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Roaming Pen: Between the dead and living heroes

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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  • You remember Bunny Mack ‘Praise when am alive don’t praise me when am dead’ dance floor magic, that is just a simple but complete depiction of our culture toward those who’ve either made history or in the process of making it.
    Well Mr. .Kabia at least there is someone of your endangered kind who could place the matter in focus. Even the few like Gbateh Rongo aka Bai Bureh and co was never given needed nationalistic support by their country men in the Hut t ax rebellion, so he was to languish in a Gold coast jail. To this moment, no one has ever raised the issue up with the Brits for an apology and, a possible compensation simply because in Sierra Leone, our only heroes and heroines are those who embezzle government funds and over charge government contracts in connivance with the local contractors. In fact salone is the only country on this planet that really has no history save the mercurial lessons from Ngor Arthur and madda Alie, and Fyfe’s Creole litany- there’s just no properly researched history of the peoples of Sierra Leone. Anyone can read the few available literature of our history in few hours. Even the very few notables like the Nyagua’s, Kailondo, Ndawa, Yoko, Sie, Bai Bureh, etc nothing much beyond their places and dates of births is of eminence. I wish I was not such an insipid illiterate, could’ve ventured, but with no malice to you intellectuals.
    We in Sierra Leone see history and kick it in the mouth. How much has ever been written about our military leaders, their backgrounds and biographical stories. What about our recent materials albeit the NPRC. The only time Strasser seems to be coming of use to us is the APC’s psychotic desire to seek the ‘truth’ about the death of Bambay Kamara and others who were all known human right abusers- people who had sent many others to their untimely eternity, mortgage the entire nation for years with impunity; wrecked the economy and endlessly mangled our nationhood without remorse. All of a sudden, the heroes (men who sacrificed their lives to reclaim the nationhood in 1992) have become the villains all because of the intertribal feuds, conflicts and disputes that have always being the attendant factor in our national politicking. Without a shred of a doubt, Strasser and co may all pass into eternity with the full true story of their adventure and journey buried in their hearts. Just look how Desmond Luke was treated by mehadji caboodle Kabbah, Jonah, Akibo Betts, Pratt, Tejan Sie, etc.
    But just muse over the post NPRC conundrum- the CDC- a salone government creation comprising of Donsos, tamborohs and kamajors who defended our sovereignty with their blood and sweat ,but where’re its leaders today ; well Norman is dead ,and the other two are now languishing in a Rwanda jail without a whiff from any sierra Leonean . Had it been some where else, Norman and co would have been extolled and sculpted all through, and museums of warfare established telling their tales as part of our history. But for the tribal infested salone the kamajors event is no history.
    Even our latest cadre of ‘contemporary historians’ have never ventured to really investigate the CDC advent, its undertakings, challenges and its ramifications for the national security needs.
    Brother Kabia the only known living heroes in salone are the squandergates like the Kanjas ,Foes ,mehadji Kabbah and his caboodle of wolves that nakedly squandered our renewal efforts after the war.
    At least Ernest seems to be making some deference but he too still needs to weed out the miscreants of his administration.
    In salone, we see history and kick it in the mouth. Check other African countries musical charts- two third of their musicians sing in their local languages compare them to your local musicians and make me a liar.
    In the last fifty years nothing has captivated the sierra Leonean more than denigrating what constitutes his history. Do you how people who have never returned to their villagers since the war whilst living in Freetown who they simply refer to themselves as ‘ me anor use to country life again’, yet still theses same charlatans critics the government for not doing much with rural developments. Someone once said that ‘the moment you loose you culture, you lose your very soul’ and that is what has befallen Sierra Leone.
    You meet an average mende lumpens siaka Steven’s street and attempt to converse with him or her in your tribal dialect. Man you’ll be surprised with the outlandish rebuff of his Creole reply – ‘boo wnuor nor ba lef this wunor upline language business, ya nar city oh not to contry. Ask the American author Ben Ami in his God, The Black Man and The Truth’ perfect read. The first thing the president’s commission on Attitudinal change could have done was to help change peoples attitude toward their villages ( ancestral homes ) as these places are gradual moving into total collapse as a result of the drift and the total absence of all those who were sent out to school. If those in high places of society could hold there various places of birth in high esteem like the Marrah’s, then they could be tempted to cultivate a culture of nationalism in their places of work which could help spur patriotic fervor thereby reducing the incidence of connivance to wreck the state that you so cherish . Kehtamia

    08/25/2010

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