A Rejoinder To Andrew Keili’s “Yvonne Aki-Sawyer Mende Slur”

By Kapri Kolugbonda….

Andrew Keili’s desperate scramble to do damage control for his long time family friend, at the detriment of those discriminated against, is more damaging to any Aki-Sawyer defence than what a straightforward confession may have inflicted.

Let’s face it: the very Aki-Sawyer lines quoted by Andrew is undeniably self-revealing: “Dem wan Kam with Kemokai na ya, so when are say do dis e tell me say buwa biseh, there’s no way we go accept DEM nar ya.” The emphasis on the “DEM” shows that Aki was not referring to ONE Kemokai but to all who may have a Mende-sounding name like KEMOKAI or who may be affiliated with his kind.
The “BIWAH BISSEH” Mende expression used to emphasise her point and denigrate her targets illuminates the foulness of her meaning.

What is Andrew missing here?

I know that Mr. Keili is a very clever engineer (a rare example of the few Mende men that Aki may not be ashamed to be associated with) who is adept at loosening knots to please his clients. Alas, Mr. Keili is also a blind politician and a superfluous story teller who may be bad at politics but is not so bad at painting scenarios that tickle his imagination.
But it has to be admitted that stories are not always akin to the realities they may want to mimic. So however much Andrew may proceed to re-tell and re-twist this terrible tale, it won’t come out that straight and smooth. Never mind the man has gone as far as daring to boast about his psychic knowledge of Aki-Sawyer’s “intent behind her words”, yet we know that this is a man who is no clairvoyant. Otherwise he would never have left the SLPP and frivolously jumped ship hoping to be a national VP under the daydream ticket of a political joyride. That dream simply faded in a rainbow cloud of painted stories!

Now, isolated by his own people, and increasingly cut off from everyday reality, the man has been left to “Ponder” strange excuses on behalf of Aki-Sawyer, the self-confessed tribalist: that Aki-Sawyer has the smile of an overripe tomatoe or that her English accent cuts deeper than the sharpest axe or that she can boast of an excellent parentage with a spotless record that spans back to generations unknown. So what? That places her above sin?

Did anyone tell Andrew Keili that the “Kut Hand Kut foot” RUF mutilator, Foday Sankoh, hailed from a long line of decent Sankohs? Did that stop the brutal butcher from amputating the limbs of innocent women and kids?

By the way, what is all this story about her maternal grandmother being rooted in the Mende stock of the national tree? Who said that blacks don’t tell on blacks in the boiling bowels of selfish drives? Who killed Malcolm, or Sankara or masterminded the sweeping genocide in Rwanda? Why do we have what is called ‘self hating Jews’? Please, please, do not even tell me about “Mende roots” to try and get her off her own hooks. We are not interested in whether Aki-Sawyer is Mende or Gbandi. What we are looking at are the words that she so PASSIONATELY spat out and her ACTIONS that give meaning to those words. And we are saying, they deserve the RED card!

I must also state here, and emphatically so, that this Ponder (His) Thoughts edition is the most hypocritical post I have read from any politician of any political party in the last ten years. And that is saying a lot!
Why can’t Andrew just accept (without any “clever” caveat) that his colourful comrade is bang out of order?

By suggesting that the name Kemokai is not particularly a Mende name is disparaging in itself and disingenuous to the dot!

Andrew should know that KEMOKAI is as Mende as BANDABLA can ever be. In fact, Kemokai is one of those family names that can be zoomed down to a particular location- Pujehun!

And even though Andrew describes himself as “a proud Mende man” yet that name “Andrew” looks and sounds less Mende than “Kemokai”. So whereas Andrew can act the chameleon and be missed in a crowd, anyone who is looking for a Mende man to hate would never easily skip a “Kemokai”. Wherever the names “Andrew” and “Kemokai” pops up on a paper to be considered for any position, it is easy to decode which one ‘smells’ Mende and which one may not ‘smell so bad’!

And woe would befall the “Mende man” whose name lands on the table of a proud discriminating tribalist! Likewise a Limba man or even a Creole man who happens to find himself in such an appealing situation. Tribalism (like religious fanaticism) is a very dangerous thing and must be totally condemned, not condoned or excused.

And Andrew’s beleaguered friend knows exactly what she is doing : indeed she enjoys the power that comes with that shady knowledge, at the detriment of her preys.

What is even more ridiculous in all of this saga is the sad attempt by this political wannabe of yesteryears, wanting to humour us with his far fetched (and what he considers “funny”) anecdotes on how tribes may comically describe other tribes, just to humour themselves.

In the first place, Aki-Sawyer was not dramatising a comic skit. She was dead serious in her pronouncements. Cold and calculated. She said as much! Secondly, the very fact that Andrew infers that those references are disrespectful if not downright derogatory, points to the acceptance of disruptive bigotry in Aki-Sawyer’s loaded remarks.

As an employer himself, surely Andrew Keili cannot deny the existence of the crude bias in this: we are talking about a situation in which Aki-Sawyer is not just verbalising her deep-seated animosity towards the “BIWAH BISSEH” sector of the nation but she actually boasts about how she has ACTED upon it to deprive Sierra Leoneans she considers undeserving (perhaps even sub human) because of their TRIBE. We are talking about REAL PEOPLE!
Why Andrew Keili likens this tragic situation to a comedy show is something that only Andrew Keili could explain further.

Aki-Sawyer’s tribal outburst is beyond reckless. It reveals an ingrained flaw that is deliberately diabolical and decidedly unforgivable.

It must also be pointed out that her divisive rant has nothing to do with her deservingly respected ethnic group; it has nothing to do with how rich or educated her family is; it has nothing to do with how many times her parents used to go and pray in the church. It has everything to do with her unfitness to be in any position of trust, beyond the high-walled fences of her marital household.

For Andrew Keili to put the growing national outcry, against the tribally tainted confessions of Aki-Sawyer, down to “hardliners in the SLPP” is an unpardonable insult and it demonstrates just how deceitful Andrew himself is. No wonder, his own people in Kailahun have never listened to anything he says, even when he came to them with his painted NGC VP flag. Fact is that the real “BIWAH BISEH” Mende man knows a condescending rainbow-coloured chameleon when he sees one!

If anything, I think Andrew Keili is playing the typical headless foot soldier for a bursted tribalist, in order to draw attention to himself in the hope of shielding his opulent family friend with whom he usually wines and dines. So what would he care about the feelings or the fortunes of any sacked BIWAH BISSEH who happens to be a mere collateral mishap in this game of personal power poker play!

Even the Mayor knows that what she said is very offensive and totally indefensible so much so that she attempts to deny her own words by foolishly alleging that her words had been “edited”. Edited? Listening to the audio in question, that defence sounds really funny!

But why even attempt to defend what you claim is not yours? Hellooo!

It is NOT enough to say that Aki-Sawyer is “hardworking”, Adolf Hitler was hardworking, and so was Joseph Stalin, but towards the very wrong ends. She may not be either of these two unholies but she definitely serves as a warning to those who can see the seeds of evil being planted long before they sprout!

I strongly agree with Andrew on one thing: that Aki must “hit the road” to which verdict I would like to add…..Aki-Sawyer must “hit the road away from the FCC halls and from any public chair paid for by Sierra Leonean tax payers who also (more so) include people who are born to respectfully repeat this harmless greeting everyday……

BIWAH, BISSEH!