Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ex-Vice President Retires from Politics in Sierra Leone

Former VP
Victor Foh 

Sierra Leone's outgoing Vice President, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh, has in a letter written to his All Peoples Congress (APC) party, tendered his resignation from active party politics in the country.

Victor Bockarie Foh who was the former Secretary General of the All Peoples Congress party and also very instrumental in that party regaining its former glory, was the Sierra Leone Ambassador to China prior to being given the Vice President portfolio following the scandalous removal from office of the then Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam Sumana.
Vice President
Chief Sam Sumana

The role that Victor Foh played around the removal of his immediate predecessor still remains murky and shrouded in mystery, as he was initially seen as being very close to Chief Sam Sumana. However, many Sierra Leone political pundits agree that the decision to remove the then vice president  may have cost the the APC party the presidency, as many of the people from Sumana's Kono district defected from APC in droves during the past elections. Sumana was a presidential candidate in the last election, but his party only gained traction in his home district.

In a country where shifting political affiliations are very common, Victor Foh holds the distinction of being among the few politicians in the country who never changed political parties. Even at the time when his APC party was buried in the political mud after the military coup of 1992, he was one of the few who did not abandon APC.
APC Candidate
Dr. Samura Kamara 

Last year, Victor Foh's decision to contest as a presidential candidate of the the All Peoples Congress party in the hope that the party will have the very first candidate who was not from the north of the country led to what he has publicly described his public  humiliation at the Makeni convention. On the even of the selection the then President Ernest Bai Koroma stated publicly that he had no regional consideration of whom he wanted to replace him, but then went about to select both  presidential and vice presidential candidates from the north of the country.

After the decision Victor Foh felt very humiliated,  as rumors had been afloat that the president had assured him not to worry and that many of the party top brass had thrown their weight behind him, praising his loyalty to the party. After the convention,  VP Foh largely disappeared from public view.

In recent days, VP Foh had publicly endorsed the current President, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, a man who he had known for more than forty years. He praised the president's character and removed himseld from all court cases brought against him by members of the opposition APC party. Victor Foh also urged members of his APC party to drop all frivolous lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of Brigadier Bio, reminding them that, "power comes from God" and "the voice of the people is the voice of God."

Victor Foh, in a shortly worded letter to the leadership of the APC, wrote that he was retiring from active party politics, but would always be available to help in the national interest.

There are currently court cases brought by the defeated presidential candidate of the APC Dr. Samura Kamara and the journalist turned APC political hack, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, both seeking to nullify the votes of the recent elections and probably find a legal loophole to instal Samura Kamara as president, even though all foreign and domestic election observers have described the results of the elections as reflecting the will of the people and APC had won the majority of the parliamentary seats.

APC's removal of Sam Sumana with the support of the Supreme Court has emboldened members of the party to think that the courts of Sierra Leone will rule in their favor against the will of the people of Sierra Leone.

Vice President Foh is seen by many as a man with many political lives and many are waiting to see whether he will just hibernate or go into political retirement for good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Democracy Can be Beautiful When it Works

Sierra Leone President
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio 
When it works, democracy can be truly  beautiful. For many years in West Africa, the only way you could get leaders out of  power was through military coups, natural deaths or violent and sometimes bloody political insurrection.
Vice President
Dr. Juldeh Jalloh 

Most post-independent West African leaders only left power dead or exiled. Those that stayed in power for long left legacies of political disappearances and the graves of their political adversaries. Up til now, Gambians are still coming to grasp with the legacy of their last President Yahya Jammeh, even as mass graves are discovered on a regular basis.

In the past few years there have been democratic transfers of power with the defeat of ruling parties in polls in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia and now Sierra Leone. In West Africa of the 60s, 70s and 80s,  this was mostly unheard of.  But these days, it is becoming the norm, and West Africans are liking it.

In the past, West Africa's intellectual elite who advocated for changes in leadership or the conditions of the people such as Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria and Jim Fornah in Sierra Leone, paid with their lives, for trying to upend the status quo. Many others  either fled, dropped out of politics for the sake of their families, or gave up and joined those in power.

In many of these countries the leaders just formed one party states. After the 1977 national election in Sierra Leone, President Siaka Stevens declared the country a one party state and made all political opposition illegal. His All Peoples Congress party was in power unchallenged, until it was forced out of leadership by a military coup in 1992.

