Comment at end
15th November, 2009
This very gracious article thanks Tony Blair for his commitment to Sierra Leone. It also thanks the rest of us Brits too, deserved or not. I have to inform the Rev Sulimani Jr that in Britain our press is very loathe to tell us of the good works of our former prime minister, either past or present. They are focussed on digging up anything nasty on this good man, for reasons best known to themselves, but usually party political. Tony Blair, on the other hand, is and probably always was not particularly partisan. He just gets on with the job of serving people while lesser men cry “foul”.
Thank you, Rev Sulimani and the Sierra Leonian people for your kind and appreciative words.
- Sierra Express Media on Sierra Leone Investement Conference, London, 18/19 Nov 2009
- Official website of Sierra Leone’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma
Preview of Big Investment Summit in London : Tony Blair’s Invaluable Contribution to the People and Destiny of Sierra Leone
Written by Rev. Kemoh Sulimani jr Sunday, 15 November 2009 02:05
How often do we say, “Thank you for a job well done”? How often do we stop to enjoy the rose buds than count the thorns on the stems? Do we take it for granted that people owe us something, and it is their responsibility to give to us anyway? Alternatively, are we appreciative of the contributions others have made to make our lives a whole lot better? Do we know how monumental is the task of transforming a failed state into a hopeful and developing nation? Are we aware of the priceless input of those who have vouch for us when others vie for retreat? As in most cases, some are conscious of the matchless decisions others have taken on behalf of the motherland, Sierra Leone. We are beholden to say, “Thank you for a job well done”. Others either do not care, or are still living in the dark. Those who care are humbled by the fact that while others turned away thinking that Sierra Leone’s development is an unrealistic dream, there is still a great world figure who believes in the people and destiny of Sierra Leone: Mr. Tony Blair, who acted decisively to end the war, and bring peace to Sierra Leone. More importantly, Mr. Tony Blair is now acting determinedly in concert with President Koroma to present to the entire world, the new Sierra Leone.
The fact that Sierra Leone was once a British colony and a member state of the Common Wealth of Nations is no guarantee that in times of desperate need the United Kingdom will respond. There are many former colonies of other nations, who have gone through distress and anarchy without the involvement of their former colonial masters. For several reasons including the lack of political will, we have seen world leaders refuse to act in critical moments and their inaction and silence cost the loss of thousands of innocent lives. In the history of Sierra Leone, the role played by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is incredible. At the most critical moment in the conflict, his apt actions were vital in deciding the fate of the nation. When warlords and hooligans overran Sierra Leone and the nation’s capital, Freetown placed under siege; Prime Minister Blair called upon Britain’s elite fighters and signed executive orders aiding the preservation of the nation-state. Mr. Blair’s orders gave the Royal Irish Regiment the mandate to train Sierra Leone’s Police and Army. Mr. Blair’s stamp of approval gave the SAS the mission to rescue six British and one Sierra Leonean held as hostages by the West Side Boys. In essence, Prime Minister Tony Blair stamp of approval sealed the fate of the carnage driven and viciously motivated exsoldiers and mindless thugs. The decisive obliteration of the West Side Boys during ‘Operation Barras’, the freeing of all the hostages, and the capture of Foday Kallay, set the stage for the end to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone. Prime Minister Blair’s well-timed actions aid Sierra Leoneans to stay the course of sustainable peace.
How valid is this assertion as compared to other interventions around the world? In 1993, the United States special operations forces launched Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia. Their main objective was to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Later termed ‘Black Hawk Down’, the operation was unsuccessful, and to date Somalia remains a failed state. Sixteen years later, the new form of terror is sea piracy. The nation of Afghanistan provides us with another example where interventions have been disastrous. First, the Soviets fought a nine-year war from 1979 to 1988. Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, troop withdrawal was complete on February 15, 1989. At that time it was the Islamist Mujahidin, and the start of the new Millennium, the Muslim extremist group the Taliban were the most powerful terror group in that nation. After 911, former President Bush ordered the removal of the Taliban in the war against terror; although the Taliban were dislodged, peace and stability still eludes the people of Afghanistan. As I write, the debate to send forty-thousand US troops to Afghanistan is still unsettled. Based on Hamid Karzai’s inability to address the corruption issue, and suspicions of rigged elections, it is uncertain what actions President Obama would take. Sierra Leone successfully conducted free and fair elections in 2002, and 2007. In 2007, the people of Sierra Leone democratically voted for change by electing President Ernest Bai Koroma and his All People’s Congress as the ruling party in the nation.
