In the last few weeks, I have been travelling across West Africa, speaking to more than 100 people ranging from academics, journalists, lawyers, activists, survivors and victims of conflicts and human rights violations, politicians and policy makers. In fact, I am writing this piece from Banjul, The Gambia where I intend to continue my consultation on what kind of support is needed to help countries in transition cope with their transitional challenges. It’s our fourth country in as many weeks. My colleague and I have been consulting in advance of our grant-making support to civil society and community-based organisations in seven West Africa countries (more on that below). In all these countries I have been to so far, my interactions with people has led to two major revelations for me.
Obedience is better than sacrifice! This truth was aphorized by the storied prophet Samuel in the Bible when he confronted King Saul after the latter had defied God’s explicit instruction. Consequently, God appointed David to replace King Saul. This story like many other narrations in the Bible reveals God’s character about observance of His divine instructions. I have shared previously that many Pentecostal Christians had prophesied that God had anointed His own (a born-again Christian) for the exacting task of delivering judicial justice from the hands of the oppressor and his cohorts in darkness. I certainly did not hear the voice of the Holy Spirit myself in those terms, but I associated with the desire for a new direction revival of the judiciary.
When ordinary people work together, they can change history. That core belief guides the Obama Foundation, and resonates strongly with the justice innovation philosophy that drives us at HiiL.
Of course, we can continue now with a formal text, all well meant and heartfelt. But what we really want to say, Funkola and Sorieba, a very big congrats on your Obama Fellowships!
Your selection – as two justice innovators – by the Obama Foundation fills us with joy, because we know how hard you have worked to get where you are now with your justice innovations. Like the Foundation says: ordinary people working together can change history. Well, you both have already achieved something amazing.
By David Moinina Sengeh Chief Innovation Officer at Government of Sierra-Leone, Senior TED Fellow, Nat Geo Emerging Explore, Obama Africa Leader.
There are two things people often say about invention and entrepreneurship: i) scarcity is the mother of invention, and ii) the strategy that's guaranteed to fail is one that does not involve taking risks.
Sierra Leone (and Africa) has lots of embedded scarcity and an abundance of challenges for its youth, who are either mostly unemployed or underemployed, to solve. They are young and poor enough to in fact take lots of risks. These two reasons are why we see lots of stories of (mostly young) creative "geniuses" spread across the continent.
On Thursday, May 23, 2019, the Government of Sierra Leone gathered Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life at the Bintumani Conference Centre in the nation’s capital, Freetown to reflect on our national cohesion, public good, citizenship and democracy. Loathe or like, the National Consultative Dialogue Conference ushers a new beginning in the revival of civic nationalism and good citizenship.
Illllll!! Ooowww!!? Na wan man bin dae. E name Bra Spider. Wan day, Bra Spider go waka to in modeh-law. In modeh-law bin dae roast cassada. As di mammy go insai room so, Bra Spider tiff wan pa di cassada en hide am insai in cap…
Once upon a time, there lived a tradition and culture called folklore. Apart from being a major pastime, it was also a way of life. Myths, legends, history and identity, were handed down to younger generations. Children and young adults got together to either listen to an older person tell (or they themselves reproducing as told) tales of Bra Spider (also known as Anansi in some traditions).
Reading, the cognitive process of understanding a written linguistic message or being able to read and interpret what is written, is dead in Sierra Leone. It is noticeable every where that pupils and students of today do not make use of their school, college or university library.
Gone are the days when students clamoured and elbowed each other to lay hand on a nice book or a potential interesting book in a library. In yesteryears, pupils and students made a habit every Friday to go to their library and borrow two or four books to go and read over the weekend.
I had to change seat one Monday night while watching SLBC’s MAKE YOU POINT programme. A caller to the programme and was unashamed enough to say that invigilators are too strict and that they do not give the candidates chance to spy while sitting to the West African Secondary School Examination (WASSCE).This is due to the examination malpractice cankerworm eating into the country’s education fabric.
Land grabbing and fighting for land is a menace to our society. Unlike other countries where the citizens acquire plot/s of land to build a bungalow without fisticuffs; it is not so in Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone the process of acquiring a piece of land is one of the most tedious and one of the most life-threatening things on earth. It is daily occurrence especially in the big towns and cities to see one, two or more people fighting over a piece of land.
We have recently seen leaders of various political parties troop to State House to meet with the President. Reports of what transpired were scanty and certainly politically coloured by the time they got to the mainstream press and social media. What we do know is that the photos showed various party heads shaking hands with the President, with some grinning like Cheshire cats. This obviously did not go down well with some of their political supporters who would have preferred them to look menacing and “breathe fire’, in light of what they perceived as “very contentious and unsavoury circumstances in the country”.
