His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has concluded a working visit to Yengema in the Nimikoro Chiefdom, Peyima and Tombondu in the Kamara Chiefdom, where he applauded the men and women of the Ninth Infantry Battalion of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, RSLAF, based in Koidu.
The President addressed the ground forces in Koidu City and commended the personnel for all they were doing to protect lives and property, reminding them that while their work would never go unnoticed, only God would adequately reward them for their service to the nation.
At the various town hall meetings, President Bio expressed thanks and appreciation to the people of Kono District for their invaluable roles to the development of the country, adding that the history of the county would be incomplete without mentioning the contributions of Kono towards the sustenance of the economy.
He further noted that his visit was to continue to assess development across the country and to interact with his people who trusted and voted him president. He noted that his government had identified various development projects that would add value to the beauty of the diamond-rich district, adding that work was in the advanced stage for Kono to have 24 hours of clean electricity.
“My government has provided a full-fledged university for Kono. The road leading to the border with Guinea has also been commissioned and more roads within the district have been re-gravelled. With these developments, Kono will never be left behind like how it has been abandoned for the past 20 to 30 years,” he assured.
The President also encouraged and challenged the people of Kono to embrace and own development projects that were ongoing, saying that the future of Sierra Leone would only be brighter and prosperous if everyone embraced and participated in its path to success.
“I am a very grateful person and I appreciate everything somebody does. Kono has contributed so much to the development of this country. As a way of giving back to Kono and to every part of the country, my government has prioritised Human Capital Development as a permanent solution to the problems we are facing as a country.
“I am investing in about 2.5 million of our children by paying school fees for all of them regardless of their origin, tribe, or colour. This is the biggest investment in education in the whole of West Africa,” President Bio explained.
Member of Parliament for Constituency 023, Kono District, Honourable Musa Fofana, and a member of the opposition C4C party thanked the President for his leadership qualities, courage, determination and insistence on the development of the country, saying that as a member of the Sierra Leone Parliament he had seen a major development in every sector of governance.
“Despite the odds against him by his political opponents, with humility, pride, and love for this nation, this President continues to navigate with consciousness and focused leadership. On behalf of the leadership of the C4C in parliament, the people of constituency 023, and the entire Kono District, I want to assure you, Your Excellency, that Kono will always support your visionary leadership. Thank you very much,” he noted.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr Engages DRK Foundation
The Mayor of Freetown Aki-Sawyerr has engaged the DRK Foundation in Hague, Netherlands where she had the honor of delivering the Keynote Address to the Draper Richards Kaplan (DRK) Foundation International Retreat.
Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is the largest Venture Philanthropy in the United States. Borrowing from a venture capital legacy they find, fund and support social impact enterprises from Asia, Africa and Europe with exceptional leadership and innovative ideas that can scale.
“In my keynote address I spoke about my journey from the private sector to public service, driven by my desire to protect the environment and to #TransformFreetown, and about my commitment to making a difference in the lives of Freetonians. I emphasized the importance of teamwork and that so much more is achieved when an inclusive, collaborative and data driven approach is adopted and when technology is harnessed. I spoke about remaining resilient in the face of challenges which will inevitably be faced by anyone seeking to make meaningful changes and encouraged the entrepreneurs to believe in their visions and to keep pressing on.
Among the 40 social impact entrepreneurs who were at the Retreat, 20 operate in Africa and two (Last Mile Health and Seed Global Health) already operate in Sierra Leone. With the latter, we had an opportunity to discuss expanding their current investments in the Freetown health sector and for those not yet operating in Sierra Leone I have begun conversations for bringing specific sanitation, education and technology enterprises to Freetown. One such engagement with Imagine Worldwide will strengthen our existing School Cluster Mentorship programme and compliment literacy and maths learning in the 519 participating primary and JSS schools.
At FCC we keep working to join the dots, scale solutions and make a difference in addressing the challenges faced by our city as we strive to #TransformFreetown”
TEACHERS DEMANDS BETTER WELFARE
The Teachers Solidarity Movement (TSM), is here to address the perennial hardship that the Politicians (SLPP and APC) of Sierra Leone inflicted on the lives of the Sierra Leonean Teachers. This Movement has representation in all the sixteen (16) administrative districts of Sierra Leone.
For sixty (60) years since Independent, teachers are being treated with recklessness and left to starve with impunity. Sixty years, Politicians keep telling us “Education is the key”, little did we know that Politics is the key. Sixty years our Politicians keep looting our state resources and keep announcing to the Public that “teachers are the largest workforce”, So what? Didn’t we deserve a better living like the Lawyers we taught, the Doctors we prepared, the Bankers we made, the Engineers we carved, the Police and the Army we instructed and the very Politicians we inspired???
Enough is enough.
That’s more the reasons we have decided to come together and speak for ourselves without any intermediary but through our Solidarity Movement. As a Movement, we thought it wise to stand up together and fight our course without the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) which to us has been a toothless bulldog.
We are calling on the Government of President Bio, the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) and most importantly the International Community ie the European Union Representative in Sierra Leone (EU) and the Departments For International Development (DFID) to come to our rescue.
We are making this clarion calls in order to save the Education of our Children. We don’t want to see the continuation of the “Mango Tree CERTIFICATION “. ‘Yea Dominion Yea’ phenomenon.
We want to be GREAT Teachers as William Arthur Ward once said, “The Mediocre Teacher tells. The Good Teacher Explains. The Superior Teacher Demonstrates. The Great Teacher Inspires”. Please Papa Government allow us to be the Great Teachers that Inspire.
Remember! “The foundation of every State is the Education of its Youth”, Diagenes.
From time immemorial, the conditions of service for teachers have been treated with levity. However, in the present socio economic morass, teachers welfare can no longer be taken for granted. Enough is Enough.