A change in the political leadership of Sierra Leone, by no means impede Mr. Blair’s resolve to promote the nation’s course in the world. Although he resigned in June of 2007 as the British Prime Minister, his aspirations to see Sierra Leone emerge from the ruins of war, to the glories of progress are resonating in different ways today. Mr. Tony Blair came up with the ‘African Governance Initiative’ in 2008. Mr. Blair’s optimism for Sierra Leone and Africa in general is impressive. He does not hide his conviction that “governance and growth are the key ingredients to effectively reduce poverty across Africa”. Mr. Blair has enough influence to affect the achievement of governmental goals in most parts of the world. The attainability of the millennium goal of poverty reduction falls within his initiative. Mr. Blair’s reputation and worldwide status puts him in a position to support initiatives that are genuine and well thought out. His backing of President Koroma’s “Agenda for Change”, thus indicate the worthiness of the course for the people of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Blair agrees with President Koroma’s declaration that it is time for “Stability, Opportunity, and Growth” in Sierra Leone. After serving as the longest Labour Party Prime Minister, it is a plus for any developing nation to have Mr. Tony Blair’s unflinching support. The upcoming Sierra Leone Conference in London is a defining moment for Sierra Leone’s development, in nation’s modern history. For a change it is not conflict that is the driving force behind the conference, but opportunity to invest in the future of the nation. For a change, it is not the resettlement of freed slaves, or the path to Independence that is the aim of the conference, but socio-economic growth and development in Sierra Leone. To have the United Kingdom’s Minister for International Development and the World Bank Vice President for Africa participation, sends a strong signal to investors that Sierra Leone now has an accountable, fiscally responsible, stable, and credible administration that is ‘Open for Business’. In short, Sierra Leone under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma is investor friendly.
Why Mr. Blair did keep his involvement with improvements in Sierra Leone although political parties changed? His support is not for one individual but for the entire nation and all people of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone remains a sovereign nation whose democratic choice of leadership ushers in the new era of “Stability, Opportunity, and Growth”. This leadership commands respect and recognition around the world as the legitimate and democratic Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The superseding aim for Mr. Blair I suspect is the sustainable development, and stability of the nation-state and not just one political party. The British government continues to function effectively and provide royal services to its citizens though Mr. Blair is no longer the Prime Minister. Similarly, Sierra Leone’s track must continue at an accelerated speed even under the new leadership of President Koroma and the All People’s Congress. Obai Tony Blair is committed to the people/subjects of his entire Sierra Leone (Kankaylay) chiefdom, not just those from the palm tree subdivision. From Operation Barras to the Sierra Leone Conference, the people of Sierra Leone gained peace from Tony Blair’s influential contributions, and will gain development in the near future. Sierra Leoneans all around the world must pray for a united front in London on the 18 and 19 of November 2009. Sierra Leoneans all around the world must join our leaders in expressing our sincere gratitude to the British people, but more especially to Mr. Tony Blair for his ineffaceable backing of the people and destiny of Sierra Leone. Chief Tony Blair, May God Bless You.
Blessings and Peace,
Rev. Kemoh Sulimani Jr.
ANOTHER VERY MOVING ‘THANK YOU’ TO A ONCE HATED LEADER
There are still thoughtful, humble people in this world, willing and big enough to admit when they have been wrong. I look forward to the day when such people make themselves obvious in Britain, too.