Samura Kamara’s ‘attempted’ Courageous/Perilous Journey to State House

By Christian Lawrence

Dr. Samura Wilson Kamara of the APC contested in the 2018 and 2023 elections (to find his way to State House) but unfortunately lost. Since Sierra Leone returned to democratic multi-tier elections in 1996, he is the only APC flagbearer to have lost the Presidential race to the same person (President Bio) twice!

Personally, I see Samura as a dogged political soldier! Such unflinching and courageous man. In the 2023 elections, Samura almost became the proverbial _Phoenix that rises from the ashes_

Samura’s life (since 2018) has been a cocktail of bad luck, poor decisions, desperation, defiance, betrayal, courage of steel, bravado, tenacity and good luck. Let me unbundle below.

Good luck:

Samura is a very lucky man. Of all the fine Presidential candidates present during their APC convention in prelude to the 2018 elections, he was safely picked (not elected) by their NAC. Not that he was the most popular, opulent or smart. Again for the 2023 elections, despite the infamous corruption allegations against his person (Commissions of Inquiry…and the Chancery building work in the US) he was still luckily fielded as APC Presidential candidate. Whoever said ‘opportunity comes but once,’ has not met Samura Kamara. Samura could not have bribed former President Koroma to choose him because even if he wanted/needed to, he wasn’t rich enough. Certainly he wasn’t picked for his looks, eloquence or popularity because there were others around that could have offered better. I have to believe he was very lucky.

Bad luck

Although other individuals were certainly involved in the Chancery building corruption scandal, Samura was the one who suffered most! The limelight was squarely on him for an obvious reason. At the time he was supposed to be working with his comrades to prepare the APC to contest the 2023 elections, his hands were full with the court case. The court had to do live streaming of the case which embarrassed him further as he had to admit (publicly) that he had sent two million US dollars back to Sierra Leone for ‘safekeeping’ – whatever that means..

In one of the civic WhatsApp platforms that I subscribe, I had an interesting conversation with a colleague about Samura’s precarious  Chancery corruption allegations case. I argued that Samura was in a tight spot because of the case and so he became a very easy and tempting target for President Bio/SLPP. I posited that with the ‘take no prisoners’ mindset of politicians generally, it is possible, even expected that President Bio would quietly choreograph the formal court to keep Samura busy, embarrassed and weakened so much so that he wouldn’t be near ready to compete when the ECSL blows the whistle…! When Samura would later ask for the elections to be postponed three months, I arrived at the conclusion that the SLPP’s  Machiavellian masterstroke of a court case…had worked. I guess the SLPP would have concluded that Samura’s corruption allegations were just too tempting opportunities…to let slide. But again, analysts had predicted and warned that it would be unwise for the APC to put forward a Presidential  candidate with such ‘excess baggage’; but perhaps they must have had watertight reasons to ignore this deafening alarm. Had APC/Samura been in the SLPP/Bio reversed position, I am convinced they would have done same to get an edge; so let us skip any self-righteous/holler than thou attitude that we may have on this subject. Both APC and SLPP political parties have a history of not playing fairly in elections; they stretch their incumbency powers to the fullest.

Most of the other Presidential aspirants of the APC for both the 2018 and 2023 elections did not do much, if anything to support Samura’s political campaigning. They just grudgingly left him in mid seas. According to Cornelius Deveaux, at the time the Presidential elections results were being announced, those that truly matter in their party were at home with former President Koroma in Makeni instead of physically giving moral support to Samura. This must have hurt his feelings badly.


In his advanced age, Samura knew the clock was ticking for him to win or quietly bow out of party politics. He had demanded that the ECSL Chief and other Commissioners resign within 72 hours, knowing fully well how unlikely that was. He made utterances that were (to gullible members and supporters) nervous – pitting them against the security forces, resulting in deaths. The APC’s press release after the final Presidential election results were announced was determined, even if very desperate. Asking for the elections to be redone in 6 months; not participating in governance, demanding resignation of almost all who count in the government (and even other state institutions); travelling ban…were largely unattainable.

Poor decisions

It was a poor decision on the part of Samura/APC to make their party executive less inclusive. Not making space for critical minorities like the Creoles and Konos for example, wasn’t wise politically. It did not help when Samura would go on record to speak ill (no matter how little or indirect) of South-easterners. Samura’s over-reliance  on the international community was interesting. At a point, he was even imagining the possibility of getting foreigners to come in country and conduct our elections because of his distrust for the government. It was a mistake that Samura didn’t at any time openly call out the so-called _Adebayor_. A smart/savvy politician would have (just for show) publicly called him out, while secretly sponsoring and encouraging him; assuming he believes he was useful to him somehow.

Not wanting to take his elections grievances to the existing state courts, is a poor decision for the plethora of reasons already raised by smart people.

In conclusion, Samura is a very complex man. He seems sweet, dignified, educated and to my surprise, very popular and influential especially amongst the rank and file APC members and supporters. He showed courage when despite his party’s seeming unpreparedness… corruption allegations, President Bio’s incumbency advantages, limited resources, he still was able to put up a brave fight in the polls. He could have done better had he spent sufficient time mending fences within his party, and proactively ‘making friends’ with South-easterners too.That is not to say that had he done so he would have won, but it would have at least narrowed the margin…

I wish Samura well in his anticipated retirement from active party politics. I take solace in the fact that he served Sierra Leone in many important government positions in the past. He may not have been successful in party politics, but despite his human frailties, he gave it a good run in public service. Thumbs up to you Osamu

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