It will be recalled that the government of His Excellency, the President , Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio promised better conditions of service to teachers and to make teaching an enviable profession at the launch of the flagship free quality education programme.
In two years of governance, a laughable30% increment was made to the disappointment of teachers. In the interim, teachers have seen the harmonization of salaries of civil servants and officials of MDAs . Teachers have also witnessed the increment in salaries of politicians and lecturers.
Unfortunately, the Honorable Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education is on record to state that teachers cannot be paid better because of their numbers. This is disingenuous on his part as he has recently misinformed the president in Bo that teachers welfare and conditions of service have been adequately taken care of. In reality, teachers have been reduced to destitute, beggars and hustlers.
Teachers have homes to run, families to care for, personal affairs to handle, children to educate, external relationships to manage, house rent to settle, Medicare, transport to and from school, bills to pay and a lot more. What future is there for children of teachers?
This is the time teachers must stand up in solidarity and speak truth to power. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander.
If a university graduate in political appointment and the civil service is paid twenty million Leones (Le 20,000,000) a month, what is wrong with the teacher with the same qualification to receive a meagre one million three hundred thousand Leones (Le 1,300,000) a month?
Teachers have no transport allowances, no medical allowances, ☆ no rent allowances, no wardrobe allowances and no leave allowances.
Are teachers not Sierra Leonean enough like politicians and civil servants who are given all these facilities?
Teachers are demanding the following as a matter of urgency:
1. Harmonisation of salaries
2. Inclusion of all pin coded teachers on pay roll.
3. Payment of School subsidies before the start of any term.
4. Lucrative Rent Allowance of not less than one million ( le 1,000,000.00) a month
5. Fat Transport Allowances of not less than le 1,000,000.00 a month
6. Free Medical for Teachers and their dependants listed in their NASSIT Update Form.
Mr. President HE Julius Maada Bio, the lives of your Teachers are in a Precarious, risky and on an emergency life supporting machines waiting untimely deaths hence in the classroom swallowing chalkdust, for which we can no longer afford the 21 days ultimatum notice as required by law.
Until a positive response is obtained from stakeholders between now and 24th April, 2022, teachers have the option to withhold their services until further notice
Teachers solidarity acknowledges the hypocritical press releases from the SLTU and CPSS but wish to reiterate that the welfare of those organizations is assured through the lack of transparency and accountability among their ranks.
This time round, teachers will stand up in solidarity for their own welfare with or without SLTU , CPSS , NACHOT or whosoever.
Deputy Energy Minister Opens Rokupr Mini Grid
Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Eldred Taylor, has described electricity as a critical driver of national development and reiterated the commitment of President Julius Maada Bio to increasing access to energy at the commissioning ceremony of a mini grid facility at Rokupr,Kambia district,northwestern Sierra Leone.
Receiving the Deputy Minister and his entourage, Paramount Chief of Magbema Chiefdom,PC Bai Farama Tass Bubu Ngbnak IV, described the occasion as a historic one,noting that Rokupr had gone without electricity for over 25 years.
He said Rokupr was an agribusiness hub, with farming, fishing and trade being hallmark economic features of the lives of the people, adding that the provision of electricity was going to positively impact petty trading, the preservation of fish and the milling of husk rice.
While commissioning the mini grid, Dr. Eldred Taylor said before 2018,only 15% of Sierra Leoneans had access to electricity, stressing further that access to electricity was now at 31% as per the December 2021 Proportion.
Dr. Taylor described President Bio as a service and delivery-focused president who was committed to breaking new grounds and setting astonishing records as evidenced in the electrification of Rokupr after a 25-year wait.
He went on to say that a detailed study had been completed with support from the United States of America,noting that that project would provide mini grids for towns in Kambia district like Gbonkomaria and Magbema in Magbema chiefdom and Kassirie and Mataysor in Samu chiefdom.
The Deputy Minister of Energy said the facility was one of the biggest in the country, with a capacity standing at 90kw peak and which was more than capable of addressing the electricity needs of several households and businesses.
He concluded by speaking on the Public Private Partnership model which he lauded. He praised the community people for their support to the project in terms of the provision of labour and appealed to beneficiaries to own the project.
Resident Minister Northwest, Hon. Alpha Khan, thanked the Deputy Minister of Energy and his entourage and praised President Bio for taking development to every part of the country,citing the Free Quality Education flagship program as the principal reason for his decision to work with President Bio and for Sierra Leone.
Member of Parliament for Constituency 060, Hon. Bai Sama,couldn’t hide his joy,saying that the facility was going to give his constituency a massive facelift.
Earlier on, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Emmanuel Junisa,introduced the dignitaries and informed the gathering about the purpose and significance of the ceremony.
The energy sector reforms continue.
Wellington Fire Disaster Taskforce Presents Report to Pres. Bio
His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has received a report from the 15-man Presidential Taskforce set up to investigate circumstances surrounding the cause and extent of destruction after the Wellington petrol tanker fire disaster of 5 November 2021 that claimed over 150 lives.
Chair of the committee and Director General of the National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Brima Sesay said they were presenting the findings with general and specific recommendations for all institutions that constituted the Sierra Leone Incident Management System, SLIMS.
“First, we found out that the behaviour of the public, following the collision, was a major contributing factor to the scale of the incident and a serious cause for concern. At the outset…despite the tanker driver using a megaphone borrowed from a nearby seller to advise the public to avoid the scene, he was reportedly insulted and his advice completely ignored,” he said.
He noted that they also proved that the fire disaster occurred following the collision between the fuel tanker and the tipper truck over half an hour before the explosion.
Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Sesay added that there was poor communication between security services and the Petroleum Regulatory Agency, responsible for regulating oil marketing companies, and emphasized the need to enhance effective communication among all players in the SLIMS.
