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Emmerson Bockarie is Still Missing in Action

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop),

Freetown, Sierra Leone.

“The Last Man Standing”. “Iron wae nor dey ben”. And “Granpa Pan Pikin Kanda”. Those are the main adjectival phrases, or self-acclaimed monikers if you like, which the once critically acclaimed Sierra Leonean musician, Emmerson, has been showering upon himself after he stormed the musical world with his debut album: “Borbor Bele”. But now that majority of Sierra Leoneans are yearning for him to pick up the gauntlet in their stead, he is missing in action.

Or should I say, sorry write that, he has suddenly developed a sore throat? But I’m surprised at those who are surprised at the sudden silence of Emmerson to comment on the current happenings in Sierra Leone. After all, Emmerson is a “Bockarie”. And a “Bockarie” is not expected to tell the king that his robes are tattered in a ‘Paopaist’ kingdom! And besides, after the alleged rancorous palaver with his United Nations-working wife who is reported to have been his chief financial sponsor, Emmerson might have now taken the cautious step not to bite the fingers which are currently feeding him.

Over two years now, majority of Sierra Leoneans are still waiting for the musician’s social commentaries on the negative “isms” which the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has perpetrated, still perpetrating, and perpetuating. Sierra Leoneans are still waiting for Emmerson to assess whether “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday”. 

Downtrodden Sierra Leoneans are waiting with inhaled breathes to know whether or not there are “2 Fut Arata” within the present government of President Julius Maada Bio. And, most importantly, the down and out Sierra Leoneans want to know if there is no “Borbor Bele” in the Bio administration.

Emmerson Bockarie, a musician who is well known for being a promoter of the late Fela Kuti genre of the tell-it-as-it-is lyrics; a man known for his stinging criticisms of politicians and their policies with politics; a ‘Basketmouth-ish’ guy who seems to hate injustices and exploitations so much so that he will not hesitate to use swearwords as he did in “U go si am”, calling politically incorrect politicians “Swegbe”, is suddenly dumb. 

Why is it that a man known for giving “Sugar Meresin” to ordinary Sierra Leoneans to soothe their troubled troubles is now behaving like a dumb lamb that is being led to the abattoir? And Emmerson cannot tell me that he is still looking around for materials to slot in his lyrics when he is swimming in elements of social realisms.

In less than a year when the All People’s Congress (APC) government of Ernest Bai Koroma was in power, Emmerson did a razor-sharp assessment of the then government with a hypothetical synopsis: “Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday?” Even when the then APC government did a turnaround on the electricity status in the country within its first 100 days at the rudder; even when the Koroma-led administration rehabilitated the “pikin grave dem” left by the Tejan-Kabba (h?) SLPP on the nation’s main roads and highways, and even when the erstwhile APC government “strengthened the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) with enactment of Laws which gave more independence and powers to the Auditor-General” (courtesy of ex-President Koroma’s Handing Over Notes); Emmerson saw nothing good in those efforts. He and his SLPP folks were so derisive of the APC’s efforts that they called them “cosmetics”!

As a social commentator, I expect him to be as constant as the Northern Star. I expect him to still hold the standpoint that what is good for the cow should also be good for the heifer; and that what is bad for the lion should also be bad for the cub. The same social realisms that permeated Sierra Leone during the late Ahmad Tejan Kabba (h?) and Ernest Bai Koroma eras have also presented themselves in present day Sierra Leone. And Emmerson cannot afford to play the blind and dumb in the face of glaring injustices and maladministration!

I am disappointingly disappointed in Emmerson Bockarie. I have been a fan of his, and always will, simply because on several occasions he had voiced out the muffled bitterness and aspirations of millions of deprived and hurt Sierra Leoneans. He was seen as one of those upright Sierra Leoneans who were above tribal and partisan pettiness. Emmerson was regarded as a “fityai borbor” who would tell truth to power with the boldness of an “original Borbor Pain”. And at some point in his career, he was seen as the Sierra Leonean version of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti who would lyrically pour out his heart and damn the consequences.

But now, by keeping mum in the face of countless inhumane treatments meted out on those who are perceived to be supporters of the APC by some of those who brandish political power with the fanfare of village dictators, Emmerson is really telling us that indeed he is a “Bockarie”. And that it would be a sign of bad taste for a Moses, who grew up in the household of Pharaoh, to ask his once-upon-a-time benefactor to let his people go! Or is Emmerson now convinced and satisfied that the current SLPP government has satisfactorily solved the “bread and butter issues” which have left Sierra Leone with no more “Borbor Pain”?

Emmerson Bockarie should know that those who keep silent in the face of all the negative “isms” now pervading Sierra Leone; those who turn their faces the other way not to see the selective justice and marginalization being carried out by those who are now playing gods, and those who pretend as if there are no countless functionaries in the Bio administration who are now personifications of rags-to-riches stories, are themselves accomplices to political incorrectness. You cannot have breakfast with the Almighty God and later have lunch with Lucifer. There should not be any in-betweens: either you are on the side of the downtrodden or the ruling elite.

And Emmerson is expected to take a position now. He has always been taking sides with ordinary Sierra Leoneans. But has he now taken sides with the ruling elite, which is why he is now behaving as if he was once a pupil at the Milton Margai School for the Blind? Or is he not aware of the things now taking place in his native land under the SLPP’s watchful watch?

It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with a quote from the celebrated Civil Rights activist, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., that, “The time is always right to do what is right”. And this time can be the right time for Emmerson Bockarie to comment on the social realisms now saturating his native land. He shouldn’t be missing in action when all that is needed from him now is action!