Postcards From Freetown: Sierra Leone, I Have Hope!

I was born in Sierra Leone in the late seventies; the All People Congress (APC) was the party in power led by one of our founding fathers and a profound politician of note, Shaika Stevens. I must say he was a man of honour and indeed have some good leadership skills but the best of men also have their own weaknesses and one of his own mistakes was the fact that he gave in to tribalism and nepotism, it was rampant in his tenure which by my calculations led to Major Siadu Momoh taking over power in the eighties.

January 1991, was the defining moment in Sierra Leone, the crass of the war affected practically all Sierra Leoneans to the tipping point that it was felt in the core of our humanity even to the “unborn child” if I may put it that way. The humiliation of Sierra Leoneans by their own fellow citizens disguised as rebels fighting for a cause that they themselves have no idea of. The sad reality is most of these young men were brainwashed and drugged with cocaine, heroin, marijuana to pursue the cause of Foday Sankoh(Rebel Leader) whom till this day I can’t find any logic as to why he waged war on his own country. The thought of seeing kids as old as seven years carrying guns and killing people is disheartening to my sanctity. Women being raped, xenophobic and tribal attacks on fellow citizens and foreigners was a menace,  if it was not for the West Africa peace keeping force, (ECOMOG) Sierra Leone would have been another replica of the Rwandan genocide.

However with the passage of time, the tide of the battle became unpredictable, coup after coup, junta after junta, Sierra Leone suffered coz of the selfish interests of the parties involved. It is a fact that Sierra Leoneans have gone through the bitter experience of war being ruled by those who seized power through the barrel of the gun. The consequences are so unpleasant and disastrous that not one citizen will encourage or be a party to an emergence of another civil war.

As I walk through the city centre of Freetown daily the remnant of war is seen everywhere, people with no arms or limbs, blind or have one injuries or the other are everywhere, begging for their daily bread. Freetown is now congested; people from the rural areas have all trouped down to the city centre making it the main commercial hub and evidently it is a rat race here, survival of the fittest and you snooze you lose kind of an atmosphere.

The statement that “the worst civilian government is better than any military rule’ is more of a truism and practical reality than ever before.  I don’t see Sierra Leoneans living under a government where the sacred document, the constitution is suspended, basic human right is nonexistence and trampled upon by constant fear of detention and imprisonment and even being executed by death sentence a reality. I am sure twelve years of civil war is enough lessons for us to have learned that democracy is needed in this country and all Sierra Leoneans must rally around “Mama Salone” to build her, put her interest first before ours and for the generations to come.

The art of patriotism need to be embedded in Sierra Leoneans, the youths have to come on board and participate in this process of nation building, restitution, reformation, responsibility, accountability and discuss issues and find lasting solutions to the present challenges this nation is facing. Sierra Leoneans have endure harassment, humiliation, undue molestation of all sort and it is time for us as Sierra Leoneans to be the defender of our present fragile democracy and constitution and be the top security men for any “bush shaking”. Regardless of which ever government is in power, the lessons of the past should be a reminder that we must protect this fragile democracy and constitution , basic human rights, our dignity and most especially of those of our women and children.

The darkest days of 1991to 1999 are over, a new dawn and era is here for Sierra Leone and its time we rally hands together to forge ahead and build a one united country that represent all regardless of creed, caste, class or colour. The challenges and task at hand is huge as I have seen these few months I have been in Freetown, joblessness is achingly disturbing, idle youths everywhere, the educational system is poor, overcrowded schools and almost not functioning to it full capacity. The university students are on strike in protest of a too costly tuition fees and couple with the fact that the pass rate is appalling and even when they graduate, job opportunities are scarce.

The Sierra Leonean government is practically functioning on handout from the United Nation, European Union, and African Union and donor countries. My hope is for things to proactively change soon for the betterment of all Sierra Leoneans. I love this nation, I owe my allegiance to Sierra Leone coz I was born here, I had a good life growing up in Freetown back in the days and at this point “mama Salone” is in her lowest ebb ever and all I can do is to make myself available to contribute and help raise her back to this once glorious nation she was. I have hope, I have a dream that Sierra Leone will rise again despite all the pain she has gone through.

“I am the watchman, I am at the city gate, raising my voice and calling on all Salone pikini dem – Arise! There’s work to be done for the land that we love – Sierra Leone!”

@DanteBello

 

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One Response to “Postcards From Freetown: Sierra Leone, I Have Hope!”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks D for continuing to share yourself and country with us. Your writing makes me yearn to see Mama Salone for myself, bruised and hurtiing as she sounds Peace! Lusanda

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