"After three years as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, followed by seven years as Senior Adviser to President Tejan Kabbah...a period in which I hosted United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright, attended a reception hosted by former United States President Bill Clinton and an autographed photograph of him, a period during which I made several official visits to the United States to attend meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations....that my application for a non-immigrant visa to the United States would be held up, I would say turned down. But that precisely is what happened when I attended visa interview at the American Embassy on Wednesday June 20, ten days after my 82nd Birthday......
"....Last Wednesday after our documents have been processed, we were called to the window like everyone else where we were interviewed by a pleasant looking Consular office, a lady. She and I laughed over the Dakar story; but she asked why my wife and I were leaving the country together at this time. The 'AT THIS TIME' was not lost on me. In spite of that I felt confident that our application would be successful. It therefore came as a surprise when she said a couple of minutes later that we would not be granted visas at this time. The only reason I could think of what she probably thought that we were running away because of the forthcoming November elections....
"....What next then Puawui? To be fair to the Embassy mine is not an outright rejection; at least not yet. It says on the document that was handed to us 'Your application requires administrative processing before we are able to determine whether you are eligible for a visa...' -- From Puawui Column, NEW VISION & Global Times newspapers, Monday, June 25, 2012.
O, dear!! I was shocked and sad when I read the above written by PAUWUI himself, Dr. Sama Banya. Dr. Banya is one of my 'favourite uncles'. He once wrote that I am his 'best columnist'. But, over the past year, as I write my truths about how great, how humane, how pro-development President Ernest Bai Koroma is, and wrote Part One of the President Koroma's biography, Dr. Banya would continually deride me in his Column as the 'unauthorized biographer' of the President. I responded once with 'et tu Sama Banya' - echoing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as Brutus pierced his heart in the orgy of Caesar's assassination inside the ancient Roman Senate. Well, Dr. Banya was not exactly assassinating me; but, given that we are not only close friends, but, we have avowed admiration for each other (I am a profound admirer of the prolific output of a man over 80 years of age. I admire the 'sass mind' of Dr. Banya - prodigious memory; and, apparently keeping himself updated by reading every sentence and comma in every newspaper. Importantly, at 80+, Dr. Banya jogs regularly, and is far fitter than most 50 year olds in Sierra Leone), he should not be the one needling me just because he is SLPP, and I have written a book on the APC Leader, President Koroma. I threatened Dr. Banya that I would 'report him to Aunt Mary'. Any time I would bump into Dr. Banya on the street of Freetown, as he marches with a smug expression on his face as if he would be flaunting his robust good health at 80 years plus, he would make mention of 'my Aunt Mary' -'his Mary Bradshaw'. I learned that Mary Bradshaw, my late father's still living 94 year old elder sister (in Bonthe Town) was once a 'squeeze' of Dr. Banya - some sixty or so years in the past. Well, now that I am going to invoke the name, and maybe, 'resurrect' the late Olu Gordon, it is Dr. Banya who would have to 'nya mahe geh' (put my complaint forward) to Mary Bradshaw.
If the late Publisher/Editor of PEEP newsmagazine, Olu Gordon (who was also my friend - since we both met in Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, as Intermediate Year freshmen in 1975; and we both practised journalism in the 1990s in Freetown up to time of the death of Olu about a year ago) were alive, he would have 'commiserated' with Pauwui's plight above with such a satire I try my hand at below. (By the way, Dr. Banya, including my being a newspaper writer, one of my strengths was as an editorial cartoonist in the Daily Observer in Monrovia, Liberia in the 1980s, and The Defender newspaper in Calabar, Nigeria in the 1990s).
In fond memory of our 'mutual friend', the late Olu Gordon, I now present SEVEN REASONS WHY THE U.S. EMBASSY IN FREETOWN TURNED DOWN THE VISA APPLICATON OF DR. SAMA BANYA.
1. The embassy learned that Dr. Banya plans to do comedy shows in the U.S.; and not to risk Olu Gordon rising up from his grave in anger or envy at the fame that Dr. Banya would earn, they turned down Dr. Banya's application.
2. Al Qaeda recruited an innocent-looking Nigerian youth, the son of a super rich and powerful Nigerian to blow up a plane in the U.S.; so, Boko Haram could have recruited a more innocent-looking Dr. Banya with his illustrious foreign service credentials - to wreck havoc in the U.S. No chance taking.
3. Well, Dr. Banya guessed a reason - they feared they were running away from the trouble they have been stoking fires on over the past year as we approach November 2012. Husband and wife. Since all the daily articles of PAUWUI Column for five years straight could have been 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' masquerading as innocuous articles, the U.S. feared that Dr. Banya has primed all his WMDs to be detonated once he leaves the shores of Sierra Leone. Since he would have to live with us in Sierra Leone, and they know that Dr. Banya is NOT a suicide bomber, he would go now and defuse the WMDs.
4. Having discouraged the SLPP Leader, Brigadier Maada Bio (retired), from travelling to the US because he is perceived as a 'war criminal in the making', and because Bio confessed to 'collective responsibility' for the extra judicial killing of 29 persons by the NPRC junta in 1992, Dr. Banya was heading for the U.S. to use his immense prestige and persuasive powers (including his 'green' - environment - connections) to get the U.S. State Department, and even President Obama himself, to change his mind about Bio; so, not to have Secretary Hilary Clinton embarrassed, the U.S. State Department ordered their embassy here not to grant Dr. Banya a visa.
5. Dr. Banya is clearly one of the lead brains, and, preeminent columnist, for a political party, the SLPP, that have its party news organ, UNITY, continually emblazoning on its front page the words "MENDES ARE STUPID" - with the obvious aim of kindling tribal conflagration, like it happened in Rwanda in 1994; so, the U.S. Embassy is already sending a warning to them and their ilk that should they carry out what they aim to do they would not be welcomed in the U.S.
6. In his PUAWUI COLUMN, Dr. Banya has been rationalizing the extra judicial killing of 29 people by the NPRC government in which today's current SLPP presidential candidate was a cabinet minister in; and cleansing the image of Maada Bio almost on a daily basis: so, the U.S. is stretching international law - that is, 'putting into the law books implicitly' that cleansing the image of a potential war criminal could be tantamount to collaboration in war crimes. If not an indictable crime, it deserves non-entry into a country whose president has vowed to make war criminals, potential war criminals, a pariah.
7. They were not convinced by Dr. Banya that he would live up to 100 years of age - so, sensitive to Sierra Leonean tradition, and the burning aspirations for great honours to Dr. Banya by his kith and kin, they took a decent action without appearing to grate any one's sensibilities.
May the Soul of Olu Gordon Rest in Perfect Peace!! May this satire in his honour get Olu Gordon to use the powers of the dead to appeal to President Obama to smoothen Dr. Banya getting a visa. After all, whatever you can say about the old man, he is an engaging columnist - and, in spite of the bombardment of continual satire he faced from Olu Gordon, he is getting stronger and stronger.