Written by Joseph S. Sherman, Washington, DC

Shakespeare’s play Julius Ceasar shows the roots of all evil, our own human nature. The play is centered on the coexistence of good and evil. Macbeth, unlike any other Shakespeare play has the protagonist convert to evil. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is shown as a hero in the Scottish army that is ironic because Macbeth defeats a traitor and he himself becomes one later. Valentine Strasser knows his place in the world. He is fully capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Strasser purposely disregards his own moral judgment to rise to power which is again ironic and goes against his own military oath. Strasser stands as a symbol for Satan’s sin of ambition. Like Satan, Strasser’s thirst for power and ambition drives him to commit evil by overthrowing a constitutional government and sanctioned the extra-judicial killing of 29 unarmed Sierra Leoneans. Contrary to the theory of supernatural forces he is responsible for his own actions.

Malignant wickedness strives for evil simply because it is evil; self-centered wickedness promotes a person’s self interest at the expense of others; conscientious wickedness pursues certain values ruthlessly without proper consideration of other merited values.

The late President Joseph Saidu Momo, who was overthrown by the NPRC junta supported by SLPP Chairman John O. Benjamin, left an indelible mark in the minds of many Sierra Leoneans.  Despite the late president military background to repel the NPRC rag –tag and foot soldiers and the willingness of allies in the sub-region to restore him back to power as was the case of Ex-President Kabbah, he stayed put to avert blood shed and destruction of properties.  Can late President Joseph Saidu Momo be perceived as weak?  Well so many schools of thought hold different opinion on the issues but what I can say here is he died a peaceful death with no stain of innocent blood on his hand.
When Ex-President Kabbah was restored to power through loss of lives and properties he humanely tried to give the late President Momo retirement benefits but the idea was vehemently opposed by the SLPP government.  Not only was President Momo denied his rights of retirement as ex-president of Sierra Leone but was exposed to ridicule and unsavory invectives directed to him that led to his untimely death.

Now an ex-unconstitutional head of state (Valentine Strasser) who is guilty of treasonable offence by overthrowing a constitutionally elected government in accordance with the Uniform Military Code of Justice (UCMJ) and who awaits a proposed inquest for the killing of 29 unarmed Sierra Leoneans is being asked to be rendered mercy by the APC government.   Indeed, mercy and reconciliation is what our dear President Koroma is opting for but the question remains where are John Benjamin, Maada Bio, and Tom N’yumah who suppose to come to the rescue of their former colleague?  It would be fool-hardy for the APC government to come to the rescue of a foe who spear-headed the demise and destruction of the APC party and its partisans.  I am not trying to be vindictive or unforgiving in this article but as the adage goes, “The evil that men do lives after them” (Macbeth).  The appeal to rescue Valentine Strasser should be directed to John Benjamin, Maada Bio, Tom N’yumah and the SLPP partisans who still enjoy the loots and booties that they stole during the NPRC reign in power.

Captain Valentine Strasser has been a good man because he participated in fighting the rebel incursion and was shot by then.  However, he still makes the decision against his conscience at the end he committed treason and his NPRC was responsible for killing 24 unarmed civilians.   Captain Strasser decision is a case of conscientious wickedness and his conscience and his promised duty to the Sierra Leone Army stand on his shoulders, each presents a compelling argument.  Captain Strasser duty as a captain of the Sierra Leone Army value the laws above all other values.

The laws clearly state that treason and murder are offenses that are punishable by execution despite the circumstances or origin of the conflict.
People often complain about the unfairness in the world and that evil too often triumphs over good. Good is innocent of evil. It is ignorant of evil. Intelligence information is essential in a war. In the war of good and evil, good is battling evil while being completely unaware of the trickeries that evil does. Good people spend their time to do good for other people, yet evil people spends much of their time to study the good men and attempt to destroy them. In such circumstances, pure good will lose. Most people are not purely good or purely evil.
With the potential for evil so great in today’s materialistic, difficult society, we find ourselves with the difficult task of taking life’s many journeys and tests. Not every journey will result in goodness, and the ones that do not are a learning experience in which must gain the self-knowledge to prevent our inner darkness from emerging. We must also be able to take the knowledge with us through every experience we encounter and incorporate it into our daily lives.

