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March 23 vs April 27

March 23 vs April 27

These are two incompatible dates, but very historic and very memorable. March 23, 1991 bears the indelible scars of war, anguish, destruction, and of death. On the other hand, April 27, 1961 reflects sweet memories of a nation that shed off its colonial vestiges to don the cloak of self determination.

While one event depicts death and destruction, the other is about relief and joy.

Yesterday, March 23, I was watching an SLBC/TV documentary on the RUF invasion of Sierra Leone in1991 and the subsequent massacre of innocent civilians by the rebels. That invasion was climaxed by the coup of May 25, 1997 which sent the Tejan Kabbah-led government into temporary exile in neighbouring Guinea.

The government barely took back the seat of power following the ECOMOG intervention in 1998 when rebels stormed the capital in January 6, 1999 and rendered the city ungovernable. The mayhem that followed was unprecedented in the history of world wars.

It was a reign of terror typical of the French revolution of 1779 when the Bastille prison was let open and hell descended upon Paris.

The January 6 invasion of Freetown is one sad chapter of our history that would ever evoke horrific memories in the minds of those Sierra Leoneans who witnessed it.

As I watched the documentary, those sad memories lingered through, more so when the camera focused on scores of decomposed bodies at the Freetown mortuary with swarm of hungry vultures feeding on the rotten corpses.

I wished I had not watched the TV documentary, I said to myself.

Then all of a sudden the scene changed to a gospel presentation with some golden kids giving a taste of what the 50th independence anniversary celebration would look like. I was particularly moved by the sweet voices of our young, talented set of kids, who by the look of things were preparing us for a much bigger show of talent to add glamour to our 50th anniversary. I felt relieved. That was when I realized the difference between good and bad.

As a matter of fact, those Sierra Leoneans who lived through the period March 23, 1991 when the rebels started their rebellion and January 18, 2002 when ex-president Tejan Kabbah officially declared the war over would surely bless their stars for having survived that period.

Similarly, those who witnessed the ushering in of our independence on April 27, 1961 (they might not be as many as of those who survived the rebel carnage) would relish the thought of being part of that epoch-making event.

This year must be regarded as special or rather unique in the annals of a country that is making conscious efforts to shed its ugly past while at the same time painstakingly reliving a history that brings forth refreshing memories that reveal our true identity as a people.

Like I stated earlier, the year 2011 is unique in the sense that as we recall the saddest chapter of our history that brought untold destruction to life and property, we are at the same time celebrating our golden jubilee, most likely in grand style.

In other words, 2011 is blending the good and the bad to prepare us for the future. We know it is often difficult to forget the past especially if we are to face the present with a determination to secure a safe and sound future.

That is why 2011 is different from all other years before it. It reminds all and sundry of a terrible past but at the same time bringing joy to our hearts as we reflect on the day a new nation called Sierra Leone was born.

Thanks to God for witnessing the day!

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