“Your Excellency, it is fervently hoped that one critical turnaround point in the entire emergency management establishment in the country is the provision of knowledge to the public on dangers associated with industrial products in BRVs or fuel tankers that ply the carriage-way in the country,” he said.
In his response, President Bio described the incident as a national disaster the magnitude of which they had never seen in recent times, adding that he had to cut short his trip abroad to return home to provide leadership, give hope and console the bereaved.
“We were overwhelmed but in the circumstances, you led the response. I want to use this opportunity to thank you the NDMA and all other agencies that were first responders. It includes the military, the fire force, the medical team and all forces that came to help on that day.
“I was particularly pleased with the health professionals who did their best and took care of our compatriots, the victims. This is a clearer indication that we must all work together, especially at difficult times,” he said.
He assured that his Government was going to take a closer look at the findings and recommendations and definitely look at what policy and measures they could take henceforth to prevent any such possibilities.
“But I think the lessons brought out in these recommendations, especially with regards to lawlessness, to the inactions by certain agencies or lack of rapid reactions to incidents of this nature, point to the fact that as a government we should prevent, where possible, or should always be ready for incidents of this nature,” he concluded.
Sierra Leone has set one more world record
Only in Sierra Leone is a mentally challenged person arrested, charged, and arraigned before a magistrate court and remanded in a maximum prison. Only in Sierra Leone can a mentally challenged person be accused of insulting the president. Only in Sierra Leone can a mentally challenged person be taken to prison, not to a mental hospital, for being a security threat. Only in Sierra Leone!
Yet, Sierra Leone, my country of birth, is blind to all the precedents set by sane people with fake degrees running the state and our institutions; but these are not threatening the security of our country; these are not an insult to our collective decency as a people and nation; only Blacker, a publicly known mentally challenged person can be charged for insulting one man, who has a security detail and who cannot be easily reached by this mentally challenged person, be accused of security threat to the president of Sierra Leone and be remanded in a maximum prison. Only in Sierra Leone!
Only in Sierra Leone do we have thieves running the state, and yet these are not a threat to the security of this man who heads the government of my country of birth – only Blacker, a mentally challenged person can be a threat to him. Only in Sierra Leone!
We, the mentally sane people, are a threat to our collective security and development; yet we are allowed our freedom. We, the mentally sane people, are the ones with fake degrees running the affairs of our country and yet we are the ones let loose to do whatever we please. We, the mentally sane people, are the ones siphoning off the resources of our country, and yet we are the ones that are not arrested, charged and remanded for being a threat to our collective security and the security of the man heading our government and state.
We, the mentally sane people, call on the international community and organizations, especially the World Health Organization, to help diagnose the mentally sane people of my country of birth. For it seems we are the truly insanely insane people of Sierra Leone. We are the only ones not doing what the mentally challenged people could have done had they had the mental capacity we have – to arrest, charge, arraign and remand our collective thieves and fraudsters running the affairs of our country. Contrarily, we choose to arrest, charge, arraign and remand mentally challenged people for our own failures! Only in Sierra Leone! @Saidu Bangura.
CORRUPTION: THE LEECH FEEDING ON SIERRA LEONE’S DEVELOPMENT ASPIRATION
BY: DAVID YUSUF KABIA
Sierra Leone or better still, ‘Province of Freedom’ as was initially named was founded in 1787 on the hopes of freedom for the many blacks who were held as slaves in England and elsewhere in Europe under miserable conditions, which ripped them of their human dignity that ignited the intervention of Granville Sharp, Henry Smeathman and others to better fight a course for their repatriation to Sierra Leone to a new land where they could be totally independent and live a life of unity, peace and freedom.
Needless to state that these people were slaves in their entirety before their repatriation to Sierra Leone. This includes their socio-economic, cultural and political freedom which was deprived them. Governor Clarkson said in his famous prayer for this people that _“for thou knowest I brought them here in hopes of making them and their families happy, both in this world and to all eternity.”
When their suffering attained the height of intolerance by the good-hearted few, Henry Smeathman’s plan became the route through which these people could be given the freedom to politically organize themselves; economically build their lives and maintain a socio-cultural lifestyle that portrays their freedom.
This envisaged land was established too, on the firm hate for corruption which could disorganize and destabilize the freedom dream born by the abolitionists for the new colony. Governor Clarkson also saw far ahead that among them (whether at the present time or in the future) were going to be people who would indulge in activities (corruption inclusive) that could destroy the fabrics of unity, peace and development when he said, “let not a few wicked men among us draw down thy vengeance upon this Colony.”
This plan for the independence of the new settlers was thwarted and cut short by the Government in England that still wanted to control the economic and other lives of the people through the imposition of the Sierra Leone Company and other structures which deprived the people from attaining political, social, economic and cultural independence.
Corruption, a cause and curse
The origin of corruption may well have been friends with immemorial time, but how it ever became a seed sown that later germinated and bore fruits in the new colony remains a mystery. For the new colony, many historians have posited that the imposition of the Sierra Leone Company on the people of the colony as the administrative tool by which the government of England could still hold the reigns of control against the wish of the abolitionists for economic and other independence of the repatriated slaves became the seed of corruption sown.
Others have enunciated that corruption commenced with the Agreement for the purchase of land envisaged as the colony which the Native Chiefs, in their estimation and knowledge, did not sell but rented same to the abolitionists for and on behalf of the black poor while the abolitionists believed contrarily.
Whatever the truth is, one thing is clear-the people felt disappointed and this disappointment caused an up-roar that led to instability in the envisaged Freedom Land when the natives torched the colony. Among the many reasons recorded in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report that sparked the decade long civil war was corruption. It was the tool used by the powerful and rich to subdue the ‘have-nots’ in society.
It was not perceived by those in authority as a societal menace rather, it was the reason for being in public service and willing political power.
