We’re Stronger Together -1st Lady

 

It is said that behind every successful man there is a woman. That is exactly what the First Lady, Fatima Jabbe Bio has demonstrated before, during and after the 31st March, 2018 presidential run-off election.

She does not only stand by her husband but has stood by him in every step as wife, confidante and a shoulder to lean on at all times. Maintaining that we must work together to build a great Sierra Leone, and that we must put Sierra Leone above all else, Madam Fatima Jabbe Bio was seen during the 2018 presidential campaign, from the streets to the ghettoes to ‘Ayata Basis’ in Freetown to the remotest villages of the country, she was seen beside her husband encouraging and egging him right through.

Fatima Jabbe Bio’s Sierra Leonean roots run deep. Her paternal grandfather, a Gambian, lived in Kono where her father Umar who was a businessman and owned properties in Koidu was born. Her grandmother, Isata Nabay hails from Segbwema in the neighboring Kailahun district, her mother Tidankay Jabbie from Kono.

The First Lady attended the Ansarul Islamic Primary School in Kono and the St Joseph’s Secondary School in Freetown. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in Performing Arts from the Roehampton Institute in London. With such a refined African cultural and Western education background, those who have met the First Lady both in a personal and professional capacity describe her as brilliant, articulate, jovial, down-to-earth and hard working.

As the country’s First Lady, Madam Fatima holds views on many development issues that her husband, the President and his government are working to improve and make better for all Sierra Leoneans. She holds strong views on education, for which her husband, past Monday launched the free education programme for primary and secondary school pupils.

According to her, the President’s free education is not propaganda but something that they strongly believe in, pointing out that while it is a long term investment its benefits are not immediately seen but worth all the efforts required to acquire it.

She maintains that a solid foundation for this country starts with investing in children’s education which, she said, her husband has prioritized. Quoting Tommy Edward Shakat, Madam Bio says, “It is time to awaken the sleeping giant in us and lay the foundation for greatness. Let us dwarf our differences of opinions and tribal sentiments, thereby banishing the ghost of backwardness.”

To build this envisioned great nation, she says, “we must empower out children now.” Thus, she said, she and her husband treat education as a fundamental right of the child, not a luxury. That is why she says they are determined to invest in education as a security for our children’s better future. Most women in Sierra Leone respect Madam Bio for not only being First Lady but also as career woman mothering an under-five girl child. Like all women, she knows the bitterness of losing a child, as she lost her first boy child to her husband.

Another social cause that the First Lady is passionate about is teenage pregnancy. She calls on traditional and religious leaders to collaborate with CSOs, CBOs and NGOs in that direction.

Acknowledging the immeasurable work done by UNICEF in that regard, she maintains that we must ensure that national programmes that we have in place to reduce teenage pregnancy are effective. Teenage pregnancy, according to her, reduces a girl’s chances in life, often interfering with schooling, limiting opportunities and causing domestic violence. From statistics gathered by UNICEF, Madam Bio states that teenage pregnancy is the highest cause of maternal mortality in the country standing at an average 1, 360 per every 100, 000 live births. This, she laments, is disheartening.

Madam Bio is also interested in the prevention and cure of cancer which she says is a major health threat in the country. On the 1st and 2nd of August 2018, she attended an Organization of Islamic Countries conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, aimed at promoting cancer awareness advocacy programmes in OIC African member states. With nothing much done so far, she notes that there are organizations in the country doing as much as they can to raise awareness about the disease with very limited resources. The Office of the First Lady in line with national and international organizations will pursue programmes towards prevention, early detection, treatment and palliative cure.

Culturally, Madam Fatima Bio promises to inject new blood into the country’s entertainment industry, especially the film industry where she is an accomplished practitioner having worked in the African film industry in London and starred in several award winning Nollywood movies and bagged series of excellent distinguished performance awards.