People all over the world have aspirations for a better life, and Africa is no exception. With increased globalization and a revolution in communication, media outlets and platforms, the people in West Africa are seeing the living conditions of people in other areas of the world and asking themselves why their own societies are stagnating or regressing, while there was progress in so many  other areas of Africa.

In this day of Facebook and WhatsApp, the young people are acutely aware of the  possibilities that their societies can achieve through better governance,  especially now that migration to the West is becoming much more difficult than in the past.  Young  Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora frequently travel to the country and educate their folks about the fact that Sierra Leone has too much resource potential for the people to remain mired on poverty.

Past African governments had tight controls over both the source and the distribution of information in the country. In the past, national radio stations, television stations and many newspaper outlets were controlled by either the governments or the agents of those in power. Those days, the governments fed the population a steady dose of propaganda and public corruptiom scandals were few and far between.

Unfortunately for African leaders the emergence of social media has made the control of information practically impossible. Even when ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone sent many good journalists in the country as press attaches to overseas embassies where they effectively became propaganda agents,  most of them only succeeded in becoming  subjects of ridicule, as ordinary citizens with cellphones became the most trusted reporters in the country. Cellphone recordings of a fight between the former Social Welfare and his visually impaired deputy where they used some pretty unsavory language led to the dismissal of both of them.


A massive corruption scheme around last year's pilgrimage to the Muslim holy land of Mecca made many people lose faith in the present government, as people just did not believe that public servants would descend to the level of corruption that would involve selling places for pilgrimage to such a religiously revered place.

When Mohamed Bangura, the intellectually challenged information minister of the outgoing government boasted that he would ban social media in the country, he became the butt of many jokes, as he had no idea the challenges that would entail and was a man known for talking before thinking.

Against all odds the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP over the past weekend won the election in Sierra Leone. After pouring massive public resources into a campaign in which the President personally hand picked both his successor and the running mate, the ruling party lost, even though they had embarked on a campaign that they were very confident of winning and describing the opposition party of being penniless and broke. They were buoyed by the defection of the last chairman of the SLPP Chief Somano Kapen,  a man seemingly cursed to die in opposition.
SLPP Turncoat
Chief Somano Kapen 

The reading of the country's election  results had to be variously delayed, as the outgoing government wanted to engage in every known political shenanigan in order to ensure that Dr. Samura Kamara, the president's own choice was elected by hook or crook.

However the electoral commissioners held firm. Many people became increasingly aware that the tides were turning when government agents ridiculously started accusing election observers and foreign agents of trying to rig elections. It was an act that smirked of desperation.

When the election results were announced and Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio the opposition candidate was declared the winner,  the losing Dr. Samura went on TV to say he will challenge the outcome. However,  nobody in the country paid him much attention. It was like someone cooking soup and then blaming others for its poor taste. Samura lost a historic opportunity to behave like a gentleman. However he seem to be accepting reality and went to church with the President where he acknowledged him as the President.

The new President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has many challenges. He is inheriting a country that is now more corrupt than at any time in its history, with an economy that is in the doldrums. The saving grace is that Maada Bio is no political novice and there are people around him with serious experience who can proffer good advice.  His main challenge will be how to distribute leadership positions among his many supporters without alienating many at this crucial time.  One only hopes he has been planning for this outcome.
Proud Defector

Regardless of what happens, democracy in West Africa is maturing.  Probably in our lifetime the people all over that area of Africa will be able to choose their leadership unhindered and hold them accountable to their promises.

In spite of the fact that it occasionally leads to tyranny of the majority, democracy is beautiful when it works.

Sheku Sheriff.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Maada Bio Becomes President of Sierra Leone

His Excellency
Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone 
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is once again the leader of the Republic of Sierra Leone! As they say, you can never put a good man down. He may stumble, but he will always rise up again.

Yesterday, His Excellency, our President, the Fountain of Honor,  Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Wonnie Bio was sworn into office by Sierra Leone's Chief Justice immediately after the results of the runoff elections were announced and he was declared victorious.

Many of Maada's political adversaries never truly believed that he would lead the country again. Many had long ago written his political obituary. But like a bad dream, he is back. Ready to lead.

With singular determination and tenacity, Maada has weathered all the storms of doubt and has given a new meaning to the adage "who God blesses no man can curse."
In these days of WhatsApp and Facebook, Sierra Leone like many other countries, has seen an unparalleled  introduction of nastiness into the country's politics. Maada Bio became a prime target.

