April 1, 2015 By Oswald Hanciles
Some of the loyal readers of this Column have been calling me, or, sending text messages to me, or, getting to me on social media…. wondering about my five months silence. I have studiously controlled my impulse to comment on emerging events, on even ‘seismic political events’…. I owe my readers an explanation for my long absence.
For one, I have been praying and meditating. And reflecting. On God’s essence, and ‘God’s thoughts’. For another, I have been working on a proposal for more governmental emphasis on DEVELOPMENT COMMUNICATION. I have earned my title as “Guru” among my readers in cyberspace. This piece today is typical Oswald Hanciles – provocative; provoking thought. Take this:
‘We can’t be alone in the Cosmos’!!!
Last week, on the Al Jazeera channel on DSTV I watched being interviewed a United States former astronaut in charge of a programme on the ‘Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)’. On the odds of there being ‘extra-terrestrial’ intelligence in our cosmos? The man said: ‘Our Milky Way Galaxy has an estimated 100 billion to 200 billion suns (or, stars). There are an estimated 500,000,000,000 (half a TRILLION) planets in our SINGLE Milky Way Galaxy!!…’ Think, there are an estimated 150 BILLION galaxies zooming in an expansive space… Do your mathematics!! If one galaxy has an estimated half a trillion planets, how many probable planets would there be in 150 BILLION galaxies!! If anyone says only man exists as an intelligent being in the cosmos it would be like an ant trapped on a slice of bread thinking the entire planet earth is that slice of bread….!! So, where is “God” in all of this? How does this relate to us in Africa, in Sierra Leone, caught up in the drama of the former Vice President Sam-Sumana being sacked?
Learned Dr. Abdulai Conteh could be superficial in his analysis
I have read the legal analysis on the ‘Sumana Saga’ by one of Sierra Leone’s greatest intellectual heavyweights, Dr. Abdulai Osman Conteh. For ten years, starting 2000, Dr. Conteh was Chief Justice of Belize. (Belize is off the coast of Central America). Dr. Conteh is obviously a star in Sierra Leone’s politics when the first and second presidents of Sierra Leone (and leaders of the APC) were in office: Minister of Foreign Affairs (1977-1984); Minister of Finance (1984-1985); Attorney-General and Minister of Justice (1987-1991); and First Vice-President and Minister of Rural Development (1991-1992). Dr. Conteh’s legal credentials are intimidating: He was educated at King’s College in London and Cambridge Universities. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree with honours in law and a Master’s Degree from London University.
Read Dr. Conteh: “In plain terms, this means that executive power, whatever it may mean or import cannot lawfully be exercised in disregard of the provisions of the Constitution. Executive power is nowhere defined in the Constitution. But the Constitution does clearly provide for the removal of the Vice President from office and how this should be done. This clearly puts the issue of the removal from office of the Vice President beyond the exercise of executive power, and cannot, on any view, be subsumed under it…. The removal from office of the Vice President, as stated in the Release from your office, is nothing short of an exercise of power that can find no validation in the text of our national Constitution….” Dr. Conteh is, awesomely, a learned man in the realm of law, but, he could be shallowly educated in other areas of history, politics, economics, leadership post-conflict countries; and he could have failed to put the action of President Koroma into perspective.
God’s Law of Survival Must Take Precedence over Man-Made Laws
The law which Dr. Conteh refers to there are man-made laws – which have to be subsumed under ‘God’s law’ of HUMAN SURVIVAL. To better survive, God has programmed man to live in societies. To better survive, God has tuned into man’s genetic makeup the need for leaders. Societies better survive when they have decisive leaders. Man-made laws are necessary for human survival, of course. But…. When a leader sees a set of man-made laws threaten to lessen his/her own personal survival, a strong leader exercises his flexibility to introduce flexibility in his interpretation of such laws, within the context of the society he/she lives in – and not take Sierra Leonean laws as if he/she were leading the United States. The late President Tejan Kabbah was a weak leader – that was why he knew there were about a DOZEN coup attempts on his government between April 1996 and April 1997, and he did not take firm action to ferret and snuff out those coup makers. When Tejan Kabbah was told about the May 25, 1997 coup THREE DAYS before it happened, he failed to take resolute action. Some Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora appear to have little knowledge about the history of the countries they live when the ‘National Security’ of these countries would be threatened.
