Hon. Alpha Khan is a politician that of late has occupied the political limelight, just as the outspoken former APC appointed Vice President, Dr. Victor Foh hugged the limelight some time ago.
Before going further to analyze the kind of political personality that he has shown himself to be, in the midst of the serious palaver between the country’s two political giants, let us first of all read what he said at the Bintumani III conference that is germane to the country’s avowed quest for peace and national cohesion:
“…I am here as an individual. I was invited to a national plea building conference. I believe peace is the priority so I came to put my own views across and to dialogue with leaders of SLPP in the government to consider A .P .C and northerners as their compatriots.
I have also advocated for the payment of benefits to all former ministers of the APC and ambassadors and MDAs as a good will gesture. It has been accepted and the Minister of Finance has given instructions for the payment vouchers for benefits and the activation of pensions to be prepared immediately. He assures me that the process should be completed by early next week. As this is one benefit of the dialogue other matters will be dealt with in due course.
I have no apology for attending as long as it is in the interest of the people of Sierra Leone and particularly our APC comrades and sympathizers. One of the important benefits is that benefits of past government officials will be made with immediate effect.
Can you imagine what other issues could have been resolved had I not been here?
To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. Dialogue leads to resolutions. No war is concluded on the war front. It has to be resolved at the negotiating table.
Our party still has the opportunity to correct our past mistakes which are not grave ones. Our problems are not insurmountable but we must solve them ourselves. Tomorrow I will be moderating an important session. I would like some of our comrades to attend. We can put our issues across. I am the chair and so time is available for healing and reconciliation.
We firmly believe, in line with Hon. Khan’s political philosophy, that as the American politician Al Gore said, “A well-connected citizenry is made up of men and women who discuss and debate ideas and issues among themselves and who constantly test the validity of the information and impressions they receive from one another—as well as the ones they receive from their government.”
In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.
What is dialogue?
For some, dialogue is a focused and intentional conversation, a space of civility and equality in which those who differ may listen and speak together. For others it is a way of being—mindful and creative relating. In dialogue, we seek to set aside fears, preconceptions, the need to win; we take time to hear other voices and possibilities. Dialogue can encompass tensions and paradoxes, and in so doing, new ideas—collective wisdom—may arise. Diana Chapman Walsh describes it this way:
It’s when we let our guard down and allows our differences and doubts to surface and interact that something authentic and original can begin to emerge, tentatively, in the spaces between us. And I’ve found that it’s often in these fleeting and complicated moments that the heart and mind can come into synchrony, pointing to altogether novel educational possibilities. The key is to remain alert to those moments and to move with them when they arise.
We know that the most effective process for discovering these layers of meaning is through interactive and iterative dialogues and that if we undertake them sincerely and openly—and patiently—we can sometimes find our way to something entirely new. We assume that individual voices speak and act for the system as a whole, and we listen carefully or a variety of voices and the competing values they represent.
Essentially, the object of a dialogue is not to analyze things, or to win an argument, or to exchange opinions. Rather, it is to suspend your opinions and to look at the opinions—to listen to everybody’s opinions, to suspend them, and to see what all that means…. We can just simply share the appreciation of the meanings, and out of this whole thing, truth emerges unannounced—not that we have chosen it.