Those who claim to have know Maada's private and personal life were all over social media with their stories, smears and allegations. Tonight many Sierra Leoneans will quietly delete many of the intensely personal things they either wrote or spoke about the Brigadier. Thankfully, he will have the last laugh.

What many naysayers and Maada's critics failed to grasp was that APC had nothing more to offer to the people of Sierra Leone, nothing, but the same broken promises and lies.

After ten years of mismanagement and corruption, even the man in the village wanted change. With nothing to offer many ardent APC supporters turned to tribalism and sectionalism. It was a failed strategy,  as every tribe in Sierra Leone had suffered under the failed promises of the outgoing government. People wanted change and preferred a familiar face.

The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) can learn a lot  from the mistakes of APC. People everywhere in the world want a better future and not just some token act of goodwill when you need them. APC operatives thought that a few bags of rice, some small money,  alcohol and preaching tribalism was all it took for the people to forget the suffering of the last ten years.

After the Ebola mess, mudslide mess, cholera mess, bus-gate, hajj-gate and the corruption, cronyism and negativity of the last 10 years, the people had had enough and said no to the outgoing President's hand chosen successor Samura Kamara who has said he is going to court.

All we can say is this; it will rain once more in Sierra Leone as the people take shelter from the sun and enter the green shade of the palm tree. Let us turn over a new leaf.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ghanaian Ex-President John Dramani Mahama Addresses Bogus Allegations of Election Interference

Ghanaian Expressed
John Dramani Mahama 
I arrived in Accra this evening to a flurry of social media stories and other worrying reports attributed to officials of the Sierra Leonean Government, that I had cut short my mission and left Freetown because of my support for one of the Candidates and Political Parties in the just ended Presidential Run-off election.

As Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the Sierra Leone Election, I was officially due to complete my Mission and leave Sierra Leone on Monday April 02, 2018, via Kenya Airways as per the ticket bought and issued to me by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
Following multiple issues that arose just when the tallying of the result from the run-off began, I was requested through a call from the Secretary General of The Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, to stay one more day to work with my colleague Heads of International Observer Missions to resolve issues that had stalled the tallying process.
My departure was therefore delayed until Tuesday April 03, 2018.

With this extension in mind, I joined my colleagues in multiple meetings with the political stakeholders on April 01, 2018 until well after midnight to achieve consensus in order to have the tallying process proceed. All these meetings were chaired by Professor Amos Sawyerr, Head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission.

In the afternoon, just before my departure from Freetown, I joined my colleague former Presidents, Amos Sawyer of Liberia, Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas at the Presidential Lodge to brief President Ernest Bai Koroma on our efforts in reaching an agreement between the political parties and the National Electoral Commission in order that the tallying process could proceed.
I bid farewell to President Koroma before I drove to the sea coach to leave for Lungi Airport.

My departure from Freetown was not sudden and when I bid farewell to President Koroma I did not get any indication in word or deed that I was not wanted anymore in his country.

I was leaving because by my agreement with The Commonwealth my mandate as Head of Mission had ended. The Commonwealth technical team were also due to leave Freetown on April 03, 2018 but a cancellation of their Air France flight is keeping them there till Wednesday April 04, 2018.

International Observers have no capacity to change the will of the people, in any election. I, John Dramani Mahama, have no interest in who governs the people of Sierra Leone. The long nights, early mornings, long meetings, diplomatic shuttles were all aimed at helping Sierra Leone choose their leader freely, maintain the peace and consolidate their democracy.

As President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2014, I visited Sierra Leone when all others abandoned the country and foreigners were leaving. I offered my country as the staging post for the fight against Ebola.

I have expressed openly to anyone who would listen the progress Sierra Leone has made since I last visited when the country was at its most vulnerable, at the height of the Ebola crisis. I have absolutely no interest in who becomes President of Sierra Leone at the end of this elections. I just believe that a credible election would consolidate not only Sierra Leone's democracy but also its peace, bearing in mind it's past gruesome civil war.

