttressed by the fact that the First Prime Minister of Sierra Leone Dr. Sir Milton Margai is a mende and his brother who succeeded him, Sir Albert Margai is also a mende, both from the Moyamba District.

Ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah,s mother is a mende by tribe and grew up in the Kailahun. His father, a Koranic Scholar was a Mandingo Petty Trader from the Kambia District. Interestingly, Julius Maada Bio, the former NPRC two, junta leader who handed over political power to ex-president Kabbah is a mende by tribe from Bonthe. Mr. Bio the newly elected flag bearer of the party is from the South. It is now apparent from historical evidence presented in this piece that the SLPP is not in favour of either a Northerner or Westerner to lead the party. Reasons for this political discrimination are not known, but sadly this is the party that is paying lip service to democracy when all its leaders are either from the South or East.

The recently concluded party convention left some members of the public with no surprise as the outcome of the convention was known prior to the release of the results. To most of them, it was a forgone conclusion that Julius Maada Bio was going to be elected Leader and Presidential Candidate of the party.  But what left others in a state of perplexed and disillusionment is how John Oponjo Benjamin, former Leader of the National Unity Party (NUP) could use his business acumen to persuade Aspirants to part away with Fifty Million Leones each (Le 50 Million) on the pretext of raising funds for the party that was in a state of bankruptcy. The total amount milked from these Candidates could as well help John Oponjo Benjamin to boost his AITH outfit that is groping in financial darkness in Liberia and also in Sierra Leone as business in Banjul is not as rosy as one could imagine and contracts from the state of Sierra Leone are no more forthcoming as it used to be when he was the Minister of Finance in the SLPP Government and Chief Secretary of State NPRC One.

The 19 Candidates are intellectuals and professionals in different fields. Some are professional lecturers that are still needed at the University of Sierra Leone, while others are Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers and Businessmen and Women but they were suffering from myopia at the time they allowed John Oponjo Benjamin to cleverly extort money from them for position they know and he knows they were not going to clinch at the end.

Under this column in yesterday’s publication, the results (though not in full) as they were announced at the Convention Centre were published for the critical minds to see and analyzed. It would appear that the intellectuals and professionals who ignorantly parted away with Fifty Million Leones, non-refundable fee that could have been used to take care of their domestic obligations and other pressing needs are blind and will continue to be blind to the political realities that obtained in the John Oponjo Benjamin’s Cabinet.

One would commend him for using tact, skills and business idea to get the Aspirants to contribute financially to the kitty of the party. Ordinarily they would not have done so, but John Benjamin has made what was impossible–possible

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11 Responses to Is SLPP a party of the South& East?

  1. Al Phillips

    August 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Enough said,if we Sierra Leoneans don’t put a stop to the politics of divisions,tribalism and nepostism, no one will do that for us, we have to reject it at the ballot box. The SLPP could have been better served by new a leadership, JOB’s time at the helm is over.

    Thanks mr editor for the history lesson.

  2. kamara

    August 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    MR Neville in a democracy , people are free to vote for whom they desire without intimidation. People vote for people with whom they have something in common, be it race ,tribe, religion and economic status.Sierra leone is no different from Guinea where the fulas voted for Cellou Diallo and the mandingoes for oe ALpha conde or nigeria where majority of the southerners went for jonathan’s PDP and the Northerners went for Buhari despite PDP’s northern vice Presisntial candidate or even the USA where the southern states vote for the republicans and the North and Eastern states, the Democrats.

    Let’s stop the double standards and hypocrisy. Did you know the republican party was originally the party that black americans voted for . The original democratic party consisted of former rich slave owners. Today things are different and are reversed.

    As a son of a Northerner that was one of original founders of SLPP, I have no issue with the selection of Bio. He was not my candidate but was elected democraticaly; the majority spoke. Why should APC tell us who to appoint.

    When APC democratically selects a mende as a presidential candidate , then we can talk.

    Why is it ok for APC to attain 90% votes in Port Loko, bombali, and Tonkolili and they are not viewed as a northern party.

    Ernest koroma can appoint over 80% of its ministers from the north(Wusum All Stars) and thats ok. SLPP apoints its executive which is more inclusive of Sierra Leone and they are condemned.

    I will reiterate again, APC is a northern Party TEMNE_LIMBA-LOKO and SLPP is soutern and Eastern party , primarily Mende. Even Stevie Wonder can see this. Stop the amnesia and mischevious APC propaganda. We don’t buy it. Vote on the issues or for the people who will solve the problems. If you want to make the elections on tribe, then divide the nation.

