Valentine Strasser

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Valentine Strasser
Head of State of Sierra Leone
In office
29 April 1992 – 16 January 1996
Preceded by Joseph Saidu Momoh
Succeeded by Julius Maada Bio
Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC)
In office
29 April 1992 – 16 January 1996
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Julius Maada Bio
Personal details
Born Valentine Esegragbo Melvine Strasser
(1967-04-26) 26 April 1967 (age 50)
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Nationality Sierra Leonean
Political party Military Junta (National Provisional Ruling Council- NPRC)
Residence Newton, Western Area, Sierra Leone
Alma mater University of Warwick, Coventry, England, UK
Profession Soldier
Religion Christianity
Military service
Service/branch Sierra Leone Army
Years of service 1985–1996
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Sierra Leone Civil War

Valentine Esegragbo Melvine Strasser (born on 26 April 1967 in Freetown, Sierra Leone) served as head of state of Sierra Leone from 1992 to 1996. He had been a junior military officer but in 1992, he became the world's youngest Head of State when he seized power three days after his 25th birthday. He was the leading member in a group of six young Sierra Leonean soldiers who overthrew president Joseph Saidu Momoh in the 29 April 1992 military coup. They established a military junta called the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC).

On January 1996, after nearly four years in power, Strasser was ousted in a second military coup, but this time it was his own NPRC soldiers who were not satisfied with his handling of the peace process. The coup was led by his deputy, Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio.

Stresser is the first, and one of two Sierra Leonean Head of State (the other is Julius Maada Bio) born after Sierra Leone had become an Independent nation. He is also the second Sierra Leonean Head of State from the Krio ethnic group.

Strasser was born and raised in the neighbourhood of Allen Town in the east end of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown to Creole parents. Strasser enlisted in the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF) at age eighteen, immediately after graduating from secondary school.

Early life[edit]

Valentine Esegragbo Melvin Strasser was born on 26 April 1967 in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to parents from the Creole ethnic group. Strasser grew up in the neighbourhood of Allen Town, in the extreme East End of Freetown.

Strasser completed his secondary education at the Sierra Leone Grammar School in Freetown and graduated in 1985 at age eighteen. While in secondary school, Strasser was a gifted student in math and chemistry.

Military career[edit]

On graduation from secondary school in 1985, he enlisted in the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF) at the age of eighteen and was deployed for military training as a cadet officer at the Benguema Military Training Academy in Benguema, a town located just outside Freetown. After his training, he was commissioned into the Sierra Leone army at the young age of nineteen. He was posted to a barracks in Daru, Kailahun District in Eastern Sierra Leone.

The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh began their first attack on 25 March 1991 in Buedu villages in Kailahun District. Strasser and other soldiers who were already in a military barracks in Kailahun, were sent to command and rout the rebellion against the RUF.

Presidency[edit]

During Strasser's time at the war front in Kailahun District against the RUF, the Government of Sierra Leone led by president Joseph Saidu Momoh hardly supplied enough boots to the soldiers and the necessary military equipment to help fortify Strasser and his fellow soldiers in the war against the RUF. The soldiers never received their salaries on time and their welfare was hardly at the top of the government's list of priorities.

After many appeals, warnings or threats, the young soldiers decided to march down in their combat from Kailahun to the State House in Freetown on 29 April 1992, to protest about their setbacks in pursuing the war, demanding their outstanding salaries. The group of soldiers was led by Strasser himself and his best friend Solomon Musa. The emergence of the soldiers into the capital city forced president Momoh to flee the country and he went into exile in Conakry, Guinea. That motivated Strasser and his men to seize power, forming the NPRC, with Strasser as its leader and the Head of State of the country. Strasser became the youngest Head of State in the world at just twenty five years old.[1][2]

1996 Coup[edit]

On January 1996, after nearly four years in power, Strasser was ousted in another military coup, but this time it was his own NPRC members who were not satisfied with his handling of the peace process. The coup was led by his deputy, Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio, Colonel Tom Nyuma and Captain Komba Mondeh. Bio quickly rose as the leader of the coup, with the support of Nyuma and Mondeh and took over as Head of State of Sierra Leone.

Post-Presidency[edit]

Following his overthrow, Strasser left for the United Kingdom, where he studied law at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, but stopped his studies after a year. In 2000 Strasser left England for Gambia only to have his entry to that country denied.[3] He then moved back to Sierra Leone where he lives in poverty on a small pension in Grafton, east of Freetown,[4][5] and runs the ICT Institute providing computer skills for youths.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Akam, Simon (13 February 2012). "Akam '09 profiles former African dictator Valentine Strasser". Columbia Journalism School. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Marke, Roland (4 August 2008). "Harvest of Shame: Former Sierra Leonean Ruler Valentine Strasser". World Press Review. 
  3. ^ Wazir, Burhan (26 November 2000). "Ousted ruler may face Sierra Leone war crimes court". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ Akam, Simon (2 February 2012). "The Vagabond king". New Statesman. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Otieno, Janet (15 February 2012). "Ex-Sierra Leone president stripped of all power trappings". Africa Review. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Bankole, Roland (26 March 2012). "Sierra Leone: Retired Captain Valentine M. Strasser breaks his silence". Patriotic Vanguard. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Yahya Kanu
Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council of Sierra Leone
1992–1996
Succeeded by
Julius Maada Bio