If my presence, in the midst of a volatile and violent situation, at Goderich during the first round of voting to prevent what would have clearly marred a beautiful day of election, or my actions in conducting my mandate as head of my mission has so angered some people so much, as to throw such accusations at me, I can only respond that, I wish Sierra Leone well and that on this exhausting mission, I put my best experience at the service of that nation's democracy and I pray that the in the end, whoever emerges as leader will continue to consolidate this process and continue to build on the good works of his predecessors.
Let us all continue to join the good people of Sierra Leone in prayer.

John Dramani Mahama

Bubu King Ahmed Janka Nabay Passes Away in Sierra Leone

Ahmed Janka Nabay
"King of Bubu Music" 
Ahmed Janka Nabay, who popularized the uniquely Sierra Leone  "Bubu Music" has sadly passed away in his country of birth Sierra Leone at the age of 54.

Bubu is traditional music of the Temne ethnic group of Northern Sierra Leone, but it's infectious horns and captivating beats always made it a popular form of music in all corners of the country.

For those of us who grew up around the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, Bubu was the staple music of the popular lantern parades that were part of  the Muslim festivities associated with the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Bubu added a unique Sierra Leonean flair to the Muslim festivities.
Many people occasionally associate Bubu as being somehow affiliated with Islam, but Bubu Music predates Islam in Sierra Leone and is part of the indigenous musical landscape of the country.

Ahmed Janka Nabay rose to prominence in Sierra Leone during the tough years of the civil war when he released a popular hit "Somebody" that infused the traditional horns and drums of Bubu music with western instruments,  giving Bubu Music a modern feel

Bubu is not for the slow, it both fast paced and groovy, requiring arduous quick dust raising movements. Bubu combined with the local brews of Sierra Leone was a potent mixed that had people gyrating from dusk to dawn.
Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang 

Ahmed Janka Nabay moved to the USA around 2003. Between odd jobs here and there, he joined with some local musicians on the US scene to form a band called Janka Nabay and the Bubu gang that recorded several songs and was very popular in the indie music performance circuit.

Last year Janka Nabay went back to Sierra Leone and died last night after some stomach illness. He will be buried tomorrow April 4th in Freetown as his label reports.

Because of his pioneering work in pioneering Bubu Music, Ahmed Janka Nabay will always be remembered as the King of Bubu Music. He joins a revered list of Sierra Leone musicians such as Dr. Oloh, Ebenezer Calendar, Salia Koroma, and S.E. Rogie, to name but a few, who introduced the world to the tapestry of music that is at the heart 
of the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone. We will miss him.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Gambian Coalition: A Coalition Against What?

President Adama Barrow
The brouhaha surrounding the election of the current Gambian President Adama Barrow over long-term dictator Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh Babili Mansa and Jammeh's inital acceptance and later rejection of the election results and the determination of ECOWAS  to ensure that Jammeh had to go by love or by force, hid a major problem with the victorious Gambian Coalition; it's inherent instability.

The Gambian Coalition that trounced Yahya Jammeh in December 2016 was a loose collection of eight political parties, bonding together by necessity, in spite of their personal and ideological differences, to ensure that their common enemy, Yahya Jammeh, was defeated in the Presidential elections of that December. 
Halifah Sallah

The Coalition Presidential candidate Adama Barrow, in a grand compromise,  had to resign from his own party, the United Democratic Party, and contest as an independent candidate, so that no one party could lay a legal claim to the coalition presidency.

However, the coalition agreement could not negate the fact that these were individuals, many of whom had been political rivals for decades, each with different economic and political ideologies.       As is usually the case with African politics, many of these parties also had different ethnic loyalties. It was a chaotic mix of parties, personalities and opinions, managing to temporarily coexist in an unstable equilibrium.
Ousainou Darboe

In fighting against a common enemy,  the Gambian Coalition had managed to present a united front throughout the pandemonium that followed Jammeh's defeat, followed by his intransigence and refusal to step down from office and his ultimate exile deep into the interior of the relatively unknown Central African country of Equatorial Guinea, where it is reported, he is contemplating going into farming.

Unfortunately, now that the coalition has gotten rid of their common enemy, Jammeh, the common bond that held them together has been severed. In the clamor for positions and influence in the Barrow regime, there were already signs of strains in the coalition's cohesiveness. With legislative elections in the country coming up, the coming days and weeks will be the first major trial of the coalition and already the cracks have appeared and are only destined to widen.

