50 Years of Independence – Re-thinking our priorities
The difference between poor and rich countries has absolutely nothing to do with the age of the country, the country’s wealth, or the availability of natural resources. Take Japan for example. The country has limited territory – almost 80% mountainous and inadequate for agriculture – but it is the second world economy. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw material and exporting manufactured products.
China, was until the recent past considered a developing country. The world’s most populated country has turned things around and has all of a sudden become an economic powerhouse. Manufacturing industries are booming, the country’s export has seen a significant increase, and the housing industry is on the rise as well. Matter of fact, it would appear that houses are not being built fast enough to meet growing demands.
Switzerland is another example. The country does not grow cocoa but has the best chocolate in the world. They also produce some of the best quality dairy products in the world. These are just a handful of examples of people overcoming all odds in order to succeed as a nation.
The news of all the newly discovered vast Iron Ore deposits in the north of the country in Tonkolili District, and the reactivating of the once famous Delco Mines in Lunsar, Port Loko district by Africa Minerals Ltd. (AML) was much welcomed news as the country needed an injection of resources to build up a fragile and almost non-existent GDP.
But this begs the question of what the mind-set was of the people who negotiated or drew up contracts for these mining rights or leases. “What were they thinking?” With such vast natural resources and unemployment in the country at an alarming and chaotic rate, the first thing that would come to mind is jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs. Why would we be extracting and exporting Iron Ore to be paid pennies, when we could have incorporated a Steel Mill in the contract to create much needed skills and jobs for our youths and seriously increase our country’s exports.
A Steel Mill, as described by ‘Wikipedia’ – the online Encyclopedia, is an industrial plant for the manufacture of steel and involves the following process. Steel, an alloy of iron and carbon, is produced in a two-stage process. First, iron ore is reduced or smelted with coke and limestone in a blast furnace, producing molten iron which is then either cast into pig iron or carried to the next stage as molten iron.
In the second stage – the steelmaking stage – impurities such as sulfur, phosphorus, and excess carbon are removed and other alloys such as manganese, nickel and chromium are added to produce the exact steel required.
Research has shown that there are no significant intellectual differences between executives from rich countries and their counterparts in poor countries. Fact is, immigrants form the core of the productive labor force in rich western countries – working twice as hard as the nationals. What then is the difference?
The difference lies in the general attitude of the people, framed by years of education and culture. An in-depth study of the behavior of people in rich and developed countries reveals that the majority of them follow these basic guiding principles in their lives:
- Ethics – awareness of moral duties and obligations;
- Integrity – upright and honest;
- Responsibility – high level of accountability;
- Respect for the rules of law and order;
- Respect for the rights of fellow citizens;
- Hardwork – diligence in duty;
- Strive for saving and investment;
- Punctuality – on time all of the time.
In countries considered poor, only a minority follow these basic guiding principles in their daily life. We are not poor because we lack immense natural resources, wealth, or because we think nature was cruel to us. We are poor because we lack the attitude and the will to teach and comply with these functional principles inculcated into the fabrics of rich and developed societies. As a nation we need to reflect on these, then act and inevitably change.
I may be just one voice, but there may be several other patriotic Sierra Leoneans who hold these same views. I just hope and fervently pray that at this point in time – attaining a very big milestone of being an independent state for half a century, despite all the trials and tribulations we have had to undergo as a nation, we will endeavor to do not just that which is politically correct, but that which is in the best interest of mother Sierra Leone.
I’m just saying …
by Gabriel A. Johnson, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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