    Give us a break Mr NEville, Talk about the issues that are hampering sierra Leone.

    Crime,Lawlessness, poverty, economic stagnation,healthcare, electricity,water and education. SLPP is no more tribalistic than APC. People elect candididates that will energize their stronghold from which they need maximum support. Noone will energize the voters in makeni like a Temne limba and noone will energize the voters in kenema like a mende.

    Good Day and God Bless.

  3. Prince Kargbo

    August 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Mr Neiville could you please give us a break. We are tired of your double speak. When APC coronated Ernest Bai Koroma in Makeni, did you guys raise any hell? After that same selection, Victor Foh became the only prominent South-eastern in the executive, did you omplain. When Vice Presidet was mussled into withdrawing from the vice chairman race in Makeni, did you complain. What do you people understand by the word democracy? Is it not Government of the majority? Why do you guys diabolically intend to divide this country by fanning tribal flames….proterity will judge all of you. Which political party election could be more credible than the SLPP’s? In an election omprising 19 candidates; 9 from southeast and 10 from northwest ad considering the dlegates spread which region shot themselves in the leg? The votes is almost evenly divided between the two divides. It might also interest you to note that most northern delegates for for Bio than the southeastern ones who where bought over. Nobody has the right to tell any party the candidate they should vote for, so APC should stop this divisive propaganda and try to solve the people’s economic woes. Time will tell if the suffering people will buy into your fake propaganda. This time Bio is not Berewa; the issue of youth and handsome will not work for EBK this time. Bio is by far younger, handsome and better educated than EBK.

  4. William Ngoza

    August 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    What kind of politics is Neville preaching? What I have seen in his article is clearly a politics of divide and rule, deeply embedded in tribalism. Sierra Leoneans are mature enough to take the bait of your cheap propaganda. Lets face the fact, the APC government is more tribalistic and regionalistic than the SLPP. From recent political analysis in Sierra Leone starting from SLPP Tejan Kabba to APC Ernest Bai Koroma indicates that more northerners were appointed as ministers during the Tejan Kabba SLPP government. The present APC government led by Ernest Bai Koroma has over 90 % of his cabinet ministers mainly from his northern Temne and Limba tribesmen. The APC is busy putting their party loyalists to critical positions such as the police, military, state parastatals, etc in preparation for 2012. We are yet to see a politics in Sierra Leone based on issues of national interest which affects Sierra Leone as a whole. People votes mainly on regional and tribal lines as clearly shown during the last election in Sierra Leone. What is wrong if Bio is elected as SLPP flag bearer? The election was conducted by delegates drawn from all parts of the country, with equal representations. Were Mendes the only delegates who voted Bio as the SLPP flag bearer? NO. It is crystal clear that the APC hates opposition/criticism than the SLPP. This is one the reasons why the APC as political party did everything possible to convert Sierra Leone into a one party state, just because they hate being opposed when in power. Under the present APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma, we have seen opposition party Head Quarters vandalized on more than one occasions, opposition radio shut down, journalists arrested, etc. Lets face the fact, we did not see these kind of negative politicking in Sierra Leone under the last SLPP government, regardless of all the negative propaganda that were been aired over the APC radio. Sierra Leone under APC Ernest Bai Koroma is more divided along tribal/regional lines today than anytime it her history. If one do not support APC or have a northern Temne/Limba name, forget about been appointed to important positions in government regardless of your qualification and experience. Lets Ernest Bai Koroma notes that any right thinking President do not run a country like this, otherwise that country is heading for a socio-economic and political precipice. If we are to apportion blames for the woes of Sierra Leone since 1970 to present, APC will carry more blames than the SLPP. From 1967 to date, APC has rule sierra Leone for 29 unfortunate years while the SLPP has rule for 10 years. Even during the so called 10 years of SLPP rule, the government was busy putting in place system and structures for us a have sustainable peace. It was the APC misrule fraught corruption, tribalism, nepotism, political killings and imprisonments, thuggery, youth unemployment/disempowerment in the 70s right up to the 90s that caused the civil war in Sierra Leone. This is a sad chapter in our history and it is unfortunate that most of reasons for the cause of the Sierra Leone are increasingly becoming rife in Sierra Leone under the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma APC. I will like to end this piece by appealing to all patriotic Sierra Leoneans including the President that we should not allow Sierra Leone to revert to those unfortunate and ugly days. Sierra Leone should be above all our part affiliations and lets draw lessons from the past. We are quick to forget. The genocide that happened in Rwanda has its causes in the way Ernest Bai Koroma is running Sierra Leone.

