I believe you may have seen the numerous videos making the rounds on social media. Actually, from what I gathered, Samura Kamara had an invitation to be with worshippers at the mosque on that Friday. He had sent in a request about two weeks prior. Just before or during the Jumaa Kutuba (Friday sermon), Vice President Juldeh Jalloh entered the mosque, through the Imam’s office door.
Apparently, the VP had no knowledge that Samura Kamara was in the Bombay Street mosque. From what I was told by eye witnesses, the two men sat very close for the duration of the sermon.
After the sermon and prayers, Dr Jalloh asked permission to make a short statement, and the mosque leaders duly gave him the mic. That’s when the riotous worshippers erupted. I was told the mayhem came from the top floor. The VP was jeered and heckled by the rebellious crowd, which would have drowned any speech. Worshippers were allegedly shouting: “Na Samura wi wan yeri.” The Vice President had no choice but to give in to their demands. He then handed the mic and walk out of the building and left with his convoy. Disturbing!
Now the debate that has raged since is whether the VP should have gone to the mosque in the first place. First of all, I see no reason why the Vice President would go to that mosque if he knew that the popular Samura Kamara was there. He would know that there’s nothing to gain by doing that. And the VP would also know that the Basharia Mosque is not the friendliest of places for someone from the other side. But let’s put all those points of argument aside. When a sitting President goes to a place, he automatically assumes the highest respect there by virtue of his position as Fountain of all Honour. And VP Juldeh Jalloh, being the acting President (President Bio is far away in Russia), should have been given the honour he deserved.
But what we saw was a disgraceful behaviour by a group of rebellious worshippers who had too much politics in their heads and forgot their senses at home. Interestingly, the Vice President hadn’t made a statement before the rioters pounced on him. Was it premeditated? They could not even listen to a word from him. Who knew what he was going to say? Maybe he wanted to say something about the presence of another political heavyweight; maybe he wanted to say something about tolerance; maybe, still, he wanted to thank the mosque authorities for receiving him at such a short notice and maybe apologize for taking them by surprise. I’m just speculating.
And I have to commend Dr. Jalloh for doing the honourable thing by walking out peacefully and quietly when he sensed a nasty situation unfolding. He knew there was nothing he could gain by forcing his way. And whatever death or damage that could have resulted, it would have gone against him. The news would have been: “Juldeh Jalloh’s bodyguards kill Muslim worshippers in a Mosque! Or Sierra Leone’s Vice President vandalise a mosque.
A very significant part of the drama that I haven’t been able to get was Dr. Samura Kamara’s reaction after the VP had left the scene. First of all, I would actually expect Samura Kamara to distance himself from the whole thing. I would expect him to rebuke what appears to be his supporters. There’s no justification for misbehaving on a leader that had done nothing wrong whatsoever. Samura Kamara is vying to be President of the nation. He would also expect the same respect if and when he’s elected.
By the way, Samura Kamara is one of only few politicians I have the utmost respect for in the country. I believe he’s one the least corrupt and least violent politicians. But I have to say I’m disappointed with him for appearing in a video that is critical of the VP who has done nothing wrong. Some people are saying Samura made attempts to restore Juldeh Jalloh’s honour after the VP had left. I’m told a video to that effect exists. But that has now been made redundant by Samura’s endorsement of the Chief Imam’s disrespectful video.
Shockingly, in that video, a woman can be heard saying: “Na palava na in e want!”, referring to the VP. And in the same video, the Chief Imam seems to take political sides by referring to Dr Samura as: “We daddy”.
And Dr Kamara’s triumphant procession around the mosque, moments after the Vice President of the nation had been humiliated, I think that’s unfortunate. Very uncharacteristic of Samura Kamara.
Yes, I accept, to some extent, the argument that VP Juldeh Jalloh should have announced his coming to the mosque. As a statesman, his presence could cause security issues. But what if he didn’t? What if it was a coincidence? What if we consider that as a Muslim, he could do his prayers in any mosque at any time? Of course, as a Muslim, he could go into Masjid to pray. Can we actually embarrass a president for coming to our place unannounced? Wow!. In fact, this is not the first time that a president or vice president has gone to a place unannounced. Siaka Stevens did it; Tejan Kabbah did it; Ernest Koroma did it many times; and VP Juldeh has done it.
If I were Juldeh, I would have left the mosque immediately after prayers, knowing that the crowd would be yearning to hear from Samura, and of course he could also consider the naive nature of most Sierra Leoneans (most people in this country do not approach issues from a logical angle. Their emotions dictate their reactions). That said, the Vice President decided to make a statement. That was his choice. But the rabble had another plans. They had no interest in what the VP was going to say. I’m actually shocked that some Sierra Leonean could have the guts to embarrass a president in that fashion! Too bad for Mama Salone!!
I’ve since got word that there have been arrests and police invitations in connection with the incident, and that there’s police presence at some places. I can’t corroborate that now. Some people where actually saying the mosque should be closed. I think that’s far fetch. There was a riot against the VP, but no serious crime was actually committed as far as I’m concerned. But other people could have their own interpretations. I just hope we can learn lessons and move on from this incident.