Sierra Leone: What's the Message in Minster Paul Kamara's Words?

Paul Kamara, Sierra Leone's minister of youth and sports, poses in this undated photo taken at the national stadium
Baltimore, MD--3/1/2013--Paul Kamara, Sierra Leone's Minister of Youth and Sports, says all the right things at the right time about young people and jobs, but can't quite find the right words in the sports arena. 

Less than a week after he was lauded for telling a gathering that the Koroma administration is working to find a lasting solution to youth unemployment he was raking over coals in a long-running controversy. 

In what was widely regarded as a controversial move, the minister dissolved the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) last September forcing FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football) to step in and set up a "normalisation committee" to run the affairs of the SLFA for a period of six months, according to Sylvia Blyden.

One report said it was clear that the minister was not happy with the SLFA Appeals Committee's decision to allow Rodney Michael, who the minister banned from sporting activities, to contest the national football association's presidential election. 

“Rodney Michael will not contest the SLFA elections, it'll be over my dead body,” Minister Kamara reportedly said.

Almost six months on, the question on the lips of sport reporters and  fans is what Minister Kamara plans to do next. A recent interview the minister gave on a local radio station was transcribed and translated by Sheikh Umarr Kamarah, a professor of English and linguistics at Virginia state University. Prof. Kamarah is a linguist and a poet and has also published a grammar of Temne, several book chapters, and articles in refereed journals. 

The Paul Kamara interview: Text, Con-text, and Sub-text.



Minista, bak to dis ilɛkshɔn, bikɔz “a lot of people” dɔn “raise concern” se yu trowe sɔpɔt to Isha Johansen ɛn yu lɛf di ɔda “candidate” dɛm.

(Mr. Minister Sir, let us go back to this election thing because many are concerned that you have thrown your weight behind Isha Johansen, excluding the other candidates).


Wɛl, mi nɔ si ɛni ɔda kandidet… yu no… if a si ɛni ɔda kandidet a go se yɛs a si dis ɔda kandidet…yu no… ɛn mi nɔto pɔsin we na ipokrit; “as minister” na mi de le di “guidelines”…yu ɔndastan?

Man dɛm bin dɔn grɔmbul trade se FIFA, FIFA, FIFA; FIFA dɔn kam tri tɛm naw FIFA de sɔpɔt di Minista. So, if dɛn sɛf de si usay di Minista de lid dɛm, dɛn nɔ de si da say de, “it means” dat dɛn pipul ya dɛn ɔlwez wan “destroy” Mama Salon nɔmɔ, fɔ mek ɔltin pwɛl. A tink dat fɔ mek a “reflect on”…

So, if a se Isha, udat dɔn du pas Isha? If ɛnibɔdi dɔn du pas Isha…yu ɔndastan ɛ…dɛn OK da pɔsin de a go sɔpɔt am. A min…mi jehs biliv se…yu ɔndastan ɛ?...lɛ wi bigin sɔpɔt “things” dɛm we de kɛr dis kɔntri go bifo “and” wi “also” gɛt di “Local Content Policy.” Di “Local Content Policy” mek am klia. ɛnisay usay Salon pɔsin de gbade wit ɛni ɔda pɔsin, a lɛk di pɔsin na Blakman frɔm Guinea naw o, from Nigeria o, from Ghana o …yu no…lɛ a bring am kam klos to wi; bifo a se naw yu kɔmɔt frɔm Lebanese, yu kɔmɔt Irish…yu no…ɛnisay yu kɔmɔt, di Salon pɔsin…

Mi as “a Minister of Sports,” we dɛn dɔn “destroy” dis Kɔntri tru:

  1. Usay dɛn tay kaw na de i fɔ it
  2. Dɔg it dɔg
  3. Dɛn se Bailor Barrie yu se Davidson Nicol
  4. U bɔn di bat at
  5. Di pull Him Down Syndrome, and
  6. Di “attitudinal problem.”

We wi de tray naw fɔ lɛ Salon man we dɛn tɔk se dɛn gɛt bad at, lɛ dɛn lɛk dɛn sɛf; if dɛn lɛk dɛn sɛf dɛn nɔ go tan lɛk aw dɛn de so.Wɛl wi we de tray fɔ kam “cure” da bad at de wi de bigin gi fɔs kɔnfidɛns pan di Salonean. Na im mek a tɔk se, “as far as” mi na Minister of Sport” na di fɔs klas, a min, a min, di, di Local Content Policy a de “support.”

Dɛn we de mek so, dɛn gɛt “gambling machine” dɛm we “everybody” no bɔt. So, if yu gɛt “gambling machine” yu nɔ de kam “contest election”…yu ɔndastan ɛ… bikoz mi na di “custodian”…yu ɔndastan ɛ…” “of Sport” na dis Kɔntri. So, “therefore, everything” gɛt fɔ bi “legal” akɔdin to wetin FIFA se, akɔdin to wetin CAF se, ɛn akɔdin to “the laws of Sierra Leone.”

((Well, I don’t see any other candidate, you know. If and when I see another candidate, I will acknowledge that I have seen another candidate, you know. I am not a hypocrite; as Minister I am responsible for laying down the rules/guidelines, you understand?

