Dr. Alhaji Kandeh Yumkella popularly known as KKY and Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana are the new political phenomena in Sierra Leone. Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally looks into the new voting lines for comparative analyses.
In the pre-colonial era, Sierra Leone used to have the colony and the protectorate. Many understood this geography to be the North-Western cardinal for the former and the South-East for the latter. Two tribes come to mind: Temne and Mende.
Predominantly, this was the aftermath of plethora of civil wars fought and conquered by various warrior rulers in the struggle for liberation and finding comfort zones.
Koya being the bastion of slave trade history became a cosmopolitan area. The Temnes take pride of their number advantage and the warrior leadership which dominated from the 14th centuries down the 18th centuries.
Other tribes such as the Loko, Limba, Susu, Yalunka, Koranko and the Bulloms settled in the hinterland and the coastal areas. The powerful nature of the Temnes’ domineering with a command of their language and authority rein even after the abolition of slave trade and the integration of the black poor liberated Africans. This way the colony was tribalised as Temne Line.
The South-East was also full of tribes such as Mende Kissy, Vai, Galina, Kono to name a few. The Fullahs and the Mandingos settled in fractions of the north-west and the south-east. Despite the fact that the warriors settled in areas later named for their leaders for example Kailahun and other areas named for the history, culture and relics, Mende still lead in the description as the south-east was and still is regarded as Mende Line.
Tonkolili was supposed to be the neutral land for the special reason that it is located in the main centre of Sierra Leone. Geographically, it is bordered with the north-west and the south-east. The unique tribes here are Konike, Pka Mende, Koranko in Samaia Bendugu area and the Loko. Konike is a combination of Temne and a semblance of the Gberesse tribe in Guinea; Kpa-Mende –a combination of Temne and Mende in the Moyamba axis. Moyamba in this case is also phenomenal for this combination as Tonkolili separates the sides at Moyamba Junction; Loko is a culmination of Mende and a semblance of Gbandi a speaking tribe in Liberia and Koranko –an offshoot of Konxiaka Mandingo.
Politics has been defined on the basis of the North-West and South-East demographics. The multitude of tribes in these two lines has succeeded in transforming a common ideology and various platforms for integration and common understanding. This understanding entreats the fact that even if one is from the other line living in the other line, they could easily reach a compromise. The general niche of hospitality is a general description for Sierra Leoneans.
Now, we are treating a situation today that appears to tune a different flavour. The aftermaths of the late 1960s into 1970s dealing with tribes superiority is about to be regurgitated to spell doom. Tribal card has been given a rude shock. In midst of the intermarriages and cross breeding, KKY of the National Grand Coalition and Chief Samuel Sam Sumana have equally treated that even minority tribes now matter in defining the stronghold term in politics.
The North-Western border town of Kambia voted mass for KKY. He came from the Susu tribe and a Muslim originating from the Kandeh-Kolleh Summah chieftaincy ruling house. The New kid speaks a clear message that when it comes to voting kinsmen would show solidarity and smooth spirit of oneness. Kono did same for Chief Sam Sumana and spelt off the swing state phraseology which used to characterise Kono.
Into the runoff, these two regions are crucial. Kambia is a border town, and such, Sierra Leoneans in neighbouring Guinea come easily through the border and vote. Since they have been away from the country they are alien to the political discusses and would easily cast their votes for preferred candidates they might chose.
Kono is a mining area and the people there are also attracted to the hospitality of the Kono people. With the personality of Chief Sam Sumana, giving the fact also that he was once the vice president –he commands a huge influence and a say to the Kono people and some of those residing there.
The weigh in depends on how much the respective crowd pullers would mix in the race to make the difference.
In all of these there is the fear factor of not losing political spaces whist trying to align with the runoff parties going forward. Political scientists in that regards are building their theories from the hypothesis of a third force combine or individual political parties to cultivate a real political solution to the domineering politics of the APC and SLPP. These parties have taken turns in providing political leaderships in the country since Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961.