  5. Kargbo

    August 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Mr. Neville, let us stop this tribal issues on politics. We should consider our country as one not by tribes. The issues on ground should be address not tribes. The economy is in great shambles. Instead the government we voted for is putting it on global. Take for examples. Ghana today according to Aljazerra news has got the fastest growing economy in the world and the best stock market. What is Sierra Leone doing? Nothing to addres the economy, instead they are allowing the poor people to suffer, whilst they are enriching themselves by corruptions. The president told us in his manifesto that he will turn Sierra Leone back to the athens of africa. Where it is now? instead they are bent on witch hunting their oppositon by inquest. Is Bambay Kamara better than those that he killed during his era? He who lives by the sword die by the sword. What about the thousands of innocent souls that lost their lives during the AFRC brutal was that sees most of them supporting and were part of them now in the APC government. We dont wantall these , it is past and should be put behind us. WE should be working on how to make the country developed like Ghana who used to come to Sierra Leone to purchased goods and other commodities.So let stop this tribal issues and focus on how to make mama salone develop.
    Journalist should be objectives but not to be supportive of political parties. We voted for this government for change, but there is no change instead we are heading for disaster.

  6. Ben

    August 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Mende, Temne, Limba or Kuranko – Maada Bio or any likes should NOT be allowed to rule our nation again! He has NO proven track record for me to align behind him. His past and by this I’m talking about coups against Momoh and Strasser tells us the snake of a guy he is. He will plunder even more or worse than he did the first two times. All our countries money was taken to Ghana.

    The cleaning that they did didn’t put food in my stomach or anybody’s for that matter. During their rule the currency was depreciated considerably. The economy failed. International relations were strained due to closing of embassies and them sending tons of girlfriends to the UK (causing for the 1st time) Sierra Leoneans to take VISAs for the U.K. When leaders willfully use the US dollar as the functional currency and stomp on the national legal tender you know what the answer is A bastard of the leone! The cocaine planes didn’t just start coming to the country. The back door deals with our diamonds didn’t start with the NPRC or ended with them.

    Maada Bio has ruled as VP and President (You can call it what you like chairman/vice). He proved nothing for Sierra Leoneans to vote for him today. I wouldn’t talk about the 29 dead. Let’s live that but what does he bring to the table besides being a thug and intimidating people? Trust me when I tell you the strides made by Tejan Kabba and Ernest Koroma would have been a waste if Maada were to rule the country.

    To sum this up it’s not about Mendes or APC or SLPP. It’s about the people of Sierra Leone. The choice of Maada is a slap in the face to million of Sierra Leoneans. Is he the best SLPP could come up with??? Like I’ve said the learned of old have dissapointed us, the NPRC soldiers have also dissapointed us. What we need is a new party and not SLPP or APC. We need fresh blood as opposed to the recycled politians in that country who only seek office to make deals and enrich their coffers.

    And why do we need 30 freakin ministries anyway? To run 6 millions people. It’s been the status quo and that’s where we need to start making the cuts. New SUVs and all that nonesense. Why do we need 15 banks in the country? How many people even have bank accounts? What %age of the population? How do these banks make money? 15 banks in that country? By now you should know why they are there or how they came to being. Yes they stimulate the private sector with hiring etc but where did the money come from to start? What is their operational bandwidth – taking deposits & making loans? Are they really profitable to remain a going concern?

    All you bloggers up top c’mon – You know deep down inside Maada is not up for it. I’m not SLPP or APC again and if I were SLPP I would NOT vote for Maada. Party or no party. It’s not about the freaking party! It’s about the person/individual you have up there holding the light of the nation. I vote for people NOT parties. So what if I were SLPP – I should line up behind this man? C’mon bloggers save the nation and the people. Between Ernest and Maada I’ll take Ernest. Between Strasser and Maada I’ll take Strasser – crazy as y’all might wanna call him.

    Wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. kamara

    August 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Ben , in a democratic election people are free to vote for whom they like without fear and intimidation. You have decided to allign your vote with Ernest because of Bio’s past record. That is perfectly fine but you cannot prevent others from voting for him because you dislike him. That is not democracy. Unfortunately, the best candidate does not allways win.
    I can also refuse to vote APC because of it’s kleptocratic nature and wanton destruction of the moral fabric of sierra Leone. Let the people vote. Bio, not my candidate of choice but was elected democratically. We, SLPP will have to accept it.

