EXTRA EXTRA…..Sierra Leone Election Update Part 1

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Pre-Elections

Last Week, the first ever presidential debates were held in Freetown at Lagoonda Entertainment Complex and this young wannabe scored tickets curtesy of a friend with the BBC. All parties were represented at the Debate besides the SLPP….Berewa refused to attend the debate because as he believed who ever was hosting it had no authority to call him to a debate and what not. Anyhoo, all the other parties were there though Charles Margai was about an hour late due to the fact that they were holding their rally earlier on that day.

First of I must admit that I questioned the relevance of the debates so late into to the campaigns….Almost everyone Tuesday of last week had already chosen their party….Also with most of Sierra Leoneans being illiterate….i questioned whether it was useful to have the debates in English….As far as I’m concerned these debates were more for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora (who are not voting) and the self satisfaction of the organisers themselves.

Monday through friday of last week could be compared to carnival in the Caribbean….because it was really one big party. PMDC was out on Tuesday….APC on Wednesday and SLPP on Thursday.

APC RALLY…..OH SAI OH WAI….DI RISIN SUN

People were truly in the streets….never seen so many folks out in the streets in this country before (some say crowds were comparable to the 2002 Kabbah Elections). On Wednesday APC supporters painted the city red. They were all about the city singing and dancing…..”LOOSE YOU FACE”…….”APC BACK TO POWER” “WE NO WANT YERI KAKA” “DEM WAN YA SO WE GO GI DEN NOTICE” “DI PA DAY PACK EN GO”……”OHSAI….OHWAI…..OHKAYLAYLU….OHBAYLAYLU” were chanted all across the town. They even went so far as to have a KASANKAY…(a dead body)…..carried by a secret society called SOKOBANA……they also had a masquerade led by the MATONMA….wan limba debul way all man day fraid….den say way Matonma butu if u na butu i go shoot u wit witch gun….en u day die.

One APC supporter told me the reason they had the Matonma for the rally was that the party believed that the Inspector General of Police…Brima Acha would send police officers to arrest APC supporters during the rally…..However with the Matonma leading the rally they new that no police officers would stop them….

There was one scenerio where police where standing around and the Matonma bin butu….if u see way di police man dem fly fo lay dom na gron….

SLPP….SL Pipul…..Tokpoi…DI LANLORD…IGWE

On thursday SLPP took to the streets…….with heavy rains….once again the city was filled with supporters….who refused to let the rain prevent them from rallying. Holding out their registration cards under the rain…they sang “WAS AH REGISTA A GO VOTE FO SOLO B”
” MAMA PAPA SEND U PEKIN AN SKUL FO GO LAN, LEF FO RES” “DI NOTICE NO GO RIGHT, WE NA DI LANDLORD”. Tons of supporters sat on the windows of cars, in lorries and what not parading the streets. Dear I say that my very own mother….walked under rain to support her party.

After spending most of the day at a National Electoral Watch training at MARWOPNET (Mano River Women’s Peace Network)…..I walked to Victoria Park in the middle of the rally to get my hair braided. As I was sitting there knoting my face as my hair was being combed…..an SUV sped by with some SLPP Supporters….about 5 minutes later someone walked by in the direction that the SUV had gone and announced that the guys who had just passed us had gotten into an accident. Supposed they wanted to turn from Sam Bangura Building towards the Bank of Sierra Leone and the car tippped over…….Some one said one of the guys died…..another passerby and said one of the passengers lost their head…..yet another said the accident was made up and nothing had happened…..more passerbys give their version….finally one of the ladies sitting next to me went to look and report back….their was an accident but no one died.

As dusk fell, the crowd thinned out…..two young men not more than a foot from us unzipped their pants and urinated on the wall….the lady braiding my hair complained “ay brother na ya we di wok”……”sorry oh”…..one of the urinating men replied….though they had already finished filling the air with their beer and pegapack flavored piss. Not more than 15 mins later it happened again two guys pissed on the wall….the lady complained…..response this time, “we no wan yeri kaka”…….i laughed.

A quote from Berewa in reference to Charles Margai “Jesus Christ an fiyay make im die”….translation….Jesus died because he was disrespectful……some called it blasphemous…Berewa was either warning or mocking Margai I dont know….

On Friday it rained and rained and rained and rained…..as if to wash the anxiety and excitement from the rallies…..I went to Campbell town a village on the outskirts of town after Waterloo…and spent the day watching the rain. I needed to relax…on Saturday August 11th 2007 I was heading to Bombali and Tonkolili Districts as a National Observer for MARWOPNET a regional organization connecting women of the Mano River Union Countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. We had women observers from Liberia and Guinee who had come to join in the observation process…..i must say it was the only all woman observation team monitoring the elections….I was sooo proud to be included.

As night fell on Friday…everyone was excited…..looking forward to the vote…..Sierra Leone went to bed……NEXT STOP ELECTION DAY……….