Politics rubbing shoulders with impunity
Post-colonial era saw the transfer of political authority from the British to Sierra Leoneans. After the first general elections conducted in 1962, corruption boldly transcends different political administrations in our nation’s history.
Evidence of misuse of public funds by ministers and other government appointees became rampant and vividly open. The abuse of power and misuse of state institutions in order to hold on to power was a card always on the table. This precipitated several coups which disrupted political administrations.
Tribalism, nepotism and cronyism became the tool for ostracizing opponents from the political lifeline of the country. Unwarranted executions and corrupt-led elections were no strange happenings in a country that had just gained independence. Trust in those who govern was lost. The freedoms associated with Human Rights were not recognized. Fear of execution thwarted free speech and it seemed, the entire nation like ducklings following a mother duck in a straight (or probably straight crooked) line was the saving grace to live.
Sierra Leone’s healthcare, education, social amenities and more were not anything to write home about. As a result, morbidity was in the increase and public institutions collapsed, leaving those living under acute difficulties.
Unaccounted for wealth slept in the reserve of politicians; citizens deprived of the most basic of services; education became a privilege and not a right; opposition voice was stunted to allow impunity reign; public resources were the bread and butter for only those within political corridors; citizens were left with no choice but to rally around in support of their perpetrators leaving them as the pitiful victims every time.
Corruption was finely cloth in suit of office, forcing citizens to believe that public servants deserve those resources just by being public servants. Checks and balances to ensure systems are in place to gauge public spending and resource allocation to citizens were completely absent or better still dormant.
Justice was a commodity available only for the powerful and rich leaving aggrieved minds sobbing.
Due to public resources being amassed and misappropriated by public servants, Sierra Leone continues to depend largely on foreign donors to handle her budget and take care of the needs of citizens.
This dependence for example in the area of health is caused by corruption when public servants amassed resources meant to buy drugs, hospital beds, pay medical doctors and nurses and more.
The birth of the Anti-Corruption Campaign
The need, borne out of rampant misappropriation of public funds, to establish a public watchdog over public resources came in 2000 when the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was established. That establishment was as well the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report which pointed out corruption and injustice as major causes of the decade long civil war in Sierra Leone. With its non-prosecutorial powers in 2000 on to 2007, the Commission was perceived by many as ‘a toothless bulldog’ because even though corruption was clearly being committed, the Commission could not prosecute those allegedly involved in corruption.
This lacuna was dealt with in 2008 when the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 was enacted, which provided for the prosecution of accused persons by the Commission. This provision was key in the operations of the Commission given that before it, the Commission can only prosecute through the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, a mechanism that was widely criticized and held as the reason behind the Commission’s inability to prosecute government officials.
This appalling state-of-affairs no longer defines the Commission. *In the last four years of the Commission’s operation under the watch of Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala.Esq., the fight against corruption has intensified beyond friendship, party lines, brother and any kind of camaraderie previously known to weaken it.
More government officials have been convicted and more being prosecuted for various corruption offences; the Commission through the 2019 amendment providing for recovery of alleged misappropriated public funds has recovered over 45 Billion Leones and still counting; more education on corruption than ever before is being done, allowing Sierra Leoneans to know the mandate of the Commission and how indulging in corruption is destructive.
Sierra Leone has lost many lives to corruption through illnesses that could have been cured but for the resources which have been misappropriated; she has had many drop-outs from schools because those in charge of providing for and creating an enabling learning environment for those in schools abused their powers and authorities by syphoning those funds to personal accounts; she has had many of her children left crying for justice because they could not get it from the court system, which many have defined as a market place for the rich and powerful.
We have come a long way since 1961 to attain 61 years. We have suffered as a country from a brutal civil war to other struggles. We are hopeful of being independent after gaining independence. But this leech called corruption has multiplied itself in human bodies working in public spaces and depleting the nation’s resources. When we detoxified our minds as individuals to owning the fight against corruption, we gauge the allegations of corruption from the viewpoint of us being the beneficiaries of public resources and that those who serve in public spaces ought to account for their stewardship; we use a nationalistic lens viewing the operations of the Commission, we would have achieved the kind of independence needed to help build a better Sierra Leone.
This Province of Freedom established on the hopes of giving independence to us is being challenged by this leech called corruption, almost depriving us of that same independence because we have largely depended on others to cater for our own.
But if we can fight it with one mind, one resolve, one determination, one vision and one aim-to better Sierra Leone, we would enjoy independence the way we never did.
Reflections on 61 years of Sierra Leone’s ‘Independence’
Alhaji U. N’jai
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2022:
I first wrote this piece four years ago in 2018 and represented my introspection on the state of the nation Sierra Leone at 57. It was also a time of great optimism as the nation had just ushered in the new direction government of President Julius Maada Bio.
Expectations across the country where high that the new Bio led administration will correct some of the wrongs of the previous governments. It has been my fervent desire that much of the narrative on this piece would have changed for the better in the last four years, but unfortunately except for few areas, it seems to have largely tilted towards the worse.
So why has President Bio’s New Direction failed so far in its effort to create meaningful changes in the lives of average Sierra Leoneans. Why has previous governments from Milton Margai, Siaka Stevens, Joseph Momoh, Valentine Strasser, Ahmed Tejan Kabba to Ernest Bai Koroma also failed to do so, and woefully?
Why is poverty ‘d gron dry’ and abject food poverty still a major factor in a land of abundant natural resources with a population less than eight million? Why has the country become a place where dreams of young people die and wither out as they grey without realizing them?
Why does it seem like we are retrogressing rather than progressing as far as quality of life is concerned? Is it something borne out of the people – aka the bad heart? Is it a leadership deficit? Is it that we lack true transformational leadership? Is it widespread greed, lip service and systemic corruption? Is it politics and ethnic polarization? Is it the lack of ideology with our politics? Is it the lack of prioritization of what is important?
