At a well attended ceremony full of pageantry of the Mandingo culture, hundreds of Mandingos from all works of life all across the country swelled the State House lawns to endorse President Ernest Bai Koroma for a second term of office. The endorsement came in the wake of telepathic realization among a number of Mandingo elders, women and youths about the genuine efforts of President Koroma in turning around the country for the better.
Delivering a message from the Mandingos Union Southern Province, Mandingo Tribal Head, Alhaji Soriba Turay said the Mandingos in Bo and the entire Southern Region pledge their total support to the President for his national development drive. He added that they also appreciate him for promoting their Mandingo sister Madam Mabinty Daramy to a deputy ministerial position, and registered their appreciation for granting them audience as it was their first opportunity to address the Head of State at State House.
Kenema District Representative, Alhaji Mansaray made it clear that they were supporting the SLPP because of Former President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. "Now that he's out of the picture, we want to unequivocally throw our unflinching support behind you to continue the wonderful work you're doing", Aljahi Mansaray said. He added that anybody who is still blind to the development in the country and refuses to support a leader like President Koroma is totally blind to reality, because the president's efforts in the country are indisputable. He named him as a true leader who has his people and country at heart and who was bent on moving the country ahead.
Elders Committee Chairman Kenema District, Alhaji Gbaratay said there are no two ways about their support to any individual adding that their careful decision to support President Koroma was also based on his management of the global crisis when he took up governance in 2007. He called on the President to ignore the detractors who are trying to create a barrier between them and to empower the Mandingos to grow and face the challenges already encountered. Alhaji Gbaratay commended the President for not being tribalistic and further assured him of their unwavering support to win the November elections.
Tribal Head Lower Bambara Chiefdom, Ansumana Gbaratay associated himself with previous speakers and emphasized that the APC Party is always grateful to its supporters as their efforts are always recognized.
Bombali District Representative Kelfala Sheriff prayed for the ongoing unity within the Mandingo community. He pointed out that President Koroma has an open mind for all Sierra Leoneans and as such he implored all Mandingos to have a clear mind and conscience in supporting the President.
Deputy Tribal Head Kono District pledged their support and solidarity to President Ernest Koroma, adding that the Mandingos are now openly with him to ensure that he wins the elections in November.
Representative of Koinadugu District, Mohamed Sesay, extended profound gratitude to the President for appointing an indigene of Koinadugu District Fereh Musu Kawusu-Konte as Deputy Minister. He added that the intervention of Alhaji Batorma Sheriff seventy-five percent of the Mandingos in the district have converted to the APC and assured the President that this time round they will deliver all the six seats in Koinadugu to President Koroma come November 2012.
Western Area Tribal Headman Alhaji Tarawalie expressed delight for the occasion and urged all to remember the good works of the party and be sincere with their support saying it is only the APC led government that had always brought development to the country.
Youth Representative Abu Daramy assured the President of the unyielding commitment of Mandingo youths to ensure the November polls are violent free, and promised to bring onboard the party all their friends and relatives by preaching to them the message of development and continuity as they were also anxious to be part of the Party's success story.
President Ernest Bai Koroma, who was taken aback by the deluge of endorsements by representatives of one district to the other, declared that; "This evening, I'm a Mandingo", amidst rapturous applause and jubilation.
He urged the Mandingo community to seize the opportunity now unfolding under the APC government as it was Mandingos who gave the APC its name. "This is your party; don't let it go", he urged, adding that APC is now complete because the Mandingos had arrived.
The indomitable father of the nation called on the National Mandingo Union to maintain and promote peace and tranquility at all times. He maintained that without peace and quiet, there will be no development.
President Koroma observed that if his government had been against the interest of the Mandingo community, no Mandingo man or woman would want to visit him. "You're here today because the roads my government is constructing are not cosmetic roads, but tangible evidence of my judicious stewardship of the nation. You came here today because you have seen and believed that what is going on in the country today is not pipeline or politics of intentions. This is politics of reality", he said.
He also mentioned the free health care which continues to save lives and reduce the maternal and infant mortality rates in the country, while noting that the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (SCP) is intended to ensure farmers "farm for business" rather than subsistence agriculture.
The President said all of these developments taking place in the country are things meant for all Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of where we come from or which area development is taking place. "But when I hear the opposition claiming that all what we have done and continues to do are cosmetic and that the SLPP built over 600-700 KM of roads in the country, I'm left wondering whether it was in this country or somewhere in space he was referring to", he joked. President Koroma went on to say that he had never lied to the people of Sierra Leone and cannot change his character now because of politics. He said that anyone with blood on his hands will not change that now because of politics.
Deputy Minister Trade and Industry, Madam Mabinty Daramy who chaired the ceremony said they have decide to come together in unity to support President Koroma for the forthcoming elections to ensure that he is re-elected without a run off. She commended the President for granting them audience and for the great development that is taking place in the country. The Deputy Minister expressed delight that President Koroma had accepted the Mandingos today despite the fact that they are being blackmailed as strong members of the SLPP Party who will never change their identity for anyone.
Madam Mabinty Daramy assured the President that from now on they will solidly stand behind him as they are very much appreciative and impressed with his vision, commitment and determination to develop Sierra Leone. She pointed out that they are now realistic of the fact that he is a God chosen leader sent to unify, develop and enhance the status of the nation. Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mabinty Daramy maintained that this time around they will work earnestly and wholeheartedly with President Koroma, and again thanked him for giving the Mandingos the opportunity to declare their support and associate themselves openly with the All People's Congress Party.
Speaking on behalf of the gathering, Yusifu Kabba described the day as a great one in which the Mande people had associated themselves with President Koroma saying it was a blessing of God that President Koroma will continue to rule Sierra Leone. He made it clear that their presence at State House was no camouflage but that they were there with open hearts and as proud Mandingos who are impressed with his development strides.
Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Fereh Musu Kawusu-Konte said the history of Sierra Leone in the area of development only started when President Koroma assumed office in 2007. She announced that they are at State House to pay their respect to the President for the wonderful work he was doing in the country, and that with the support of the Mande people, he has won the elections as Mandingos are born fighters. The Deputy Minister also described the day as historic as President Koroma had gained the support and confidence of a critical tribe and called on all to fully participate in the upcoming verification exercise.
The ceremony was climaxed by music and dance, and songs of praises and victory, including legendary performances from 'praise' singers or griots like Mariama Jibatey and Haja Fanta.