Is compassion the roadmap to nation building in Sierra Leone?
Compassion has always been associated with the doctrines of religious principles, but we forget that it is primarily a driving force in serving mankind. To those who see public service as a way of doing the most good for the common citizen, it will be a gruesome experience to see that our nation is in dire need of a compassionate culture when it comes to the concept and practice of nation building. While nationalism inspires us to love our country, compassion encourages us to love our fellow man and woman as much as we will like to be loved. And national politics is the vehicle of achieving such towering attributes and goals. (Photo: Mohamed C Bah, NDA Presidential aspirant)
I would not have seen the diagnostic lines of our social and political inadequacies, if I did not take the road that is less traveled – aspiring for the highest office of the land – and one that is increasingly a daunting challenge, but yet a sobering and humbling experience. Too often, we take pride in our individual hospitality, but seldom do we look at how we collectively serve our nation as public servants or as distinct citizens of Sierra Leone. It is indisputable; on the other hand, that we have some of the finest public servants in the world, whose names and faces may never make the news headlines – those whom we called the unsung heroes and who occupy low level positions in government.
However, what I find depressingly lacking in Sierra Leone today is not the human capital of able political experts to address our national needs, or our God-gifted natural wealth to providing a better future for our citizens, it is tragically the diabolical hearts of those in the domain of public capacity who are callously greedy and seriously devoid of compassion for our people.
How can we encourage growth and innovation in a land that is so blessed with natural riches? To me, it begins with compassion for every soul walking on our streets and for every unborn child who deserves to live in a world of abundance and plenty. In fact, only the lofty spirit of nationalism and the enduring character of compassion can lead us to a more stable, secure and promising Sierra Leone. If we are serious about rebuilding the broken dreams of our struggling youths, compassion must be the new political thinking and behavior in Sierra Leone.
For too long, we continue to see ourselves as political enemies living side by side and firmly believing that our linguistic and culture differences define our relationships, our access to power, and even what the future holds for us. Each of us must find unique ways of fighting against the old political doctrine that: we can be stronger together only by our political affiliation base on ethnic, regional and ideological considerations not our common national interests that promotes our social welfare and economic opportunities.
And very few Sierra Leoneans can boast of walking on the sensitive path of a tribal-blind society without some fingerprint of falsehood. We may all be guilty one way or the other of being a conduit to these self-destructive forces. We are tempted to be victims of our ethnic and cultural stigma either by design of our colonial influences or by our own making. But the persistent question that has been hunting many Sierra Leoneans of good will is how can our compassionate attitude help our nation grow and our citizens thrive?
To those children running around the streets selling gallons of water instead of being in their classrooms, how can we secure a better education for them? How can we live in a nation that is a “water abundant country” with 30,960 cubic meter of capital per year of renewable water resources and yet we run low on water supply system? The shortage of a compassionate culture has rendered these political bandits unable to build a reliable infrastructural system with good management structures that will keep GUMA Valley fully operational on a national scale.
Indeed, what kind of future do we seek to build for those children who go to school today? How about the thousands of graduate students from colleges and universities, what kind of jobs do we plan to create for them so that they can provide income for their families and help build their communities? I believe that we must reform our educational system to make it more job-oriented, skill-based, and technologically equipped to meet the growing demands of multi-national investments.
To the parents who cannot afford a decent health care, how can they secure the medical drugs and quality care for their families? To the mothers, who struggle to deliver their babies, what clinical and prenatal access can we create to make them see child birth a very comforting and holistic experience?
Furthermore, the low income or no-income family is forced to pay more that Le160,000 for school fees when our nation can well afford to provide a free education from the age of 6 to 14 years just like the mineral-rich countries of Botswana and Malawi. It is so heart wrenching to see five year old children sent home from school because their parents cannot afford to pay their school fees.
Every compassionate heart will bleed profusely when such unacceptable social injustices are being committed against innocent citizens. Yet we wonder why young people do not have faith in the ability of government to influence their lives and change their deplorable circumstances. And those steering the ship of our nation, must have a compassionate will-power, to do something about the sad state of our helpless and voiceless citizens.
I remembered what a policewoman told me that: promotion in her unit depends on her last name and the element of “connectocracy” to the higher-ups is the fastest ways to solidifying a position within the institution. That serving her country has been about buying her own uniform from out-of-pocket, if she wants to work as a traffic officer. That being selected on the Darfur mission, on the UN peace-keeping plan to Somalia, is every police officer’s dream because of the better pay condition and the opportunity to be able to provide for their families.
Realistically, an enduring compassionate attitude would go a long way to building a Sierra Leone that is peaceful and more promising. We are in serious deficit of such a value system of operating on the principles of communal love with the understanding that a heart of compassion can heal our nation… And no political leader today has yet to move us toward a more purpose-driven and a unified nation with a common future. We need the President John Kennedy’s thinking of: ‘ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’ philosophy if we are to cure the anemic psychic of our nation.
These so-called corrupt politicians would not be chasing donor money or misappropriating public funds for the purpose of wealth creation if they had a compassionate instinct driven by love for the people of Sierra Leone. I strongly believe that more openness, greater tolerance and confidence building measures can be attained with the high spiritual sense of compassion and the permanent attitude of loving our country as we all love ourselves.
What Sierra Leone terribly lacks today is not the resources and capacity to rebuild our nation, or the shortage of educated technocrats to manage our government and resources, what we need is a “heart full of love and a soul generated by love,” as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently put it long ago.
With a sea of compassion running across the hearts and minds of millions of Sierra Leoneans, we can build an army of “patriotic citizens” who will be more determined to lift our people from the bottomless ditch of poverty to the beautiful shores of human prosperity. We can begin to unravel the secrets to our success as a nation and realize that our survival is mutually intertwined, not individually separated.
by NDA Presidential aspirant: Mohamed C. Bah
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