When the West faces existential threats…..
On December 7, 1941, the United States was attacked by Japanese planes at Pearl Harbour in the Pacific. It rattled the US. Reaction? US President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued on February 19, 1942 Executive Order 9066 which led to the internment of about 120,000 Japanese-Americans. This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire West Coast of the US, including all of California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona…. And they were ‘imprisoned’ in camps.
After the famous 9/11 (in 2001) attack on New York by Osama Bin Laden-led Al Qaeda, the US detained suspected terrorists in a prison they control off US jurisdiction – famously known as Guantanamo. In this hell hole of a prison, the United States would arbitrarily hold a large number of people in a legal black hole for a period of years, with no access to attorneys, no access to families, and no charges. Britain has had the IRA, Spain has had the ETA…. None… did anything that is comparable to Guantanamo in the manner that they dealt with terrorism.
Britain’s David Cameroon on ISIS
UK citizens have been leaving the UK and going to fight with ISIS in Syria over the past year. And some have been returning to the UK. The reaction of the UK government as published in Britain’s THE INDEPENDENT newspaper of March 30, 2015: “…..A temporary ban on British-born jihadists in Iraq and Syria returning to the UK will be announced by David Cameron tomorrow ……. ……Talks between the Prime Minister and his deputy failed to reach agreement on a plan by Mr. Cameron to beef up Tpms (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures)…. Mr. Cameron wants to strengthen Tpms by bringing back restrictions on where extremists can live…. A government source said the range of measures being considered include ‘making it harder for potential foreign fighters to travel abroad by making it easier to remove their passports through additional temporary seizure powers at the border’. He added: ‘We are also looking at stopping British citizens from re-entering the country if they are suspected of terrorist activity abroad…” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-jihadists-cameron-considers-ban-on-uk-fighters-in-syria-and-iraq-returning-home-9702108.html)
No one country can be compared exactly with another country – there are significant differences even between Sierra Leone and Liberia, where I lived and worked for 12 years. There appears a general tendency by too many Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to compare Sierra Leone and the United States/UK in all spheres. Yes, we must emulate the rapid development, the science and technology in those parts of the world. But, in the organization of societies in those countries and Sierra Leone, there are scary differences. Sierra Leone has a tertiary level citizenry of about 1% – the US has 41% of its citizens with tertiary level qualifications. The number of doctors per population (UK and US have on average 2.4 doctors per 1,000 people – and Sierra Leone has on average 160,000 people per one doctor), lawyers per population, science professors per population would make a Negroid blush with embarrassment if the US and Sierra Leone are compared. Even then, when there appears to be an existential threat in those developed countries, their leaders would dispense with the niceties of Human Rights, and the fine points of the law.
I would not discuss here the legal details on whether President Koroma acted constitutionally in sacking his Vice President (Prof. Sydney W. Marcus-Jones, in teaching me Constitutional Law in FBC, University of Sierra Leone, in 1977, inculcated into me that there are almost always a thousand ways laws can be interpreted in their nuances), what I argue here is that there are wider considerations in providing leadership in a small country like ours that has slid down the sloop to complete anarchy just two decades ago. I praise President Koroma for being tough and firm in his decision to sack the former Vice President – in spite of his legendary forbearance which he exercised with the former Vice President for over three years.
God’s Law of Nature: Predator Versus Prey
In ‘God’s law of Survival’ for nearly all species, there is generally a law of predator against prey. The lion does no evil when he uses stealth and brawn to track down and kill a deer. Man, with his intelligence, can ‘mutate’ and take on the predatory stance of a lion or a snake – in man’s quest for survival. If I am the leader of a country, and I select another person to be an assistant to me, and I sense that that person wants me dead by all means, I would be a fool to wait – hemmed in by laws that can be widely read – until that person kills me. If I am a leader and I have evidence that a person close to me set fire to a forest, and is pouring fuel to it, and this threatens my country, I would not wait until there is conflagration in my country. Think on my analogies.
I am back in this Column. To guide you to think!!! To use your God-given intelligence – so that man would not become extinct like dinosaurs; so that Sierra Leone would not explode again.