It can be said that Captain Valentine Strasser’s degree of darkness lies within himself, but this darkness will not surface unless given the correct environment. The darkness, however, can emerge and ultimately destroy the person if not checked by reason. If one’s inner darkness does surface, the victim then is given the opportunity to reach a point in personal growth, and to gain a sense of self-knowledge from it. That is, when one’s darkness appears, one must learn from this experience how he or she can prevent similar results from occurring in the future.

© 2010, COCORIOKO. All rights reserved. – Discuss this and other related articles on the Salone Forum

18 Responses to “Valentine Strasser’s plight : The evil that men do lives after them”

  1. Clifford Beatty August 3, 2010

    Okay mr. Sherman,
    The issue here is not the casting of blame or the accusation of wrongdoing. Lord knows there is plenty of that to go around. You quoted Shakespeare; I will use a local quote “bad bush nor dae for troway bad picking”. There are some aspects of your article that beg for a factual challenge but I will not dwell on that right now. Sierra Leone has gone through a lot in the past decade and until doomsday some issues will go unresolved. What I think is that we do not let one of our own languish out there. We take them in and make amends or we punish them for whatever “proven” crimes they may have committed. If we are to apply what I think you communicated in your article, there will be more chaos than we all can handle. Our governing bodies both in the past and the present has done things outside of the norm and these include serious crimes. A lot of these leaders that have exhibited their inner darkness but have been given second chances by society and I can name quite a few in today’s governance body. A year ago I talked to an amputee who was in the company of several other amputee’s and here is part of what he told me. He indicated that some of the other amputees where first involved in amputating other people as ordered by their then leaders until they themselves became victims. But they have learned along the way to forgive all involved and work together as one people. I ask him whether there are times when him or somebody else will want to take revenge. And he said ” bra, e nor go do we any good. too much don happen nar dis country en de best tin for do is forgive en try for build de salone again. Satan go thru we country and good people turn to bad people nor to because deem nar bad people dem o but nar de way wae de wave cam.” I thought about for awhile sitting at the beach by myself and I could have agreed with him more.
    So there is a lot of bitterness and frustration with regards to what happened to our beloved Sierra Leone and I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do. All I am saying is that we have all in different degrees and dimensions suffered tremendously but we will start to rebuild by taking in our own and mend whats left and eventually may come to tangible peace. A lot of regimes in Europe and the Americas paid tremendously in order to be the places that we all admire today include the US. Lets take our own in and if need be punish them internally. Bad bush nor dae for troway bad picking. Remember the prodigal son????

  2. Well written article Sherman. The sad twist of this story is that the men who engineered the ill-timed and unneccesary coup, Benjamin, Bio, Nyuma and others are still living in luxury from the loot they got when they siphoned our national coffers while their friend languishes at Touba. This is a great lesson for military ranks in Sierra Leone not to meddle in politics but stick to their duty: protecting the country from external enemies.

  3. M Tayyib-Bah August 3, 2010

    Mr Sherman, I dont want to comment on the body of your article, ie the overthrow of the APC by VEM Strasser et al.
    What annoys me is your intellectual dishonesty: attributing “The evil that men do lives after them” to Macbeth! Did you do English Literature-cum-Shakespaere?
    Be it as it may, it was Mark Antony who says during slain Caesar’s funeral that “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones..” Meaning that the good things which men do when they are alive are often forgotten/buried with them. It is only their bad actions that are remembered. As happened with the great Caeser whose good deeds for Rome were now being forgotten and only his ambition, his evil, being remembered.
    Thanks Mr Sherman. But next time please verify your academic claims.