Members of Parliament (MP) are honorable members expected to be role models of our future leaders. MPs are supposed to exhibit good character and good representation. To be honorable means to be honest, direct, downright, sincere, trustworthy, tec. That is, an MP must not defraud or cheat, nor be deceptive or fraudulent.
An MP must be honest, just, noble, reputable, revered, etc. That is why he/she must behave honorably. They are the direct representatives of their constituents. The role of an MP is crucial to the governance structure of any country.Their role has been important since Plato and Aristotle’s time of propounding democracy.
One of the basic tenets of a democracy is to hold regular and periodic election; election to elect the representatives of the people. These representatives must come from among the people.
Democracy itself is government by the people, for the people and of the people. In short, it means government and its elected representatives.
In Sierra Leone we call these representatives Members of Parliament. The responsibilities of these representatives according to Section 97 a and b) of the 1991 Constitution is; All Members of Parliament shall maintain the dignity and image of Parliament both during the sittings in Parliament as well as in their acts and activities outside Parliament.
b) All Members of Parliament shall regard themselves as REPRESENTATIVES of the people of Sierra Leone and desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people.
In Sierra Leone, parliamentary elections have been held even before the country gained independence on 27 April 1961. Those who were elected worked in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone who elected them. They ensured that the people got good roads, food, shelter, quality education. They ensured that the people got 24 hours electricity especially in Freetown and in all district headquarter towns.
They sacrificed their time, energy and resources to represent the people in their best interests. The laws they passed were all in the interests of their electors. They did not pass laws that were in the interests of Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai and his colleagues as it seems to be done today when parliamentarians pass laws in either their own interests or in the interest of the president of Sierra Leone.
The style of representation of the Members of Parliament was to work diligently for the people of Sierra Leone. They showed themselves as patriots of Sierra Leone. They feared God. They did not enrich themselves. In fact, their main aim was to remove their people from the claws of colonial administration and chart for them the way to positive development.
That is why they left good legacies for the children of Sierra Leone that are worthy to emulate. They entrusted virtues and other moral values in the people of Sierra Leone. They lived as exemplary leaders worthy of emulation.
However, it seems that the Members of Parliament in Sierra Leone today are interested more in themselves than in the interest of those that they were sent to represent. It is for this kind of attitude of our parliamentarians that Sierra Leoneans are yearning for good electricity supply, quality education, good roads, food self-sufficiency, affordable health service and housing for all Sierra Leoneans as it is done in Europe, America, some parts of Asia and Australia.
For instance, in Brazil, USA, Europe and South Korea, the parliamentarians have demonstrated that they are the real representative of the people who elected them. They never allowed their presidents to influence their legislative powers.
The Members of Parliament, House of Commons or Senate, are servants of the people. Every law or bill they pass is geared towards the interests and positive development of their respective countries.
Nevertheless, it seems our MPs who walked out of parliament recently during State Opening of Sierra Leone’s Parliament while the National Anthem was going on, are no longer prepared to be called ‘honorables.’
Their walkout was a demonstration of not only contempt for the people who sent them to represent them but contempt for the country and contempt for President Julius Maada Bio.
Those MPs behaved dishonorably. They should not have walked out if they actually went to parliament to represent people and not their respective egos.Their behavior was not an honorable course of action.
Being an MP is a privilege; not a right. A privileged position must be exercised with respect. Whatever grievance they have for President Julius Maada Bio and his Government must not be displayed at the well of parliament during such an auspicious occasion.
The APC MPs who walked out of Parliament may have a flimsy excuse/s for staging such a naive behavior if they are jittery of the petition against some of their members or if they are jittery of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
If an MP who is supposed to behave honorably behaves dishonorably, then he is not fit to be called HONOURABLE.The COI is to ensure accountability and transparency which every leader in Sierra Leone has been paying lip service to.President Julius Maada Bio wants to bring sanity into the country by ensuring that tax payers’ money both within and outside are used in a fiscal manner.
Also, petitions have been held in Sierra Leone after elections even during the infamous one-party system of Government.The murder of a key witness in an election petition case led to the notorious ndoigboiswui in Pujehun District because the brothers of the murdered man sought to avenge his slaughter.
If these MPs who walked out of parliament are indeed honorable and stand for the truth, why behave dishonorably when they know it is neither witch hunt nor today that election cases have been held in Sierra Leone?
