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Are We Celebrating Independence Or Dependence?

Are We Celebrating Independence Or Dependence?

It was on 27th April 1961 when Sierra Leone finally became an independent state after more than 100 years of Colonial Rule.  (Photo: Elkass Sannoh, author)

Indeed independence was achieved with one VOICE and in Unity despite the fact that Siaka Probyn Stevens boycotted on grounds that Elections should be conducted before Independence.

Indeed, there was a sense of unity, political and regional tolerance before and immediately after gaining independence from The Great Britain. During those difficult struggles, Sierra Leone was seen as a beacon of hope for her citizens. But why this unshakable hope later diminished and watered-down? The reasons abound and similar in Africa.

Within Africa, the struggle for independence became a creed; no African state would be content in its independent status until its continental sisters were equally liberated. This is the Africa that people like Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkruma, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela, Douda Jawara and many more fought for.

The question The Voiceless wants to ask is: What happened between independence and post independence?

At age 56, Sierra Leone is in full preparedness to celebrate Independence on April 27, 2017 but the unanswered question is: Why did Independence fail to bring the peace and prosperity hoped for?

According to Dr. Osman Gbla, while lecturing on Comparative African Political System (CAPS) at the E.J. Hall, Fourah Bay College-University of Sierra Leone, “I find it very significant that even in the most autocratic African pre-colonial societies, there was a greater sense of responsibility by rulers to their community because the community actually had a say, and the checks and balance system was always intricately developed. It would seem like the democratic institutions imposed disrupted the real democracy which African societies had very carefully developed”.

This disruption has led to what The Voiceless today describes as a ‘selfish authoritarian syndrome’. If our leaders after independence have refused to let go of corrupt and egoistic tendencies, there’s a basic question to be asked: *Is Sierra Leone after independence different from Sierra Leone during the colonial times with regards sustainable development policies?*

Professor Jimmy Kandeh uses the Zimbabwean situation to explain why independence did not bring sustainable development.

However, it would be very unusual if all the problems we are facing can be dumped on the doorstep of external factors.

Today, many internal factors have played a role in the general deteriorating conditions of the country.

*Bad Leadership* is one of the key factors. According to Professor Joe A.D. Alie, a historian and Sierra Leonean author, Africa’s problems lie ‘at a political doorstep, rather than being due to lack of resources or manpower’. Siaka Probyn Stevens, who ruled Sierra Leone for more than twenty three years, was/is known for: Den Say Bailor Barrie U Say Davison Nicol. Meaning in the midst of wealth, education was not useful.

The Voiceless is not disputing the truth of these very popularly quoted statements, I am just a bit saddened by the hopelessness insinuated. If the heroes themselves do not believe in the possibility of a peaceful nation-state, how can it ever come to pass?

This pessimistic attitude on the part of African leaders has definitely had very negative effect on its backwardness. This is one of the reasons why Africa has remained in a downward spiral.

Dr. Arthur Abraham said the political scene in Sierra Leone had experienced “increasing corruption and mismanaged leadership, a rigged elections, and finally a series of coups (political change being) both dramatic and deleterious. From the aforementioned, one wonders how can peace or prosperity ever come to be?

My question is, are we sincerely CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE OR DEPENDENCE? If we are actually celebrating Independence, why should we strongly rely on the international community to fund our elections? Without them, there will be no elections in March 2018. Why should we become over-reliant on donor funding to keep us going and alive? If it were possible, we would have even called on our international partners to fund us celebrate our so-called Independence.

Flooding in tears, let me pause and reflect on the day when the Duke of Kent handed over the royal instruments recognising Sierra Leone as an independent nation, hence the country was handed over to a new Government led by Prime Minister Sir Milton Margai.

By Elkass Sannoh

This is the PEN of The VOICELESS SIERRA LEONEANS.

Email:superilsannoh5@gmail.com Twitter:@ ElkassSannoh

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