 A lot of ordinary Gambians around the country and in the diaspora failed to see the coalition as nothing more than a marriage of convenience. They truly wanted the Gambian coalition to have some permanence, to be a symbol of ethnic and national unity. In their minds, the coalition would demonstrate to the world that somehow, Gambians were unique and could work together, in harmony for the future of their country. Of course this was always  nothing but a sweet illusion.

Given the competitive nature of the human being and the innate competitiveness of multiparty politics, the notion of a coalition of eight parties working together in harmony, in the absence of their common enemy, was never going to truly work as expected. With their common enemy, Yahya Jammeh gone into political oblivion, at least for the near future, the founding purpose of the coalition no longer exists.  
Mai Fatty

The Gambian coalition was an ad hoc arrangement that worked, and will always remain an example to other African opposition groups. However, any view that it could be a permanent institution symbolizes a deep lack of understanding of human nature in general and  politics in particular.  Any expectation that eight African political parties can continue working together, when the glue that held them together no longer exists, is simply political naivete. At the end of the day, Gambians are just as humans as the rest of mankind and multiparty politics will always be a battle of different interests and different world views, and the two will always be uneasy bedfellows. 

With Gambian Coalition spokesman Halifa Sallah deciding not to take part in the country's executive and erudite lawyer Ousainou Darboe freed from incarceration and now in power, these are two political and intellectual heavyweights with political ideologies so diametrically opposed, that I just do not see a way that they can continue reading from the same playbook. Throw into that mix all the other political and ideological heavyweights both within the country and abroad, with different views of the future and different ideas on good governance, it would be a miracle if the cohesiveness of the coalition survives more than a year. 
Vice President Fatou Tambajang

The coalition worked when it needed to and is still in a strong position to do a lot of good before the cracks become permanent. They can set the stage for what happens in the Gambia of the future and can ensure that the human right violations that occurred under Jammeh will never happen again. The coalition's common purpose now will be to rewrite the rules of the country, guaranteeing the citizens real political freedom. They can also ensure the establishment of a thriving democracy with real checks and balances. They can guarantee the respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, and can ensure that the mistakes of the past 22 years will never be repeated again. 

Together, the coalition can determine the the rules for future political engagement in the country, ensuring a level playing field for all and probably become a model for good governance in the sub-region. The coalition can also ensure education for most and set up institutions that will encourage youths to develop skills for formal and self employment. With all the parties currently working together, the future of Gambia looks bright. However,  power and politics has a way of clouding good dreams, and I hope the coalition stays the course and continue the good fight, at least for now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tegloma Washington DC Inaugurates First Female Federation Leader

First Female Leader of Tegloma
Chairman Julia Hawa Conteh
Founding Member and First Tegloma
Chairman Benjamin Blake
Tegloma Federation Inc, is the largest Sierra Leonean nonpolitical organization in the diaspora. Tegloma which means "Togetherness for Progress" was founded in Washington DC in 1975, to promote the culture, welfare and interests of Sierra Leoneans of Southeastern descent living in the United States. 
Displaying the Staff of Office

The Tegloma Washington DC Chapter was the first of the more than twenty chapters which today comprises Tegloma Federation International Inc, an organization that has now spread to three continents.
 At its inception, Tegloma was primarily a Mende organization, as was common with many of the cultural organizations of the period, which were founded along ethnic lines. 
Tegloma Federation Vice Chairman
Mrs Elizabeth Saidu Momoh

However, given the interest in the organization by people who were not Mendes, the Tegloma organization has since evolved to open its door to all Sierra Leoneans and nationals of other countries who were interested in the culture and traditions of Southeastern Sierra Leone. 
Tegloma Land Committee Members
Seisay and Janneh
Tegloma has also become a nonprofit organization engaging in charitable causes in USA and Sierra Leone and was one of the first Sierra Leone diaspora organizations to respond with material assistance during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.
Chiefs Summit Host Washington DC
President Moiforay
Secretary General Amos Allie

Tegloma as an organization is comprised of several semi-autonomous chapters in many states in the USA, with chapters also in Canada, Gambia and Sierra Leone. All Tegloma chapters are subject to the authority of the Tegloma Federation Inc, which is the umbrella organization for all chapters.
Some Current and Past Chapter Chiefs

Over the years, many Tegloma chapters in varous states have been led by women. However, the leadership of the main Tegloma Federation administration has been the sole preserve of men, a legacy of the patriarchal nature of Sierra Leone organizations and society. Sierra Leone has always had male Presidents and Vice Presidents throughout its history.

