As Sierra Leone’s democracy matures, Diasporans cry for voting rights
Listening to Sierra Leone’s popular radio program ‘Monologue’ on Star Radio on Saturday, I was struck with sorrow about the pathetic story of a girl who lost her sight at the age of six during the heinous rebel war in Sierra Leone. With the odds against this innocent girl whose parents are not even politicians, she is suffering from an indelible scar of mistakes done by ill-motivated armed rebels for the rest of her life. Listening to her story brought out by the presenter of the program, David Tam Baryoh, the feeling of guilt, sorrow and despair running through patriotic Sierra Leoneans throughout the corners of the world. What really struck me was the immediate response of the lady’s story on social media. No sooner the lady ended her interview, FaceBook was agog with sentiments and unending calls for her assistance. Sierra Leoneans, I am proud more than ever to be a Sierra Leonean. The responses reminded me of the 15 year old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by Talibans for speaking in favor of education. We have many of Malalas in Sierra Leone whose stories are unheard by either the international community or international Non-Governmental Organizations. (PHoto: Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray, author)
While still pondering on this ill-fated lady whose life will depend on providence from goodwill, I must hasten to congratulate the ‘Ampa Ampo’ squad (APC) for their victory, not forgetting the ‘Wuteteh’ party for conceding defeat and moving the country forward. That is what democracy calls for. In a true democratic society, it is essential to ensure a government that follows the will of the people and not the one that forces the people to follow it, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The beauty of democracy is that the minority will have their say but the majority will have their way.
Trust me, people who are familiar with the history and current politics of Sierra Leone know that behind the rubric of defensible borders and the façade of negotiation, there is an unyielding position that voting is the best ingredient of democracy. The aspect of voting dates back to elections held in ancient Greece, Rome, and throughout the medieval period. It is a right that, throughout history, our founding fathers have fought for and sacrificed everything to achieve. The aspect of one man, one vote is the fairest method to choose leaders in any democratic society. Voting is the most important exercise a citizen will do as a responsible citizen of a democratic nation. By this, you can decide your own future by opting for a candidate who might speculate your own aspects and possibly those people who share the same opinion with you.
The recent victory in Sierra Leone’s election by the ‘Ampa Ampo’ party can be attributed to not only the president’s developmental programs on the ground, but by supporters of the party on the social media. Facebook was the most common ground where opinions, weaknesses and strengths of different parties were articulated. It was interesting reading the opposition party online publications and the ruling party’s websites and their ardent supporters responding likewise. That is democracy. It is an interesting game for those who play it with open minds devoid of malice.
But this point about voting brings me to this question: What will happen when Sierra Leone joins other nations where their citizens vote in foreign embassies for presidential elections? Did I hear President Koroma saying, ‘We have graduated from fragile democracy to mature democracy?
Mr. President and the National Electoral Commission should hear the resounding applause from the ‘Diasporans’ that, indeed we have graduated and we need to join other nations. Voting is seen as the normal or typical form of political activity and it remains the primary means of political participation. As my former literature Professor, Sheik Toyo would say ‘No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent’. There are thousands of Sierra Leoneans living in the outside world who are proud of lining outside their embassies to cast their votes. It is a national pride and the people of Sierra Leone living outside will be so proud of exercising their franchise. It is the law of the nature that those who vote for a candidate for money, out of anger, ignorance, race, sex will surely get what they voted for. The result is inept and corrupt leaders and politicians.
It is understandable that the exercise is expensive, but nothing is more expensive than electing a responsible president. As Sierra Leoneans, we are proud among other nations and this would be another golden opportunity of telling our noisy neighbors that indeed, we have graduated and the rebranding ship is moving in the right direction.
Long Live Sierra Leone.
Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray
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