Contrary to its portrayal in social media circles as
a hub for wayward youth prone to hurling insults and engaging in knife fights,
the national headquarters of the Sierra Leone People's Party was a sanctuary of
friendship, music, the strong Chinese green tea known as "attaya" and prayers on
a recent afternoon.
Full of life, the giant green building situated at
the end of Rawdon Street was surrounded by party supporters, some congregated
in little clusters outside. In the courtyard behind the building is the Unity "attaya
base." Next to it was another structure with music coming from huge stereo
speakers standing outside. A large, clean cafeteria occupied the basement of
On a recent Friday afternoon, supporters were
mourning the recent death of a member. Many also wore photo badges in
remembrance of Tamba Sam, a party national spokesman who died a year ago.
Upstairs in a large airy auditorium labeled "Unity
Hall" which also doubles as a mosque on Fridays, party clergy read from the Quran
including sura Yassin for Hon. Sam. As congregants trickled in, they were
greeted with large posters of Julius Maada Bio and Kadi Bangura, the party's
2012 presidential ticket. The posters were captioned, "One man, One woman, One
Christian, One Moslem. SLPP Gender Balance." The wall next to the women's
section was lined with photos of the current and former SLPP chairmen. When the
Imam took the pulpit, it was clear that Bio remained his favorite presidential
candidate for the 2018 general elections.
In four hours at SLPP headquarters, no assaults or
insults were witnessed.