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How outrageous and prepostrous statement!

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Most of us who were around and of age at the time could well remember the conditions that ignited and fueled the 11 year rebel war. In fact I would say that we saw it coming. Even today we have not failed to call attention to some of the causes as we see them developing around us. The APC was a cruel regime that silenced its critics not by factual reasoning but by brute use of force. Corruption was rife and in the midst of poverty and deprivation the few selected were amassing wealth and displaying it with amazing vulgarity. 

There were unsuccessful attempts to bring down the regime with the resulting executions of those who had dared. At the end of it all, one of those who were involved in a botched up attempt but was lucky to escape with his life was former corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh.  He settled in Segbwema and became a professional photographer. Without recognizing him, (I had never met him previously) he had taken photographs of me and my bandaged head in the Nixon Memorial Methodist hospital in Segbwema. He also travelled to Mobai where we had run into an ambush resulting in the death of two in my group and taken photographs of the bullet ridden vehicle in which we were traveling. The Charles Taylor involvement in Sierra Leone’s rebel war has been chronicled before and also in the Wednesday May 2 edition of the awareness times newspaper and authored by the owner and publisher of the newspaper Sylvia Blyden.

It was indeed a story of intrigue and betrayal involving some members of the Joseph Saidu Momoh government. On Christmas eve in December 1990, a group of soldiers of Charles Taylor’s  National Patriotic Front of Liberia NPFL crossed into a village called Bandoma (meaning on the boundary) in the Luawa chiefdom  between Sierra Leone and Liberia and looted the village while most of the able-bodied men and women were away at the weekly market in the section headquarters. The Momoh government reacted to the unprovoked attack with a very forceful statement. Then on March 23 1991, another group of NPFL soldiers crossed into Bomaru in the upper Banbara  chiefdom also in the Kailahun district. Their target was the RSLAF platoon stationed in the town, but civilians were caught in the cross fire and fourteen people were killed.

A week later and before our unprepared and ill-equipped army could launch a counter attack THE NPFL forces had launched a major offensive at Koindu the international market town between Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It was then and only then that the people of Sierra Leone  and the world heard by courtesy the BBC Focus on Africa programme from a Foday Sankoh that his movement the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was behind the attack. He declared that their aim was to overthrow the corrupt and oppressive APC regime.  Another opening was made in the Pujehun district in the south. No one could immediately recall who this Foday Sankoh was. Again the devastation, the loss of human lives, the displacement of people are all history now as they affected all parts of the country, but especially the south eastern province.

No prominent family or ruling house was spared. In both Pujehun and Kailahun districts all the Paramount chiefs and prominent chiefdom people fled to safety in Guinea, Liberia or became internally displaced. Only one Paramount chief openly joined the RUF, but President Tejan-Kabbah pardoned him and he remained Paramount chief until he died a natural death. In her Wednesday article Sylvia Blyden wrote.”First of all Charles Taylor would not have had an impact here if some Sierra Leoneans (mostly from the southeast) had not used the aggrieved Taylor as a tool to help destroy our country because they (Sierra Leoneans) were bitter with Momoh and the APC regime.”  Further on she alleges, “However in the midst of all this, the fact remains that no matter how bitter Charles Taylor might have been, he would never have been able to help the RUF destroy Sierra Leone had it not been for our kith and kin, mostly South easterners who bore grievances against the former APC regime. ”The statement is not only absurd and a blatant lie; but it is preposterous and outrageous with no bases whatsoever.

It is an insult to the memory and suffering of the thousands of people who lost their lives and suffered grievous bodily harm in the country in general and in the south east in particular. This woman must substantiate her wild claims, or withdraw her statement with unqualified apologies. We haven’t heard the last on this yet.  I T A Wallace Johnson was just as popular a politician, human rights and Trade Union activist and journalist in the then Protectorate as he was in the colony. That was until in a political campaign speech in the Wilberforce Memorial hall in referring when in referring to  Albert Margai he quoted from the Bible,” DON’T CAST YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE.” His popularity in the Protectorate and among Protectorate people living in Freetown plummeted overnight; he never regained it. And believe me Wallace Johnson had been popular!

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