Hon Sheku Bockarie Kawusu-Konteh, the representative
in Parliament for the
District in the 70s and 80s whom President Siaka Stevens described as a "tried
and tested colleague" also had an unsurpassed devotion to delivering services
to his constituents. Save for a street in Bo, nothing, not a building, road or
project commemorates Kawusu-Konteh in Koinadugu District, but his
accomplishments continue to be enjoyed by Sierra Leoneans.
For example, when President Ernest B. Koroma
attended a cultural show at the Yogomaia Field in Kabala recently, the pavilion
that sheltered him and his entourage was built by Kawusu-Konteh. In Koinadugu District, Abu Konteh, alias Gary
Cooper and FO Kamara fondly recalled projects initiated by Kawusu-Konteh that
made life better for citizens. They remembered him for making it possible for
Kabala to enjoy piped water and mobilizing the community in a self-help project
that renovated and expanded the Kabala Government Hospital, still in use.
For many youngsters who grew in Kabala in the 70s, the
first flying object they ever saw was courtesy of Kawusu-Konteh. Loads of kids used to congregate at the Roman
Catholic Primary School field to witness the minister of mines disembark from
the helicopters that brought him home for visits or marveled at the green,
white and blue colors of the weekly scheduled Sierra Leone Airways aircraft flying
over Kabala on the way to the airstrip he built at Mamudia. A champion of
farming and culture, Kawusu-Konteh organized the first Agricultural Show ever in
Koinadugu District and was sole patron of a dance troupe and a dance band known
as Albitaya Jazz.
A favorite of President Stevens' Kawusu-Konteh was
among the founder-members of the All People's Congress (APC) who introduced the
party into northern Sierra Leone, a region he initially represented in
Parliament from 1967-77. Best remembered for being mines minister when Sierra
Leone was at the peak of its diamond production, in September 1970, while
resident minister of the Southern Province, he was appointed acting prime
minister by Stevens who was away on a visit to Zambia. That appointment
intensified the power struggle, with fatal consequences, within the APC between
Prime Minister Stevens and Finance Minister Mohamed Sorie Fornah.
Kawusu-Konteh lost his parliamentary seat in the
tumultuous 1977 elections, and was investigated but cleared of responsibility for
some violence in Kurubonla, a village in his constituency. President Stevens then
appointed him ambassador to China where, according to interviewees Konteh and
Kamara, he led the negotiations that resulted in the construction of the Congo
When he returned to Parliament in 1982 as MP for Diang
and Kasunko Chiefdoms, President Stevens appointed him minister of trade and
industry. It was during this term of office that the road from Makeni to Fadugu
road was paved. When he lost the seat in 1986, he resolved to live a quiet life
away from politics, even rejecting an advisory role that President Stevens'
successor, President Joseph Saidu Momoh had offered him.
According to Konteh and Kamara, Kawusu-Konteh designed
the layout of the streets of Bo while a District Council clerk, organized the
first, biggest and most successful Agricultural Show in Kabala in 1973 and was instrumental
in the construction of the Mongo Bridge. During that period, he fought for the
civil rights of the Mandingo and Fula ethnic groups, regarded as foreigners in
Sierra Leone. Kawusu-Konteh was also among the first youngsters to introduce
the now established tradition of climbing the Wara Wara Mountains on New Year's
Day in Kabala.
In 1987, Hon. Kawusu-Konteh was involved in car
crash that caused him neck and back injuries he never recovered from. He died
in 1988 and legend has it that even sheep joined the funeral procession that
took him to his final resting place at Amadu Taylor Street in Kabala.