UBKs Independence Day Message
As we celebrate our 50th Independence anniversary today, April 27th 2011, permit me to congratulate and extend my best wishes to the people of Sierra Leone and pray for peace, progress and prosperity for our beloved nation. (Photo: Usman Boie Kamara)
On the 27th of April 1961, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time to make way for the green, white and blue, heralding the rebirth of our nation and the start of a new era in our history. On that day, the heroes of our independence and all other Sierra Leoneans were full of high hopes and beautiful dreams of a bright and prosperous future. I still have fond memories of the festivities and euphoria surrounding the great occasion at the time. The future was replete with promise of a new era of social, economic and political development through self-determination.
Today, we must pay tribute to all those who worked so hard to make that day possible – men and women who envisioned a “realm of the free” and land for which we will raise up our hearts and our voices on high, that the hills and the valleys will re-echo our cry. May God bless their souls.
I have the great honour to invoke the memory of the architect of our independence, Sir Milton Margai to whom we should forever be grateful. In his Independence Day message the then Prime Minister proudly declared that, “Sierra Leone today becomes a unified and independent nation to take her place as an equal partner in the Commonwealth of nations and as equal entity in the world at large.”
This anniversary should be a time for reflection on the fate and future of Sierra Leone. This is a time for stock-taking – a time to consider our past so that it will inform our future and to look forward to the great potentials and challenges that lie ahead for Sierra Leone.
The last fifty years have not gone in accordance with the plans of our independence heroes. They did not envision a country that would be afflicted by several years of military dictatorship, political misrule, oppression, violence and bad governance. They did not envision systemic and institutional corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation with impunity; poor agricultural production and significant decline in the quality of education. They did not envision underdevelopment and poverty culminating in ten years of civil war in which tens of thousands died, hundreds of thousands displaced and which was characterised by horrific human rights abuses such as rape, abduction, forced labour and the rebel trademark of hacking arms and limbs of their own people. These factors and many more have led some analysts to describe us derogatively, during those turbulent times and in the years following as “a failed state”, ‘ A state that came back from the dead” and “ least developed country or Fourth World.”
Despite all the challenges of the past and the present, because we are a resilient forward looking people, the flames of the hopes and aspirations envisioned by the heroes of our independence still burn bright. As we mark half a century of national self-determination, I urge us all not only to focus on the missteps of the past but to devote more time and energy on planning for the next fifty years and beyond. As Milton Margai pointed out “I would like to make it clear that independence will not result in any sudden changes in our day-to-day life. Whether you are a farmer, a clerk, a trader, an artisan, a daily wage worker, a fisherman, a lawyer or a judge, life will go on just the same, with the same rights and privileges safeguarded, the same type of laws, the same justice in our courts, the same taxes and other responsibilities, the same articles for sale in the stores. Mining companies, missions, trade unions, hospitals, schools, and government departments will go on as before. The significant change is that we are now in complete control of our destiny and for the formulation of our external as well as our internal policies.”
No one can build Sierra Leone but ourselves. We are in charge of our own destiny and we have the means and the capacity to succeed. It has been pointed out on several occasions that development is not a calm river. It is a difficult process that challenges our attitudes and habits, skills, experience, resilience, personal integrity, and patriotism.
On my part, if elected I promise a visionary leadership. We, you and I, and every patriotic Sierra Leonean should make a resolution today and commit ourselves to improving the quality of education in this country as it is the key to the development of any nation. We should all work to revamp the educational sector by providing more incentives to both students and teachers and focus on creating classrooms that can accommodate the number of students recommended. We should all work to ensure that schools in the country are no longer overcrowded and focus on equipping schools and universities across the country with computers, well-equipped libraries and other such facilities that will stimulate and improve learning in a modernizing country. Together we should put in place measures that will address such issues as stimulate foreign investment, increase foreign exchange earnings and increase manufacturing and the production of goods and services. These measures should be addressed through the proper utilization of our natural resources: marine, agriculture and mineral plus tourism. We should continue to developing the health sector. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Together we should fight corruption and demand transparency so that we can all take pride in our government and all holders of offices public and private. We should all work towards building an independent and competent judiciary. We should give priority to wealth creation and employment generation particularly for our youths. It is incumbent on all of us to work very hard to bring about development in all its forms and lay a solid foundation for the generations yet to come. Our people are our greatest asset. Let us all work hard to ensure that we build a country that we can all be proud of. We will work hard to promote “unity, freedom and justice.”
Congratulations to us all on this anniversary.
I pray that no harm on thy children may fall and that blessing and peace may descend on us all, so that we may continue to serve the Land that we love – our Sierra Leone.
God bless Sierra Leone.
Usman Boie Kamara
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