“Let’s give him his flowers while he is still alive to smell them”
By Alpha Kamara-USA
Mohamed Asmieu Bah is known by many in Sierra Leone. The public recognizes him more for his popular TV program “The Podium” on national TV, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). His interview and questioning style is soft but probing. Neutral but strong. That’s for another day, as the aim of this article is not to praise his SLBC side, but to give him his flowers while he is still alive.
Our body, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists will be heading to another election soon. Colleagues are coming forward, vying for several positions. But I want to specifically highlight some critical issues that qualify him more to continue serving us (the media) to serve the public. You want to know why? Please read on.
He has been a key pillar to the SLAJ President
Our current president is easy going. Don’t get me wrong, he is effective in his job. But he does it ‘easy-peasy’ unafraid to step on toes. But leading an organization like SLAJ sometimes requires an all-rounder close to the seat of power to influence tough decisions with diplomacy. That’s where he comes in. He talks less in public about SLAJ but influences a lot, he epitomizes the theory of the leadership from the back. Work from the back and let the action speaks.
Quality representation at the SLAJ Secretariat
How many times have you heard the adage “The media is the fourth estate”? A million times or more. Have you asked yourself why? It’s because after the three arms of government (Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary), the next in line is the media. If that’s true then the ‘fourth estate’s secretariat’ deserves the best among us to steer the wheel especially in Sierra Leone to promote our interests and ‘the wisdom of the crowd’.
SLAJ Leadership Stability
This is the first time in a very long time we are having a stable SLAJ leadership. The relationship between the president and the Secretary General is ‘as cordial as a trusted relative’. I’m sure all of us don’t want another SLAJ with strained relations especially between the President and the SG. Because stability drives creativity and performance. Some say conflict is part of everyday life. I say conflict slows progress especially for an organization of elites. Let’s do the right thing now.
Sound educational background
Kotor Bah I usually calls him has a sound educational background that stands out everywhere he goes, both within and outside Sierra Leone. With a Bachelors and a Master’s degree from the Citadel of Learning, the Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone, it was easy for the US government through the State Department to notice and offer him the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship.
In the US, he toured the best universities and shared experiences with some of the world’s finest media and academic tutors. From Kansas, New York to DC, Arizona to Minnesota, he has seen it all and gathered enough experience to serve us for free. Isn’t that golden?
U.S. President and statesman Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” This is more factual in today’s world than true, because truth is subjective. I have known Asmieu for ages because we all started from what I call the bottom or grassroots journalism. A time when some of us were classified as provincial journalists instead journalists. You know what that means so let’s move on. With all the hype that comes from being a TV regular face and voice in Sierra Leone, Kotor Bah has always been Kotor Bah where ever we meet. It can be in Freetown, Dakar, New York or Nairobi. That in itself is an added leadership asset. Because “Humility is the ability to give up your pride and still retain your dignity”.
Independence and Neutrality
These, I know you know should be two of the characteristics of a journalist. But for a journalist working in the ‘Lion Mountains’, they are difficult to upheld. Sometimes enticement comes in various forms in a country where journalists can be bought easily to ‘positivise’ their bulletins and opinions. Maintaining credibility in that kind of atmosphere is “a master class or act”.
When Bah contested for the position two years ago, most colleagues were hesitant to vote him in because, he works for the SLBC which is a public service broadcaster, but also the government information machinery. But his two years in office as SLAJ secretary general has demonstrated that he is equal to the task, unafraid to step on toes for the good of the media and the public on issues of governance and rights. At a time like this when Sierra Leone is caught up in the middle of ‘the world and national orders’, SLAJ needs a stable secretary general with a stable mind, a man who can stand by himself and for his colleagues, just like he has done in his first term.
Colleagues in the media family, gone are the days to always follow your mentors, they have lived their lives. Thanks to them. These days, I say, follow your passion and advice from your colleagues (us) who still have a lot to offer to our noble profession.
I know as Sierra Leoneans, most of us give flowers to the dead and gone, when they are useless to them. I humbly say let’s “give our flowers to the living when they can still smell them” Let’s reward Mohamed Asmieu Bah and vote him as SLAJ Secretary General for the second and final term. He is coming home fresh from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism as he prepares for his graduation in the 27 of April. Let’s reward him for his excellence and dedication to our course, just as other members of the executive are doing.
This article is written by Alpha Kamara, a Sierra Leonean journalist, communications and public affairs person living in the United States.