Presenting the Tegloma Staff of Office
Tegloma New England President
"Mama Africa"
However, in September 2016, Julia Hawa Conteh, the former President of Tegloma New York Chapter took a hammer and to the male reinforced glass ceiling of the organization, shattered it and   became the first female Tegloma Federation Chairman and President in the 41 year history of the organization. 

Hawa Julia Conteh had previously lost a Federation Chairman election,but remained undeterred in her quest to make history. On the second try she succeeded as the first lady to win a Tegloma federation election for chairmaan.  Julia Hawa Conteh and Vice Chairman Elizabeth Saidu Momoh finally brought an end to the decades of male domination of Tegloma, under the likes of Benjamin Blake, Lansana Nyallay, Sam Saidu, Allie Foh, Alfred Jamiru and many other past male leaders of the organization.

 Julia's election was a calculated and determined effort that has brought into the organization what the female members of the organization are now calling "Woman Power!" A lady at the inauguration of Julia Hawa Conteh stated that women would lead the organization for the next 40 years. That is yet to be seen.
Tegloma Patrons
Julia Hawa Conteh Recognizing
Chapter Chiefs

Being the first female leader of a male dominated organization, and coming from a culture used to male leadership has not been easy for the new leader of the organization in her first few months in office. Already come of the male members of the organization with strong traditional mentality are in strong opposition to her leadership. Some of the older chapter leaders opposed to her leadership boycotted her inauguration this past weekend in Washington DC.

Hail to the Chief
Tegloma Federation Treasurer
Deborah Bockarie
In spite of the testosterone fueled obstacles, Tegloma's first female leader Julia Hawa Conteh was, in the presence of her husband and family, publicly presented to the friends and members of the Sierra Leone community, at a Tegloma Chiefs Summit on March 4th 2017, at an elaborate inaugural ceremony that was organized by the Tegloma Federation and the hardworking men and women of Tegloma Washington Chapter, led by their dynamic Chief Brima Moiforay. 

Former Tegloma Board Chairman
Abu Bhona
Julia Hawa Conteh who is a member of Tegloma New York chapter decided to have her inauguration in Washington DC, to symbolize the fact that the first female leader of the organization was formally unveiled in the founding chapter of the organization.
Julia Hawa Conteh with Proud

Tegloma Chiefs and members from all over the continental USA flew to Washington DC to witness and participate in the historic Chiefs Summit and Inauguration. The Vice Chairman of the Federation Mrs. Elizabeth Momoh, was also in attendance, including many former and present executive members of the Tegloma Federation administration and board of directors.

Woman Power
Pouring Libations
Rose Mustapha
The Chiefs summit was a mixture of old meets new, with the Keynote Speaker being the first ever Chairman of Tegloma Federation Mr. Benjamin Blake, who spoke of the history of Tegloma and its enormous role in the sociocultural history of the Sierra Leone diaspora. The rest of the Chiefs summit was devoted to contemporary issues such as organizational assistance to Sierra Leone's educational and health sectors, fundraising initiatives and organizational sustainability.
Former Board and Administration Chairmen
Mustapha & Jamiru
Minnesota & Missouri Chapter
Out-Going Tegloma Dallas Chief
Elizabeth Mamie Bockarie

Dinner Break
Tegloma Founding member
Ernest Pekanyande
The ceremonial inauguration was presided over by the former Board Chairman Abu Bhonapha, as the current Board Chairman was not able to attend the occasion. The MC for the inauguration were Dr. Lawrence Sandi and Miss Rosaline Bangura.
MC Rosaline Bangura

MC Dr Lawrence Sandi

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Sun Sets on Jammeh Babili Mansa

Yahya Jammeh is now slowly starting to realize that the base of his castle was built on a foundation of sand.

One of my Nigerian friends who knows President Buhari very well told me some days ago that the Nigerian President did not like stubborn people. So when President Buhari came last Friday to Gambia and left very hastily, leaving behind the other members of his delegation, it was very clear that things had fallen apart. My friend told me in no uncertain terms that Yahya Jammeh had made a grave and existential mistake.

Today, as Senegalese troops entered Gambia and rolled through the empty roads of the country easily, meeting no military resistance but people in the villages cheering them on, it was very clear that all the loud threats made by Yahya Jammeh over the past few weeks had just been a load of hot air.

