Observation of my 3 months in Sierra Leone
What, you may say, is there to be particularly patriotic about when one is in Sierra Leone? Sure, the quality of living is low, we are not fed, educated and employed well enough to meet international standards. But where is the freedom, the liberty to do whatever one wants without the government clamping hard down on us? Where is the media who actively seeks to expose the truth and criticize the political situation? In fact where is the political situation? I don’t carry the old identification card and old passport that most Sierra Leoneans carry, mine is a pretty green in color the new ECOWAS Passport. But I would declare loud and proud that I am glad to be in Sierra Leone and there is indeed much to be proud of. Some may declaim me, saying that being a foreigner because I also carry a foreign passport, I have lived under the rule of the Sierra Leone government, and hence only view Sierra Leone as a land of opportunities in comparison with whatever backwater nation I may be from, but let me assure you, I have spent most of my life in Sierra Leone.
Stability is the founding principle of all Sierra Leoneans, which is essential, given our tiny size and growing population. Nestled in a hotbed of nations not too similar to ours, Sierra Leone has always been a minority in West Africa. Because of its indigenous history or culture, given the potential for trouble to erupt, one cannot fault the government for placing peace and stability at the top of its agenda.
Admittedly it would be ideal to have more even political representation, but I believe that this is of no fault of the government. Any intelligent person would understand that to ensure ones survival, one has to be able to lure any upcoming talent to one’s side, and this has been the main political party’s successful strategy. I believe that it is possible for alternative strong political opposition to develop; all it takes is a mature team of opposition members with adequate funding, who can pinpoint very clearly the areas in which the current government party is lacking. The playing field is slanted in the favor of the People’s action party, but it is in no way unfair. The strength and foresight of our government is something we can and should be proud of.
What is liberty, if we do not have the safety to enjoy it? Strict measures to ensure public peace may seem unnecessary, but I concur with the stand that prevention is better than cure. Why wait till after a bomb has gone off, before you put in place measures that would protect people? Compared to the lives of people living in the more unruly areas like Ivory Coast a member of the Mano River Union and ECOWAS, where it has been jokingly said that one can get mugged by a nun, the life of an average Sierra Leonean is relatively more worry-free, all because of the strict, but necessary measures put in place. It is a very simple thing to put away chewing gum, to have the peace of mind that the lift button with my floor on it would not have someone else’s saliva and gum plastered all over it, or to find myself stuck on the floor one day.
Sierra Leone is not B-O-R-I-N-G you may say, but there is enough drama already in our lives, and I believe that it is time some people get more mature, and realize that the grass on the other side is no greener than our own sweet Salone. In four weeks our beloved sweet Salone will be 50. Let’s show the world what it means to be a Sierra Leonean. We have no more room for violence but political tolerance.
God bless Mama Salone.
Alpha Sheriff, President of Sierra Leone youths for Democratic practices,Germany
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