OCTOBER 28, 2014 By Oswald Hanciles
“If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything”
-Ahmed Sékou Touré
“….The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent, and has all the trappings of international sovereignty. In reality, its economic system, thus its political policy, is directed from outside…” Kwame Nkrumah (Quoted in Chernoh Bah’s book, Neo Colonialism in West Africa)
Chernoh Bah’s name has come into local and international limelight (New York Times, BBC, Al Jazeera, Washington Post, etc.) over the past month. His foundation in the US facilitated a donation of $141,000 worth of anti-Ebola materials to the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) – and there was a delay in government paying the shipper for the container.A single local newspaper, and a single FACEBOOK identity, has launched scurrilous attacks on Chernoh’s shining image after the issue of government of Sierra Leone’s delayed payment to the shipper for the aforementioned container first hit the front page of the New York Times.
I have been in the middle of this all; as the 35 year old Chernoh, a friend of about a decade, used me as a conduit to reach out to GoSL; and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation also would channel their communication with Chernoh through me. I have been ‘in the business’ of inspiring youth for decades, and as the ‘Guru’ of Youth Arise, which I was a co-founder for in 2000; thus, I see in Chernoh one of those budding Great Africans who has the potential of to wrought great good for the liberation of Africa; I have always felt honoured that Chernoh would regularly visit me in my residence for hours of lively debate during his monthly shuttle between the US/Europe/South America and Sierra Leone. Appalled by those who want to besmirch the image of this blooming Great African, it behooves me to correct this.
Author of ‘Neo Colonialism in West Africa’
One of the promotional pieces on cyber space on Chernoh Alpha M. Bah latest book, ‘Neo Colonialism in West Africa’…writes this about the book: “…. demonstrates that imperial powers continue to exploit West Africa. Throughout this collection of essays and articles, he provides practical answers to the root causes of poverty, conflict, and political instability….. He also explores how North American and European capitalist corporations prop up anti-democratic regimes that support Western economic interests in West Africa and how outsiders continue to scramble to control the continent’s natural resources….”.
The Preface in Chernoh’s book, written by Natalio Sowande Wheatley, Lecturer, H. Lavity Stout Community College, British Virgin Islands puts Chernoh on a high pedestal: “….Chernoh Alpha M. Bah embodies the legacy of I.T.A. Wallace-Johnson and other African Freedom Fighters. ….Just as Wallace-Johnson was a thorn on the side of the British Colonial authorities, so is Chernoh… a force to be reckoned with in the neo-colonial era….It would seem there is no place that is too far; there is no work that is too hard; there is no struggle intimidating in Chernoh’s….quest for the people’s liberation….”
While one or two people in Sierra Leone have tried to drag Chernoh’s name down into a fetid moral gutter, such evocative words have been written in his book about this budding Great African: “…In the history of Africa, many stepped forward in the battle against colonialism, but the battle is far from over…. Chernoh Alpha M. Bah has stood up and has been counted, and he challenges the masses to do the same…..”
“Smash Neo Colonialism!!!”
Just 35 years of age, it appears as if Chernoh Bah has been a revolutionary from his cradle. In a statement aptly titled “Smash Neo Colonialism”, during the final event of his U.S. tour at the Uhuru House, April 19, 2006, the slim, almost gaunt, Chernoh Bah spoke like Martin Luther King Jr. in his soaring rhetoric: “…We believe that this is a new period in the history of our struggle for the liberation and unification for Africa and African people worldwide. The fact that we are here today is a clear indication that we are entering a new era, and that this is a period that when we are beginning to defeat the forces responsible for our misery…… We believe that the struggle and the conditions that we face in Sierra Leone are no different from the conditions of Africans here in St. Petersburg, Florida or any other place that we Africans find ourselves…. I believe that this is the period when we should unite to overcome the difficulties that we continue to face as African people throughout the world….”. The African Socialist Movement was born, and has Chernoh Bah is its founding Chairman.