  4. Olorunfemi King August 4, 2010

    Instead of gloating over Strasser’s predicament, people like Mr. Sherman should be reflecting on the “vanity of human wishes”. It is obvious that Strasser did not seek personal aggrandizement or wealth. He was moved by an ardent desire to see change take place in Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, he became a victim of his circumstances. Surrrounded by people who had their own ulterior motives he had to acqiesce to certain deeds done in his name like the extra judicial killings for which he is now being demonised. Those familiar with the circumstances would agree that he merely flowed with the tide. Perhaps, he should have been more of a man and taken the stand which his conscience had demanded. He probably had no business in politics, but he most likely got involved because of his naivete which is why he is now in this predicament. When we so dimissively condemn Strasser, we should not forget what Momoh’s predecessor did to our nation. We should not forget the likes of Dr. Fornah and Ibrahim Taqi. Some people get away with murder and others do not. It is not always true that the evil that men do lives after them (by the way, that is Julius Caesar, not Macbeth). The children of many of the people who destroyed our country are still enjoying their ill-gotten gains. Who is Mr. Sherman anyway? Is he Sierra Leonean? I wonder! He cannot even spell Momoh’s name, a man whom he seems to have so much admiration for.

  5. Mohamed Idriss Bangura August 4, 2010

    I understand the urge to forgive as Betty is requesting. But how can you forgive without justice?. We are in America and we know what will happen to any politician who commit an offence, they will loose their position and go to jail. Why should we not follow this same constititional principle? because they our own!!! if we continue with this attitude i do not think there will any chance for Africa in general and Sierra Leone in particular prospering neither politically nor economically.we must stand for justice, for without justice there will be no peace, and without peace there will be no development. Valantine Strasser was not an elected leader, so that means he is not entitled to any type of pension, except the one from the military which i understand he is reciving at this time. I stand corrected.

  6. Ibrahim Bah August 4, 2010

    Thanks Mr Tayyib Bah for commenting on that,(evil that men do)it saves me time.As for Mr Idriss Bangura i just want you to know that we are not living in the U.S as u mention we are living in Africa and we should handle our problems ourselves as Africans.Have you ever seen an American in the ICC The Hauge?(NO)because they handle their problems the American ways.As for Mr V.E.M Strasser i beleave we should all know that he is what ever our brother and we should not let him go languish out there we have decided to forgive so let just take the same decision for all of them nor he or she but everyone that made mistakes during that ugly time of our sweet sweet Sierra Leone.God Bless Siera Leone…

  7. Ade Wright August 4, 2010

    Valentine Strasser is probably the second best ruler Sierra leone has ever been previledged to have (The first being Earnest Koroma).
    His coming was very timely. I am an A.P.C supporter but at the time things were going down the drains.
    No one wanted them. Every true sierra leonean danced throughout the country for Strasser’s coming.

    Now however, the hypocrites are all coming out to critise him.

    I however pray that God continue to protect him. He loved and saved Sierra Leone.

  8. Clifford Beatty August 4, 2010

    Mr. Mohamed Idriss Bangura,
    It is of utmost importance that you read and understand the contents of my piece before preaching the justice gospel. You can especially read the last few sentences to a get better grasp of my position. And the name is Beatty not Betty!

  9. Sorie Kargbo August 4, 2010

    Who is Olorunfemi to question Mr. Sherman’s nationality. Does nationality matters in bringing out the evils of someone that has caused unbearable pains to families in Sierra Leone through disregard for the precious lives which Strasser’s regime inflicted on the families of the victims without due process of law. It is pathetic that some of your type live in disillusionment and insensitive to the plight of those massacred by the NPRC merely for their political beliefs and tribal affiliation.

  10. Joseph Saidu Momo August 4, 2010

    “The evil that men do lives after them” (Macbeth) Mr Sherman please before posting stuff on Cocorioko please get your litrature quotaion right. “The evil that men do lives after them” is from
    Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and not Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

