The sad end of Lord Bongo and the lessons to learn
Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the deaths of Lord Bongo and his partner. Even more shocking is the manner in which the lives of the couple ended.
Gone is Lord Bongo but his memories will linger on in the minds of many Sierra Leoneans whose lives he touched in a very special way with his great sharp humour
Humour Therapy: What Bongo and the Professionals represented
In the early 80’s, Sierra Leone’s economic and social problems started biting sharply. The political ineptitude led to greed and gross mismanagement of resources leading further to untold economic hardship and suffering of the masses: unchecked soaring prices of basic food items, lack of medicines and medical facilities, education becoming a luxury, failing electricity supplies, and poor roads, to name a few.
The Professionals, the group that Lord Bongo belonged to ran a commentary on social events and the ills infecting our country at the time. In a country enveloped in great suffering and stress, a large supply of humour will do a lot of good.
While many never took any notice of the true worth of Lord Bongo and his group to the nation of Sierra Leone, it is worth telling here what their real value was. With their sharp wit and snappy humorous remarks, they demonstrated the ability to make a hungry, very stressed, sick Sierra Leone forget their empty stomachs and troubles (at least for a whil ) and erupt with laughter whenever their programmes were played on the then SLBS Radio.
Research at the University of Maryland suggests that a good sense of humour and the ability to laugh at stressful situations helps to mitigate the damaging physical effects of distressing emotions. Similar research has shown that laughing can help in lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, increasing muscle flexion and triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers.
The book of Proverbs 17:22 states that “a cheerful heart does good like medicine but a broken heart makes one sick.” The 16th century Martin Luther used a form of humour as part of his pastoral counselling of depressed people. He advised them not to isolate themselves but to surround themselves with friends who could joke and make them laugh.
Is this not what Lord Bongo and his group were doing for the nation of Sierra Leone at a time when the cost of a cup of rice was reaching the sky and the whole nation blanketed in darkness as a result of failing electricity supplies? Indeed, Bongo and his group helped the nation to believe that, though hungry and troubled, “life must go on, and that life should be enjoyed and not endured.”
The American Dream’
This is explained as an idea which suggests that people can succeed through hard work, and that all people have the potential to live happy, successful lives. I am tempted to believe that despite his massive talent and the great effort he made, Lord Bongo might not have realised the true worth of his talent or potential. Thus the move to the U.S. where he hoped to live the American Dream which Sierra Leone could not offer him.
American Nightmare Instead
For many who leave home, the American Dream is hardly realised and the American Nightmare is experienced instead. Despite the betterment in earnings, a lifestyle of good food and access to good health care, many still have to grapple daily with a multitude of serious and never ending emotional troubles. On many occasions, these troubles are linked with relationship difficulties leading to couples living under the same roof but travelling different directions in many respects.
In the West, the mutual respect, patience, trust, true love that normally characterise our relationships back home take flight. Couples live together giving the outside world a picture of all being well while in fact they may be engaged in the fiercest of battles. Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, a French author and moralist, is believed to have said that, “marriage is the only war in which you sleep with the enemy.” Is this not true of our brother and sister, Bongo and his partner? If only relationships can start and end beautifully, our world would be better. The reality on many occasions however is that, many relationships become like a book of which the first chapter is written by an angel, and the remaining chapters by the devil. Bongo and his partner must have been a loving couple initially.
The Lessons from Lord Bongo’s Tragedy
Our home governments should do more by way of encouraging and promoting local talents thereby making it possible for them to enjoy the American Dream in their countries without having to travel to the West. It is highly likely that were things “fine” for Lord Bongo in Sierra Leone, he may never have dreamt of migrating to the West where relationships become easily ruined by strange cultures.
While there really is no formal requirement or training to become a comedian, I personally believe that training is valuable in any career. Acting and public speaking training can be very helpful. Drama and Acting Schools should be established or at least such departments added to our universities and colleges. This will lift comedy/acting from being just a mere trade to an honourable profession that will make its members proud.
Those who have the means should act as promoters or agents of our local crop of talents to make it possible for them to improve their lots in their home countries without having to pursue the American Dream in an alien country. There are currently many talented groups in Sierra Leone: the Kono Dancers, Stars Combined (comedians/ musicians of Bulgur fame ) the group at the Freetown-Lungi Ferry Crossing to name a few. There is no doubt that these groups are “strugglers” and it will hardly surprise anyone if any of these make use of any available opportunities to penetrate the West.
While we cannot be the judges in the Lord Bongo relationship saga that ended in tragedy, we can only pray that God grant pardon to the couple and to guide, protect and provide for the children they have left behind. May God also make our marital homes, either in Sierra Leone or abroad, battle- free.
Edward Tedson Sesay, London, UK
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