As a young man, Julius Maada Bio was always fascinated with civic engagement and the possibility of a significant national transformation. A humble, unassuming giant would emerge from the town of Tihun, in the southwestern district of Bonthe, and would go on to commit his life to public service, the likes of which Sierra Leone has hardly ever seen.
I recall a conversation with the General in July of 2007 during the final run of Solomon Berewa’s campaign in Moyamba. We were waiting out the night after a series of arduous previous days. He expressed his passion for public service, and his determination to bring about a Sierra Leone that works for everyone.
The Beginnings Of An Extraordinary Life
It was impossible to miss the genuine desire and love of country that now came to define the man who had heroically in his early youth in 1992 joined forces with a band of patriotic officers to liberate his beloved nation.
Julius Maada Bio had developed a unique sense of moral passion that few in his generations could only imagine. Looking in his eyes, I saw the burden of a free and thriving nation shrouded on his shoulder, a man who deemed himself bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and more profound than the ambitions of a single man.
Conversational encounters with Bio often only expanded my imaginations. There was no emotional narrowness in his vision of “Us,” for this is a man whose loving nature was in harmony with his aspirations and love of country.
In so many words, Bio always advanced the philosophy that at a time of national crisis we can renew our commitment to the equal worth of humanity. In his actions, he demonstrated the urgency to nourish and expand our imaginations beyond our local conceptions of what life ought to be.
Julius Maada Bio devotes his Goal of national unity to the noble moral ideals of justice and equality. I have always been amazed at his sense of national identity and conviction of mutually dependent survival and existence for all Sierra Leoneans.
His decision to recover the people’s country in January of 1996, and return it to multi-party democracy, was always informed by his firm belief in the universal values of justice and right.
Julius Maada Bio in his convictions, have always morally required himself to carry the abiding desire to see all Sierra Leoneans fulfill their highest destiny.
For Julius Maada Bio, Let Sierra Leone be Sierra Leone again
Julius Maada Bio finds himself today in that space described so memorably by the 19th Century Liberian scholar-diplomat, Edward Wilmot Blyden, as the “poetry of politics” which is the feeling that emanates from our connections with others.
We can trace Julius Maada Bio’s uncanny capacity to connect with the ordinary people to his magical ability to empathize and imagine the burden and troubles of the others.
The noisy lies of the triumvirate – Koroma, Samura, and APC with their insatiable desire for corruption is dehumanizing our people and, expediting the decaying of our revered institutions.
History is again presenting us the humble giant in the person of Julius Maada Bio. Bio often insists that PAOPA, humans must live best on all scales, as a country, in regions, in towns and villages.
Julius Maada Bio’s almost mystical and spiritual allegiance to the common, his deep and abiding connection to the farmer, the trader, the fisherman and the sanitation worker explains the swell of support he has always enjoyed in a country so thirsty for change and progress.
It was Langston Hughes of the Harlem Renaissance who cried “let America be America again, the land that never has yet been.”
Today, the general sings the same tune, let Sierra Leone be Sierra Leone again, the land indeed that never has yet been. For even in the challenges of the trail, our vision emerges afresh, our determination ever more resolved, our love of country undiminished.
Emmanuel G. Allie is a Chicago resident and, Secretary General of SLPP-North America