Postcard From Freetown: “The Dog eat Dog Factors.”

As the sun set upon Freetown last night, a peaceful and cold wind blew as I walked home from my daily tour around the city trying to reconnect and remind myself of memories almost forgotten. I cannot but observe the surroundings. I sensed an anxiety vibe mixed with disappointment amongst Sierra Leoneans in general. Poverty is written and printed in all facets of life in Sierra Leone. The people are bitter, angry, depressed about the rat race out there but behind those faces, I see hope alive and in sight.

Freetown is a congested and overpopulated city, from east end to west end the congestion cannot be overlooked. It is a case scenario of pedestrians, vehicles, Okada (motorbike), Omolankay (Cart), petty traders and humans competing for space. I recall asking my brother why has things turned out this way and I got one of the absurd answer ever, he said; “if the APC government remove these petty traders from the streets, they will not vote for them in the next coming election” because that is like disturbing their livelihood and source of finding a living. My issue is why display your market right on the middle of the motorways and designated foot paths for pedestrians?

I am distressed by the activities of jobless youths on the streets of Freetown as their only source of survival is to scavenge through pick-pocketing, snatching hand bags, watches, chains, mobile phones and many have adopted the Johannesburg classic of breaking car windows, lifting bags from passing vehicle in traffic. The ‘youths’ seem to be tons of steps ahead of the police when it come to carrying these fraudulent activities in the city center of Freetown. My heart sunk because the Freetown I grew up in was different from the one I am seeing currently.

Another disturbing observation that comes to mind is that accommodation is a luxury for the haves not in Freetown. Landlords and Landladies have become so heartless, unreasonable that the annual rent requested is far above the total annual salaries of the majority. To my shock and amusement, most Landlords and Landladies demand more than a year’s rent, and in some case two years and above. House rent is not paid monthly but yearly or quarterly. What finally got me gutted is the meanness I found in Landlords and Landladies demanding rent must be paid in United State Dollars (US$) and the last time I checked, the local currency is still the Leone. The currency is so devalued that our people are refusing to use it in transacting major business deals. To the best of my knowledge the rent assessment law is virile and people take things in their own hands without considering the masses; “dog eat dog reality and only the strong survive.”

Re-branding this nation and uplifting the standard of living of the greater masses should be a priority of government. Poverty hits hard, it destabilises the sanity of the masses. The government need to be able to implement equitable distribution of wealth, justice and basic amenities to the people. The costs of essential commodities are becoming prohibitive. Providing a single meal a day has become a serious issue for family heads. ‘Three meals a day is a nightmare for the average Sierra Leone; it does not happen by my watch.’

A well fed Sierra Leonean is the most docile and easy person to rule. As we all know, a hungry man is an angry man. Corruption and petty crimes are high because the people have switched on the mode of survival at all costs and by any means possible. As I have written before on these postcard series, I don’t have solutions to most of the issues raised but I feel the government needs to seriously reconsider the duty tariffs on essential food stuff imported into the country and place an effective price control mechanism to regulate prices. The rise of the unemployed is alarming and besides the unskilled portion of the population currently, you have graduates roaming the streets for years without securing even a lowly paid job. The drive for foreign investment should be tackled hands on as this will aid the creation of more jobs for the people. There is no short term solution to these problems but urgency is needed before that which we are trying to avoid befalls us.

Finally the sunset kisses the cloud with its heavenly colours and the wind subsides. I have faith in Mama Salone, I hope against hope that she will turn things around for the better. I believe in Sierra Leoneans but for now I need to stop for a minute and pray for this beautiful country, the divine need to be told some of these problems with the hope that miracles can still happen for the better. God bless Sierra Leone as we work towards her rebirth and rise from the remnant of war.

@DanteBello on Twitter.



2 Responses to “Postcard From Freetown: “The Dog eat Dog Factors.””

  1. Africa and it’s child will rise, it’s just a matter of time, proper planning and willingness. Aluta Continua

  2. The article portrays the aftershoks from a disaster Sierra Leone was. Even the most developed nations went through similar situations. I hope the people learn something from what they are going through. Hope is alive. The rat race will end once the people discover that even if one wins a rat race, he is still a rat… Once again, a brilliant piece from a patriot who loves his motherland… Brilliant Dante!

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