The structural improvement of the Sierra Leone National Museum since the beginning of the 21st Century is highly commendable. Many people who have had opportunity to tour similar venues in other countries, not only those in cities of the developed world but especially those in the cities and towns of our sister territories. They would also like their authorities to fast-track actions geared towards improvements in the CONTENTS Department of the Museum. In this regard the Relics and Monument Commission has to team up with the National Archives to provide vital and accurate historical details for posterity.
Presently the abysmal lack of accurate records has created a “free for all” reporting of events and situations. Recent publications in some of our newspapers have exposed the consequences of ill-reporting and or misreporting. Credit should be given to columnists who have undertaken to point out some of the serious misconceptions that have been bandied around for long. In this regard, reference must be made to the article entitled: “THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES” which appeared in three different local newspapers of 3rd June 2016. In the article, the author, Winstanley Bankole Johnson, highlighted three areas. Firstly he states:- “That our Independence in 1961 was achieved on account of the efforts of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) alone and that the founding of that Party is synonymous with and insuperable from our independence struggles.”
The writer goes on to elaborate and justly too “This fact would have sufficed indelibly had not the APC Party assumed power in 2007. By now all our history books would have been obliterated to reflect only cleverness, ingenuity, sacrifices and struggles of just one set of people from the South-east as being solely responsible for our achieving Independence as a Nation State.”
This impression of the monopoly of the success of achievement of National Status some 55 years ago has been so readily accepted hook, line and sinker by gullible sectors of the country’s population that among present generation of journalists these erroneous details are reproduced with confidence. If these were not the outcome of the distorted details, one would not attempt to overlook the statements contained in the article entitled “SLPP BEWITCHED of the newspaper “ POLITICO” of June 23rd 2016 from the author’s pen we have:- “The Northern Province to be precise was the birth place of the SLPP before it became predominant in South-Eastern Sierra Leone. And therefore it has been owned by the South-east and north-east respectively. The history of the SLPP cannot be complete without the mention of the Margai family. In fact SLPP was synonymous with the name Margai, until the Margai’s were disowned by default…………The only useful Margai was Sir Milton whose paternity was ascribed to Kissy in the Western Area. Sir Albert was autocratic and was the first leader to toy with the idea of introducing the one-party state. As far as the real facts go and which qualified and trained researchers can vouch the inauguration of the party with the name SLPP was the result of a MERGER of two existing political groups with identical anti-colonial agenda one established in the Colony proper and one in the Protectorate. With the merger no one tribe or area can claim monopoly. An objective conclusion of the multi ethnic composition of the avant-grade members who finally inaugurated the SLPP party can be arrived at from their names and area of belonging.
Lamina-Sankoh – aka Rev. E N Jones was a key figure in the scene. His very strong anti-British feelings caused him in fact to jettison the family name of Jones for the very African sounding name of Sankoh. His focus on the anti- colonial struggles was printed in words and actions. He was the leader of the National People’s Party in Freetown and he succeeded in winning support from divers’ intelligentsia of the time-such as H.E.B John, Rev Harry A. E. Sawyerr, Dr. S. M. Broderick, Lettie Stuart and others.
The establishment of the Protectorate Assembly by the colonial government 1946 which was composed of Paramount Chiefs and Native Authorities was the nucleus of political movement for the peoples in the Protectorate and when the new constitution introduced by Governor Stevenson in 1947 made available more seats in the Legislation Council for the Protectorate the KRIO leaders foresaw signs of future political upheavals. Reactions to the reactions of the KRIO activists were mixed. Dr. Bankole Bright and his cohorts favoured autonomy of the Colony. I. T. A Wallace Johnson and his supporters were lukewarm. Across the divide the Protectorate governing class and Tribal Authorities settled for the foundation of the Protectorate Sierra Leone Organization Society.
An atmosphere of political unrests prevailed in the Colony as the ramifications of the Stevenson’s Constitutions were being given positive and negative interpretations. In the Colony the political survival message gripped the middle and working class citizens and under the leadership of a few professionals like J.C. Lucan and W. Zizer the SETTLERS DESCENDANTS UNION was formed in 1952. Lamina-Sankoh saw in this diversity among the KRIOS in the Colony the opportunity to achieve his vision of a unified nation against the WHITE COLONIALISTS.
With his matured experience in political maneuvrings he was able to convince Dr. Milton Margai and his other notable paramount chiefs of the wisdom of a merger. The Protectorate Sierra Leone Organization Society and his (Sankoh’s) group- “The National People’s Party” A neat combination as if by divine intervention from the two party names settled the discussion that is “Sierra Leone (SL) from the Protectorate party and Peoples Party (PP) from Sankoh’s group. Mention must be made of the other persons who participated conscientiously in this historic move, P.C. Julius Gulama of Moyamba, P.C. Bai Farama Tass II of Kambia, P. C. Dura of Kobinkoilor, Chief Alikali Mordu of Port Loko, Chief Yaya Kaikai, Chief Fasoluku, Chief Kai-Samba of Kenema. The dynamic personality of P.C. Bai Farama Tass II weighed greatly in convincing other members of the group to consider the proposal. Several sub-meetings were held in his capital of Kambia, from which some folks conveniently concluded that the birth place of the party was Kambia.
In the interest of peace, many among the educated class in the Colony backed the suggestion of the merger in the interest of peace, and throughout the period up to the granting of Independence and decades followings the KRIOS have never made an issue of the predominant role they played to achieve the result of LANCASTER HOUSE . It is clearly foreign to the idiosyncrasies of the KRIOS to blow their own trumpet. We usually focus on the results and are ready to do our “damnest” to achieve them. Thus the Krios have never amended the popular accolade given to Dr. Milton Margai as being the instrument for achieving political Independence status of Sierra Leone.
As for the impression that the SLPP is a MENDI PARTY, one has to look back at the composition of the founding officers. Mr. H. E. B John a brilliant History scholar was the Secretary General. The SLPP succeeded in making much impact since its inauguration in 1951, thanks to the competence and assiduity of its Secretary General. A Mende Party indeed!!! Would the Mendes have allowed a KRIO man to fill such an important post, if the enterprise was their BRAIN-CHILD?
We KRIOS will continue to endorse the choice of Milton Margai as the 1st Prime Minister etc. for perhaps a selfish reason. The writer of the column “SLPP BEWITCHED” in “POLITICO” 23rd June has a cryptic statement – “the only useful Margai was Sir Milton Margai whose paternity was ascribed to Kissy in the Western Area…………………….” An English axiom “A rose by any other name is a rose” comes to my mind. Hopefully the clarification of his statement will be made available in the future.
What is important to us Sierra Leoneans in the turn of the 21st Century is to “Debunk” the idea that SLPP was founded by the peoples of the South-east and North-west. It was formed as a NATIONAL PARTY.
By: Canon Dame Cassandra L Garber
Monday July 11, 2016