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We must unite our nation

We must unite our nation

Today, from the beautiful mountains of Kabala to the Eastern diamond fields of Kono district, the people of Sierra Leone have never faltered in their faith of unity and the belief that Sierra Leone is a shared gift of land that belongs to every Sierra Leonean. From the center of  Northern Port Loko district to the mainland of the Southern city of Bo, the ordinary people, who wake up to the blessings of the day never stop to think that we are the same citizens who happen to live in different parts of the country. From the coastal areas of York and Goderich, our people are openly friendly and compassionate to one another. We have exhibited the powerful traits of a unique people, whose resiliency to adversity is strong and enduring.  (Photo:  M C Bah)

Even from the historic refuge city of Freetown, the inhabitants have always shown the sense of belonging and the common heritage we all share together. There has always been unity in our communities, villages, towns and cities insofar as the people of Sierra Leone are concerned. There has never been an absence of unity among the citizens of Sierra Leone. Unity in the name of religion has enabled the Muslims and Christians to worship side by side without fear or provocation for hundreds of years.

Nonetheless, it has been the culture of the political dialect of the “before independent politicians” who have robbed our nation of its sainthood to play the politics of the North versus the South and the East versus the West. Many of them have tricked our innocent citizens by appealing to their emotion of fear and gullibility, that we are different people who happen to be living in the same country. They have labeled us into distinct political colors by our tribal affiliations and have used our regions as a safe haven to destroy our common unity. We have been told that we are different because we speak different dialects and come from different regions. This unfortunate trend has been taking place for the last four and half decades. It is time to break down the barriers of ignorance and the failed mentality that has divided us for too long.

Imagine how dangerous it is for a political party to seek its stronghold not based on ideologies or policy strategies, but on tribal and regional affiliations. Tragically, if any political leadership failed to secure a multi-ethnic mandate or votes, then the majority of the other populated groups will be marginalized. The idea of a strong national cohesion will be weakened and the culture of tribalism will triumph over ethnic diversity. This is where we got it wrong and it is time to secure the future by changing the rules of the “old politics” of place and tribe to one of inclusion, diversity and national collectivism. We must practice the patriotic principles of asking not what you can do for your affiliated tribes or groups, but ask what you can do for Sierra Leone.

The Bullom and Sherbro, Krim and Via including the Kissis, Yalunka and Susus have been sidelined, marginalized and excluded for too long in our political history. They are part of our society and we must allow them to sit on the table of our national deliberations. It is time to re-examine our national politics and consciously know that we cannot achieve collective success if we play the politics of favoritism by appointing our tribesmen, friends, and families to positions of national trust.

I am a Sierra Leonean whose uncompromising allegiances to my country far transcend every affiliation and belonging. My country gave me the riches and demands of doing the best to make her the proudest nation among nations. Just a walking distance to my primary school in Koidu Town, (Kono District), I remember the teacher, a few blocks from my home, who told me and my school mates that we represented the last hope of Sierra Leone. When I stood in the school assembly in Ansarul Boys to tell my fellow students that we must do for our country what others have done for us, it was my love for our country that motivated me to do so. That passion still remains vivid and alive today. Sierra Leone groomed me and instilled in me the culture of compassion, resiliency and hope.

The most important regiment of a life’s journey is the truth and sincerity of your mission and the good will of your action. My political premonition tells me that our people want clean politics that bring food on their table, that help their children acquire a decent education, and a good health care network that takes care of the elderly, women, and children, when they are sick. Also, young people want to work and be able to take care of their families.

That can only be achieved in the spirit of national unity. Not by playing one region against the other or by using tribal postures to dominate and manipulate others – it is finding the undivided love in our hearts to say that we are all Sierra Leoneans and we are one people. Not by asking what part of Sierra Leone you were born and what ethnic language you speak, but what ideas do you have and what can you do for Sierra Leone. Not by looking at what makes us different, but what makes us the same people who share a common destiny. And not thinking that Presidential and Parliamentary elections are about defeating your enemies, but about the need to change the unfortunate plights of our own citizens and helping to build a better future for them.

Incidentally, I am privileged to travel on a national journey in seeking the nomination of my political party – the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). I am determined to take up the challenge to unite the people of Sierra Leone because I know what my country can be in the future. Because, I know what Sierra Leone can do with the prospect of a new generational leadership. And knowing our history of resiliency and courage with an unyielding faith in God, we will soon be a nation free from the old ideology that holds one group superior than the other and a nation free from warrantless fear because we are ready to discover our curiosities.

I believe that Sierra Leone has the best chance to transform itself with a new political thinking and a new generation of Sierra Leoneans – born after independence – who can unite neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities. This is why I am boarding the majestic “train of unity” and plan to criss-cross every track and corner of our nation to tell the people of Sierra Leone that we must hold our hands together and walk into the future with the audacity of hope, that our affection for Sierra Leone dwells in all of us, that we are one and the same people and must never be divided.

We must unite our nation because we can make no political gains without the support of our people. If we see each other as distinct groups of tribes, we will leave millions of our citizens behind the walls of poverty and only few will climb up the ladder of prosperity. If we lack the national focus to represent all Sierra Leoneans, we will selectively develop some parts of Sierra Leone and deny most regions the opportunity they deserve like Tongo field, Koidu Town, Pujehun, Moyamba and Bonthe Island. If we develop the concept that only a certain class of people or tribes will be the royalty to the political throne, we will force some of our citizens to resort to illegitimate means of asserting their recognition and ownership status.

Indeed, we have an incredible choice to make Sierra Leone a unified nation as our forefathers envisioned it to be. Even though we belong to different political parties, we must be loyal to our country and never compromise the unity of our people for whatever political purpose. And all of us will come and go, from presidents to farmers, carpenters to nurses, doctors to petty traders, lawyers to policemen; centuries from now, our nation will perpetually be standing on the same spot along the west coast of Africa long after we are gone.

May God continue to guide our nation. May we be the realm of the free and the land that we all love.  Long live the people and the Republic of Sierra Leone.

By NDA Presidential Aspirant Mohamed C. Bah

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