June 1, 2017
The people of Lower Banta chiefdom in the Moyamba district especially in Gbangbatoke and Largo sections have raised concerns over the present situation and called for peace and unity.
The concerns were raised in Gbangbatoke town during a one day Community Preparedness Meeting organized by Fambul Tok International with support from UNDP and NEW DEAL.
One of the main issues has to do with chieftaincy, as according to residents, the elected Town chief of Gbangbatoke, Junior Pessima, was alleged to have violated the then Ebola bye laws and therefore immediately suspended by Paramount Chief John Gibao Russel Nyama 11.He was temporally replaced by Walter S.B.Margai.
When the Ebola virus was eliminated, all bye laws were removed and therefore most of the traditional leaders who were suspended across the country were re-installed in their various positions. It was on this ground that the people of Gbangbatoke urged chiefdom authorities to re-instate Pessima, but everything turned out to be chaotic and violent, leading to the burning down of houses and loss of lives.
The entire chiefdom has not realised stability since August, 2016.
On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, during Fambul Tok’s Community Preparedness Meeting in Gbangbatoke town, community members urged authorities to resolve the impasse so that peace and unity will return to the chiefdom.
Without prejudice to the matter in court, they said it would be better to embark on community peace-building and reconciliation.
Welcoming participants from all villages in Gbangbatoke section, Acting Town Chief, Walter S.B.Margai, said the entire chiefdom needed peace and reconciliation.
He said Fambul Tok is the first organisation to have engaged them in the post Ebola recovery phase, adding that they were ready to work very hard and ensure stability returns to the chiefdom.
Chief Margai stated that the meeting is important as issues affecting them would be brought to the fore, and, together with Fambul Tok, those things would be resolved amicably.
One of the chiefdom authorities, Sitta Lavalie, confessed that there were lots of problems in the chiefdom, adding that except those issues were resolved, development would not be realised .He expressed gratitude to Fambul Tok for what he referred to as ‘opening their eyes’ and also involving communities in the post Ebola recovery phase.
The purpose of the meeting was to prepare the minds of community members for potential development initiatives and how they would be involved in the People’s Planning Process especially in the post Ebola recover phase
The Fambul Tok led People’s Planning Process is design to ensure that policy makers, project implementing organisations and other community based initiatives listen to communities and involve them in the development process.
This idea was developed to respond to the post Ebola prevention, healing and development in communities as the post war development process in one way or the other did not benefit communities. It involves various steps such as identification of communities, several visitations, chiefdom meetings, community preparedness meetings, trainings of mediators, follow up on structures, rotational meetings, validation of chiefdom people’s plan and a two-day dialogue conference in each of the districts to launch chiefdom report.