Paramount Chief Caulker of Bumpeh Chiefdom talks about being a chief and their role during the Ebola crisis. As leader of the National Council of Paramount Chiefs in Sierra Leone, Chief Caulker was interviewed by Radio France Internationale. Read the transcript here.
Most Westerners don’t understand paramount chiefs are distinct from the Sierra Leone government. They’re a separate form of governance that represents every Sierra Leone resident in every part of the country, and pre-dates colonial rule. They deal with local affairs and are the first level of action in addressing resident safety, including in time of disasters. In a rural country with difficult roads and many remote villages, paramount chiefs are the first and often the only authority figure their residents will encounter. Their role is critical for something like the current Ebola crisis.
Chiefdoms enact byelaws to document the customs and practices of the area. Two sets of byelaws on the paramount chief’s role in addressing the Ebola crisis were defined in recent months. President Koroma has been admonishing paramount chiefs of late to fulfill their role in breaking the chain of Ebola transmission, as defined in the byelaws. Chief Caulker discusses in the interview the need for adequate resources if chiefs are to deliver this role.