By Pa John Baimba Sesay
Death, they say, is inevitable. We all are bound to die one day. But what one does on planet earth will serve as a determinant factor to tell whether one’s name will die with him/her or will stay, for one’s works are as crucial to the survival of his/her name even after death as it is with the ability to speak of one’s legacy.
The death of ex-President Kabbah reached me with some deep reflection. A reflection of where we came from as a country, to what we have achieved in the last few days, to where we are heading for at the moment – both in terms of development efforts, pre- and post-war challenges and the need for continued efforts toward national unity and cohesion.
Leaders are bound to ensure a nation moves in the direction its people expect. As it is the case with present day Sierra Leone, under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma, what we saw during the presidency of late Tejan Kabbah could still be used to talk of what we have achieved. Ex-President Kabbah may not have been the saint we were searching for, but he did his best as per his ability to move Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone had a terrible past from the view point of a nation torn into pieces, due to the effect of a decade-long civil war. We saw how we maimed each other, destroyed the country’s potential to be able to reach the apex of development, and at the same time destroyed not just the country’s infrastructure, but its economy, too.
The period 1991 to 2002 was as challenging for us as a people as it was with the desire on our part to come to terms with our civil war. But there was the leadership provided by then President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who ensured premium was paid to ending the civil war. This was after his election in 1996 as President of the Republic.
I was not a fan of President Tejan Kabbah, but one thing I would always say about his days in governance has to do with his leadership skills in bringing Sierra Leoneans together thus putting an end to our decade-long civil war. Added to that was the institutional reforms he helped bring about. A post-war leader he was, he went miles to work towards sustaining the peace and building on a number of our institutions. He will be remembered greatly.
As a matter of fact, President Kabbah had his own human errors, as well as his governance mistakes, and a plethora of them, I must add. But our history won’t be complete without referencing him.
Ex-President Kabbah will surely be missed by not just his family, but Sierra Leoneans across the country’s political divide. As we mourn his death, may his family be strong and courageous for the Lord our God will cover them.
RIP Pa Kabbah, RIP till we meet again.