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Saturday, 26 July 2014
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRO-SIERRA LEONEAN " VALENTINE ESEGRAGBO MELVINE STRASSER " SERVED AS HEAD OF STATE OF SIERRA LEONE FROM 1993 TO 1996 :
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY Valentine Esegragbo Melvine Strasser (born on April 26, 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 April 29, 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. Strasser was handcuffed at gunpoint by his own military bodyguards who were supposed to protect him and was immediately flown into exile in a military helicopter to Conakry, Guinea.
Strasser later went to the United Kingdom where he studied law at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. He dropped out of law school in 1998 and briefly moved to The Gambia.
Valentine Esegragbo Melvin Strasser was born on April 26, 1967 in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to parents from the Creole ethnic group. Strasser grew up in the neighborhood 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.
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 rose to the rank of junior officer in the Sierra Leone army at the young age of nineteen.
As a young ambitious soldier, Strasser was commissioned to a military barracks in Daru, Kailahun District in Eastern Sierra Leone in 1987 at the age of 19. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh began their first attack on the 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.
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 April 29, 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
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.
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. He then moved back to Sierra Leone where he lives with his mother in Grafton, east of Freetown, in a run-down house.