Public officials cannot be seen to fall foul of the basic tenets of fair play but when the time comes, often enough elective officials tend to be judged by how well they serve their people and not on their individual frailties.

Freetown's Mayor, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr became a victim of espionage technology when someone leaked an audio recording of a meeting she held with supposedly persons aligned to her own political party. It is also clear that she was addressing a group with whom she shares certain affinities, one of which is the seeming tribalism that has encroached on Freetown 's office space and public service environment.

Many in Freetown have had to shudder at the open tribal substitution practice of the national government upon assuming power immediately after the 2018 General elections. An act of tribal cleansing from public offices was invoked against people from the North and West of the country on the basis of a policy of "mu gobermenti loh" - to indicate the ascendancy of the Mende tribe into a process of State Capture. The ensuing period saw the ascendancy of the "buwah bessieh" into the public workspace.

To the extent that the proponents of the very "buwah bissieh" mentality have been rejected as a policy at the Mayor's office is becoming a threat, a realization that their Mende hegemony has come up against its limit.

A social commentator lamented that the comments for which the Mayor is being lambasted for, are characteristic of the Freetown landscape and in years past, many would laugh at such comments as mere drivel. On the whole, while many agree that there is no malice intended from her sopposed utterances, it is clear that she has not said anything in that meeting that goes against her own political persuasion or social predilections. The Mayor should never have surprised any of her constituents with such comments as it expressed the very rudiments of how her own people are expected to accentuate their preconceptions.

On the question of whether the Mayor is being dismissive OF Mendes, the tribe that greets with the words "buwah biasieh, " one has to consider how this greeting has now become a problem for social assessment in Freetown.

Firstly, it is a well known fact that the current social interactions in public offices is now permeated with Mende language greetings and communication as if Mende is now the lingua franca. As a result of this, many now ascribe tribal cleansing with a creeping Mende hegemony and such practice tends to be identified with the SLPP government in not the same way as any policy as enforced nortbwrnizafion was practiced during the APC government.

Secondly, the question of whom the Mayor of Freetown represent comes into play. When this question is asked, the preponderance of Mende speaking people at the core of the Freetown City Council, its administration and service delivery functions would become questionable because historically, the Mendes come from the South and East of the country while the Western Urban Area is predominantly Creole, Lokko and Temne dominated.

What many have ignored in this whole brouhaha have been the idiosyncrasies of how our nation has failed to build a collective mentality as Sierra Leoneans or otherwise why we have all failed to build a nation of common people. We have all thrived on our differences and when the time comes, we all use tribal piques to win political favors.

It is interesting that the very same people who are most offended by the Mayor's alleged audio comments are Mendes and that they themselves use the same algorithm to validate their political fortune telling. How many times do we hear about strongholds and their party winning 95% of votes cast in their places of origin?

You would ask how much politicians depend on their message or ideologies to win elective office? None dare open themselves to the type of diversity that the Mayor of Freetown has to endure. Yet some now call for her immediate resignation.

Incidentally, it was a very high profiled person who openly stated that the only true Sierra Leoneans now are those who support the SLPP.

When did politics become a love affair?

*┬ęTitus Boye-Thompson* 25.03.2021 16.59

Written by:
Titus Boyed Thompson
Sierra Leone