    Let’s talk about the issues. SLPP and APC have failed us. There has been very little improvement in Sierra Leone since 2007 despite the APC propaganda. The bottom line is no leader can develop SIerra leone regardless of the propaganda, All they can do is to create a safe enviroment for business and creativity to flourish. Only Sierra Leoneans and their foreign partners can save Sierra Leone.

    The govt needs to develop its infrastuctre and market itself abroad.

    Move the airport to Hastings so foreign visitors and investors do not risk their lives getting to Freetown. Very few foreigners will return when their lives are in danger on the tetanus ferries and helicopters.
    Improve the power and energy in the country so as to encourage large concerns to open factories in the country.
    Improve road system throughout the country and with her neigbors,

    encourauge and regulate the financial institutions in the country.

    Ben , you are free to vote for who you want. By the way Bio has attained much more educational credentials than Ernest Koroma.

  8. Foday Kallon

    August 14, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Philip Neville is uselesss and unpetriotic,who is not aware of the hardship brought by his APC Government to the people of Sierra Leone?
    the APC you are preaching for has failed this nation woefully and no more the people will take this nonsense from APC,
    Maada Bio is the right person to challange the violence nature of APC, this time round we are not going to take it, the mistake made by Kabah and Berewa is enough.
    Any action will be reacted upon,so if you are scared of Maada Bio Just die now but he is the next president come 2012

  9. YambaSesay

    August 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you Philip for this question. The SLPP is not only a party for the South and Eastern provinces, but it is exclusively a Mende party when it comes to leadership. It is also a Mende-led party. All the aspirants knew this but feigned ignorance. Since its formation in April 1951, no none Mende has ever led it, because in the first place while it has a national following,the leadership has never been compromised; to lead the SLPP, one has to be “wondenised and Poronised”. It is a party in which the elders decide that unless one is a Wondeman and Poro member, he does not qualify. They welcome support and will condone corruption but will never compromise the leadership position. It is not a party where women lead. Kadie Sesay and the rest knew this very well but chose to pretend ignorance of this. They chose Maada Bio not only because he is a wondenised and poronised Mende, but also because he is a notorious thief who wants to continue looting fron where he left.
    When I say it is mende man party, I mean the party has no room for Mende-Mandingo like BU bakei Jabbie whose mother is Mende but Mandingo father, Alpha timbo who claims he is Fulla-Temne and therfore un wondenised or poronised or Temne-Mende like Francis O’bai Kabia not to mention women like Elizabeth Lavalie with no secret society to boast of.
    Most Sierra Leoneans don’t seem to know what tribe they belong to. In all Africa, a child assumes the tribe of his father and so belongs to only one and only one tribe. The mother’s tribe does not matter. The mother of a child belongs to the tribe of her father; this is simple understanding. There are no joint tribes anywhere in Africa. One is either a Fulla or a Temne but not Fulla-Temne, nor Mende-Mandingo; either one is a Mende from the father or a Mandingo. Jabbie, Alpha Timbo and others don’t qualify for Mende SLPP leadership. Stop pretending to be ignorant of what you understand. The Fulla have no area in the North they call their homeland; they live among Temne in Temne areas, so are the Mandingoes among Limba in the North or minxed in tiny numbers in the South east.

  10. Gbajima Sandy

    August 16, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Mr. Neville, thank you for your brilliant exposition of Sierra Leone Political history. Everything you wrote is very correct as far as my recollection can go. We who hail from the south and East had been brainwashed that SLPP is our party.The first mistake the SLPP made was to elect Tejan Kabbah as leader. We all now know what the mende man went through,even at the end of his term of office, he had to force Berewa to choose a Northerner as a running mate. So this time, we support Maada Bio as he is part of us. Usman Boi is not one of us. The APC won the election with the help of our mende brothers/sisters who were disgruntled with the Kabbah SLPP. So you are correct sir.

  11. kamara

    August 16, 2011 at 9:55 am

    what’s your point Yamba Sesay? How diffrerent is APC? When did the elect a woman or Non- Northerner in a democratic election. Stop tribal propaganda. APC is Temne-Limba party as SLPP is Mende based. Stop the nonesene an talk about the issues affecting Sierra Leone.

    SLPP is no more tribalitic than APC.

    Talk about failed record of APC.

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