Is it that we lack patriotism and basic civic responsibilities like integrity, empathy, honesty, mindfulness? Is it the lack of capability and capacity or is it because incompetency is rewarded? Is it because mediocrity has taken center stage and excellence has been marginalized? Is it due to our colonial and neo-colonial legacies?
Is it because of our perennial dependencies on external donors/investors for our development? Is it that we lack ownership and sustainability plans in our development agenda? Is it our educational curriculum that has not been fully decolonized and domesticated to our needs?
I simply do not have the answers, however, to understand the roots of our present-day condition, historical antecedent matters.
Today, April 27th, 2022, Sierra Leone as a nation turns 61. Celebrations across the country to mark Independence Day have become a usual tradition. There is nothing bad with fellow Sierra Leoneans celebrating Independence. After all, our colonial era began with the British Crown Colony establishment in 1808 and annexation of the entire country through establishment of a British Protectorate in 1896.
Colonial era was a period of harsh, crude, and inhumane de-culturation of our people. All forms of resistance including Bai Bureh and many others were met and crushed with heavy force.
So, in 1961, Sierra Leone gained independence, thanks in part to our deadly mosquitoes that made it unbearable for the British, and in part to the steadfast endeavors of our many ancestor’s nationalists from across the country, who organized themselves under the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
The country was ushered into Independence by Sir Milton Margai of the SLPP, who was considered a “nice person” and a “good leader” at the time. Mr. Margai, though a nice gentleman then, lacked the transformative vision to carve a unique decolonization direction and national agenda for Sierra Leone beyond the British legacy. As a result, the formation of a genuine national agenda was replaced by political party and regional agenda, which up to date continues to plague national development efforts.
Sixty-one years later, we are as dependent as ever; dependent mentally, psychologically, socially, economically, politically, scientifically, technologically, and in all things considered. Is it Happy free dependence day? Are we as a country Sierra Leone free, politically, economically, and culturally? The argument could be made that we are free politically, in as much as we are ‘freely electing’ and changing governments.
This then brings me to the core of why I chose to merely just reflect on the day, what our ancestors had to go through under colonial rule, and how they must be turning in their graves from our failures and lack of direction to lead our societies to prosperity.
I often reflect on this ancestral curse and our inability to completely decolonize ourselves leading to new forms of colonialism, imperialism, slavery, low self-esteem, and reduction to beggar donor driven nations. It was Patrice Lumumba who famously said that “the Belgian’s have granted us (Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo) political independence on the one hand and the other taken economic independence away from us.” These words hold true to this day, political independence minus economic independence.
The question to be asked today is, are we as independent nations politically, culturally, and economically free.? Can we re-write our history with a new paradigm that has Sierra Leone and Africa’s interests front and center? If development is modernization minus dependency, can we assert that true development is taking place?
Let us revisit the case for political independence with regards to the nation state and political dispensation in Sierra Leone. In 1884, 14 European Countries gathered in Berlin to partition Africa among themselves. No African or country was invited. Today European Union (EU) is sending observers to Sierra Leone and other African Elections to make sure that the colonial hegemony continues in the great disguise of democracy.
In the psycho-affective realm of funding our elections, economic and cultural emancipation are never the consideration. It simply ensures the colonialists unfettered access and control of the colony’s natural resources and political economy.
What we simply have in the last 61 years in Sierra Leone is a kind of old wine in new bottles paradigm and a welcome to neo-colonialism, the British Sovereign Club aka Commonwealth club. All aspects of our lives have been and continues to be “Britishmanism” with colonial acculturation to the highest degree. The same colonial education with limited connections to our cultural experience; same old colonial laws and legal systems for a different cultural experience; same economic systems that are largely extractive, exploitative, and geared towards supporting our British Colonial or western societies.
There is no emphasis or attempts at economic emancipation from the colonial master or creating opportunities and the conditions for local economic stimulation or boom that creates wealth and thriving healthy society. Rather we have become perennially dependent on donors, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), or World Bank loans, and a whole host of non-governmental organizations, and foreign nations helping us run our country.
This foreign domination syndrome is aptly captured by Dr. Y.K. Amoako of the UN Commission for Africa Executive Secretary “Africa is the only region in the world where foreign development paradigms dominate her development process.” Not only does this indicate that Africa’s development process is not “culturally close” to Africans, but also a revelation that African elites are mediocre in both their intellectualizing and their direction of the continent’s progress.”
Indeed, that intellectual mediocrity along with a heavy affinity and taste for the colonial lifestyle has become endemic, permeating all facets of our cultural space. In fact, the nature of westernization and acculturation in Sierra Leone and many other African countries surpasses all regions of the world.
Prof. Ali A. Mazrui succinctly describes the nature of westernization in Africa as compared to the Japanese experience, “the nature of westernization in Africa has been very different. Far from emphasizing western productive technology and reducing western lifestyles and verbal culture, Africa has reversed the Japanese order of emphasis.
Among the factors which have facilitated this reversal has been the role of the African university as a vehicle of Western influence on African culture.” Yes, the African University and systems of education that emphasizes western culture and lifestyles as superior to the African way has played a huge role.
There has been limited emphasis on indigenization or domestication of modernization based on our habits, norms, and value systems. In fact, we have simply handed our colonial masters or the west ownership of knowledge and any form of intellectualization process. Our knowledgebase systems are insufficient, archaic and do not meet modern standards.
For any African knowledgebase in Science, Arts, Engineering, Literature, History, Humanities, and the likes to be accepted, it must have a colonial master or western validation or seal of approval. We “the colonized” have now been reduced to accepting this as our fate, a kind of status quo that we cannot change. Hence, we remain impotent, disable and unable to effectively change the course of the colonial master.
You cannot blame our current leaders for being retrogressive since their minds are still heavily colonized. Colonization has clouded their minds to the extent that they lack the know-how and wherewithal for true sustainable development that requires as in Japan’s domestication of modernization and indigenization. Hence, the only way out for many is continuous dependence on western nations and ties such as the commonwealth, UN, or Francophone.
