Archive for Sierra Leone

Sierra Leoneans and their attitude problems – It has to change!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by Dante Bello

It is now ten months to be precise since I have been in Freetown. It is suffice to say it has worth the while being at home around family and friends – reconnecting lost moments and sealing family bonds and friendships that were at a point of decay.

Ironically the timing of life always has a way of fixing things – I am happy to say – the universe has been good to me.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing the freshness of the raining season in Freetown, the awe-inspiring moments of waking up in the morning to the fresh wind blowing from the Atlantic Ocean combing my hair to rise freely – what a subtle feeling…

What more can I ask for, having the pleasure of  standing right on top of Hill Station overlooking the city – the beauty of the Western Area Peninsula, the trees – the lush green ambience all around, the wind blowing softly as nature romanticizes itself with it creations.

I have also had the pleasure of eating good food that I have so desired after many years of being away from home – Cassava leaves, Potatoes leaves, Groundnut soup, Tola soup, Sawa Sawa/Bitter leaf and fufu and the list goes on…

What more can I ask for than to be grateful for the fact that I do have life and in the midst of all odds, being at home in Freetown has been worth it.

Penning down these memories comes with great delight from a good place in my heart. When I look back since February 9th 2011, when my life took a whole 360 degrees turnaround – and to where I am now – I am confident in saying – I have no regrets because I have settled my scores with karma – I have paid my dues – made restitution and most important of all – I have embraced the moment without at any stage complaining about my down lows.

It’ll be a gross denial to say my weaknesses have not had the better of me – I have battled some days to get by – there are days when it feels like life is strangling me to death and there are those days when I am able to rise up through faith because of my hope in what the future holds for me. I have learned to maximize the moments as much as I can.

Each day in Freetown has been a learning experience for me – sometimes it is so hard to adjust to some of the things I see down here – Sierra Leoneans attitude to everything is just kinda like weird to me – “people are like in a way slow…” The capitalist euphoria is yet to hit this country. People still wake up here at 9:00am – Shops open like 10:00am… etc – African time galore – so rampant for a punctuality infested creäture like me – just picture the frustration…

People are so glued to their comfort zones like: “as long as I have what to eat for the day, tomorrow is another – I’ll get there when I get there” type of attitude… I find this so archaic and strange – but hey, I am doing my best to “change” the few that I can – but for now I am starting with my little sister and so far we are making head way…

Sierra Leoneans attitude problems is the biggest obstacle to this country progress now. Change is like a taboo here – Some people have built high concrete walls around their comfort zones and what they know that any attempt to try to come between that will be met with serious resistance.

Complex is another phobia that is eating the mindset of Sierra Leoneans. People will rather pull you down if you have an idea than join you in making it a reality – to make it all worse  – if it does not benefit their pockets – you’ll be talked down to nothingness. Hectic!

What the APC led government of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has done is to come up with a campaign on Attitudinal Change” – A whole commission has been set up to sell this idea to the people of Sierra Leone.

The new democratic dispensation in Sierra Leone has a lot of prospect. But the image and damage of a decade plus civil war are still fresh in the minds of Sierra Leoneans – this is a fact that we cannot afford to sweep under the carpet.

Sierra Leoneans are hurting from the experience of war and some will never recover from the lose but there are also those that have dust themselves off from the experience and are willing to fight on and work towards building this nation to what it was before the civil war and even better to catch up with the developing nations – because clearly Sierra Leone is way behind in all aspects of life compare to where developing countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana are in the sub region.

A lot has been written and said about attitudinal change. Like I reiterated – Sierra Leoneans have attitude problems. Whether it is in the office, at home, in schools, public places or in government – this attitude problems exist at different levels and in all shapes and seizes…

“You can’t train old dog new tricks” – this is the irony Sierra Leone face as a nation presently. Attitudinal problems are deep-rooted in the system, which is as a result of many years of tolerance and acceptability without checks and balances.  Asking people to change now is a very hard task to meet over a short period – the truth is, unless Sierra Leoneans change their attitude, this nation will fall short of any form of progress especially in this 21st century.

For change in itself to be meaningful, the people would have to go through a gradual process of evolution and transformation as there should be structures, policies and legislation to back up these processes.  Talk, talk with no action and commitments will change nothing – so far that is what it seems like.

Society like Sierra Leone have been and gone through hell – the question is: how gradual should this attitudinal change process be?

The cold front is here – the weather is changing rapidly – dry hot/cold air is blowing – dust everywhere – damp skies as the sign of the harmattan season greets the shores of Freetown.

