Roaming Pen: Between the dead and living heroes
Sierra Leoneans, like many other nationals in the world, are notable for their failure to respect and recognize heroes, especially when those heroes are still alive. (Photo: Abdul Karim Kabia (Fonti) aka Roaming Pen)
In most cases, heroes are only recognized in Sierra Leone when they are dead.
This situation has forced several people to ponder whether or not this country has living heroes, i.e., people who are recognized and respected as heroes when they are still alive.
In this piece, the Roaming Pen will attempt a few definitions for the term ‘hero’, so as to give readers a clear understanding of the subject matter.
This piece will also highlight some of the consequences the country suffers as a result of the failure of its citizens to recognize breathing heroes.
I have been able to obtain three definitions of the term ‘HERO’, from various standard dictionaries and the debate here would be concentrated on the said definitions mentioned in the ensuing.
i) A hero is a man of superhuman qualities, favoured by the gods; demigod.
ii) Illustrious warrior (such as is given to hero returning from battle).
iii) Man admired for achievements and noble qualities.
With the aforementioned meanings, do we really have living heroes in Sierra Leone?
I want to believe we do have breathing heroes, although a good number of people have been ‘forced’ to believe that the only heroes Sierra Leone can boast of are the likes of Bai Bureh, I.T.A Wallace Johnson and Sengbeh Pieh, all of whom are dead and gone.
Why the citizens are not recognizing their heroes, when these heroes are still alive, remains a puzzle.
There are hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who are excelling in their various fields and corners. These people cut across various ages, sex, colour and political persuasions.
To verify that there are indeed heroes in Sierra Leone, one only needs to carefully listen and watch as people pay tributes to dead people. That is the time when praises would be lavished on the departed soul. At such events, people are not hesitant to talk on all of the admirable achievements and potentials of the deceased.
This is also the time that people will come with ranches full of cows, goats, fishes and rice.
Ironically, all of these things would be shared among living people as a way of ‘honoring’ the dead, when the fact remains that some of these people actually died of hunger and/or curable diseases. They die because they cannot feed themselves and lack money to seek medical attention when they fell sick. But when they die, money and food is in excess.
Why do people withhold all of the aforementioned wealth and wait until the demise of a ‘hero’ or ‘potential hero’, is among the barrage of questions begging answers.
Investing such wealth on, and honoring these heroes whilst they are still alive will make a whole lot of difference to the life of the individual in particular, his family in general and the nation as a whole.
What does it benefit the dead hero to praise sing him when he has seized to breathe, especially so when he was never recognized and respected during his tenure of life?
What benefit do the nation or bereaved family members achieve from such tributes and showcasing of wealth during funeral ceremonies?
Why do people ignore and dismiss the talents and achievements of their compatriots when they are still alive? Selfishness and political bigotry cannot be far from the answer.
No matter what is said and done when a person is dead, there is no doubt that the dead person, bereaved family members and Mama Salone stand to gain nothing other than regrets and increased backwardness of the nation.
The dead will never appreciate anything that people do to honour him, especially so when they failed to appreciate his qualities when he was alive.
The backward state of Sierra Leone cannot be dissociated to some of these things which we normally dismiss as insignificant.
Failing to appreciate, respect and honour our living heroes is also gravely affecting the emergence of new heroes.
Potential heroes prefer not to put on display their talents for the progress of the nation; an occurrence that is no fault of theirs. This is due to lack of motivation.
It is pathetic to note that a good number of heroes and potential heroes are subjected to psychological torture. In most cases, some of these heroes succumb to such frustrations and they gradually lose their heroism to cowardice.
This is not only affecting the people under review as individuals, but is by extension negatively affecting the nation’s progress, since the numbers of disgruntled and jobless people will continue to record a steady rise.
Worst of it is the fact that some influential citizens do suppress and disrespect heroes and potential heroes for reasons ranging from selfishness, petty jealousy, pull-him-down syndrome, and politics.
In Sierra Leone, it is an open secret that politicians in government don’t respect the talents of politicians in the opposition; rich people displays total disregard for the heroism of poor people; and old people lacks respect for young people.
Politicians only shower praises and talk on the achievements of their opponents after the latter would have died.
How can the country ever progress when highly placed personalities deliberately and viciously ignore the aptitude of other citizens because of politics, societal status and other differences?
The urgency to change our attitudes in this regard cannot be overemphasized, as Sierra Leone is already losing a lot due to the citizen’s wickedness and lack of respect for one another’s talents.
We actually have living heroes in Sierra Leone and the time to start recognizing them is now. They deserve better than neglect and frustration.
Thumbs up to all the heroes in Sierra Leone. Keep the fire burning.
By Abdul Karim Kabia (Fonti), Freetown
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