When Valentine Strasser took over Sierra Leone as the country’s Head of State three days after his 25th birthday, he set a record for the youngest Head of State in history. Capt. Valentine Strasser rose to prominence as one of six equally young fellow officers who led the military coup that ousted Ex-President Joseph Saidu Momoh on April 29, 1992.
You’ll agree that in Africa it’s challenging to lead a country under military rule, but Valentine Strasser managed to do it. How? You may read about Valentine Strasser, the youngest president of an African country, here on The African Dream website. Additionally, you’ll discover what sparked his goal in the first place and the methods he employed to pursue it. But before you proceed, please DONATE to our work.
Valentine Strasser Early Life and Education
Valentine Strasser whose full name is Valentine Esegragbo Melvin Strasser was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on April 26, 1967. He spent his childhood in the Allen Town area, a small community in the city’s eastern region.
In 1985, Valentine Strasser completed his secondary school at the Freetown, Sierra Leone, Grammar School. In high school, he excelled in mathematics and chemistry. Valentine Strasser, who had just completed high school, enlisted in the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF) at 18. After completing his combat training at the Benguema Military Training School in Benguema, a town just outside of Freetown, he was commissioned into the Sierra Leonean army at the age of 19.
President Stevens resigned on November 28, 1985, at the conclusion of his tenure and gave the country’s leadership to Major General Joseph Momoh, an ineffective figure who still supported the status quo. Shortly after Strasser enlisted in the military.
After Valentine Strasser was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the military, he was given a job in Kailahun’s eastern district where he joined other courageous troops in battling the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Foday Sankoh, a former army corporal who was at the time fighting against President Momoh’s legitimate government, was in charge of the conflict.
Valentine Strasser Journey and Rise of Political Ambition
The weaponry sent to Valentine Strasser’s battalion front while the civil war was ongoing were unfit for the rebels. The soldiers were using Second World War-era weapons and ammunition, which were regularly jammed or jammed at crucial times. The most advanced weapons at their disposal at the time, however, fired with the flick of a finger, were employed by the rebels.
Funds from alluvial diamond mines were used to purchase weapons and ammunition from soldiers in neighbouring Guinea, Liberia, and occasionally even South Lebanon in order to supply the RUF rebels with ammunition. As the conflict with the RUF rebels grew more intense, Valentine Strasser and his companions ran out of supplies like boots and other essential military equipment.
They repeatedly asked the Sierra Leonean government for supplies to support Strasser and his fellow soldiers on the front lines of the battle against the RUF, but their appeals went unanswered. Additionally, the soldiers’ money was never delivered on time. They started to have doubts that they were being set up to die.
A faction of the youthful soldiers, led by Valentine Strasser, who was already unable to walk due to a gunshot wound to the leg, opted unanimously to remove the head of state from his formal post after making numerous unsuccessful appeals.
Valentine Strasser’s Path To Power And The 1996 Coup
On April 29, 1992, Valentine Strasser hurried to the presidential villa with a group of valiant warriors. It was the second day after the country had recently celebrated its freedom and the third day after he turned 25. They left the previous day, on April 27, in a car they had taken from a senior police officer (the day before).
Fellow citizens, for over 23 years we have been misruled by an oppressive, corrupt, exploitative, and tribalistic bunch of crooks and traitors, under the umbrella of the APC (All people’s Congress) government.
This regime has perpetuated nepotism, tribalism, gross mismanagement, and total collapse of our economy, education, health, transport, and communication systems.
This regime has brought permanent poverty and a deplorable life for most Sierra Leoneans. This regime has failed us woefully. For Sierra Leone, the past 23 years can only be described as the lost decades. It is all over now! – Valentine Strasser’s speech after taking over from President JS Momoh
When Strasser and his associates arrived in Freetown, they had the State House all to themselves. How? President Momoh was already on the run and living in exile in Conakry, Guinea when the army arrived. President Lansana Conté awarded Momoh political refugee status in Guinea.
After the successful takeover, Strasser and his followers seized control. They established the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), a military government, and made Strasser its commander and Head of State, making him the youngest president in history. Valentine Strasser’s coup on April 29 received roaring support across the nation, and even the international world sent its best wishes. A 25-year-old individual prevented a nation from disintegrating completely.
Valentine Strasser’s rule came to an end precisely three years, eight months, and fifteen days after he was overthrown by Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio, current president of Sierra Leone, who disapproved of the way he was running the nation.
The UN set up Strasser’s departure from Sierra Leone and enrollment at Warwick University in the United Kingdom after his overthrow. But when the UN stopped paying for his schooling, Strasser left after just 18 months. Lobbying organisations that charged the Strasser administration with several extrajudicial deaths appear to be exerting pressure on the UN.
What’s Next For Valentine Strasser?
After that, he encountered several difficulties, including trying to settle down and provide for his family. In fact, he was turned away from other nations. All of this led to his severe illness, from which he is still recovering.
Valentine Strasser was transported to Ghana for medical treatment after falling seriously unwell in January 2019. During therapy, his left leg was removed but kept stable. Before returning home to a beautifully constructed mansion courtesy of President Julius Maada Bio, he spent more than a year living abroad.