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Happy 50th Anniversary

Happy 50th Anniversary

On April 27 2011, Sierra Leone will celebrate a significant political milestone. It will be 50 years since she gained independence from British colonial mastery.  The last 50 years mark a symbolic mileage in a journey that registered its footprints in history. The leaders both past and present vary as the routes they choose to lead this nation.

Like a theatrical play, the last 50 years will go down on record as memorable for more reasons than the celebration of independence. Sierra Leone’s 50 year story featured a cast of successive political and military characters, political parties, policy  successes and failures,  growth and decline, development, destruction, peace and war. Whether it has been a comedy, a tragedy or a hybrid depends what you think.

Sierra Leoneans will memorialize April 2011 by celebrations. But then it raises the question; “celebrating what?” Looking back, there is not a lot to celebrate after 50 years of self rule. Judging from the course of current events worldwide, there was no justification for British colonial rule. Somnath Chatterjee former member of the Communist Party of India puts it more squarely, that “Colonialism is fundamentally flawed not just because it is a cruel and unjust system but because it is inherently contradictory.”  Colonialist’s claim was to incite colonial subjects to self-improvement and development, so that they become more rational and leave “primitive superstition” behind. However, the whole basis of colonialism is based on an irrational racist distinction between colonizer and colonized, between ruler and ruled.”

Dr. Holden of the National University of Singapore reinforced the foregoing in his political discourse; Theories of colonialism and post colonialism that Colonial rulers were much happier with “traditional” or “primitive” colonized populations because they do not challenge the inherent contradictions of colonialism.

Contrary to claims that Africans were primitive and ungovernable, pre-colonial Africans were rational, structured, with strong traditional governments and industry suited to their immediate needs. Among other things colonialism was therefore a form of, if not a territorial invasion of the sovereign African peoples,  but an attempt at territorial expansion, market creation and  resource exploitation.

It was also an attempt to sow the seeds of westernism to the detriment of prostituting or absolving the uniqueness of the cultural values of all colonized nations including Africans.  Africans did not need the installation of colonial institutions to facilitate any form of growth and development.

Chief Bai Bureh

For Sierra Leoneans, if anything is worth celebrating, it was events like the radical resistance of 1898 by Chief Bai Burah to de-legitimize British colonial taxation.  Bai Bureh’s resistance has not been given the due it deserves. His action should not be resigned to a section or a footnote in the pages of history.  It was  illegitimate to tax subjects who were not participants of the colonial administration. That is worth celebrating. Bai Bureh’s protest actions mirrors the tireless campaigns of Mahatma Ghandi in his advocacy for India’s independence.

Milton Margai’s appendage of his signature to the independence document to mark the return of Sierra Leone to her  rightful owners is a also a ceremonial milestone worth remembering not celebrating.  After all, Africans were free and autonomous before colonialism. Independence was simply a ceremonial exit of the colonialist to allow Africans to reclaim custodial rights and self determination without the interference of the colonial overlords. Celebrating independence contradicts the inalienable right to ownership.

The next thought provoking question then is, have we disproved the logic of colonialism as flawed, illegitimate, contradictory and unnecessary? To test such an hypothesis requires an extensive comparative analysis of colonized versus non colonized countries to evaluate the extent to which the  presence or absence of colonialism influenced change.

Take the uncolonized nations of Liberia, Ethiopia, Turkey, Bhurtan,  Norway,  Austria, Nepal, Thailand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and compare them to the rest of the colonized nations of the world, like India, South Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Canada and the United States of America. It is hard to distinguish the positive or negative influences colonialism had on the colonized versus the lack thereof on the uncolonized.

The colonized are as advanced and as poor as the uncolonized.  The value colonialism adds to the colonized is either blurry or does not exist.  Key economic indicators show massive growth and decline in similar proportion as the colonized versus the uncolonized  throughout the world.

As Sierra Leone turns 50, rather than focus on celebrating the exit of colonialism, it should be a time to look back and measure the performance of the last 50 years to determine and openly discuss why the rate of decline significantly outweighed growth. It is unfair to dispel development, but the rate of growth has been relatively slow.

Sierra Leone is one of the tropical African paradises nestled on the West coast, lined with sprawling white sandy beeches, making way for endless spinning waves from the Atlantic ocean. The land booms with rich landscapes, loamy soil, fresh waterways, forest green mountains, wildlife and a vast array of valuable mineral deposits. According to the deSoto school of economic thought, it translates to an excess liquifiable capital laying dormant poorly mismanaged.