It is that season to prepare oneself for the cold, the Vaseline, ointments and lip gloss era is here – dressing warm and waking up early to take a bath before the cold sets in is one of the things I should get myself use to before I start packing my bags heading to my next destination.

I do believe Sierra Leone is bigger than any one of us – it is only our unrelenting commitment, unflinching dedication that will make this country what we wish it to be for us and the generations to come – it is only, and only then can we boast and beat our chest of being a true Sierra Leoneans.

Follow me on Twitter  – @dantebello


Postcard from Freetown: “The Reunion With My Foster Mum”!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2011 by Dante Bello

Yesterday, I went to visit my foster mum in Wilberforce in the west end of Freetown. The western area of Freetown is less congested, clean and has a cosmopolitan vibe about it that detoxes you from the hush lifestyle in the east end side of town. Life is not fast paced as in the main city center but things get decently done without much fracas. In the western area you will find colonial (board/wood houses) with vintage windows and doors that dates back to the 1800’s and 1900’s, it is the trademark of the Krio people.

In the Western area of Freetown you have big corporations, the UN Special Court, The American Embassy, and British Embassy, Consulate offices of other countries and multi-nationals companies. It is also home to expatriate and the haves that can afford to live in houses with high wall fences with security guards and dogs barking as your approach the gates. Fortunately I was privileged to have grown up on this part of Freetown and the memories came alive as I visited my foster mum. It was an emotional reunion and we had to catch up on lots of issues; it has been fifteen years since we separated.

As the car approached the house which I grew up in, tears fall uncontrollable from my eyes, my head space flooded with childhood memories, I could not help myself because I never thought I would see this day after such a long time. I was nervous because I could not fathom in my head the state my foster mum would be in but I was upbeat that she would still be healthy and active as I have always known her. Finally we were there, the dogs started barking as I opened the gate and there she was, looking old in her trademark Krio mama costume. The wrinkles on her face are beautiful, it shows her journey, happy memories of all the things that made her smile. Mum’s white skin looked frail but I can tell it is due to her old age and all her “scars” made her look more beautiful as a testimony of all the struggles she had overcome and the beautiful soul she is.

She gave me the warmest hug of my life, for over two minutes she held me in her arms, she looked into my eyes and her beautiful wrinkled face sent chills to my spine, the message was; “I am here, I know your pain, I know your struggle, I know what you’ve been through, I am here for you and everything will be alright.” As we sat down in the house which is still the same as it had always been, few changes here and there but it felt good to be home where I grew up when I was a kid. She took me to my room and to my amazement, most of my kid stuff is still in that room, my books, soccer balls, school uniforms, toys, graffiti, cartoon movies and memorabilia that I never thought would still be available.

Memories fall, love restored, pain smelters in peace. I felt satisfied and my life had a whole new meaning again. We walked around the houses as we chatted on and related on all levels. I told her about her grandson Malakai and the complications of me not being there for him as he grew up. She looked at me in the eyes and said: “I brought you up well and I am proud of you and you will be part of Malakai’s life in due season.” She said; live life now.

We had lunch and spent the better part of sundown walking around the house talking and as I familiarized with the surroundings all over again before it was time for me to go home. Her motherly advice was relished as I poured my heart to her and all the mistakes I have made and learnt from. My pain, my desires and dreams for life and in these moments, she held me close to her chest with no iota of judgement whatsoever. Like they say in Salone“bad wata nor dey for trow way bad pikin”, her assuring words were a sources of comfort.

I look back at my life and all I have been through these past five months and things are beginning to make more sense now. My coming home makes more sense to me now than I ever thought it would. The bitterness and anger have subsided and all my worries of the things I left back in South Africa have faded off as I lay all at the masters’ hand to deal with. I have forgiven myself, karma indeed has rewarded some of the bad decisions I made in life but when I take stock of these rewards so far, it has been worth the while and I will never exchange it for anything whatsoever.

To everyone reading this postcard if there is anything I want you to get from this is to be open to life and let it happen to you. We tend to obstruct life sometimes thereby missing the purpose of why we are here. We only live once, live in the now and forgive yourself, love yourself, cherish family and love humanity.

Sierra Leone is my home and I am so glad to be home to this wonderful Peninsula like of a country. The mountains give me hope that there are more hills to climb and with life, I can make it to greater heights. The crimson river dripped and has been checked; the tears dried up and hope resounds. Let me announce to you – I am ready to take on the world!

@DanteBello on Twitter