Sierra Leone | Ampa Ampong!

Undated photo of Isha Johansen and Rodney Michael, one of the three disqualified SLFA presidential candidates. Johansen is expected to officially become president after a vote by the SLFA Elective Congress next week. 

'Ampa Ampong' was one of the most popular songs during Sierra Leone’s 2012 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections. It was such a hit, Sewa News Stream's Fact Check went in search of the meaning of the folk song.

“The song, according to my research into Themneh culture, has to do with the Law,” explained Sheikh Umarr Kamarah, a professor of English and linguistics at Virginia State University. “In those days and even today, some cases would take a very long time before the courts could rule on them. These cases many times involve clans or powerful individuals. Whenever such a case came up, the opposing camps would show up. When eventually a ruling was given, the victorious camp would sing this song. It was/is a victory song, but also a tribute to the legal process. The finality of the ruling is echoed in the phrase, ampa ampong (plaba dohn dohn or case closed).”

And that's exactly what the SLFA Normalization Committee's announcement did when it came Sunday morning.

The news that three of the four contenders for Sierra Leone's football association presidency election had been disqualified was unexpected in some quarters but not surprising. Rodney Michael, Mohamed Kallon and Foday Turay are gone, leaving Isha Johansen the lone candidate standing.

To get some background, Sewa News posed a few questions on Salone's football sphere, and here are some answers we got: 

Updates on Salone Footballers, Where are they now? by Abdul Kabba:

"FIFA letters are always confidential and cannot be released to the public but the contents can be discussed and were so discussed by a representative of the Normalization Committee. Contents were posted here on this forum.

"Basically, the FIFA letter, just like the previous one to the Electoral Board, stipulated that the Normalization Committee were authorized to act as the electoral committee and that they were to interpret the FIFA code of ethics, and FIFA code of conduct, strictly, and adhere to its principles. FIFA officials and players cannot have any affiliation with gambling organizations that bet on football games.

"Rodney Michael and Foday Turay do not pass that test due to their affiliation with Mercury International. Rodney's brother is a key executive in the organization and he is the Mercury representative in the South and East while Foday Turay is the Mercury representative in the North.

"Kallon fails the integrity test because he has been previously banned by FIFA for using performance-enhancing drugs and fails the ethical test by signing and taking money from two clubs in Saudi Arabia at the same time," Kabba said.

But another subscriber, John Konteh, a onetime associate of the Kalleone Group, the umbrella body of the various companies owned by Mohamed Kallon, had a different view on the Kallon disqualification:

"Kallon's disqualification has nothing to do with his doping case," Konteh wrote. "The committee says he was disqualified because he does not meet the residency criterion stipulated by the SLFA constitution. Article 32.(4) which deals with the composition of the Executive states:

The members of the Executive committee shall be citizens of Sierra Leone and shall reside in Sierra Leone for a period of no less than three (3) years prior to the Congress of which they seek to be elected.

"They say he was in China in 2010, where he played for Shaanxi Chanba for a complete season.  Doping played no part in the decision reached by N.C.," Konteh reiterated.

On another forum, Rodney Michael put out a brief statement saying:  "We will open an account requesting support as soon as we consult a sports lawyer in the U.K. If the advise is to proceed, we will, all the way to CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sports] if necessary. For now, we will seek an injunction against any election."

In a much earlier article exploring the life of the Normalization Committee, set up by the world football governing body, FIFA, in 2012, to administer the beautiful game in Sierra Leone, Sallieu Kamara wrote that FIFA, acting on the advice of the SLFA, appointed a 5-member Normalization Committee with the mandate to "clean up the mess" that has bogged down the development of football in the country for a very long time.

The Committee is headed by Alie Forna, who Kamara credited with having a wealth of experience in the operations and management of football in the country and has been involved in its management at different stages and at different times.

"I am sure this will stand him in good stead in executing the mandate of the Committee," Kamara wrote.


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