We are so colonized that we celebrate our Sierra Leone or African leaders meeting and dining with the Queen of London. African leaders attending Commonwealth summit and dining with Queen is a sucker punch in the face for all Africans, specifically our African ancestors who suffered the wreath of British colonial rule. A colonial loot, the Queen continues to enjoy at the expense of us Africans.
The commonwealth has never been common, and it is wealth stolen from Africa, India and others. This is our wealth and must be given back to Africa, India, and all where it was forcibly looted or where we were sheepishly brainwashed with the illusion that human capital development comes with western education as in the elementary school lyrics “we are all going to our classes with clean hands and faces, to pay great attention to what we are told. Or else we shall never be happy and clever; for learning is better than silver and gold.” This lyric represents both a superficial academic assertion and a ploy by the colonialist to loot our gold, silver and diamond in exchange for some western brainwashed education that lacks commerce or entrepreneurship.
In essence, we got elitism in place of rural agriculture and feeding ourselves, our silver and gold ended in their hands, and we continue to obey them in a hegemonic master and servant relationship.
The relationship should no longer be one of master and colonized. It should be based on equal partnership and not “Laybelleh” relationship. If that relationship must continue, we must take on the leadership. This is no longer time for Queen/royal family and colonial subjects. It’s about complete decolonization and forging our own paths as well as destiny.
And decolonization means complete decolonization and not replacing one colonist with another aka China, India or others. Frantz Fanon must be turning around in his grave from the realization that the complete decolonization from the colonizer has not occurred since Wretched of the Earth came out in 1961. Indeed, if Frantz Fanon was alive today, he would have seen an Africa that is largely independent from the colonizer but an Africa still at war with itself captured beautifully in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
The colonizer may be gone but the colonized mind is still with us, and we are at war with ourselves. The totality of being a Sierra Leonean and an African will come with decolonization of the mind. This process of decolonization is liberating and aligns the mind to the body physique. We breathe again as Sierra Leoneans with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose to effectively utilize our resources for social good.
The nation state of Sierra Leone still suffers from the residual effects of colonialism and systemic racism that now interestingly intersect with poor leadership, corruption, greed, mediocrity, short sightedness and lack of transformational vision, ethnic based (polarization) politics. Over 130 years of colonialism and systemic racism in Sierra Leone sowed the seeds of self-hate and self-doubt.
We all have been conditioned to hate ourselves; to hate our dark skins; to hate ourselves based on imaginary national boundaries of colonial construct. We are Sierra Leoneans, Guineans, Liberians, Gambians, Senegalese, Malians divided by a colonial construct despite strong family and ethnic ties. The Ebola virus disease taught us the hard lesson that we are all connected as a people, but we continue to work in silos and in line with our colonial masters (Sierra Leone with Britain, Liberia with US, and Guinea with France).
We cannot get ECOWAS or Mano River Union to work for us and address common issues simply because of colonial allegiances. As a nation state, we practice democracy based on ethnic numbers and self-hate; we elect our political leaders, hire and fire people based on ethnic sentiments and differences; we care less whether our actions hurt others or communities, if we perceive them to be different.
We have in effect tied resource allocation to ethnicity or political tribes and at some point, weaponized tribalism as a mechanism of oppressing progressive voices, which have in effect held us as national hostages. As Frantz Fanon, notes “there is always a danger of the nation states in Africa to disintegrate along ethnic lines”.
National Consciousness and a National Agenda should be borne out of the concerted action of the people, which embodies the actual aspirations of the people and transforms the state, which depends on exceptionally inventive cultural manifestations for its very existence.
In the post-colonial African states, all aspects of our traditional African value systems have been replaced by the values and even vices of the colonizer and their neo-liberal allies. First, Greed and individual material self-interests replaces the traditional communal sharing systems; Britishmanism, Frenchmanism, and Europeamanisms have become the order of the day.
Second, African education systems replaced by a colonial western formal education that has enhanced both academic (Science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, and humanities) and cultural dependency, therefore everything African has to be evaluated and validated from a Eurocentric lens, the culture of dominance and power; This has essentially led to the crave for degrees and academic titles even fake ones like the Yea Dominion University saga in Sierra Leone.
Third, long-sighted visionary and transformational Panafrican Independence leaders replaced by mediocre leaders, whose shortsightedness are enjoyed by the western donors or colonialists as it ensures the chain of dependency and unfettered access to Africa’s resources is maintained.
Fourth, African traditional pluralistic religions replaced by monotheism and strong tendencies for dichotomy; you are either Christian or not, Muslim or not, and no tendency to combine them. By contrast, African traditional religions are less dichotomous, less monotheistic, and are readily accepting of other religions, which allows for greater plurality and acceptance of diversity.
Fifth, African ingenuity, self-reliance, and economic activity replaced by donor funding, foreign investments (world bank, IMF), International NGOs, foreign aid, multinational investments, and variety of half-sighted neoliberal foreign economic models that are unsustainable, inimical to the African needs, and ensures economic dependency. Therefore, continental Africans continue to be trapped in some form of neo-colonialism, systemic racism, mediocre leaderships, ethnic polarization, and dependency, respectively. In the same vein, the vicious cycle of poverty, despair, violence, wars, and underdevelopment has taken hold in communities and countries. The divide and rule actions of the oppressor also makes it impossible for unity of the oppressed African people; many of whom are caught up in self-hate, ethnic rivalries, disunity, and distorted views of their own histories provided by the same oppressors bent on keeping them apart.
