Postcard From Freetown: ‘So, Where are the Loyalist’?

Sierra Leone’s independence came under a platter of gold. Consultations were made amongst the leaders of that particular time and the journey was far from being a serious struggle. No arms were involved and no confrontation with our colonial masters. Unlike other African countries our transition was violent free and smooth in lieu as to what happened in South Africa, other African countries and most recently the Sudan, where after twenty plus decade of civil war, independence was finally realized some fortnight ago. The price paid was plus two million people losing their lives for liberty. I am certain; history has absolved those who championed that course.

According to history books and words from elders, the period after independence in Sierra Leone was relatively peaceful, calm and promising.  This reminds me of the mass jubilation and hope I saw in the eyes of the Southern Sudanese people on Saturday as the declaration of independence was read out on Saturday marking the birth of Africa’s 54th state. The atmosphere was tensed and promising and I hope that such passion and zest will be used in building a united and prosperous South Sudan.

Less than a decade ago, excuse me as I pitch my tent from say 1967, events start unfolding in Sierra Leone in an unfavourable way. Errors in the whole system started accumulating until by 1991 when the bubble burst to the surprise of all Sierra Leoneans. The start and end of the civil war from 1991 to 2003 destabilized the core of Sierra Leone and I will call it the darkest period in her life. So, I have been trying to put thoughts together as to what led to the breakdown of the system that resulted to a brutal rebel war and a very unpopular and reckless number of coups, counter coup, aborted coup and failed coup plots.

The problems where many ranging from marginalization and deprivation of the poor who form the very bulk of our society; nepotism and cronyism was rampant in government; unemployment skyrocketed, especially amongst youths back then and it is high till today; the disparity gap between the haves and the have not; Africa’s biggest dilemma, corruption which accentuated with massive exploitation of the country resources by few sect in society using tribalism as the lynchpin to carry out such acts; cultural and regional polarity in terms of development; equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth to all was farfetched. The people were so pressed to the wall that the only option left was to sum up courage and face their oppressors which was their own fellow countrymen. 

The war started and ended, lives were lost and democracy was restored but the remnant of war is littered on the streets of Freetown and in the minds of Sierra Leoneans both young and old. Sierra Leoneans have “saddled their horses”, getting their hands dirty in an effort to pursue nation building in restoring her back to her former days of glory. The government is calling for attitudinal change amongst the people but the fact is Sierra Leoneans have attitude problems”. Whether it is at home, school, offices or in Government, attitude problems do exist at different levels. This is also a menace that needs to be changed as the government is re-echoing this daily to its people through various media platform. The truth is, unless Sierra Leone changes their attitude, this nation will fall short of any form of progress.

As I reflect on all these issues, let me reiterate that talk is cheap and we can write and blab for ages and that will not yield results if we do not act upon the prescribed solutions. Yes a society such as ours has gone through hell and high waters but until and unless we are totally committed to Sierra Leone we will hardly make any difference that we so desire. The fact is this does not only pertain to Sierra Leone only but also Sub Saharan Africa in general. We need to change our attitude towards government and public properties. Do away with this backward attitude that, what belongs to the state should and can be misused forgetting that we are actually the state and we are burning our own hands by having such mentality.

Our attitudes towards each other should change and we should be our brother’s keeper and allow the Ubuntu spirit to catalyse us onto the path of nation building. We should love one another because love is one thing that seems to have eluded this nation. Sierra Leoneans and Sierra Leone belongs to all of us. I pray that Sierra Leoneans will start putting the country first instead of their own interest, disperse greed and have a sense of duty towards this nation.

As I put my pen to rest, I light the fire of loyalty in the hearts of my fellow countrymen towards Salone, for liberty is fidelity engineered by constancy. I hope we will demonstrate a loyal behaviour, and express our feelings for Mama Salone wholeheartedly. For loyalty is faithfulness. For a loyalist is a person who supports his King, the existing government and I so desire that this good attribute will be a banner over our heads as Sierra Leoneans, in rebuilding this great nation all over again. So, where are the loyalist?

@DanteBello on Twitter

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