Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora faces challenges, Dilemma, and Possibilities
For more than two decades, Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora has been shaped by periods of intense political and tribal partisans across the globe, ignoring their fundamental value of patriotism and nationalism. Even though I argue whole heartedly before this time, it is sometimes necessary to come together as an ethnic identity or forming political groups, but I have come to realize that this model of community formation has cause a serious issue among us in the Diaspora. (Photo: Sanpha Sesay, author)
We are losing our values in terms of shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. Individuals with some sort of comprehension of themselves as a discrete and separate entity based on their tribes or political parties does not give us any sense of uniqueness as nationals from Sierra Leone living in a particular country.
We are also losing our ardent in attachment, devotion, love, support, and defending our country outside Sierra Leone because of our political and regional differences. People’s perception to blame politicians or government is related to their lived activities, emotions, and perspectives based on their political parties differences and or regional differences.
While following in the different news network and social media, the people of Sierra Leone living in the Diaspora are inundated with notions of political pluralism and a tribal/ethnic groups operating as a social construct in another man’s country. Any tragedy that occurs in our country, people will talk, tailoring the lies on social media, squabbles and politicizes the issue to cast the blame to government.
Disparities in our establishments in the Diaspora are social arguments underlying a social issue which has exacerbated the retrogressive of development back home. This disparity is mostly accounted for by the fact that most Sierra Leoneans living in especially western world have divided into different sect of ethnic groups and into two major political groups; the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress party (APC).
This idea of partisanship might attempt to lead us into disintegration and it will open the door for tribal, regional, and to a large extent, political conflict that will broaden to our homeland. I will not comment on the political stale mate in the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), but look at the situation unfolding in trying to elect a flag bearer in that party. The social media is furnishing us with so lot of negativity about the conflict there in just trying to set an administration to man the affairs of the party. What are our contributions as people with different knowledge and ideas from abroad to effect a change? There is no way Diasporas can influence in any situation while we are ethnically and political divided.
In any community gatherings today in the United States and England in particularly, the center of discussions could be about politics even in funerals, weddings, other functions, according to my findings. How does that impact the country or the nation as whole by establishing political parties outside Sierra Leone with our focus to discuss nothing important, but just politics? Forming tribal groups also has a negative consequence for the sociopolitical fabric of the country in different ways. Many Sierra Leoneans who read this article can agree with me on certain things that are objectively important to calling yourself a Sierra Leonean, for example, in the United States or in the United Kingdom. No one will ever ask you which tribe you belong to or which political party you affiliated with. The most common question of identification is, where you from are. Because, in America, someone will say, ‘who cares’ whether you are from the North or South, your country of origin matters.
My observation is that, all those political parties and tribal organizations build up outside Sierra Leone could be room for sectarian and is a deterrent to our national identity. All those political groups and tribal organizations could provide a tendency to deepen our differences in our heritage. This deep cultural divergence is the prime cause of our social and political instability.
Let me give you an example. Whenever the country faces a disaster, many individuals and some organizations will adamantly refuse to galvanize together to organize a fundraising activity so that the community could contribute to help victims. This is just because the government is not in their favor, and according to some people, the government is corrupt therefore there is no need to help anyone in a situation of catastrophe.
The nation faces the challenges of changing our attitudes in and outside Sierra Leone. This challenge extends to Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora who have failed to apply a multidisciplinary approach to bridge disparities and eliminate especially tribal partisans in our various communities. Everyone is bent to cleave into tribal, regional, or political classification instead of adhere into nationalism movement. The reality is that, the responsibility of promoting unity and preserving diversity is not only lies on the government and or Sierra Leoneans living in the country, the Diasporas as well.
Across the United States, for example, Sierra Leoneans losing their nationalism/patriotism consciousness because of their adherence to political partyism that caused a huge effect of political discriminations in our country. Politics has made us losing our moral value which does not impact any positive change to achieve the millennium goals. The New York Times stated that Politics is obviously a passionate activity, in which moral values clash. Let the politics and all political activities stays home and build up a coalition that will contribute to the development projects in our country as the Association of Sierra Leonean Organizations in Texas (ASLOT) has exemplifies.
ASLOT is to be commended for on the mobility of its purpose in forming some kind of an umbrella organization in Texas. Its main goal is to organize Sierra Leoneans in the State of Texas into a more loving and cohesive community, while employing interdependence together with non-Sierra Leoneans to support and promote sustainable growth in healthcare, education, infrastructure, agriculture, and social empowerment to benefit the people of Sierra Leone. This is a kind of cohesion expected Sierra Leoneans all across the diaspora to do for a common purpose.
People continue to build disparity gaps by forming different organizations ranging from tribal groups, alumni, and regional organizations with no intention to marge these groups to form a coalition for a social change in our culture; a social change that has a significant alteration, modification, or transformation in their organizations and operation of social activities that we dearly need.
It is clear from all these examples that ‘togetherness’, a common phenomenon that I believe in, is often considered important for us, although the reasons behind the creation of different organizations may be different and not always clear with their objectives. It is easy to suppose that in some cases there are mutuality expectations behind it, but such expectations are certainly not always the main drive for togetherness as one Sierra Leonean outside Sierra Leone.
The tendency towards togetherness or forming an umbrella organization like Ghanians did in Germany, have becoming a greater dilemma in our various communities because people feel socially emotionally attached on their partisan groups with a strong ethical dimension in it to discourage national unity. I believe that we should live harmoniously together as Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora and explore that unity to influence business people, millionaires, and politicians to help Sierra Leone. The community in Dallas Fort Worth in Texas has manifested signs of togetherness in practice despite a huge challenge to accomplish that goal.
We need to establish umbrella organizations by bringing all political groups, alumni, ethic and regional groups into one umbrella organizations in our various entities in order to bring about change in areas affecting or being affected by several issues in our country. Community leaders need to invest collaborative initiatives that bring together diverse interests to accomplish a common goal.
By Sanpha Sesay, The Texas Chief
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