Even though it is rumored that military elements loyal to Ex-President Yahya Jammeh were planning surprise night attacks on the foreign troops, such an action would be extremely foolhardy, as the mass of troops arraigned against them is just too overwhelming.

One thing Jammeh failed to realize in all this period of saber rattling and making loud noises was the distinct disadvantage his country had when it came to defensive warfare. Other countries in the region like Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast have a lot of tropical jungle in which guerilla elements can hide and mount protracted small scale military campaigns.
Unfortunately for Jammeh, his country is completely in the Sahel. Almost the entire country has no major forest. Vegetation is very sparse in most of Gambia. During the dry periods, you can see miles and miles of dry flatlands filled with dried scorched grass that crumbles just when touched. Some areas of Gambia are so hot that nobody can stay anywhere that is not near a known source of drinking water. In essence there is almost no jungle in the country for his overrated "Junglers" to hide in. Jammeh has a brave military, but they could only be realistically used to control the people of his country and the occasional foreign peacekeeping mission. 

There was no way Jammeh could fight Senegal, let alone West Africa.
Gambia is also a very small country with an area of about 4,127 square miles. By comparison, Sierra Leone, another small country in West Africa is about 27,699 square miles. As small as Sierra Leone is, it is more than 6 times the size of Gambia and Sierra Leone is one of the smallest countries in West Africa! The widest part of Gambia is less than 30 miles. It is a long and narrow country swallowed entirely by Senegal, except along its coastal boundary with the Atlantic Ocean.
Senegal is 75,951 square miles!

Given these distinct geographical disadvantages and a military that was less than 2000 men, why Yahya Jammeh boasted that he can defeat any force sent to fight him will forever remain a ministry. Probably, by suppressing the small population of his country for 22 years,  Jammeh had either forgotten the true size of his country or he truly believed that Allah would intervene  on his behalf.

However, many of Jammeh's allies have been more realistic. Almost his entire cabinet, including his Vice President have now resigned. The only ones still holding out are those who believe everything their Marabouts tell them, the ones that probably believe that Jammeh csn actually cure AIDS. Even members of the military, including the Chief of Staff are now reported to have switched their allegiance to Barrow. Stubbornness is a lonely place.

Things are fluid at the moment,  with conflicting news coming out of the country. What has been confirmed is that foreign troops are now in the country with UN Security Council and AU blessing and under ECOWAS command to kick out the stubborn Jammeh. World diplomats have shifted recognition of presidential status from Jammeh to Barrow. Gambian troops have so far refused to engage the foreign troops. Jammeh is still in the country.

We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. But currently,things do not look good for the king of Kanilai, Babili Mansa Professor Sheikh.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

West Africa Ready to Pounce on Jammeh

Some weeks ago, the embattled loser of the Gambian elections, incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, asked "who the hell" were West African leaders to ask him to hand over power. He vowed on national TV to resist any attempt to force him from power. As the midnight deadline given to him by the international community approaches, Jammeh is demonstrating to the whole world that he will not go quietly. He will rather die or spend the rest of his life in jail rather than be president.

Earlier today, Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson for the coalition government in waiting, gave a very detailed account of everything that had been done by the coalition to ensure that there was a peaceful resolution to the current crisis. He stated that even in the midst of the unfair treatment of the opposition by the incumbent president, they had continued to stress to the supporters of the coalition, the necessity to see that peace prevailed and nobody was attacked, so that the country would not degenerate into the spilling of blood and the destruction of property. 

All attempts by people in The Gambia; the religious elders, town Chiefs, politicians, Gambians abroad for Jammeh to see reason and hand over in order to avoid any bloodbath in the country had been rejected by the power hungry leader. Up to the moment, members of the Gambian opposition were holding out for Jammeh to see some sanity.

However, the West African leadership is determined to ensure that the current crisis in the country is resolved as swiftly as possible. Even as Gambians continue to flee the country in droves, BBC and other credible reports indicate a movement of Senegalese troops towards various border positions along Gambia, a country that is almost entirely encircled by its larger neighbor. Senegalese troops have been reported both along the northern border by Kaolak and the Southern Casamance region which is closer to Jammeh's fortress Kanilai. 

