HER EXECELLENCY FATIMA BIO COULD BE OUR GREATEST FIRST LADY
In Sierra Leone, We’ve had few first ladies since Independence, married to presidents of different political parties. These presidential wives have been known for different accomplishments which has made some marks on our nation, working for a range of worthy causes. Her Excellency the first lady, Mrs. Fatima Bio seems not just to follow in that tradition, but over scores the mark.
Maybe someday, when the history of president Bio’s presidency is written, we’ll pinpoint the force behind his success and come up with a catchy title for it. Maybe we’ll call it ‘’Fatima, the force within’’
However, I don’t know of any first lady who has had to endure the ferocity of rhetoric and sheer brutality of attacks that you have. I’m sure it isn’t easy.
It is not a surprise to many of us who saw you during the campaigns for the 2018 national general elections. Your words were always ‘’ I believe in my husband, he can do it’’
It is rarely to see a woman of your type who is so supportive to their husbands to the point of giving their all, I remember several scenes during the campaign at Abaccha street and other places around the country, you were called a foreigner, people brought old memories/past events of you in the new scenes. There was much around that could have prompted you to let go, but they gave you more wings to fly.
When you suddenly found yourself cast into the role of first lady you managed to stay true to who you are in a world where the many in the antagonistic, combative and outright hostile media have constantly sought to play a game of “gotcha.”
When they couldn’t find anything of substance on which to fault you, few disgruntled women within the party whom their primary goal for being around was the positions tried to malign you. They’ve shown us just how low they’re willing to go, and it’s ugly down there.
Through it all, you’ve been an example of grace and silent strength. In spite of the onslaught of attacks, you’ve stayed focused on what’s most important to you and you’ve avoided being provoked by your critics.
This takes unimaginable restraint that most of us don’t possess, you have attracted the world to know what Sierra Leone of today is and through you, your husband, our president, has won the admiration of many. This indeed is the quality of a virtuous woman.
You’ve taught several women how to be humble, respectful and supportive to their husbands. You have taught us that women can live by their words.
You are constantly telling us that we need to do more to level the playing field for women. Asking that we focus on making Sierra Leone better for all of us.
But then again, you’re not just any woman. You’re the woman who married to President Bio – Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of “the undisciplined and state looters.”
It’s been nine months since your husband was elected president and Sierra Leone knew it was also getting a vibrant and eloquent new first lady. Though it’s not a spotlight you sought, you’ve embraced your role, tuned out your critics, stayed focused on your family and national development and has won the admiration of many in and out of this country.
Your “Hands off our Girls” campaign addresses well-being, women and girl child empowerment, an end to teenage pregnancy, early marriage, sexual assault, female genital mutilation against the wishes of victims, decline in moral behavior, social media use and opioid abuse facing many of our nation’s children. These are serious issues and you deserve the thanks of all Sierra Leoneans for taking them on.
You’ve received a lot of backlash for standing firm to see that your husband succeeds and Sierra Leone is made great. You haven’t been shaken, proving that you are your own person, and as first lady you are going to take on causes that are important to you and to the development of Sierra Leone.
Over the last eight months, your passion and your actions towards development have been a source of inspiration and motivation to the ordinary Sierra Leonean. Most recently on a trip to the provinces where you visited schools, farms, and traditional authorities to focus on child welfare, education and food sufficiency, it was your outfits on which the media chose to focus.
But madam Excellency ma, I would want to still draw your attention to the challenges of the Hands off our Girls campaign which has attracted several folks around the world. The campaign is still yet to effect the behaviors and attitudes of thousands of our young girls. when you visit the beaches, the hotels, the clubs and bars in town, you will realize that much, much more is yet to be done, our underage are hunting the olds, teenagers are found naked around these places, the number of female children age 13 – 17 on the street is gradually chasing those above 18, the message is yet to be heard in the provinces, our young girls are contributing greatly to moral decadence. Your idea is good but needs an alternative route to see that it is well enforced and it becomes the spanner to breaking those social menaces. If you continue with this trend, the world will celebrate you more than ever.
It’s interesting how some of those who most strongly criticized you and your husband at some point in time are today beneficiaries of your works. It’s in times of great adversity that we learn what we’re made of, and over the last eight months, you’ve shown us who you are and what you’re made of.
We hear a lot of women tell us what it means to be a strong woman. By your actions, you show us what it means.
I have the confidence that you have the greater chances of becoming the greatest first lady not only in Sierra Leone, but around the world.
Keep doing your best.
Aloysius Tamba Foryoh
On behalf of millions of Sierra Leoneans who are proud to have you represent our country.