People, not too long ago, have been grumbling and invoking FIFA, FIFA, FIFA; FIFA has been here three times since then, and FIFA, on each occasion, has supported the Minister. So, if they themselves see where the Minister wants to take them, and refuse to accept that, “it means that” these people’s only desire has always been, to destroy Mama Salone; to make everything collapse. I think that should prompt me to reflect…

So, if I choose Isha, who has done more than Isha? If anyone has done more than Isha, you understand, then OK, I will support that person. Look, I just believe that, you understand, we should begin to support “things” that move Sierra Leone forward. We also have the local content policy. The local content policy makes it clear: Anywhere a Sierra Leone locks horn with anyone else, even if that other person is a Black person (an African) from Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, you know, let me bring it closer to home; not even to talk of one who hails from or who is Lebanese, Irish, you know, wherever you may come from, the Sierra Leonean wins.

As a Minister of Sports, after they have destroyed this country through ideas encapsulated in proverbs and other sayings such as:

  1. A cow feeds within the vicinity it is tethered
  2. Dog eat dog
  3. Don’t mention Davidson Nicol in a discussion about Bailor Barrie (concern yourself with money, not education).
  4. Who gave birth to hatred (bad at)?
  5. The pull him down syndrome (PHD syndrome), and
  6. The attitudinal problem
What I am now trying to do is to make the Sierra Leoneans who are said to hate one another, like themselves, so that they change their bad ways. Well, we who are trying to come cure that disease should begin by giving confidence to the Sierra Leonean. That is why I said that as long as I am the Minister of Sports, it is the First Class, I mean, I mean the, the Local Content Policy that I support and promote. Those vilifying me are involved in gambling---they have gambling machines that everyone knows about. So, if you run a gambling business, you have no business contesting elections, you understand? I am the custodian of Sports, you understand, in this country. Therefore, everything has to be legal, in line with what FIFA says, in line with what CAF says, and according to the laws of this land)).


ɛ, yu fil se Rodney Michael nɔto di rayt kandidet, Isha na di rayt kandidet?


If Rodney Michael…yu no…in no se i kwalifay, i no se…yu ɔndastan…we mi dɔn “disqualify” am “as a Minister,” dɛn i dɔn padin mi, a nɔ “forgive” am i se i wan chakra a gɔvmɛnt Minista we mi dɔn sɔspɛnd am, lɛ i go bifo nɔmɔ, “at the end of the day,” i go no udat go fil am na im iya.

A lɛk dɛn gɛt mɔni te…a min…dɛn kɔl dɛn sɛf “dɔdɔ??” “at the end of the day, it is clear that” … a min…if sɔmbɔdi nɔ gɛt “remorse” i se i wan chalenj “a Minister,” ɛn mi we dɔn “sacrifice” mi “life” ɔl gɔvmɛnt dɔn jel mi; yu na Iri…, yu kɔmɔt usay yu gɛt fɔ kɔmɔt…yu ɔndastan ɛ…yu kɔl yu sɛf Salonean bɔt yu no usay yu de kɛr yu mɔni go we yu de mek, nɔto Salon yu de lɛf am…yu ɔndastan ɛ…?

Dɛn yu se we mi de tray naw, we mi dɔn “sacrifice,” dɛn dɔn jel mi fɔ Football, dɛn dɔn siz ɔl mi prɔpati, a dɔn sɔfa fɔ Football, dɔn a si sɔmbɔdi we i “dynamic” mɔdan ɛni ɔda pɔsin ɛn jɔs bikɔz una wan kam “create a Mafia business” kam na dis Kɔntri, una se Mama Salon in pikin dɛm una fɔ kil dɛm? Jɔs lɛk aw dɛn ɔl dɔn bi lɛk slev ɔnda dɛm, mi nɔ de “allow” dat. So na fɔ fri Mama Salon in pikin dɛm.

((If Rodney Michael, you know, knows that he is qualified, he knows, you understand, after I as Minister have disqualified him, then he has apologized but I have not forgiven him, he wishes to challenge the authority of a government Minister after I have suspended him, let him go ahead. At the end of the day, he will figure out who suffers. I don’t care how much money they have; “at the end of the day”, it is clear that, I mean, if someone has no “remorse,” he wants to challenge a Minister, and I, a man who has “sacrificed” his life; a man who has been jailed by every government; you are an Iri…you hail from wherever you hailed from…you understand eh…you call yourself a Sierra Leonean but you know where you are taking your money to, you do not leave it in Sierra Leone…you understand eh…

Then you want to tell me as I am trying, after having sacrificed, after having been jailed for football, my property seized, I have suffered for football, then I see someone who is more dynamic than anyone else, and just because you want to create a Mafia business in this country, you say to kill Mama Salone’s children? As it is now, they (Mama Salone’s children) are all like slaves to them (the gambling Mafia), I will not allow that. So, the goal is to free Mama Salone’s children)).


So, wetin nay u “message” to Saloneans?


No, i klia…yu ɔndastan ɛ…? Mi dɔn se a de sɔpɔt Isha ɛn mi “as a Minister” mi go “allow” dɛm? ɛni pɔsin…OK yu go go “contest,” bɔt di wan we nɔ “suppose” fɔ “contest” dis ilɛkshɔn nɔ go “contest.”

((No, it is clear…you understand eh…I have declared my support for Isha and you think I as a Minister will allow them? Anyone can contest but he or she who is not supposed to contest this election will not contest)).


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