Sierra Leone’s beautiful story
Liu Guangyuan is China’s Ambassador to Kenya. In an article (excerpt from a speech he delivered at a launch reception for China Daily Africa Weekly in Nairobi) published in China Daily Africa Weekly (March 8-14), he made a compelling case as to why the world should now be seeing the good side of Africa in terms of the continent’s development strides. This is especially within the framework of the continent’s greatest and one with “infinite charm, great hope and a bright future.” He stated, that in recent years Africa has enjoyed a growing economy with an improved infrastructure and better telecommunications and that “the voices of its citizens have become increasingly united and stronger…”
Often, Africa has been synonymous to words like hunger, war and poverty. But given the progress in the continent, Liu Guangyuan called for objective and balanced coverage which means the media and the world “should look at things in an all-round way. Media should know clearly that it is time to portray Africa for what it is by covering this great continent and its people with objective perspective” I cannot agree more with Liu Guangyuan’s submission given the way the continent and her people are often portrayed. If it is not a place of war, it will be a place of diseases, famine, and corruption, amongst others. This has had a telling adverse effect on the image of Africans. Indeed, these challenges do exist but the fact remains, there also has been great process especially in the last two to three decades.
The continent’s continued growth in the last decades speaks volume of the commitment of her people to move along with international trends especially given the awareness amongst her people and their quest for progress. At the socio-economic and political levels, much has been achieved. With democratic transitions now taking place across the continent, so also has there been some encouraging boom in her economy.
Let me use my country, Sierra Leone as a practical example. The country had a challenging period in the form of a civil war that lasted for over a decade. Sure! And this led to descriptions like ‘war torn’ ‘a nation with a brutal civil war’, etc being used whenever the country is being discussed. Sure, we also have challenges like dealing with graft, in tackling poverty and a host of other challenges. But the good news is, the war came to an end over a decade ago, with outstanding progress now being scored in addressing challenges of a nation rushing to reach the apex of development. So, in the first place, the sooner we decides to put behind the ‘war torn’ description of that beautiful nation, the better it becomes in telling the world that the country is now in another phase of her history.
A description like ‘war torn’ should now be replaced with words like ‘growing nation’, ‘a business friendly country’, an investment potential’ nation, amongst others. As a people we have come a long way in a lot of areas. By 2002, due to the collective will of the people, coupled with the political leadership provided by then President Kabba (h) we came to the full realization that civil war was not the best of options if we want to see socio-economic and political development, thus, an end to our civil war. Since then, also as a result of the collective efforts by Sierra Leoneans we started experiencing some encouraging development in the country as was seen in the institutional reforms as in the National Revenue Authority (NRA), National Commission for Social Action, (NaCSA) Independent Media Commission (IMC), the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and a host of others.
But again, look at progress we continue to make especially in the last half a decade of state governance under President Koroma. Not only have we seen an encouraging turnover in terms of impact assessment of these institutional reforms, but the country today has a story as one that has provided the enabling business environment for investors both local and foreign. Today, the NRA does not only collect trillions of Leones for government, but such monies are now used for local development projects. Today, the ACC continues to make some sort of impact to the point that the fight against corruption has taken a different dimension with more prosecutorial powers granted to the commission by President Koroma. At the international level, we continue to play a role in peace keeping as seen in terms of our presence in a number of African countries. Today, there has been great success in the sustenance of our democracy and good governance, with those institution key to the promotion of democracy fully operational. We have not only continued to conduct peaceful free fair and transparent elections, but we also today have a level playing field where multiparty democracy has gained prominence, with an independent free and pluralistic press .
Women and youths are key to the growth of a nation. This is something that has today featured prominently in the affairs of the state. Women today continue to play a leading role in our governance process with many of them occupying positions of trust in the country. From the first female Chief Justice, to the first female Minister of Local Government and first female Commissioner-General for the revenue collection agency, these are all the stores thee world should be told. We continue to doing our best in promoting human right issues in the country, with the Human Right Commission making impact across the country and even at the international level. We know we have not reached the point we want to, but it is high time we continued telling these stories to the world. Sierra Leone has a story and the story, should be told for all to know. We are no more a ‘war torn’ national, but a rapidly growing one.
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