Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah will be remembered as the president who led Sierra Leone during the worst days of its decade long civil war, and brought the nation to the transitional democracy that it is today. He was elected in 1996 to wide popular support, only to have his reign cut short less than a year later by a coup d’etat led by Johnny Paul Koroma in May 1997
By the time ECOMOG forces were able to reinstate the Kabbah regime in 1998/9 what he inherited was a broken state struggling to form a government inclusive of rebels, and soldiers.
At the time of his death Kabbah was 82 years old, and retired from public life. He had published his memoir, and suffered the tragic deaths of two of his sons both named Ahmed. He was last seen publically last year in February at the second inauguration of the current president.
He is survived by his wife and 3 children from a previous marriage.
As Sierra Leone mourns the loss of its third president I leave you with an excerpt from a speech he gave months after the battle of Freetown 1999. With the nation seeming to repeat the resource curse with the recent human rights abuses related to iron ore mining in Sierra Leone these words are as necessary today as they were back then.
“While we are fully aware of the role of external forces in the destabilisation of our beloved country, we should also realise that the solution to our problems lies in our own hands. We have the capacity. We have the resources. Now, we have to muster the will to put this country back on the right track.
Let us on this the anniversary of our independence, paraphrase the second verse of the Sierra Leone national anthem, and pray that no more harm on our children may fall, and:
” ..That blessing and peace may descend on us all.
So, may be serve Thee ever alone,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.””
~ Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, Address to the nation on Independence Day (April 27 1999)