The Nigerian military had already dispatched a warship that is currently in Gambian waters awaiting for further instructions.The Force is prepared for an amphibious landing with significant air support. The Nigerian Airforce Spokesman Ayodele Famuyiwa has confirmed the deployment of significant air assets to Senegal, comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Airborne troop carriers and surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, with about 200 members of the Airforce. Jammeh's military installations will be under attack as soon as the go ahead was given to take out the tyrant.

Jammeh in the meantime has declared a state of emergency and convinced his members of parliament to support the charade. Here are the members of the Nigerian military getting ready to go give Jammeh some tough love.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Latest from The Jammeh Show: Yahya Jammeh Settling for Violence

Gambian General Ousman Badji
Ready to take on West Africa 
By deciding to impose a State of Emergency in The Gambia yesterday, all in a desperate bid to prevent the January 19th Inauguration of President-Elect Adama Barrow, Yahya Jammeh, the country's long term dictator, seems to have finally battened the last door on peace in his small and beautiful country.
We will Fight to the Last Man

Throughout his 22 year rule and even during the current conflict, Yahya Jammeh has shown himself to be a man with the mentality of a nail. The only thing a nail understands is a hammer. ECOWAS and the rest of the world wanted a peaceful resolution to the Gambian crisis, but as it stands, the West African community will soon have no other option, but to hammer Jammeh very hard, so that he can realize that being the president of a country does not make that country your personal property and that multilateral agreements between nation states are not comedic jokes.

Like Laurent Gbagbo, Hosni Mubarak, Charles Taylor, Muammar Ghaddafi, Idi Amin and Blaise Campaore, to name a few, Yahya Jammeh is probably going to join the ranks of those infamous African leaders who could never believe that their time was up, but had to be dragged violently out of power. 
The Jammeh Show

It is very admirable that West African leaders are no longer willing to stand aside, while one of their colleagues treats the people of his country as if their rights were subordinate to his individual ambition. We truly hope that Jammeh survives the likely impending invasion of his country. However, this action  could still be avoided if Jammeh sees reason and understands the futility of trying to fight against the combined military might of the West African Subregion.
Goats Fed Up

Jammeh is however a stubborn man. He is also a traditional man. Some may even call him primitive. He is a man with supreme belief in his own invincibility and is very superstitious. He also believes that he has mystical and supernatural powers. This is a man who truly believes he can cure AIDS, a disease whose cure continues to elude the greatest scientific minds of this century, in spite of the billions of dollars that have been spent in just trying to control its impact. If Jammeh believes he can cure AIDS, a feat which has eluded the brightest minds in the world, why can't the president believe in the self delusion that no force in the world can defeat him in The Gambia.

Even as warnings come from the entire leadership of West Africa, the African Union, the United Nations Security council and from members of his own cabinet ministers and his diplomats, the Gambian tyrant remains steadfast, wanting to show his supporters that he is not a coward. He has testicles of steel.

Yahya Jammeh may have seriously bitten more than he can chew. Having been a West African leader for so long, he knows that most threats of military intervention are in many cases not followed by action, but with his arrogance and public challenges, he seems to be making a bad miscalculation. Jammeh should realize that West Africa has a history of backing up their threats with action in some cases, as they did in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Jammeh's position is very similar to that taken by Sierra Leone's military strongman Johnny Paul Koroma during his ill fated military insurrection in that country. With Jammeh having pulled some publicity stunts throughout the past few weeks, West African leaders are now growing convinced that the only way to stop this madman is through the use of force.

Our sources in The Gambia report of turmoil within the ranks of the military. Jammeh loyalists and clans men are said to be keeping very close eyes on those who  they consider may not in favor of the delusional mission of their leader and Commander-in-Chief. Jammeh loyalists are reportedly being ritualistically washed in herbs and concoctions which they believe will make them bulletproof. The military Chief of Staff now masquerades openly with traditional amulets and beads over his military attire. If Jammeh and his allies are thinking that foreign forces are going to engage them in field combat, then they are not ready for the terror that will rain down on them if they do not abandon their clownish leader and work with Senegal to ensure that the beautiful country is left intact.

Probably the only peaceful outcome to this quagmire will come from the military deciding not to fight for Jammeh, but instead try to prevent unnecessary chaos in the country, by siding with people against the delusional tyrant. But as things currently stand, "The Jammeh Show" continues.