  11. Joseph Sherman August 4, 2010

    M Tayyib-Bah, thanks for your correction of misquoting Ceaser for Macbeth. It was an oversight on my part. It happens in the accademic arena and more so in the journalist field. Now to the issue of “intelectual Dishonesty” which you seems to allign my article on Valentine Strasser’s plight. The terms intellectually dishonest and intellectual dishonesty are often used as rhetorical devices in a debate; the label invariably frames an opponent in a negative light. It is a round about way to say “you’re lying”. Therefore, if you are intellectually prudent was the NPRC coup justified? If yes what fruitful results did it offer Sierra Leoneans? Was it a coup to oust President Momoh on alledged nepotism or was it directed towards certain groups in Sierra Leone as evident in the waton massacre of 29 Sierra Leoneans without due process of law. We are at an age where the culture of impunity and silence is no more tolerated. We should leave idea of let by-gone be by-gone and allow fair play and the respect for sanctity of the human being. Therefore, let those who have wrong society answer for their wrong deeds publicly so that peace, unity and forgiveness will reign.

  12. Christian Aruna August 4, 2010

    Is this Tayib-Bah who was bootlicker for the NPRC and SLPP stooge? No wonder he is calling Mr. Sherman intellectually dishonest. He is presently disoriented and will do everything to cover the tracks of the notorious NPRC regime. May be he is afraid of been called to testify in the proposed inquest.

  13. Clifford Beatty August 5, 2010

    Okay folks we need to show some diligence here. Name calling or attacking somebody’s character is not the way to go. Bootlicker or stooge is inappropriate. I may be wrong but from what I gathered from Tayib’s comment, I think he is referring to Sherman quoting the wrong play and Sherman has responded to that. There could have been a better way to address the inaccuracy though. Let us promote some form of civility in our debates. We all have at some point fluted somebody!!!. How do go forward should be the focus.

  14. M Tayyib-Bah August 5, 2010

    Aruna, i dont blame you for your confusion. There are now 2 Tayyib Bahs in Sierra Leone, like the two Cinnas, the Poet and the Conspirator respectively, in Julius Caesar. And like the 2 Cinnas, I was almost shot by a soldier at Wilberforce Barracks in 1997 because he mistook me for the other Tayyib Bah, a journalist and one time SLAJ President. He is now Publicity Secretary for the SLPP. His first name is Ibrahim.
    I am Mohamed El Tayyib-Bah, one time FBC SU President in 1977, a former Police officer and NPRC liaison officer and now a private businessman and a publicly declared member of the APC.
    No ill feelings.

  15. M Tayyib-Bah August 5, 2010

    Mr Sherman, I admire you for your game spirit, in accepting your mistake. Thanks.
    I am sorry, however, for not wanting to comment on the 1992 NPRC coup, not because, as Mr Aruna thinks, I am afraid. I am not afraid of anybody or anything. I am a very clean person and someone with ‘hijab’ in the name of Allah.
    No part of me is bloody. Let them go on with the enquiry and let justice be done!!

  16. Gbondo JFM November 19, 2010

    May God bless Ernest Koroma. The man came to power,more natural resources and increase in the already known ones were discovered. Such a sincere politician in Sierra Leone is hard to come by.

    No soja nor crase for overthrow. God has proved that he has really forgiven us, so we better forgive those we think have done us wroung. When you want to point fingers, you may not even know who to point the big finger on.

  17. Evangelist Isaac Ivbaze November 7, 2011

    My initial comment should not be misunderstood. I agree that what Mr Strasser and his friends did was very wrong. Power struggles in Africa along with embezzlement of public funds has plunged the continent into extreme poverty. I completely disagree that his financial predicament is as a result of wrong doing. All those who committed the killings with him should be addressed including his friends John Benjamin, Maada Bio, and Tom N’yumah. I believe it is better to forgive and move ahead than to continue to duel on the past.

  18. Gbondo JFM November 19, 2010

    I blamed Strasser, being the head of state, how can your juniors organize a meeting without your knowledge, and don’t know anything about the agenda, they invites you to the meeting on the same day, and you go there. You didn’t know what’s in their minds, and they are armed to his knowledge, that’s show how Strasser was immature. He allowed those brats to sell us to SLPP nonsense, we went to hell and back. Thank God for Ernest Koroma, a man you don’t see that he’s a bad person, doesn’t mean like Kabba, but at the same time you don’t see any space around him that accommodate foolishness.
    May he continue this way and never relent to fight corrupt politicians.