“I am anti-Marx…Anti-Soviet Union” in my Socialism
I have to wage a struggle with Chernoh to ferret out information from the self-effacing youth who lives an ascetic lifestyle. Though he is a “Socialist”, he has been one of the few Leaders of Thought who has tried to undercut the very legitimacy of the global pretensions of the Socialism ideology that was engendered by the likes of Germany’s Karl Marx, and given governance traction by former Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin. “I am anti-Marx and anti-Stalin… The type of Socialism they propagated was for the white working classes in the West; and, absolutely excluded much worse off Africans”; he told me, his intense gaze piercing me, his passionate voice searing into my brain. Chernoh said when he was yet just an undergraduate student at Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone), he would write dozens of articles espousing his radical views, challenging the ‘Socialist status quo’. That got the attention of other radical Socialist thinkers. They started inviting him for regular Socialist conferences all over the world. Always a voracious reader (from the time he was a primary school pupil in Makeni, Bombali District, where he was born and bred, he would drink lustily from the reservoir of knowledge of the St. Francis [Catholic] library; and, from books bequeathed to him by his father [who died when he was age three] – his father who had earned his university degree in the former Soviet Union in the 1970s).
Impressive Credentials for a Youth
In 2001, Comrade Chernoh Alpha M. Bah founded the Africanist Movement. It has evolved into a potent force to enable youth to ‘see’ the forces of oppression much better; and to unshackle centuries old yokes. Chernoh Bah was also editor of the Critique News International Magazine, and publisher and editor of The Africanist newspaper. He was the editor of the Concord Times Newspaper; columnist for The Democrat Newspaper; and winner of the 2002 African Journalist of the Year award. His achievements are truly impressive.
In 1995, he was the Secretary General of the Pan-African Movement for Human Rights and Democratic Development. He was the Co-founder of the Awareness Movement, January 1997, formed to unite young Africans in Sierra Leone to campaign against the atrocities of Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front. He was the Founder and President of the Young Writers Association in 1999, formed to unite exiled writers and journalists from Sierra Leone and Liberia. He was the Founder of The Nations Newspaper, first English publication in Conakry to provide news and analysis on the conditions of ‘refugees’ in Guinea and conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia during our war years. He was a Director of the Africanist Movement from 2001-2009. He is the Chairman of the African Socialist Movement (ASM). He was the Spokesperson of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during the 2012 election period.
Chernoh Bah’s rag to fame story
Chernoh Bah’s meteoric rise to international prominence is even more luminous when one learns about the sociological depths from which he rose. When his father died at age three, as the culture of his Fullah ethnic group mandate, he started being reared by his father’s junior brother. He was harshly treated – made to do all the menial jobs in the household; under-fed, regularly beaten for any tiny indiscretion. He escaped!! “For three years, none of my family knew where I was,” Chernoh told me. He joined roughs and toughs in the Makeni area. He then joined a group of gold miners in the Tonkolili District – searching for gold in risky underground caves that could easily have caved in to kill him. After three years, and indefatigable search by his biological mother, Chernoh was found close to the gold mines. He was about 15 years of age then; skinny, with bulging eyes that made him looked surreal. “My father took my two callused hands in hers, with blood on them because of digging for gold ten hours a day on average…and tears rolled down her eyes silently…”
“The other time I could remember my mother crying was when I was taking my degree at Fourah Bay College…in 2007; from the hands of President Ernest Bai Koroma,” Chernoh Bah said. He graduated with a degree in History and Sociology. I will save other details on Chernoh Bah for the book I have to do on him (And, other inspiring rags-to-fame stories from Sierra Leonean youth like Barrister Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai). This piece is premised on how our society, our APC government, can take advantage of Sierra Leonean luminaries like Chernoh Bah still under 40 years of age, and not allow a few ‘bad hart’ people to sully their hard-earned reputation.
Chernoh Bah has not only brought for the GoSL $141,000 worth of anti-Ebola materials; but, has in three other containers in the US with anti-Ebola worth over a million dollars – for Sierra Leone. Chernoh Bah is working on a US speaking tour on the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. To promote his book, Chernoh Bah made speaking tours of several top universities in the US. Public Relations for Sierra Leone, the re-branding of Sierra Leone, must not be a one-off thing; and it must be intense as we hopefully move into post-Ebola scenario. Let the GoSL take advantage of Chernoh Bah!!