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Welcoming year 2012

Welcoming year 2012

As year 2011 comes to an end, it will be remembered by many as the year that left behind a trail of devastating natural disasters, uprooting political scenarios across North Africa in particular and a shattering economic downturn in the Global market. Although political and socio-economic pundits see the woes of 2011 drifting deep into 2012, the general feeling of anticipation is that, Year 2012 will offer a ray of hope and eventually usher in positively meaningful changes on a global scale.  (Photo: Unisa Kanu)

Although the world is truly and essentially being portrayed nowadays as a global village – thanks to the explosive advancement of electronics and communications – I will basically confine this piece to my native Sierra Leone. For a patriot with deep-rooted love for his county, it’s always refreshing writing about home, far away from home!

There was a time in our very recent history when Sierra Leone was hitting international news headlines for all the wrong reasons, ranging from barbaric amputation of limbs to child soldiers wreaking untold havoc in a country besieged by a senseless rebel war. Effectively, from a West African regional perspective, that was the equivalent of our Arab Spring that came and passed away – hopefully the last chapter of which was brought to a close by the recent settling of the political turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire. I therefore consider it imperative on every peace-loving Sierra Leonean living at home or abroad, to do or write something …. anything good enough to keep the peace … particularly when the main event, that is known to threaten tranquility in the entire continent, is just around the corner. By the end of the day, leadership is a matter of collective responsibility and Sierra Leone is all we have!

For me, it’s always a priority to generalize when writing on such important topics of national interest. But having witnessed an innocent nation experience a damning share of political trauma in the 1990s, one simply has to compromise that principle and directly address specific actors of the society who have a crucial role to play in minimizing the imminent tension that awaits the big event of the New Year.

The year 2012 is an election year in Sierra Leone. We all know what it means in the African context to hold presidential and parliamentary elections, and the far-reaching consequences the campaign trail would bear on the civil society! We can all foresee the pregnant clouds of trouble gathering in the distant skies as the campaign for political positions heats up. But we should always remember one thing! When the elections are over, we will still remain Sierra Leoneans with the same national identity! If only the active political stakeholders bear in mind this simple allegiance to our common national identity, the killer-instinct dogma of ‘the end justifying the means at all cost’ will wane! Perhaps, our age-old political aspirants would envisage and put into proper perspective images of post-elections civil reconciliations and refrain from causing unwarranted destruction of life and property.

According to political analysts, Year 2012 will confirm the cautious note of assertion that Africa could emerge as the new political partner with strong enough democratic tenets and independent convictions that could go all the way to complement western democracies. Regional efforts by bodies like ECOWAS to solve internal conflicts have been proven to be relatively successful in earning us the respect we deserve. Such news could help reverse the lack of perceptive progress on the local level which has resulted in pervasive corruption and thriving of patronage systems which compromise the efforts of the government. In other words, those targeting the west to save their national loot will have a change of heart when they see clamoring western investors running away from defaulting European banks and heading for the African continent.

As elections approach in Sierra Leone, it is important for us to bring up these positive forecasts to let the politicians keep in mind that they have a responsibility preserve the prevailing optimism about the continent. Neither the opposition nor the ruling party politicians should continue to fabricate sinister images of their countries with the sole motive of scoring political points. We can understand that the allure of a new Jeep and the glamour of eminence in society can sometimes prove to be too irresistible, yet, we as a nation can no longer afford to be on each other’s throats but must now link arms as patriotic nationalists, secure and strong in the ideal of a new political dawn, good enough to win western admiration.

Journalists too have a pivotal role to play, perhaps theirs being a lot more comprehensive and deeply implicating. The media dons need to maintain the fine exaltation of national spirits by campaigning with a pledge of decency and moral righteousness as the country strives towards a better and brighter future.

As I write, ‘Talk Shows’ and lots of FM Radio reporters are agitatedly seeking the service of political commentators to ignite the campaign. Newspaper editors are gearing for the big occasion amassing drum-loads of ink for printing! The agenda will include the digging up of damaging information against opponents, cultivating ‘trigger-happy’ columnists to ‘shoot on sight’ with the most aggressive vocabulary on the offing. By and large though, this is understandably part of electoral campaign politics provided if only based on clean and reasonable standards. What we do wish to warn against is hate broadcasts and habit of blowing minor incidents out of proportion with the motive to incite revenge and retribution.

While on holiday in Sierra Leone last August, I realized that almost every household could now afford a radio and a TV set. This is a far better standard of living compared to our days when we used to squeeze to watch, with pending humiliation, from the window of any household that could afford the luxury. The situation therefore puts the spotlight on the media to assume a more responsible role in disseminating information that has the tendency of sparking unnecessary mayhem and political instability. We saw how the radio played a regrettable role in tribal ethnic cleansing in some parts of Africa. We pray that our country never reaches such a degenerating level of violence.

Without any intention to advocate for the suppression of the people’s right to know, I really think that journalism is a fine art that also takes into consideration the essential aspects of living in a stable and peaceful environment. We keep seeing how the fathers of democracy cleverly adjust their diplomatic language and policies to suit their national cause of the day! Then, from somewhere deep in the jungle of the African continent, you see an enthusiastic ‘son’ of democracy, enthusiastic and fully charged with ‘purely western’ values, try to market his ideals wholesale.

Actually, I don’t entirely agree with the writer, but I might as well conclude this little piece with a quotation from a South African writer whose description of journalist is not exactly what I would call palatable. Yet, it’s worth reading all the same, particularly when they are aptly mirrored with politicians!

Quote: “Politicians are prepared to make decisions and live with the consequences. Journalists wreak their destruction, then, like a child with a broken toy, they throw it aside and go on, without a moment’s remorse, to some new cause that will sell more advertising time” Unquote!

Politicians beware!!!

A happy and prosperous New Year I wish you Mama Salone!

Unisa Kanu, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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