What are our values and patriotism?
The increasing social and political disparities in our country Sierra Leone is continuing to grow even at the time of a disaster like the Ebola Epidemic. After ten years of civil war, it seems as if we are still struggling to implement a despairingly failing strategy to increase cohesion among Sierra Leonean communities in the diaspora. What can we do to engage ourselves in an attempt to strengthen a common consensus to change our behaviors and attitudes? (Photo: Sanpha Sesay, author)
In recent years, I discovered that the values of love and unity that we have manifested through our two major religions, Islam and Christianity, are now being distorted by mainly our political ideologies, and at some point ethnic beliefs. I would like to state that our negative attitudes are seriously undermining the future of our country’s peace and tranquility. Let me also inform you that Sierra Leoneans have failed to change their attitudes despite an institution for attitudinal and behavioral changes that have been established for that intended purpose. Instead, people are bent to generate confusion that may perpetuate national conflicts by inciting others through the social media.
Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus, I realized that a lot of Sierra Leoneans have lost their patriotic consciousness. In view of some of Sierra Leoneans attitudes and behaviors, they are continuously accusing the Sierra Leone government for being responsible for the devastation of the Ebola epidemic. They believe that the government is corrupt, and they blatantly refuse to contribute in any way to preclude the endemic disease. Where are your values? What are your contributions to the well-being of your country that is significantly influenced by your utmost values in your fellow Sierra Leoneans? What are your personal values that you have manifested to be vitally important for building a successful, harmonious, and peaceful Sierra Leone?
Before the war, our patriotic values were usually fairly stable in the heart and minds of Sierra Leoneans, but it seems that patriotism is rapidly diminishing because of the negative sentiments that have emerged through the influence of political parties and leaders. Even though some of us have moved out of the country because of circumstance, we must not fail to understand and recognize our patriotic values. We have the obligation to defend and promote our country’s cultural value from the information super-highways wherever we are. That is patriotism. Patriotism is manifested in different ways when you look into conditions and subjective factors of people’s lives. Due to the negative political sentiment, Sierra Leoneans have failed to adhere to their fundamental duties and obligations as citizens of that country.
Many of us, in the diaspora or at home, are in pretense to declare ourselves as Sierra Leonean patriot, but our opinions are out of steps with Sierra Leone values. Posting wrong information on the social media against your country to disconcert others because of your political ideology or ethnic sentiment could lead to what I mean, ‘missing steps with Sierra Leone values’. If you join, for instance, a group of people trying to donate in the fight against the Ebola epidemic, this could characterize you as an example of a patriot. On the other hand, if you keep crying louder in public and condemn your head of state, this is an example of being a traitor
Every Sierra Leonean has an assertive right to like the government or not to like it. You have the right to ask for information when you need or don’t care. But remember that you also have a supreme right and duty to disseminate accurate information that can promote the image of your country through the social media or in public of a foreign country.
Many of us have successfully settled in our various countries of residence in the diaspora, but despite education we have achieved, we are still actively in denial of changes of attitudes and behaviors. The basic focus had to do with the individual’s sense of self-identity. As Sierra Leoneans, we have to be passionate about our country while living abroad and or at home. We have many responsibilities and obligations that we should fulfill wherever we are. We have the civic responsibilities such as, contributing money, time, and effort to help others and to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans. We must defend our country at all-times to stay attached with our national pledge. Defending your country does not only mean men and women in uniform fighting in the war front. It is also a responsibility of you, as a civilian. It is important to defend your country from the overflow of fallacies against your country in the social media.
Since the advent of the social media, many Sierra Leoneans are abusing the technology by rampantly posting stories that conclude in a manner that are almost always disappointing. They are effectively negating the effectiveness of the government because of inexistence of their political party in power. My ears are full of people’s negative attitude towards my country. People are failing to manifest pride during these difficult times. Government goes and another government will come back. The same people will rule us and this is a condition that no one can dispute.
I have no doubt that the continuing fragmentation of the political systems of our country is to a large extent, conditioned by the fact that national and political self-identification is being crowded out by ethnic and regional group identities. In the United States, and perhaps in the United Kingdom, Sierra Leoneans are divided into tribal groups instead of coming together as one Sierra Leone community to build a national identity. However, some of those tribal groups like the, Krio Descendant Union (KDU) has a national agenda with a sense of belonging when our country faces difficult times like the threat of Ebola virus. The KDU is undertaking a lot of projects in Sierra Leone including the current Ebola crisis. Tegloma Federation must be commended for its effort to be the first responder in the diaspora on the Ebola Epidemic. And of course, the All People’s Congress APC-USA branch made huge contributions to the fight against Ebola. This is another example of patriotism/ nationalism.
During these difficult years since the rebel war and now the Ebola epidemic, everything like patriotism or public spirit seems to have died out of the hearts of Sierra Leoneans because of politics. But few of them, like Mr. Chernor Alpha Bah whose container packed with medical supplies to help fight Sierra Leone’s exploding Ebola epidemic still at Queen Elizabeth Quay trying to clear it from duty never give up because of, may be, bad policies and bureaucracies. I can understand! Mr. Bah never relent in his effort to help save lives.
In Dallas, Texas, my place of residence, people like Professor Dr. Alusine Jalloh who created the social work department in Fourah Bay College never give up to continue doing good job for his country because, other people say, the government is corrupt. The Professor is still pursuing programs that promote the image of our country. Mr. Reuben Ndomahina, a man who is tirelessly working to galvanize the Sierra Leone community to come together as one Sierra Leonean so that we can work for the common good of our country never give up despite he is being seriously antagonized by some of his former organization members. Mr. Patrick Jackson who belongs to different organizations here in Dallas, Texas, and at one time has act as Deputy Mayor in one of our cities in the United States, is still committed to collaborate with anyone trying to do something about our country. These are all fine men that have been prompted by a call to patriotism and ambition and stood by it. I will not forget people like Dr. Tejan, a medical doctor (Surgeon specialist) in Texas rendering a huge contribution to the wellbeing of the community in the metroplex. I learnt that Dr. Tejan is one of the major facilitator of Tegloma for all aids to Sierra Leone. He did not say he cannot help his country because of corruption in the country or because he did not support the APC. Mr. Andrew Kaikai of the Kaikai Law firm has pleasingly offered a free service to Sierra Leoneans for consultation if they have legal matters. Mr. Kaikai is one of the stake holders that are championing to ship a container load of medical supplies to donate for the Ebola virus. The list goes on and on. How about you? What have you done for country of birth or for your fellow Sierra Leoneans? Think about the song, “Look under your feet”.
When are we going to come together to form agents of change in our country, Sierra Leone? Sierra Leoneans must unite in order to work together for the advancement of our country and we must do this wherever we are in the world. Using the social media to post false information or causing violence in the country could never bring a positive change. We have to unite to play an apolitical role for the development of our nation. It is not a bad idea forming social organizations, alumni groups, and political divisions and so on in the diaspora. But, the best idea is to form an umbrella organization that works to protect the shared interest of our country. I like to say, to born in Sierra Leone is different from being a Sierra Leonean. I will explain this phrase in my next lector on the subject, “The Government and its Citizens”. Have a nice day!
By Sanpha Sesay
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