Written by Hadi Bah    PDF Print E-mail
S. B. Kawusu-Konteh delivered for constituents whose children hardly know of him
News - Society

Hon Sheku Bockarie Kawusu-Konteh, the representative in Parliament for the Koinadugu 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.

kawusuFor 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 Cross Bridge.

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.