Through the lens of the last 50 years,  Sierra Leone witnessed a steady economic decline,  a collapse of its intellectual capital and institutions, a massive exodus of its great minds and a complete disappearance of growth and development ideas. The proof of slow development or failure to grow is reflected in population explosion versus a corresponding decline in  the gross domestic product, (GDP), reducing the income ratio per Sierra Leonean every year.

One of the leading economic indicators of the health of Sierra Leone’s economic performance over the last 50 years can be reliably gauged from the weight of the national currency. The value of the Leones and Cents has gradually weakened so much that small bills are almost traceably disappearing out of circulation.

The Leone bears a direct relationship to almost all key sectors of the economy. It is the scorecard that offers insights to the nation’s past, present and potential for future performance. In 1961, the Leone had a strong purchasing power. Sierra Leoneans could buy more with less.

Against the dollar or the pound, it was almost traded at a one to one ratio. Over the course of the last 50 years, Sierra Leone’s economic scorecard shows that the national currency has been in a permanent state of exponential decay with no signs of stability, recovery or growth.

This is the current state of affairs as the nations marks 50 years of independence. As the population continues to grow,  a dysfunctional capacity fosters low productivity in all sectors. Average per capita income struggles to stabilize at a dollar a day. This is the second reason why a major celebration is drawn into question.

There is a common adage that one cannot expect a different result from doing the same thing over and over again. After 50 years of political independence, it is about time to draw a baseline and take a hard look at numbers, statistics and the strategic plans designed by those entrusted with votes to manage the nations affairs. In the grand scheme of things, it is evident from data that most of the past policies have not produced results favoring the welfare of the poor.

It is logical to note that given the variety of leadership, there is no sustainable development initiative on record supporting a measure of  sustainable growth or progress that bears relevance to the advancement of Sierra Leoneans. Deficits, high interest rates from foreign debts, increased public spending, massive unemployment and a fragile revenue infrastructure are the constants exposing the weaknesses of our post colonial reality.

Given the need to identify and tackle the strings of economic problems, an experiment was conducted on currency exchange data  using the rates for the last 10 years. The goal was to determine the smallest statistical sample required to assess the trajectory of linearity for the purpose of predicting future currency exchange rates based on the trends of the last 10 years.

The 10 year data was chosen for several reasons. First, recent data gives a more reliable result. Second, aside from the difficulty of acquiring reliable currency exchange data since 1961, there is a high degree of variation in 50 years of data, that could affect statistical predictions.

For the purpose of this experiment, the sample size formula used was; n = [Confidence Interval x Standard Deviation] squared divide by the margin of error  or tolerance. ( CI x σ )2 ÷ ± .] The data below shows the official market rates at the close for the given year and the corresponding test for normality of the data. The 10 year currency averages at Le 2,436.6 to the dollar. That is a 60% growth rate to the average and 77% at the close in 2010.

The last 10 year currency exchange data exhibits a positive correlation equal to one. The positive linearity confirms a continuous weakness of the Leone every year and enables the prediction of currency exchange rates into the near future using regression analysis to calculate a model assuming that currency rates retain an exponential trend.

These statistical tools offer no favoritism to any government, leadership, political party or currency. They simply illustrate Sierra Leone’s past performance and predicts the trend of the currency performance in the course of the the next one to fifty years or as far out as we would prefer to analyze.

The diagram below shows a scatter plot diagram displaying a linear growth rate and the projected direction.

The projected value of the Leone given its current exponential characterisitics relies on the historic trends and its relationship to time. With the computed correlation equal to one, if the currency trend remains unchanged then the formula; a+b(x) can predict the currency growth model.

The table below shows two models based on a differing time spans. The 5 year model predicts  the likely value, while the 10 years estimates the minimum exchange value. The average of the 5 and 10 year shows the range.

5 yr Historic Estimates

10 yr Historic Estimates

Year value Value Average

2011

4708

3835

4271

2012

5201

4114

4657

2013

5693

4394

5043

2014

6186

4674

5430

2015

6678

4953

5815

By the close of 2011, currency is estimated to close at Leones 4,708 to the dollar. By close of 2012, the current President or the newly elected one, whichever the case might be, will be inheriting currency exchange at Leones 5,201 to the dollar.

Francis Ken Josiah, Process Improvement Consultant, ASQ Certified Six Sigma Blackbelt, USA

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