Walking out of parliament when the national anthem was on is a big crime. If these MPs know that they are not guilty of corruption neither are they not jittery of the election petition filed against them, let them behave as honorable MPs.
They should be role models; not the reverse. These Members of Parliament must be passing bills or laws that are geared towards ensuring genuine quality education, affordable health and housing, good roads, reduced cost of living, affordable and accessible food security, equal justice, etc. Are they in parliament for themselves or for the people?
How representative are they to the people of Sierra Leone who elected them? What legacy will their tenure leave? What will they tell their children as Members of Parliament of the USA, Brazil, India, Europe, Australia, etc, have done?
A group of few people that are not great fans of any particular political party say they were galled as they stood in utter disbelief looking at APC Members of Parliament on Thursday 2nd April, 2019 dressed in suits, and donning APC regalia with matching bright red berets emblazoned with the APC red sun logo. The group of predominantly young male APC lawmakers were shamelessly parading the street in front of the Law Court Building in central Freetown; ostensibly staging a protest.
Nurses are one of the most important professionals in any country. The strategic role the play in any country can help immensely to improve the health care system. That is why the Government of President Bio must continue to recognize the role they play in society.
Having trained, qualified and committed nurses is good for the human development of the health sector of Sierra Leone. That is why training of nurses is indispensible and must be on-going. The training must be based on the guarantee that after doing the SECHN, RSN, Midwifery, etc, the trained nurse will get the pin code without difficulty.
It was 26 February this year, three days after Nigerians voted in the General Elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari was seeking a mandate for his final term. It was not Sierra Leone’s elections, but for Mohamed Mansaray and members of his Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES), their eyes and ears were glued to Nigeria for a different reason.
I recently spoke at a Harvard Law School panel about the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). The panel followed a screening of Rebecca Richman Cohen’s very powerful documentary on the work of the SCSL “War Don Don.” I had a pleasure of sharing the panel with Rebecca herslelf along with other notable Harvard faculty. In speaking on the Court’s legacy, I had cause to reflect on a recent piece by prolific writer Osman Benk Sankoh on the embarrassing state of the former SCSL courthouse—now in a state of dilapidation.
By Osman Benk Sankoh Time, they say, “passes as if it does not exist,” but the events of women and men will always serve as a true testimony to one’s life experience. We were driving along some busy and dusty streets of Freetown. It was with my good old friend, Daniel Bunting Johnny. Le Bunt (Bunting's alias), son of a retired Colonel in the Sierra Leone Army was born and raised at Wilberforce Barracks and later, Tengbeh Town. An affable fellow who is relaxed, and blessed with extraordinary skills of effortlessly putting the clock on hold to satisfy and making his buddies jolly- jolly.
Dr. Denis Sandy explains refined processes and procedures in acquiring State and private lands in the country to journalists at a recent press conference
For the past decades Sierra Leone has had more than enough trouble and deadly disputes emanating from the issue of land acquisition, ownership and grabbing. The courts are awashed with land cases, people have been duped, and others brutally killed over land issues. At the heart of all of these is the Ministry of Lands (for short) which has the principal responsibility to protect, preserve, maintain and effectively distribute state lands in the country in a free and fair manner.
As President of Sierra Leone and Leader of the SLPP between 1995 and 2007, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah embraced all those who contested against him for the Leadership of the Party in 1995. In fact, after emerging as Party flag bearer in 1995, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who understood the essence of working together, called on all Party members and supporters to unite behind his leadership in the interest of the Party.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is indispensable for developing a country like Sierra Leone for the purpose of economic growth, which should help lessen the shameful burden of abject poverty in Sierra Leone.I commend the administration of H.E. President Bio for making FDI an integral part of its strategy to “plan, coordinate and monitor government’s development programs to ensure they have maximum positive impact on the lives of citizens” and for launching the excellent 2019-2023 Medium-Term National Development Plan!However, a brilliant strategy that is not flawlessly executed to deliver desired results for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans is as worthless as having a great law that is not equitably enforced for the good of all Sierra Leoneans.
This is the tale of two captains. One who threw his sailors overboard for the sharks to devour and the other who after realising his mistake of ditching them threw them life rafts.
It was a lesson in contrasts to listen to Radio Democracy yesterday. Honourable Ibrahim Bundu of the APC, ex Majority Leader of the House was a guest together with Dr. Prince Harding, Deputy Chairman of the SLPP. Hon. Bundu told listeners about his new appointment as ACP President and Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA). He appeared only too happy to do this as this signified the high regard in which he was still held.