Sierra Leone at 50 – 50 years of resiliency
As we celebrate our 50th anniversary of self rule, we must first thank the Almighty for his grace and glory to let us celebrate this milestone. May our nation continue to be the realm of the free and may we be “firmly united ever we stand.” in the coming years and generations to come. (Photo: Alpha Omar Jabbie, author)
Today, our beloved Sierra Leone is at peace and our people enjoy the much needed tranquility, our young democracy though imperfect but thriving…. So we must be thankful. We must also be grateful to those Sierra Leoneans who gave us the freedom of self-rule and the ability to determine the destiny of our country.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, it will be hypocritical not to ask the question what are we celebrating? Today, as we prepare to “celebrate”, there are children going to bed hungry unable to afford a decent meal. Women and children are dying from the lack of adequate medical facilities and resources. Our youths are unemployed with no hope for the future and they are being taken advantage of by our politicians. There is no sustainable electricity and water supply which are the engine of development for any nation. The lack of adequate road networks that link the western area with the hinterland are generally in dilapidated conditions.
Our educational system once the envy of West Africa is failing our next generation. Basic law and order that protects the right of the common or average Sierra Leonean is broken and the list goes on…
So, I will pause to ask the question again “what are we celebrating?”
In my opinion, it will be unfair not to mention that we are celebrating the resilience of our people to endure successive bad and ineffective governments (Leadership) over the last 50 years. We have endured Africa’s most horrific civil war – The so-called Blood Diamond War. And we have overcome the odds.
As stated earlier, our democracy though imperfect is our only source of hope to change the downward trajectory of our beloved Sierra Leone.
As we “celebrate” 50 years of self rule, we must examine and critically look at the two main political parties that have governed our country since independence, Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and All Peoples Congress (APC), and ask what sustainable progress and development have they achieved for the people of Sierra Leone?
Are you satisfied with the level and pace of the development we have made since our declaration of independence? If your answer is in the affirmative then do nothing, but if on the other hand your answer is a resounding NO, it is time for us to do something to take back our country. We have a unique opportunity to change the downward trend of our country through the very principles that civilized nations use to change the status quo – democracy and good governance.
This is a clarion call to our young people especially the post-independent generation. This is our time and moment to never again sit idle and allow our political leaders to use and abuse us. The silly season is right around the corner (2012 election). We must send a clear message that this time, we will not fall for their tricks – you are my friend until I get you elected and then abandon your pledge and promises. Say no to empty words.
This is our opportunity to stop the old fight of the SLPP and the APC. This is the time to end the North/West and South/East political divide. It benefits no one but those that seek to benefit from it – corrupt Politicians.
We the post-independence generation should come together and effect changes by first holding our political leaders accountable regardless of our political affiliations and persuasions, for this will send a clear message that this time, we are for real. If you are a member of the SLPP or the APC, effect change by holding your leadership accountable, if you don’t belong to either of these parties, get involved or join a civil society. As always, change is much more effective within or collectively as a group.
There are those who will tout and celebrate the long awaited Bumbuna Hydro electric plant, the widening of Wilkinson road – (the road to our beautiful Lumley beach – upscale side of town), the re-pavement of the peninsula – an important corridor to the City of Freetown (our capital) to name a few. I applaud these efforts, but let’s face the fact, it took almost 40 years to complete Bumbuna (which is not even fully functional).
Do we have to wait another 40 years for such development? If the answer is no then we must get to work. Be part of the change that you want to see happen.
Call to action.
We must join a civil society or political organizations that are geared towards development and start effecting change from within.
We must commend our political leaders when they exhibit selfless service to our nation and hold them responsible when they fall short of national expectations regardless of our affiliations.
We should seek a permanent interest rather than permanent friendship with our political leaders. Our focus must be national and collectively for the good of society.
We must put Sierra Leone first in our national endeavors and practice the “Think Sierra Leone first concept” rather than political or ethnic biases.
Remember the next 50 years is our time to redeem and deliver our beloved Sierra Leone from five decades of the lack of meaningful developments. This is our time, this is our moment, we must seize this opportunity to change the future of our country and our generation for posterity will judge us.
By Alpha Omar Jabbie, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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