A time for serious reflection as we celebrate Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary
Now that the golden jubilee celebration of our nation is here at our doorsteps, are we ready as a nation to welcome it with open arms and open minds? (Photo: Dr. Augustine Kamara, author)
The fever to celebrate is very high with every Sierra Leonean both in the country and in the diaspora. In fact the preparation for this important occasion featured in many peoples agenda as far as a year ago or more cannot wait any longer but seriously counting the hours, minutes or seconds to the final day when we shall put on our best attires, and drive or walk to the national stadium, or our fine beaches, or different galas of parties in honor of celebrating and showing our patriotism.
Excuse my naivety here but if I may ask, do we all know what patriotism is?
Let us be candid and answer honestly to the following common quotations about patriotism. ”Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and government when it deserves it.” And” a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its enemies.” Furthermore, ‘‘patriotism is your conviction that this country of yours is superior to all others because you were born in it.”
Are we qualified to be patriots? Then lets celebrate in happiness and joys of victory.
I remember very well in our civics lessons in primary school, we learnt a lot about our heroes, like Bai Bureh and the hut tax war, also about other warriors like Chief Benga, Chief Kailondo, the jihads of Haidara Kontofili and many others who were patriots and worth paying reverence to. I wonder how many of our children know that part of history of Sierra Leone not to talk of the triangular slave trade and the Sengbeh Pieh story, the substance of the Bunce Island near Pepel and its linkage to the rice farms of North Carolina .The philanthropists decision in London the abolition of the slave trade after James Somerset and Jonathan Strong episode, all these and more seem to be a lost history and glory.
How many of us care to explain, to our children the meaning of independence of our country?
When in April 27 in 1961 Sierra Leone became an independent sovereign state from British rule. A rule of divide and rule policy whose legacy is still seen to linger in our daily poly tribal and ethnic divide. Please as we eat and merry, let us think of how to improve our better lot in the second half of our golden jubilee to the centennial celebration. Many of us would have gone like our ancestors that won this independence we are now celebrating but if we all work hard enough to be recognized towards our nation building, surely, our names would be part of the annals of history.
Regrettably nothing was done much to keep us in memory of our great patriots’. By now every town in Sierra Leone should at least be proud of a single street which was named after our fathers of independence, example Milton Margai road or street or Kailondo road or square. What about a national museum with the rich and national heritage? We still have to work hard as a nation to be able to think and do things for ourselves. After the dust of merriment has settled down and the fever of independence celebration subsides, let us do some real justice to ourselves that after fifty years of independence how much did we achieve in terms of development? What is the way forward towards a progressive nation? This is not a one man’s job it involves everyone. Now is the time for us to prove that we are grown ups. Yes it was true Sierra Leone was the Athens of West Africa but what are we now? Indeed, it is true Sierra Leone is the land of gold diamond, iron ore ,bauxite, chromites, you name it with the new oil discovery but what have we done with all those minerals or what are we going to do with our new discovered wealth ? These are questions to ponder if we are to be patriots of Sierra Leone.
The period of independence when the late Dr. Sir Milton Margai and a few educated elites like Dr. Karefa Smart won a declaration for our freedom was seen as a blessed one shortly to be marked by the departure of Sir Milton the first Prime Minister to be succeeded by his brother the late Sir Albert Margai who is another true patriot to be admired, although some still consider him an idiot but this was the man who showed true democratic governance by handing power peacefully to the late Dr. Siaka P. Stevens in 1967 general election. This was never to last long when the strong man then Brigadier David Lansana as force commander of the RSLMF (The Royal Sierra Leone Military Forces) declared the first martial law against a ruling government and hence set forth the mother of coup d’état in Sierra Leone history. Subsequently, a group of young officers led by Lt. John Bangura made a counter coup and restored Dr. Siaka Stevens as prime minister.
The late Dr Siaka Stevens led Sierra Leone to a republican state. His period of rule witnessed a very crafty rule and much as possible Sierra Leone flourished through liberty and freedom but also corruption became rife during his retiring moments until his demise when the late President Joseph Momoh succeeded him. However, President Momoh’s rule was short lived by another coup led by young officers to be followed by successions of coups from captain Valentine Strasser, to Maada Bio, to Johnny Paul Koroma.
So to speak the road to independence and shortly after independence was never a smooth one. In the midst of coups and counter coups, and unchecked corruption and confusion, progress was bound to be thwarted, if not brought about to a grinding stop. This apostasy of corruption and a war torn country left the country in a secular trend of abject poverty and misery.
The arrival of a new dawn in Sierra Leone came with the ascension to the throne of leadership by Dr. Earnest B Koroma who as a true citizen of Sierra Leone came to the throne with open arms and an open mind .A former insurance policy guru in Sierra Leone is now leading the country to higher heights of success. He inherited a rotten legacy, a battered Sierra Leone and an abuse nation that requires great task and skills to unite the country and above all a godly person. This is the luck Sierra Leone has received, when at a no better time the man who posses not only patience but all the good qualities of a statesman like President Koroma is leading us during his tenure to this celebration of our golden jubilee.
Even though he has a formidable disposition of rule of honesty, yet some of his cabinet ministers have shown some un-patriotism. We all know that to err is human and to forgive is divine. One thing I want to mention is that in an exam it is possible to score a hundred percent as it is possible also to score a zero. Let us grade our leader honestly again during your grading techniques whatever, please do not blame him for the mistakes or the dishonesty of some of his ministers. He is not the keeper of every Sierra Leonean total behavior.
Finally, most of us have flown from various parts of the world to celebrate or have driven from various parts of the country to celebrate or celebrating wherever we may be ,let us all continue to show our patriotism by doing the things that will unite us as Sierra Leoneans by showing love and respect for our country, avoid hatred for one another show true love peace and unity and do the things to help move Sierra Leone and our generations for the millennium goals. HAPPY CELEBRATION!!
By Dr. Augustine A. Kamara, Virginia, USA
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