So, at 61 years of independence, Sierra Leone is somewhat of a paradox. A nation with tremendous natural and human resources potentials that has shown deep resilience through war, deadly Ebola epidemic, landslide, and Covid19. But, sadly as a nation, we are as dependent as ever, we are as hungry (food poor and insecure) as ever, we are as corrupt as ever, and we are ranked among lowest in human development index across Africa despite being one of the most naturally endowed in the continent.
In the last 30 years of the 60 years of “Independence”, we have become the land of survivors or rather the bland simulacrum of desolate living standards. Yes oh, War Survivors, Ebola Survivors, Landslide Survivors, Tollgate Survivors, Austerity Survivors, Deforestation and Timber logging Survivors, Okada Survivors, WASSCE Exam Survivors, No Job Survivors, Job with no pay Survivors, Trafficking or Kuwait Survivors, Suck Air Survivors, Beggar Beggar Survivors, Political Rally Survivors, Police Brutality Survivors, Foreign Debt Survivors, Temple Run Survivors, Inflation Survivors, Fake Degrees Survivors, and All Things Considered Survivors, Blackout Survivor, and so on.
The Temple Run and Middle East Trafficking Survivors just simply re-iterates the lack of hope in Sierra Leone for young people. How can we as a nation celebrate independence when a significant proportion will rather die in the Mediterranean seas off Libya than live here. People are risking it all, including been sold as slaves in Libya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar or other countries just to leave. Migration in the independent state should be about choice and hope.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres nicely states that “migration should be an active hope, and not despair.” Yet, in Sierra Leone these hopes have now been replaced by despair and act of survivorship aka “we dae manage” has become normalized. Survivorship and hardships brought on by greed, corruption, power intoxication by politicians and leadership that is as narcissistic and vainglorious as ever. Hence, clouded by the narcissism and desire for public praise where there is none, Politicians want the poor ignorant victims of their loot to thank them for making roads, hospitals, and providing basic services for which they are elected to make happen. It’s often as if they are doing the populace a favor and of course it works well because they have succeeded in keeping the populace ignorant through a failed educational system.
Apart from a failed educational system that has put mediocrity at the center and marginalized excellence, we are a nation without a holistic transportation solution, food security solution, access to portable water supply, energy or electricity (still struggling with lighting a bulb yet alone industrial energy despite abundant hydro, solar and other renewable potentials), tourism (despite beautiful mountains, landscapes, beaches, and incredible biodiversity), health care and public health (case management is so poor that a basic condition requires a trip to Ghana and maternal mortality remains one of the highest in the region), and so on.
Freetown, the capital city is largely unplanned, risky and hazardous from uncontrolled sprawl, deforestation and environmental degradation. Despite the formation of a Ministry of Environment and four agencies dealing with environment, our precious forest resources are being depleted for timber at an alarming rate in the north and successive governments seem unable to protect our environments.
Ironically, our leaders travel to Climate change meetings, are signatories to climate change accords, and still drive V8 SUVs and do nothing to protect our environments. Instead, they are busy selling precious natural habitats like Black Johnson to shady investors and busy traveling without regards to their carbon footprint, in the name of attracting investors.
Interestingly, shady investors are all too aware of the dysfunctionality of our state systems and greed among the political elites. Hence for short term gains by our leaderships, shady investors can reap huge profits at the expense of the indigenous people.
Lack of political ideology accounts for some of the greed, unscrupulous exploitation of the masses by shady investors, and lack of a transformational vision. In fact, since Independence in Sierra Leone, the only ideology that seems to operate is ‘now we turn for eat’; largely between APC versus SLPP.
For the last 61 years, we have been held hostage by the two thieves (APC and SLPP) and the ideology of ‘now we turn for eat’ by their supporters. Yet, we love our hostage takers (APC and SLPP) akin to the Stockholm Syndrome; are willing to protect them and vote for them continuously. This in turn creates vicious cycles of looting, deepens mediocrity, retrogression, and decadence.
Our current political systems in Sierra Leone bereft of a viable political ideology cannot yield economic freedom, self-reliance, and the necessary cultural empowerments needed for domestication of development. For example, how do we stimulate local production to minimize our dependencies on imports of basic commodities like rice, flour, and food stuffs. How do we eat what we grow and grow what we eat, reducing our external dependencies? How do empower use of local building materials and indigenous architectures, and thereby minimize importation of cements, which also has a high carbon footprint and bad for climate?
True sustainable development in Sierra Leone requires political, economic, and cultural independence. In other words, a complete decolonization of our minds, institutions, structures, and functions. It requires a paradigm shift that puts our Sierra Leone/African values front and center “an inward thinking and outward outlook approach.”
Thinking first from within African values, national agendas and matching African values with the enabling aspects of their colonial legacies and the global values. In addition, intellectually linking our Sierra Leonean and African values to the wider world of scholarship, science, engineering, and technology.
To break the cycle of dependency in Sierra Leone and across Africa, may require nothing short of a revolution, a break with current capitalist structures that ensures western hegemonic dominance. The series of revolutions that won’t be televised, should at the very least include; a Blue Intellectual revolution from which new sources of knowledge should emerge; a green revolution for food security, greater control of Sierra Leone/Africa’s natural resources; a black revolution that culturally empowers Sierra Leoneans; a red revolution that creates strong sense of national consciousness, unity, identity, and cohesion, that links young and old through mentorship, service, volunteerism, projects, and cultural education; a yellow revolution that ushers industrialization and wealth creation; and a white, pink, purple, orange, and so revolutions that ensues all aspects of self-reliance and sustainability are attained.
Ultimately, Sierra Leone requires development that is closely aligned with our cultural space, economic emancipation and taking ownership of our resources at all stages of the value chain. It requires imagination, vision and building capacity at all levels, functions, and disciplines in the country. This ultimately requires building a strong University system and domesticating modern systems to suit local needs or modernizing from local systems and architecture. However, it ultimately requires a unique African leadership and governance that is devoid of corruption, greed and can put forward bold, transformational, phenomenal vision for the country to make a difference in lives at all ages and the build resilient thriving population and communities.
