African Minerals is today sponsoring an unprecedented huge number of pages in Awareness Times in the form of dozens and dozens of Adverts which is translated to an unprecedented number of post-war employment opportunities for Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life.
Today’s Supplements when paid for, might help to cushion some of this newspaper’s huge debts incurred as a result of a cash-strapped Government unable to pay for Government Adverts and a United Nations system black-listing the country’s most widely read newspaper (more on the UN Adverts soon).
However, let us state up front that the following comments would have been published with or without these supplements today; these comments are long overdue.
Firstly, today, because of African Minerals, Sierra Leoneans do not have to wait ‘a little while longer’ for much needed employment. One of the biggest problems which the United Nations and other international organisations recognise in Sierra Leone, is the issue of widespread unemployment and a weak private sector.
Well, as can be seen from today’s sponsored Bumper Edition, African Minerals is all set to help to ease some of this unemployment burden especially as the company is known to pay their employees very good salaries and other perks. Additionally, there will be a domino effect with increased private enterprises arising out of such huge multi-million investments being undertaken by African Minerals. One Sierra Leonean recently confirmed that he was building his second house in less than two years as a result of profits from his haulage contracts with African Minerals.
Unfortunately, many people (some with good intentions) prefer for African Minerals to be discouraged from being in Sierra Leone. Whilst some of the concerns are quite genuine like some from civil society groups, others are self-serving and have the commercial interest of other Iron Ore players at the back of such concerns.
What is African Minerals and why should we encourage them as much as possible? Many Sierra Leoneans do not properly understand what and how African Minerals came about to be operating in Sierra Leone because the Sierra Leonean gentleman who has been one of the brains behind this company and whose vision for his fellow Sierra Leoneans to thrive is probably unrivalled, has always preferred to keep a low profile; rarely publicising himself as he doles out assistance to thousands and thousands of Sierra Leoneans in need.
The man, whose vision has today seen hundreds of Sierra Leoneans get ready to be employed in large numbers is no other person than Gibril Moseray Fadika.
We all grew up in this country knowing we had rich natural resources like Iron Ore, Bauxite, Rutile, Gold, Diamonds, etc. etc. (lately, Oil) but we have never really understood why we could not benefit from these riches under the soil.
It took the tenacity and courage and vision of one little-known Sierra Leonean named Moseray Fadika to make us realise how we can harness the natural resources which our Colonial Masters and other Western Powers fully well knew laid under our soil but were content to allow to continue to fallow there.
Mosertay Fadika it was who walked the streets in and out of investment houses all over the world and in one case, we are reliably told, he even pawned his wife’s wedding ring, in order to ensure he had enough money to buy an air-ticket to travel to meet with a potential investor.
Moseray Fadika eventually met with a Romanian by the name of Frank Timis who listened to the young Sierra Leone man speak about the riches to be found in Sierra Leone but which riches little investment was being directed at. The two men got along and Moseray, with the fatherly support of former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was able to entice Frank Timis to pay closer attention to Sierra Leone. The rest is History!
There were a lot of hitches along the way for Moseray Fadika and Frank Timis to get to where they are today in the world especially in Sierra Leone and so there will always be detractors of these two great men who will not want them to succeed to create employment for Sierra Leoneans and get Sierra Leoneans to benefit from the huge natural resources we possess. Some concerns like flouting of mining laws are quite genuine but others are just plain malicious and ill-motivated. Those should be treated with contempt.
However, in all of this, it is clear that just as Fadika was tenacious enough to pawn even his wife’s wedding ring to ensure that his vision for his people to enjoy their riches, came to fruition, so will the people of Sierra Leone not forget very easily that at the time when others had turned their backs on helping us to develop the vast natural resources we possess, it was the Romanian Frank Timis who took the huge risk of investing multiple millions of hard United States dollars in explorations and aerial magnetic surveys in order to delimit and delineate what this country possesses under our soil.
Now that Sierra Leone has confirmed the huge Iron Ore deposits through the risks of Moseray Fadika and Frank Timis, surely no-one will begrudge anybody in the Sierra Leone Government for giving the two men a much deserved pat-on-the-back via incentives! It is sheer arrogance for any Chinese to come to this country and say they want African Minerals' leased Iron Ore in Tonkolili but will NOT negotiate with African Minerals. Nonsense!
Yes, now we know for sure we have such a huge amount of confirmed resources but we did not know this at the time Frank Timis was pouring in millions of dollars at great risk to his already hard-hit reputation in the wake of the Regal Petroleum fiasco. It was a risk taken at a time when no-one was prepared to take such risks; certainly not the Chinese! Where were these Chinese in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, etc. etc. when Timis was investing multiple millions of dollars in risky investments via explorations and aerial flights in Sierra Leone?
As for those short-sighted and ungrateful Sierra Leoneans lambasting Moseray Fadika and his Romanian partner over non-issues, they need to ask at what stage would our Iron Ore deposits be today and would we have been solving the employment problems if Moseray Fadika had not taken all those risks all those many years ago?
Granted Fadika and Timis currently need extra investments to get us to really enjoy the benefits of what we have under our soil which is why they are wooing foreign investors from China but for any Chinese to come here and demand to deal directly with our Government at detriment to African Minerals’ interest is arrogance at its height and if we, Sierra Leoneans concede to this, we are simply showing an ungrateful nature to the world.
Indeed, the issues involved are complicated but surely one over-riding factor in all the complicity should be that Sierra Leone and its Government should never forget the risks taken by Moseray Fadika and Frank Timis many, many years ago.
We understand that Moseray Fadika eventually redeemed his wife’s wedding ring from the pawn-shop but the fact that he took such risk in the first place in order to help develop Sierra Leone, shows the type of patriot that he really is. May God bless Moseray Fadika and may African Minerals continue to grow from strength to strength. May the Chinese Investors who want to negotiate with Sierra Leone, outside of African Minerals see the sense in re-thinking their positions and open negotiations directly with African Minerals. If any Chinese King wants to mine in the leased area assigned to African Minerals, let them meet Frank Timis and Moseray Fadika directly and negotiate with them. The Government of President Koroma has so far stood firm against those who want us to by-pass our Sierra Leone brother Moseray Fadika and his Romanian partner Frank Timis. It should continue to be very firm on this!
May President Koroma, like his predecessor President Tejan Kabbah, continue to see the wisdom in encouraging Frank Timis and Moseray Fadika as long as their actions are wholesome and beneficial in the long run. Moseray is a Sierra Leonean and Frank Timis is a Romanian but the two men surely should enjoy the fruits of their risks taken to develop this country regardless of their Nationalities or what they might or might not have done in the past. Genuine issues over the Mining Laws of 2009 can be raised but nitpicking on non-issues about peripheral and historical events should be heavily discouraged by us all. It is time to encourage and not discourage.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.