After Bashing, Archdiocese of Freetown Affirms Archbishop’s Commitment to Country’s Peace

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles (left) and Rev. Sahid (right). Credit: Courtesy Photo

The development arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone has responded to claims that the Local Ordinary has abandoned his duty of resolving conflicts in the West African nation, saying that the allegations made by one of the evangelical Church leaders in the country are “baseless” and intended to harm the Catholic Church in the country.

In a five-minute video forwarded many times on WhatsApp, the Evangelical church leader who refers to himself as Reverend Joe Sahid claims that Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles has failed to resolve the conflicts in Sierra Leone, and has instead become “a political altar boy” for the country’s president, Julius Maada Bio.

“Today I want to speak to you on the subject ‘how the Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles has become a political altar boy for Bio,’” Reverend Sahid of a certain “Insight for Truth and Justice” says in the video.

He goes on to narrate that the Archbishop has been missing in action amid brutalities in the country, including the killing in April 2020 of prisoners who were on a riot at the Pademba Road Prison in Freetown, as well as the August 10 riot that led to the death of six police officers and dozens of civilians in Sierra Leone. 

Sahid highlights the November 25 ACI Africa interview with Archbishop Tamba Charles in which the Archbishop who also serves as the President of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) faulted leaders of various political parties in Sierra Leone for choosing to remain noncommittal to peaceful polls slated for June 2023.


In the interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Tamba Charles expressed concern that many top political parties had refused to sign a document that would otherwise cement their commitment to a peaceful election in the country.

He said that the conduct of the parties casts a dark shadow over the possibility of the country having a peaceful poll.

In the video, Sahid highlights the contents of the ACI Africa publication, saying, “The Archbishop complained and lamented bitterly how he invited political parties to come to a meeting on how the 2023 elections will be peaceful and non-violent, and that the political leaders ignored him; and he was mad. It serves him very well. My question is why should he not be ignored?”

“Where was Tamba Charles when Bio slaughtered over 50 prisoners in cold blood at the Pandema road prison? Where was he? Probably he was asleep and somebody needed to wake him up”, Sahid poses.

He continues in reference to the Sierra Leonean Catholic Archbishop, “Where was he when the youth of Sierra Leone protested for jobs and their daily bread because of worldwide inflation? When they protested, they were shot like bush animals.”

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The church Reverend goes ahead to utter profanities against the Archbishop of Freetown, saying that the Catholic Church leader was “in a trance” and “on vacation at the Vatican” as insecurity reigned in Sierra Leone.

In his analysis of the contents of the Catholic publication, however, Sahid fails to distinguish ACI Africa from the Sierra Leonean publication, The Calabash Newspaper.

In a Wednesday, December 7 response to the accusations, the Archdiocesan Caritas Freetown media team faults Reverend Sahid for seeking to tarnish the name of Archbishop Tamba Charles who they describe as a hardworking leader and a key pillar to all the good work of the Catholic Church in Sierra Leone. 

“We will normally not respond to ill-informed propaganda intended to tarnish individual characters. However, since Reverend Sahid seems baffled about the whereabouts of Archbishop Tamba Charles during some of the challenging and unfortunate events in our country, we must first clarify that the journalist mentioned by the Reverend is not from Calabash, but from ACI Africa,” the team says.

They add, “Additionally, it is significant to bring to your notice, Reverend, that the Archbishop is board chairman for many institutions in this Archdiocese. In this capacity, he appoints individuals to represent him in those varied formidable institutions under his supervision. The Archbishop’s role in the work done by the Catholic Church in Freetown, and in Sierra Leone is, therefore, invaluable.”


The media team, which publicizes the work of Caritas Freetown dismisses Sahid’s utterances, noting that the Catholic Church was the first to respond to the Pademba Road incident through its entities, Don Bosco and Caritas.

“We rehabilitated some parts of the prison and provided relief and pastoral services to inmates. This intervention is not a one-time event; it is a process that is constantly done to bring dignity to the inmates,” they say.

The media team says that Sahid’s allegation that Archbishop Tamba Charles never responded to the May 2020 riots and killings in the Tombo community outside Freetown is false.

In the November 25 interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Tamba Charles said that inter-religious Council had convened a meeting with the police and youth following the August 10 riot that led to the death of six police officers and dozens of civilians, an incident that the Catholic Archbishop said had heightened political tension in the country ahead of the polls.

“Since the 10th August riot, the IRCSL has organized another meeting with the representatives of the political parties, and many of them were rather remorseful, but they blamed the security forces for the many deaths,” Archbishop Tamba Charles said.

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The Caritas Freetown team highlights the work of the entity’s Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), noting that the commission was one of the first organizations that engaged with varied people in the Tombo community following the May 2020 incident.

The Caritas Freetown JPC, the team clarifies, “was not only engaged as drivers of peace but provided relief and continued to work and strengthen the restorative Justice mechanisms within the community.” 

“On the August violence that pitted the youth against authorities, Archbishop Tamba Charles is one of the prominent individuals charged with the responsibility to investigate the reason for the uprising and he is spending his precious time out of pastoral engagements to serve his country diligently by pushing to ensure that the real facts are attained,” the Caritas Freetown officials say.

On the allegation that Archbishop Tamba Charles wasted time celebrating matrimony between President Bio and his wife, the team asserts, “The Archbishop is the chief Shepherd of the Catholic Archdiocese and therefore has the responsibility of celebrating sacraments, and marriage happens to be one of the sacraments. There is nothing wrong about the Archbishop celebrating the marriage of one of his members.”

The team of the development arm of the Catholic Church in Freetown notes that the Church is focused on changing lives in Sierra Leone, with the guidance of Archbishop Tamba Charles, and has been feted several times for it.

“We wish to assure you that the Catholic Church is very focused on nation-building and this is evident by our social structures like schools, clinics, hospitals, development and relief institutions that are providing for the poorest of the poor and seeking Justice for the needy," the Caritas Freetown office says, adding, "Catholic Church is the fundamental option of the poor."

“The work of Caritas can be seen at all levels irrespective of the religion or creed of our beneficiaries," says the team, which was on December 2 named the best NGO in Sierra Leone.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.