Finally, as Fanon puts its aptly in The Wretched of the Earth, “Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.” Therefore, to achieve full and total liberation of the African people will require unification of thoughts, economic freedom, self-reliance, and politically powerful Africa.
An economically and politically powerful federated Africa (including the Diaspora) will restore the dignity of its people and ensure that it resources are utilized to the benefits of its people and preserve the diverse cultures of its people.
We must work towards a collective national and continental agenda for Sierra Leone and Africa, decolonize our systems, de-link resource allocation along party or ethnic lines and refrain from utilizing tribalism as a weapon of mass oppression that favors the bourgeoisie class elites strangle hold of power.
We must now as individual citizens of Sierra Leone and as a government retrospect on what is our National Agenda. We must strive for a national identity and oneness borne out of patriotism and culture that is seen and felt by everyone.
YANSANNEH HAS FAILED, SO LET US REBUILD
Coming events cast their shadows and so the saying goes that what is to come is in itself offered to us by signs and premonition. The die has been cast. The Fisher verdict is not to be considered a spanner in the works but should be seen for what it is. This is a parody of the mismanagement that has plagued the APC all these years to the extent that it had to take one man, brave enough to stand up and show that enough is enough.
The judgment is robustly legalistic and yet simple in its elucidation. What Fisher has done in a nutshell is to offer the APC a chance to rebuild and more so to rebuild its structures better than what it was before. I for one do not fault him but turn the lens squarely on those who have led this party for the past 20 years, distasteful of the greed and avarice of some to the extent that they could not even think beyond the existence of the Party Chairman as if on his bowing out, the APC shall fall? Yet at the onset of his stated intention to retire from front line politics, those who were fanning the flames of discord were the erstwhile Chairman to vacate became the first to rise, prematurely to take his place. The hypocrisy of it all and the bellicose marauding of power thirsty tendencies clouded the better judgment of men like Osman Foday Yansanneh. His rush to declare interest for the Chairmanship of the Party was tainted with desperation and showed an intrusive nature of avarice yet unsurpassed. Now that this verdict has come out, it would not be surprising if he does not lead a barrage of self-interest idioramuses to ask for an appeal that he knows would surely hurt the Party more than it would benefit him.
It is indeed sad that as National Secretary General, Osman Yansanneh should have been planning how the Party would celebrate or otherwise mark the end of tenure of Ernest Bai Koroma even before we go to the next convention, to put together a compendium of the achievements of the APC under his governance and to sketch for eternity, a concise record of his personal sacrifice and dedication, success in bringing the Party back to power and serving as President for two consecutive terms. None of these occupied him but a botched attempt to lay the ground for him to ascend to the position when he himself knows that this was not the time for him to have been engaged in such melodramatics.
In a nutshell, Osman Yansanneh has failed this party and has allowed the party to look like a bunch of power hungry hustlers without a vision or mission.
It is shameful and degrading, that it had to take a court order to bring it to the attention of these miscreants that their actions were unlawful and ultra vires of the very governing document we were all supposed to be ascribed to. The revolving door corruption was too endemic as was the egregious criminality that underpinned that corrupt sequence of events that saw ill matched persons selected to man positions in the Party, the absence of law and order and a complete disregard for legality led to the removal of symbols from many who held second citizenships only for that to be determined that such was not sufficient to deny any person who is Sierra Leonean by birth to be eligible for elective office. It is a shame that this landmark interpretation of the Constitution was the result of a case brought by the APC yet the NSG who should have had full oversight of that matter dropped the ball and had even asked that the matter be vacated without a proper deliberation of its merits.
It was Yansanneh’s fault for misleading the Party on the issue of Kandeh Yumkella on account of some filial ambiguity in much the same way as he proposed and hedged his bets on Nfa Alie to be made Electoral Commissioner over a much loyal and professional alternative in the person of Miatta French. It was also Yansanneh’s vitriolic vendetta against Alhaji Samuel Samsumana that engendered his dismissal from the Party and the persecutions of Kainday Bangura and others on prevaricated charges of “anti party activities” that caused the gaping divide in the APC in Kono District. Once we lost the ball on those issues, and our vacuous disengagement with many of our loyal supporters across the spectrum, the APC became disentangled from its mainstay and left to drift and dislodge from its support base.
Now that we have an order against the illegal National Secretary General, one wonders what records he will have to hand over as he vacates the Party Office in less than two weeks time. Will he rouse the spirits of the Task Force to rebel against the new interim administration that will take over or will he now sign the hundreds of membership card applications that he was refusing to sign because he was busy finding ways to corrupt the Chairmanship elections with his own delegates?
In a way, many, including those who layabout at the Party office would not be sad to see him go. Yansanneh was not a giving but a receiving politician. He was always embroiled in deals and arrangements that were in their entirety dismissive of proper administration of his office. He has scant records of how the Party is organized because his sole purpose was self-preservation. There is hardly any mention of a deputy NSG or what role he was allowed to play in the Secretariat because nothing gets done unless Yansanneh puts his hands to it. That has always been a bad way of managing the affairs of an institution and in his own inimicabme way, Yansanneh did that to perfection that has now resulted in the dismantling of his empire.
This is not the end of the APC. It is heartening that many are now seeing that if Yansanneh and his cohorts can be given the boot out of Marine House, then there will be a chance to start the process of rebuilding the Party.
The APC is bigger than all of its parts but at the same time, it is important that we all play our role to help make it better. This Party has a strength that goes beyond its membership. We must draw on that strength and make this a party that can regain State House in 2023. Leaving Yansanneh in charge of such a challenge would be doomed to failure. So for that, I say thank you Justice Adrian Fisher, you have given the APC a lifeline.
Now is the time for us to rebuild better!