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Back in the early 70s, and on a very fateful day, four Sierra Leonean male lost their lives in a motor accident in the United States. These four Sierra Leoneans were believed to have hailed from the Southeast. A few Sierra Leonean students, mostly from the Southeast, studying in the United States at the time, requested cash assistance from the then Sierra Leone embassy in order to facilitate transporting the corpses back to the bereaved families in Sierra Leone. (Photo: Brima M. Turay – Asst. PRO; APC NA)
It is maintained within Tegloma circles that the Ambassador at that time did not honour the request, stating that his embassy did not have money for such incidents. It is also alleged within Tegloma circles, subject to confirmation, that another Sierra Leonean, this time a Northerner, died not too long after the incident above and his family here in the United States made a similar request from the Embassy and the request was granted by the same Ambassador who refused to honour the request from the Southeasterners. To cut a long story short, and reacting against what the Southeasterners considered as bad treatment by an APC Ambassador to them, they decided to come together and form a coalition to cater primarily to the needs of Southeasterners within its membership here in the United States. This would become what we know today as Tegloma International.
Until a few years ago, the membership of this organization was predominantly people from Southeastern Sierra Leone and predominantly of the Mende tribe. It was not long before the organization became a pressure group fighting against, what was believed by its members as, “The excesses of the APC party”. Prominent amongst its founders was Dr. Lansana Nyallay – a charismatic individual from Eastern Sierra Leone whose leadership style galvanized the organization and transformed it into an International entity that was primarily focused on criticizing the APC and helping to bring the SLPP back to power. This is evidenced by the massive cash support from this organization to the SLPP party. Tegloma has always been dubbed as a “Non-political entity” and it enjoys the status of being a nonprofit organization primarily catering to the needs of its membership and the needs of the Southeastern region of Sierra Leone. What is interesting here is that, every cash contribution that this organization has ever made to the SLPP was made in the name of the organization and not in the name of the individuals within the organization who support the SLPP party. It is also important to mention that Tegloma has never financed any other political party in Sierra Leone but the SLPP. It is also a fact that anyone who sings the praises of the APC party in any Tegloma function or group discussion, regardless of whether or not you hail from the Southeast, becomes a target for spiteful reactions from the majority of Tegloma members. Could this be an example of politics being extenuated in a façade of a nonprofit organization? Yes, you would always hear from its members that Tegloma is a nonpolitical organization but whenever someone does anything that even remotely points to making the APC party look good, this will always be followed by negative reaction from the majority of members within the organization. This brings me to the main point for which I decided to put this article out:
Dr. Lansana Nyallay, after investing so much time, energy and resources in Tegloma; and having spent the best part of his youthful days supporting the SLPP party remotely from the United States, decided to go home and try his chances of becoming the “Flag bearer” of the SLPP party for the 2007 presidential elections. He was subject to the worst treatment by his fellow SLPP supporters, some of whom never came close to doing anything that Dr. Nyallay had done for the SLPP party. What was Dr. Nyallay’s crime? Well, his only crime was his attempt to lead a political party that he helped to resurrect. As if that was not enough bad treatment for him already, Dr. Nyallay was appointed a Deputy Minister of Education in an APC-led administration and this appointment increased the hatred for him by members of his own political party, the SLPP, and most members of his own tribe. Matters became worse for the poor man when he finally decided to become a member of the APC party. Within his own Tegloma, the feelings were mixed and what used to be a revered Dr. Lansana Nyallay all of a sudden became the victim of spite and reservations from his own people within the organization. When the leadership, on behalf of Tegloma International, paid a courtesy call on President Koroma shortly after the 2007 elections, the then Chairman, Mr. Aloysius Foh, and members of his administration, came under serious attack and heavy criticism from the majority of Tegloma members, most of whom are SLPP supporters.
At the recently concluded Tegloma mini convention in Newark, New Jersey, the current chairman of Tegloma International, Mr. Alfred Jamiru, granted Dr. Lansana Nyallay the podium to address the membership of this organization. In a perfect world, one would have thought that no one could have been more appropriate to play this role than Dr. Nyallay. Unfortunately, the Doctor, as well as those who granted him this opportunity, came under criticism from the majority of Tegloma members. Why? I don’t think Dr. Nyallay could have uttered anything that is detrimental to Tegloma. I can therefore assume that the only reason why he must have been treated this way is because he is now a member of the APC party and a Minister serving in an APC administration.
To further justify my claim, it will interest you to know that Tegloma will soon hold its Annual Convention in Washington DC this year. In a recent meeting with heads of the Tegloma Chapters, Chairman Jamiru and some members of his administration, upon the suggestion of the Chief of the Washington DC Tegloma Chapter, revealed that they were strongly considering the Honorable Ambassador Bockarie K. Stevens, who is Sierra Leone’s current Ambassador here in the United States, to serve as the Keynote Speaker at this event. The idea was strongly condemned by the majority of Chiefs of the various Tegloma Chapters; claiming that if they allow an Ambassador under the APC party to speak at this event after Dr. Lansana Nyallay, another APC Minister, had spoken to the same Tegloma at the Mini Convention in New Jersey, it will paralyze the SLPP party and in turn strengthen the APC party within the Tegloma membership. In other words, it will make Tegloma look “Political”!
This brings me to the question: Is Tegloma a political organization operating under nonprofit status or a political support group financing and supporting a political organization (The SLPP)? If we say it is not a political support group, one would begin to wonder why the membership would react negatively whenever anything within Tegloma smells like or looks like APC. One would also wonder why the membership would always hail and deify anything that has to do with the SLPP party. What would have happened if Ambassador Stevens is currently serving under an SLPP administration? Would he have been rejected by Chiefs of the various Tegloma Chapters? There have been times when Ambassadors under the SLPP part had performed this role of Keynote Speaker in Tegloma events without negative reactions or stringent questioning from the membership. Ambassador Stevens has been attending events organized by Tegloma or the SLPP party upon invitation because he represents Sierra Leone even though he is APC. Tegloma can therefore no longer convince us that the majority of its membership is not acting as a political support group within the organization. They may continue to convince us that they are not a political organization by virtue of the nonprofit status they currently enjoy under the laws of the United States but I don’t see how they would convince us that they are not a political support group for the SLPP party in Sierra Leone. The leadership of Tegloma may have good intentions, given the call for political tolerance, but the majority of its members will never support anything that is APC, no matter how good and beneficial it may be for them or the region where most of its members hailed from. In a few words, I would describe it as “A sorrowful phenomenon”; and certainly one that is not good for our country because it defeats the cry, by the SLPP and Tegloma, for political tolerance.
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