Neither Akon nor Mohammed Bangura in Sierra Leone

By Philip Neville

Few days to Sierra Leone’s 49th Independence Celebration last year 2010, news about the arrival of the popular American-African (Afro) musical pop star, now rated as America’s 5th richest musical millionaire Aliaune Thiam nicknamed Akon was received with doubts. There were wild debates among journalists and some other groups of individuals. This writer is refusing to call them pessimist, or refer to them as example of Leon Festinger’s theory of mental conflict. In his conclusion, he sees them as a typical case of doubters and doubting Thomas’s and can even doubt the existence of death. They think that the impossible cannot be possible, either because of their limited exposure or perhaps nature has carved them to live in their own world of denial.

Mohamed BAngura in his ID for the 2011 UN General Assembly in New York

The Observer Newspaper was the first local tabloid to run a front page story of denial and impossibility that Akon is not due or will never come to Sierra Leone for the 49th Independent Celebration Show organized by few Sierra Leoneans. Among the reasons the newspaper advanced was that on the website of Akon, Sierra Leone was not included as part of the artist schedule. One could remember calling the editor of the Observer Newspaper not to correct the erroneous and false publication, but to acquaint him about the latest arrangement and to confirm to him that Akon will be in Sierra Leone as all modalities have been put in place for his coming.

A political philosopher once said that mental fixity is not developmental, and most Sociologists on the other hand believe in the doctrine of acceptance of views of others as opinions, views and perceptions are not stagnant and in most cases are deceitful. The editor was very argumentative and held on to his views that Akon was not scheduled to be in Sierra Leone, therefore whatever story or explanation that was given to him is not acceptable until Aliaune Thiam physically arrives in the country.

The adage that one can take a horse to the river, but cannot force the horse to take a drink was evident in the mental conclusion of the editor so he was allowed to proceed or lived with his imagination. During this period, Akon was in Congo Kinshasa waiting for a special jet to pick him up to Sierra Leone and fortunately less than twenty four hours; the Lungi International Airport was jam-packed with viewers and onlookers in readiness to receive Akon. Gibril Wilson was at the WFP Landing Pad, when he was called by this Columnist to inform him about development at the Airport and the refusal of Akon to disembark from the plane saying that Gibril Wilson must be present. The crowd was very intimidating and for Akon he was not comfortable with the crowd so he needs Gibril Wilson to be there to receive him and to join him to embark a standby Helicopter to the WFP Landing Pad, where thousands of his fans were waiting for him.

Other organizers like Junior Navo, Alhaji Salieu Mansaray, Moseray Fadika and members from the Celtel group were also busy putting finishing touches for the commencement of the show. Even when Akon was physically on the soil of Sierra Leone the Observer editor refused to accept reality and did not retract his previous publication.

Molhamed BAngura standing in front of the Secretary General's office in UN House

This bring to mind yesterday’s publication of the same Observer Newspaper refusing to accept the fact that the Leader of the United Democratic Movement Party(UDM), Mr. Mohammed Bangura was present at the 66th Session of the United Nations Summit in New York. This Columnist is not interested in what capacity he was there or how he entered the Hall or with whom he spoke with or where he sat. The news value bothers on his presence and what he went there to do, not how he got there as some editors are of the opinion that he lied to the people of this country through the Monologue Programme that he was there and witnessed President Obama’s invitation to the Sierra Leone President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The Observer editor described Mr. Bangura’s narration as an embarrassment and further extended his doubts and criticisms to Major Sengu Koroma of the SLPP that he too was not there. Whether the publication was done out of malice as one could sense from it or perhaps the editor is of the opinion that Mr. Mohammed Bangura lacks what it takes to enter the United Nations Building and even the United States Military Officer who was there not in the capacity as an officer of the states, but probability on the invitation of Mr. Bangura to meet with the delegation from his country.

What the editor may have shelved under the carpet is the reality that Mr. Bangura is the Leader of a Political Party, besides; if he was selected to be part of the Sierra Leone delegation there is no way Officers of the Secret Service Division or Guards of the United States of America would refuse him entry as long he carries with him the necessary entry requirements and accreditation. Mr. Bangura’s interview and explanation of events during the Monologue Programme was consistent and credible, with no doubts or loopholes, but for the Observer editor it was all lies and an embarrassment to President Koroma.  The embarrassment, he was not able to feed his readers with nor was he able to point out areas in his Mr. Bangura’s explanation that he considered embarrassing. What he may have perceived as an embarrassment, others see it as the truth and be proud of the honour and recognition President Koroma received in the midst of his colleagues in a foreign land. Readers, including this columnist were able to deduce one principal grudge which stands out prominently clear and that is the “GOOD SIDE OF WHAT HAPPENED SHOULD NOT BE RELAYED TO THE PEOPLE BACK HOME”. Whether the reporter was Judas Iscariot or Peter as long it is in the interest of Sierra Leone we should be happy about it that the President of the World (President Barrack Obama of the United States of America) in the midst of other Heads of States at the United Nations 66th Session recognized President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, not the APC party.

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