April 13, 2021
BY Andrew Keili
When I write my “Ponder my thoughts” article I put my name to it. By doing so I realize I open myself up to criticism and even censure. There was a time however when I started writing this column years ago, when I used the pen name “I and I’ and called the column “Verba mea auribus’-its Latin translation. I later wrote an allied column- “Ruminations”, using the names “Ralph Hope” and “Gbende Wasu” variously. These were all done for Salone Times and up to this day my friend Oswald Hanciles, who was also a columnist for the paper, with my younger brother as its Managing Editor calls me “I and I”. It was easy in those days to “blast” people with abandon for everything one thought they did wrong under the sun.
I had been gutless all along! I later thought to myself that using my real name and being reasoned in my utterances with the idea of changing the mindset of people to make Sierra Leone a better place was the real goal of my writing. I haven’t always succeeded but I have had a lot of compliments over the years in the way I have espoused my views on sensitive national issues. It just so happens that everything nowadays is viewed under the political lens and I have had my share of criticism.
The skin of a writer must however be thick. There will always be those with differing opinions. Most writers welcome respectful arguments and actually look forward to a civil debate. This is why they put their name and address in their by-line. I have had my share of those who do not side with my views. I write an opinion column so it is not surprising that people who have differing opinions would write and tell me theirs. Whilst being complimentary of some articles, some of my most vociferous critics are actually friends who often either do not agree with the thrust of my thoughts or accuse me of pussyfooting around an issue. They are however “slow to chide and swift to bless”, with good intentions. I have listened carefully and often seen the other side of the coin. I welcome criticism and often will respond when people do that.
I got lots of calls recently over the Mayor Aki Sawyerr issue -Comments were understandably mixed but preponderantly complimentary. One particular one that caught my attention was an article – “PONDER (HIS) THOUGHTS-What “thoughts” a rejoinder to Andrew Keili’s Yvonne AKI Sawyer Mende slur” by Kapri Kolugbonda. I have assumed that this is someone hiding behind a fictitious name and have taken the article, laced with lies, innuendoes and invectives and bordering on the ad hominem with a pinch of salt.
Even though I have said I countenance criticism, the exception is anonymous letters or articles. Who wants to read the writings of someone who refuses to own up to their opinions and will not engage in some dialogue? I often disregard these. I’ve decided that if the person does not have the intestinal fortitude to back up their comments with their name, then I have determined they have nothing to say to me. Mr Kolugbonda is not alone. There are countless anonymous online commenters and bullies of social media. A person can sling mud from the dark room of anonymity and the allegations may or may not even be true. I respect those who are courageous and share different opinions and put their identify out there. But I have no time to read the ramblings of cowards. People who write such anonymous rejoinders are gutless cowards. Why would you want to cloak yourself behind a dark cloud of anonymity if your comments, ideas, criticisms or suggestions had merit and were truly constructive? The Dark is a convenient cover for those too ignorant to voice an opinion along with their name. Anonymity provides cover for words never uttered face-to-face or above penned signature.
A word for Mr anonymous Kolugbonda-I am always willing to reply to arguments personally or at least acknowledge disagreement. If you want to redeem yourself, write under your name. I will gladly discuss your opinions. My advice to anyone who is ambushed by these despicable tactics is to ignore them and move on.
I will leave you with a story involving the famous evangelist, Dwight L. Moody. He went to the pulpit and found a single sheet of paper. On the paper was written the word, “Fool.” Mr. Moody announced to the congregation, “In my life that I have received many letters that were unsigned. But this is the first letter I have ever received in which someone signed his name but neglected to write a letter.” Mr Koulgbonda probably left that letter!
Only gutless cowards hide behind cloak of anonymity. When Mr Kapri Kolugbonda or his handlers who gleefully started circulating his rejoinder have the guts to engage in reasoned arguments on the issue, I will gladly oblige them. Meanwhile I will continue pondering my thoughts, ”standing firm with the belt of truth around my waist , with the breastplate of righteousness” in place.
Don’t ponder gutless cowards. Ponder my thoughts